Order a Reading

Friday, 4 July 2014

Karma Karma Karma Karma...

'Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.'
 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

You know what? Karma doesn't means 'what goes around comes around.' That is a gross oversimplification. Karma is not about universal paybacks. Karma is not reward for good and punishment for bad.

'Karma' simply means 'action' or 'deed'. A man who performs good actions is a good man. A man who performs evil actions is an evil man. 'Anything you do, it bears your signature,' Thich Nhat Hanh says. Maya Angelou said it this way: 'When people show you who they are, believe them.' That is what karma means. You are what you do. You are your actions. You cannot do evil and say, 'I am really a good person though, so this doesn't count. I cannot be judged based on my actions but on my inherent worth as a human being.' It doesn't work that way. What else are you besides what you do? 'My actions are my only true belongings,' says Thich Nhat Hanh, 'I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.'

Now as a man is like this or like that, according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be; a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad; he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;
And here they say that a person consists of desires, and as is his desire, so is his will; and as is his will, so is his deed; and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.
                                                                        —Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th Century BC

In a talk, someone asked Thich Nhat Hanh about karma:
You never speak of karma. Why not?

'I speak of karma all the time. There is no moment when I do not speak on karma. Karma means action. The action can be in the form of a thought, or in the form of a word, or it can be in the form of a physical action. So when I speak about mindful breathing, that is good karma. Mindful breathing is good action to bring your body and mind together, so you can be there in order to touch life deeply. When I speak about the Five Mindfulness Trainings, I speak about karma, because karma is action—if you think, if you speak, according to the spirit of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, you will get good results: peace, joy and happiness will be yours. I do not use the word karma, the technical term, but I always speak of karma, and the food of karma, which is karmaphala. And also good karma and negative karma. Let us not be caught by terms, even ideas. Let us deal with our actual problems. Let us have real practice, and not indulge ourselves in too much speculation and too many ideas.'

So let's dispense of all this talk about pay backs through karma. Any pay backs in karma come only from within ourselves, and happen to ourselves. That is what 'Whatever deed he does, that will he reap' actually means. 

And what does this have to do with today's card? Even though the LWB speaks a bit in 'payback' language -- 'a time of reckoning' -- the spirit of karma as I understand it (as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Birhadarankya Upanishad) is the same:

Do I walk my talk?
Have I learned how I have created everything in my world?
What lessons are to be learned? Have I learned them?
Am I ready for transformational epiphany?

Today is Independence Day. Free your mind from the pay back mentality of karma and look to your own actions. Your actions are the ground upon which you stand.


  1. This so hits the spot Carla… Thank you for (all) your rich-seam musings... :-)

    1. Thank you for taking time to comment, Nion! :) I'm glad it was of use.

  2. This was extremely relevant to me today and so well written, thank you!

    1. You're welcome, AcesJourney. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Ha, that "do I walk my talk?" has been on my mind a lot, lately. Perhaps because I feel like walking my talk "should" look a certain way. Now, though, I think it might look quite different, so long as I don't have assumptions about it. And I worried others wouldn't see that this really is walking my talk, but then, that's probably me catastrophising and mind-reading :D

    1. It's always a pain in the backside when we start wondering what other people are thinking about us. And usually they are paying no attention to us because they have their own shit to deal with. :)

  4. Yes on your observation there Carla. Most people won't remember what you told them yesterday. And I agree with the thought that we are as we act or do. I like the corrective to the more vindictive notions of karma floating about out there: the metaphysical blame games.