The Power of Karma
Excerpt from the upcoming release, The Yoga of Being a Badass.
There are some fundamental points that you should understand which I will summarize briefly here. I’ve written on karma extensively so if you want to know more, please refer to earlier works.
Karma is a seed. It’s one cause which has one effect. However, there really is no such thing as just one thing. If we can train ourselves to meditate and consider life in it’s immense complexity, it opens the door to kindness and a strength that comes from wisdom. Think of water, two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. That’s at least three things. But if we look at a glass or a body of water, our minds tend to perceive it as one thing. If we thought of all the things at once our brains would explode. But the badass yogi meditates like that. Just consider what it is to look at one thing. What is that one thing? Is there really anything that is just one thing?
Even if there was just one tiny atom, or string as the case may be, it does not exist of its own accord. Tibetan Buddhists would say that nothing exists, “from it’s own side.” The Buddha illustrated the point of dependent origination, which basically means that nothing exists without a previous cause, and that this is a chain that goes back to an infinite regression of causes and effects. In any moment in time any effect that exists, be it mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, has not just one but an infinite chain of causes.
Think about one thing and ask yourself as much as you can about how to describe that one thing. Take a plant for example. What is it? Define the plant as completely as you possibly can. Write that down. Think about everything that characterizes that plant. Then trace back how it got to be in the expression that exists before you. Who put it there? Where was it before? Where did the plant begin? What were the necessary conditions that were required for it to come into being? What was it, where was it before it was a plant? What about before that? Think about the molecules, the chemistry, cells, elements.
Does your brain hurt yet?
We tend to ridiculously oversimplify causes and conditions, while completely overlooking or disregarding the complexity of the simplest objects before us. But the badass yogi is a meditator. A meditator looks at everything. You may or may not want to think about causes and dependent origination or you may have the kind of analytical mind that thinks of nothing else. What’s important is that you consider the topic. The topic is karma. Karma is cause and karma is effect.
In any moment in time, any object, be it physical or otherwise, has an untraceable, infinite number of karmic threads that caused it to be what it is–and it’s not going to stay how it is. That’s another of the Buddha’s teachings: Impermanence. This too shall pass. This meaning everything; you, me, the plant, the table, the sun and the moon will all pass away. There is no single thing that is permanent. Yet for coping on a daily basis, we think of things as one thing and most things as permanent. If we were able to perceive the interdependence and impermanent nature of all phenomena, we would have some measure of Buddha wisdom. This may seem out of reach or irrelevant to your daily goals of making it through the work day, balancing the bills and dealing with your spouse or lack of spouse. But those things are not important in the big scheme, if you listen to the teachings on yoga. They’re all part of that infinite cycle of coming and going. Knowing that, seeing it, experiencing it is the meditation which opens up freedom from attachment and liberation from suffering. The more we hold people, places, things, states as permanent and real, the more we suffer. Most people do not want to think about this. After all, it’s Taco Tuesday and someone just said hi on Tinder. Right?
Those two teachings on karma and impermanence could make up many lifetimes of study, reflection and contemplation. The badass yogi at least considers these things as she reflects on who she is and the impact that she wants to make in the world.
In AA we say that when we get to Step Nine, we do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.
From a the perspective of Karmic Astrology, our South Node is the past, the very deep, infinite past life regression of many lives, including unresolved karmas and traumas. The North Node is the future, where we’re pulled to to learn and develop according to our current incarnation as it’s mapped out in our Astrological chart.
In The Yoga of Being a Badass, we are able to keep the door of knowledge, pain and experience of our past open, without the morbid fascination with it that can keep us stuck in a truly infinite cycle of suffering in samsara. We can feel the South Node and it’s karmic pull and we can look to and draw strength and receive help and inspiration, guidance and direction from the North Node.
This is how we can draw on the past, but not dwell on it and this is how we can choose self-empowerment to develop to our ultimate potential. This is called not being a victim of circumstances. We adopt our power stance and make informed choices. Through the wisdom of meditation on karma and impermanence, own our own power.
The choice is ours. Is that badass, or what?
Practice: Karmic Threads
Each thing that exists is so because of a previous cause. Notice your breath. Where does it begin? To where does it go after the exhale? How did you come to be in this seat at this time in just this way? What was your first thought this morning? What was your last thought before bed last night? All things exist from a thing that came before them. How many things can you sense in your environment just now? Pick one thing, perhaps what you see, a shadow or texture. Try to feel what it was like just a moment before, a hour or a week before. Notice another sensation, perhaps a sound. Listen for its source.Try to feel where it came from. Where does it go? Run through objects in your sensory awareness just like this, one by one or all at once. Try to feel how everything that is came to be as it is in this moment, right now. Imagine threads or a chain of links going back to the beginningless beginning.
Notice the feelings in your body. How did you come to feel this way? Do you feel they’re permanent, concrete, solid? Or can you sense how they came from a previous feeling or sensation? When you have a difficult experience, bring about this feeling of karma, one cause after another without beginning or end. Notice that nothing exists in a permanent form. Everything changes, no matter how solid it appears.
Know that whoever and whatever we see has causes that we do not see. Practice care and compassion. Before judging we might ask, “What are the karmic threads that brought this about?”