Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning "action", but is generally understood to mean the consequences of one's actions. The word "karma" is commonly used to indicate bad karma, and the word "merit" is often used to indicate good karma. The law of karma is best described as "cause and effect" because every action (or cause) has a corresponding consequence (or effect). If you plant good causes you will reap good effects, and if you plant bad causes you will reap bad effects.
In each incarnation we acquire some bad karma and some good karma. In each incarnation we suffer the consequences of some of our previous bad karma and reap the benefits of some of our previous good karma. During the early stages of our human evolution we all acquired large amounts of bad karma which must be gradually worked off. Because many people still have much more bad karma than good, seemingly favourable circumstances often have a sting in their tail. This is evident from the tumultuous lives of some celebrities and the people whose lives have been ruined by winning the lottery.
Think of your karma as being two bank accounts – one for good karma and one for bad karma. Good karma can either be "spent" on pleasurable life circumstances or it can be used to "pay off" some of our bad karma. Less-developed people nearly always choose the first option; whilst more-developed people usually choose the second. This explains some of the iniquities of life where honest and hardworking people live in poverty whilst selfish and corrupt people live a life of opulence. When a less-developed person chooses to spend all their good karma in one go they will enjoy wealth, power or fame for few years or perhaps an entire lifetime, but once their good karma is used up they will be relegated to many lives of poverty and suffering. The real sting is that an undeveloped person usually generates more bad karma in a prosperous life than they do in a poverty-stricken life because the money, power or fame goes to their head and makes them more egotistical and unpleasant.
According to some in the Christian Church, wealth and abundance are gifts from God – signs that he is pleased with us and has blessed us. This belief is completely wrong; God does not have favourites and our financial status is of no concern to him. Wealth is the result of good karma or merit; the result of "good investments" we made in previous lives. The Bible describes karma in Ezekiel 18:20: "The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them". Galatians 6:7 simply states: "People reap what they sow". And let's not forget the stories of Saint Peter standing at the pearly gates weighing our good deeds against our bad ones.
Karma exists to protect us and to guide us back on track when we go astray. But karma is often slow to respond and, because of its intimate relationship with destiny, often waits until a future incarnation. The delayed effect of karma explains how non-smokers can end up getting lung cancer. They were probably smokers in a previous incarnation but their good karma or destiny in that incarnation prevented them from suffering the consequences at the time. We never know how long ago we acquired the karma that is manifesting in our lives today, and we never know how or when the karma we create today will manifest its consequences. This is because karma works behind the scenes – we only see the effects in the physical world and have no idea of the causes that are operating out of sight in the subtle worlds. Karma and destiny are woven into the very fabric of our lives to the extent that the average person barely notices their effects.
Wilfully and knowingly transgressing the laws of life generates a lot more negative karma than unintentional or ignorant transgressions. The more developed we are the more responsibility we have, so the consequences of abusing the laws of life are more severe. Although bad karma usually results in suffering it is not a punishment for punishment's sake; nor is it divine retribution. Karma is simply an opportunity to make good – it neither punishes nor rewards; it simply guides. The law of karma is not the cause of suffering; it is merely the agent. 99% of all human suffering originates from the simple fact that we cannot and do not want to control our subtle bodies.
Karma is self-balancing divine justice; it is 100% fair and absolutely infallible. It doesn't matter if a criminal seems to "get away with it", because there is no getting away with it – karma will eventually catch up with him. If we are honest with ourselves, wanting justice is just a nice way of saying that we want revenge. If we suffer as a result of someone else's wrongdoing we want them to suffer in return. But we need to learn that vengeance is not the same as justice, and that an act of vengeance will result in bad karma for ourselves. Even holding onto vindictive thoughts, self pity or grief prolongs our own suffering and generates more bad karma. If something unpleasant happens to us we should realise that we caused it, not the person who was instrumental in manifesting it. This not to say that people who do bad things or cause accidents should not stand trial for their offences. The Lords of Karma always see to it that both people who are involved in an unfortunate incident have a related karmic debt to repay, although not necessarily to each other. As long as both parties reap the appropriate effects it matters not whether their original transgressions were against each other.
Karma is usually played out on the same stage as the original transgressions occurred, i.e. physical crimes usually result in physical punishments. But supposing a Nazi murdered a hundred Jews in World War II, there would be no point in him being murdered in a hundred different lifetimes. In this sort of situation some of the bad karma would need to be worked out between incarnations – in hell (the lowest subplane of the emotional world).
It is not just serious offences such as theft, violence or murder that generate bad karma, even small things like a harsh word or a judgemental thought generate negative energy which contributes to the contamination of the subtle realms. You might not think that one bad thought would have much affect, but think how many negative or harmful thoughts you have each day, multiply it by several billion and you have some idea of the amount of negative energy we put out into the world each and every day! This negative energy accumulates and can manifest itself as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, plagues, earthquakes, etc. This is known as collective karma because it applies to an entire town, region, country or planet. The effects of collective karma are sometimes allocated individually so that diseases, afflictions or "accidents" can be the result of our allotted portion of mankind's collective karma. Animals are subject to collective karma but not individual karma because they don't have individual souls. They are subject to the collective karma of all the monads in their group soul and of the animal kingdom in general.
Karma is not justice for justice's sake, and it is not necessarily "an eye for an eye". Karma provides situations that will best help us to learn from our mistakes. This may involve experiencing the other side of our original transgression, e.g. a racist white person may be black in their next incarnation, or it may be seemingly unrelated. It is impossible for us to understand the intricacies of karma because it is controlled by intelligences that are far superior to us. Karma is managed by three hierarchic groups of highly developed cosmic beings who record every thought, emotion, word and action that occurs within their respective sphere of responsibility:
Administering karma involves allowing the "forces of darkness" to act upon those who transgress the laws of life. Demons and black magicians are the agents who administer bad karma. Karma is the one of the main reasons why "evil" exists – as long as individuals break the laws of life there will always be evil to administer the karmic consequences. Evil can do us no harm if we obey the laws of life. Members of the higher kingdoms who incarnate among humans (e.g. Christ) have no karmic debt yet they are often persecuted and suffer greatly. This is because they become part of the collective human consciousness when they incarnate into a human body, and as such become liable to a share of our collective karma. This is the real truth behind the belief that Christ died for our sins!
The best way to deal with bad karma is to accept our fate and let it work itself out. We should accept the hand that life deals us and go with the flow, because if we resist life and try to wriggle out of our karma we will only make matters worse in the long run. Karma will always catch up with us, and when it does we will have incurred an extra penalty for trying to escape. It is a bit like a prisoner who gets caught trying to break out of jail – he is sure to have his sentence increased. Please don't confuse accepting karma with fatalism, i.e. don't see everything as pre-ordained and give up at the slightest obstacle. We need to use our intuition to guide us when to stand up for ourselves and when to just accept things as they are. If we are honest with ourselves and put our egos to one side we will know. Our egos don't like giving in and accepting the consequences when we can see a way out, but we have to show our egos that we are bigger and braver than they are.
There is a way that we can not only avoid incurring more bad karma but actually free ourselves from the debts we have already incurred, and that is through a life of service – putting the needs of others before our own. Living with less concern for individuality and more concern for unity shows that we are evolving and the Lords of Karma will show us some grace. A little self sacrifice now will save us a lot of suffering in the future. Flagellants believe that mistreating their physical bodies pays off karma and pleases god, but they couldn't be more wrong. Rather than working off their karmic debt they are actually generating more bad karma because they are causing suffering to another living being (the physical being).
Flagellants often reincarnate with the physical defects that they themselves caused in their previous life. For example, those who drag themselves around on the floor and refuse to use their legs may be born with a physical disability or be paralysed in their next life. Karma is only made good by bearing the trials of life in an honourable and accepting way.
Bad karma can affect our physical lives in a variety of ways, including: disease, disability, ugliness, abuse, miscarriages of justice, lack of intelligence, poverty, low social standing, etc. We should never blame our parents for a disease or disability that we inherited from them because our own karma and destiny determine such matters. Children should never say to their parents "I didn't ask to be born", because they did – no one is forced to incarnate against their will.
Whilst it is generally true that those who suffer deserve to suffer, it is a great mistake to think that we should not show compassion and help them out. We must do everything we can to alleviate all suffering because every good deed contributes to a better world for everyone. Relieving another person's suffering not only helps them; it generates good karma for us and sends out good vibrations into the world. Sitting back and letting people suffer is selfish and vindictive, and will result in bad karma. This does not mean that we should give to every beggar who asks us for money, because many of them will spend the money on drugs or alcohol. We need to let our intuition guide us to help only those people who are willing to help themselves.
We all make mistakes and do stupid things from time to time – even enlightened people. These out of character aberrations are the karmic effects of their action from previous incarnations. We must all clear our karmic debt before we graduate from the human kingdom, so it is not uncommon for highly advanced people to have difficult lives or suffer from ill health. We must continue to reincarnate in the human kingdom until our karmic debt has been fully repaid, which shows we have learnt all the lessons karma had to teach us in this kingdom. We enter the fifth kingdom with a clean karmic slate but we do not escape the law of karma because it applies to every being in existence. The effects of karma in the higher kingdoms are far more subtle than they are in the human kingdom because there is no suffering (as we see it) in the higher kingdoms – that alone should be sufficient motivation for us to actively begin working at our own evolution.
The Law of Attraction The phrase "like attracts like" sums up the law of attraction. Our minds are like magnets that attract whatever we give our continued attention to. Everything that comes into our lives is attracted by the thoughts and images we hold in our minds. Our thoughts influence our lives, so whatever we think about most will eventually manifest. It doesn't matter whether our thoughts are positive, negative or neutral; the law of attraction operates blindly and will respond to them. However, the law of attraction can be strengthened, weakened or postponed by laws of karma and destiny, so not everyone who dreams of winning the lottery or becoming a rock star will achieve success.
The law of attraction is currently being exploited as a "get rich quick scheme" or a means of "manifesting your desires". We always get what we wish for, although usually not as soon as we would like or quite as we expected. Every granted wish must be paid for out of our reserve of merit (good karma); otherwise it will add to our already large karmic debt. This consequence is overlooked by the ignorant advocates of "cosmic ordering" and the like. Yes it works, but it can be compared to spending all your wages in one day when the money needs to last you all month! Make use of the law of attraction by all means, but don't misuse it.
The best way to utilise the law of attraction is to adopt a positive outlook and just allow life to unfold naturally – trust life rather than resisting it. Don't dwell on your past mistakes or worry about what might happen in the future because that will attract negativity into your life. When you are unconcerned about what life deals you, you will probably find that you achieve success effortlessly. The Christian concept of abundance is related to the law of attraction, but the teaching does not come from God. Do they really think that God wants us to become even more materialistic than we already are? Nobody needs anything in abundance (in excess), we only need a sufficient amount – anything more is greedy and wasteful. The Earth's resources are incapable of providing everyone with an abundant life but they are capable of providing everyone with a sufficient life, so it is up to those who have a lot to share their wealth to those who only have a little. Thankfully many Christians and humanitarians are doing just that.
Remember this: The universe gives you everything you NEED, but you have to pay for everything you WANT!