|Photo by Alicepopkorn|
Altering Your Karmic Cycle
Humans are creatures, or more like slaves, of habit. Besides well-ingrained physical habits, we also have deep-rooted mental ones – our attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that involuntarily guide our unique behavior. Our conditioned mental patterns are like our subconscious blueprint and they manifest in our life repeatedly.
As a result, we are prone to, and despite efforts usually find it hard to shake off, anger, fear, aggression, anxiety, envy or low self-esteem. For us to effectively break away from these traits, we need to comprehend what’s behind them.
Understanding karma is important
The notion of our deep-seated mental beliefs can be easily understood by becoming familiar with the concept of karma. It is valuable to grasp this concept to understand the inner mechanics of our thoughts and actions. Only by choosing to deal with our individual karma, can we work on creating a new reality for ourselves.
Karma is the notion of a cyclical process where our every action or intention leads to lasting impressions on our psyche, and these impressions in turn impact our future behavior- comprising fresh intentions and actions- leading to new lasting impressions being formed. Our actions are called karma and the latent impressions they create are termed samskaras.
The law of karma
According to the law of karma, all our motivations as well as experiences in the present are dictated by our cumulative stored samskaras of past actions and reactions. Why, with the same stimulus, some people instinctively get anxious and others don’t, why some children are pre-disposed to an ambitious drive while others to going with the flow and so on, may all be potentially pre-arranged in our karmic psyche.
We are born with this karmic psyche and with every interaction with our environment, we continue to generate and store additional karma in that psyche. This is how our childhood impressions- of relationships, role of parents, money, success, and social conformity and so forth- contribute to an inner perceptual map that instinctively shows up to guide our response to similar issues in the future.
This cyclical process of karma explains why we repeatedly attract situations that create conditions for the stored samskaras to manifest, leading to new karma being created. Getting angry leads to creation of unhappiness, frustration and anger within our emotional psyche. These stored emotions, our samskaras, eventually lead to generation of fresh anger at the slightest provocation in the future. And, the cycle continues.
Purpose of human life
Unless, we consciously choose to deal with our individual karma, it recurs in our life with great alacrity – we move from one toxic relationship to another, we find one circumstance or the other to feel like a victim, we move from blaming one situation or a person to another. These samskaras become the inner demons that we need to resolve to experience deeper freedom and happiness.
The question worth asking ourselves is what good is our material progress if we remain ill equipped to reforming our inner being; what’s the merit in our climbing the social, career or financial ladder if we cannot overcome our mental fragility? In the midst of our reckless pursuit of modern life, what’s our real purpose?
I reckon the purpose of human life is to work through our personal karma and experience innate happiness, peace and joy in our state of being. The gifted ability to make that conscious choice is what makes the human life so precious compared to other life forms.
Altering your karmic cycle
The only way to create a new reality, of loving relationships, mental peace, inner happiness, deeper fulfillment, and abundance, in your life is to alter this karmic cycle. That’s the path to experiencing a new reality for yourself. Here are two steps that can support you in that journey.
Self-awareness: The journey of change has to begin with becoming more acutely aware of our inner demons. This entails learning to be a witness to our own mental and emotional patterns – our dominant beliefs and our recurring and conditioned responses. What makes you angry or fearful or anxious and how often? What beliefs do you have that make you feel that way?
Personal responsibility: While growing our self-awareness is important, assuming personal responsibility for working through our karma and our circumstances is the crucial next step to making this shift. Rather than blame your circumstances, partner or colleague, this is about focusing your attention towards your own thoughts, beliefs and actions.
Living in the present
These two steps require living in the present, where we can consciously bring our subconscious patterns into our active awareness and make fresh choices in how we deal with a given situation. Living in the present means being attentive to not being guided by our pre-determined karmic behavior and instead making new choices in the moment.
It is not where we are coming from but how we are being right now – about making these shifts one situation at a time, one day at a time.
As we make new and positive choices, we start to neutralize the hold the old samskaras have on our psyche. The more we stay in the present, the more we can redirect the future and the more we become the masters of our own destiny. Advanced practitioners in this area can suspend the instinct to judge events as good or bad and thereby, slowly eliminate creation of new karma altogether.
(This is the expanded version of an article I had recently written for The Speaking Tree column of The Times of India)
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