Karma, Self-determination and Free Will
27 November 2013
Karma: this frequently heard word has entered most Western languages including English. The word karma comes from the Sanskrit root kri meaning “to do.” Karma translated is action, plain and simple, whether involuntary or voluntary, although as a religious term, karma often refers to intentional (usually moral) actions that affect our condition (or level of existence) in this life and the next.
We also hear of good karma and bad karma, which simply refers to actions that lead to positive or negative results. In Sanskrit, the word for result is “phala,” which means “fruit.” So the fruit of an action can be positive, negative or mixed. Hinduism adds an extra dimension to this understanding of karma, meaning the results of any given karma may not only bear “fruit” in this life, but may also bear fruit in a future lifetime. Similarly, actions performed in a former lifetime may be bearing results in this lifetime.
The concept of Karma (or kamma in Pali) is common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but each interprets karma in different ways. According to Hinduism the concept of karma or “law of karma” covers the broad principle that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, of action and reaction, in which one’s deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Thus, karma is often used as a way of explaining evil and misfortune in the world, even for those who do not appear to deserve it; their misfortune must be due to wrong or “bad” actions in a previous life.
In Hindu texts, the word karma first appears in the ancient Rig Veda, but there it simply meant religious action and in both the Rig and the Yajur Vedas that sometimes involved animal sacrifice. There is some hint of the later meaning of karma in the Brahmanas, but it is not until the Upanishads that karma was expressed as a basic principle of cause and effect resulting from actions. One example is in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5. where it is said: “According as one acts, so does he become. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action.”
So, Karma is commonly regarded today as a fundamental law of nature that is automatic and mechanical. It is not some personal vendetta that is imposed by God (or a god) as a system of reward and/or punishment, nor something that the gods can even interfere with.
In general usage today the word karma refers primarily to “bad karma”; that which is accumulated as a result of wrong actions (papa, or actions that split us from within and takes us away from integration). Bad karma binds a person’s soul (atman) to the cycle of rebirth (samsara) and leads to misfortune in this life and poor (or even miserable) conditions in the next incarnation. The moral energy of a particular act has a continuum which bears fruit (automatically) in the next life, and this may be manifested in one’s class, disposition, health, and character.
To offset “bad karma” Hindu texts prescribe a number of activities (e.g.; pilgrimages to holy places, acts of devotion, study of scriptures, etc.), that can wipe out the effects of bad karma. These positive actions (punya, or actions that bear positive results and elevate a person) may be referred to as “good karma,” and many believe the theory of karma embraces morally good acts as having positive consequences (not simply neutralizing wrong actions).
According to both Vedanta and Yoga teachings, there are three basic types of karma:
1. Prarabdha karma: Karma experienced during the present lifetime.
2. Sancita karma: The store of karma that has not yet reached fruition.
3. Agamin (or Sanciyama) karma and Kriyamana karma: Karma sown or accrued in the present life. Although in the same category, these two have subtle but significant differences.
· Kriyamana karma: Results of our current actions (instant karma).
· Agamin karma: Intended, or contemplated actions; precursors to future karmas.
There is also the process by which karma is understood to work which involves various rebirths is as follows:
· Good or bad actions create impressions (samskaras) or tendencies (vasanas) in the mind, which in time will come to fruition in further action (more karma).
· The seeds of karma are carried in the subtle body (linga), in which the soul transmigrates.
· The physical body (sthula sarira) is the field in which the fruit of karma is experienced and more karma is created.
The purpose of life according Hindu scriptures is to minimize bad karma in order to enjoy better fortune in this life and insure a better (or higher) rebirth in the next. The ultimate spiritual goal is to achieve release (moksha) from the cycle of samsara (the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth) altogether. Some believe this may take hundreds or even thousands of rebirths to rid oneself of all their accumulated karma and achieve moksha, while others believe it can be realized here, in this very life. But only until then can one be said to have found the true meaning of life. The person who has become liberated (attained moksha) creates no more new karma during the present lifetime and is not reborn after death.
Various methods to attain moksha are taught by different schools, but most include avoiding attachment to impermanent things, carrying out one’s duties without regard to results, and finally realizing the ultimate unity (yoga) between one’s soul or self (atman) and ultimate reality (Brahman).
Everyone’s karma is uniquely their own and is, in part, a result of previous incarnations, but we also share (collective) karmas, with our country of origin, our community, and our family and friends.
Karma entails the understanding that we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives. The self-determination and accountability of each individual soul rests on its capacity for free choice. This can only be exercised only in the human form. Lower species are devoid of the capacity to make moral decisions and are instead bound by instinct. Therefore, although all species of life are subject to the results of past activities, any such karma can only be generated while in the human form.
*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.
Latest Blog Posts
- The True Goal of Yoga (Part 2): On or Off the Mat?
- Yoga – Is It a Religion? (Part 2)
- Yoga – Is It a Religion? (Part 1)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 16)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 15)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 14)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 13)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 12)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 11)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 10)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 9)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 8)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 7)
- Has Your Mind Made You Its Slave?
- Within Your Inherent Nature, Yoga Is Already Being Established
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 6)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 5)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 4)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 3)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 2)
- Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 1)
- Examples of Spiritually Empowered Women…
- Spiritually Empowered Women…
- Coping With Past Friends Who Have Turned Against You…
- The Kleshas (part 5 – Vijnanamaya kosha)…
- The Kleshas (part 4 – Manomaya kosha)…
- The Kleshas (part 3 – Pranamaya kosha)…
- The Kleshas (part 2 – Annamaya kosha)…
- The Kleshas (afflictions of the mind)
- Plant-Based Vs Animal-Based diets – What Does Science Say?
- Compassion in the Bhagavad Gita…
- Compassion and Yoga Are One
- Sympathy, Empathy & Compassion – Do You Know the Difference?
- How the Benefits of Yoga Transcend Conventional Exercise Regimes
- Yogis, Gurus & Spiritual Teachers – Spot the False Ones…
- Choosing a Qualified Yoga Teacher…
- Problems Athletes May Have on a Vegan Diet and Solutions…
- Athletes and Veganism (With / Video)…
- Yoga and Veganism…
- Transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan…
- Are Plants Sentient Beings?
- Violence and Compassion in Veganism…
- The Spiritual Aspects of Veganism (Part 2)…
- The Spiritual Aspects of Veganism (Part 1)…
- Effects of a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet on Mental/Emotional States…
- The Ethics of Veganism…
- Snacking – Vegan Style (W/Bonus Recipe)…
- Supporting Evidence for Vegans
- Dining Out – A Vegan guide…
- Vegan Baking – Without Dairy or Eggs (W/Bonus Recipe)
- Eliminating Dairy from Your Diet (W/Bonus Recipe)
- Vegan Nutrition – Addressing Your Concerns…
- Cauliflower – A Versatile Vegan Delight is In Season…
- Stocking Your Vegan Kitchen (A Basic List)
- Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products
- Veganism – Getting Started
- Sattva, Rajas & Tamas – The 3 Gunas
- Your Body’s pH – Is It Acid or Alkaline?
- Yoga and Muscle Conductivity
- Yoga and Diabetes
- How to Use Thoughts to Vibrate at a Higher Level
- How to Raise Your Thought Vibration
- How to Raise Your Personal Vibration
- The Effects of Spiritual Vibrations in the Home (Vastu Shastra)
- Yogic Techniques for Raising your Vibration and Expanding your Awareness
- “Vibrational Healing”
- Our Vibratory Patterns – What They Mean (pt. 3)
- Our Vibratory Patterns – What They Mean (pt. 2)
- Our Vibratory Patterns – What They Mean (pt. 1)
- The Kleshas (afflictions of the mind)
- Discovering Your Dharma (your true life path)
- God Bless the Child of a Dysfunctional Family
- How to Live Like a Yogi
- Yoga Should Be Fun Too!
- Choose Peace – Embrace Life
- Yoga – The Only Exercise You Need!
- Navigating the Roller Coaster of Life
- Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health
- Yoga Counteracts Stress & Anxiety
- Ayurveda – The Basics
- Finding Peace in Today’s World
- The Importance of the Breath in Yoga
- Listening to Your Heart
- Yoga Practice for Improved Lung Function
- How Well is Your Head and Heart Aligned?
- Is Ashtanga Yoga a Religion?
- Meditation on the “Feeling” of Being
- More About Vairagya (Non-Attachment)
- Abhyasa & Vairagya – the Two Pillars
- Yoga as Science
- Jnana or Bhakti – Which Are You?
- Five Ancient Yoga Secrets for the ULTIMATE Beauty Treatment
- Mindfulness: Benefits & Cultivation…
- Mindfulness – What’s the Buzz?
- Aids to Discovering Spiritual Truth
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 18: Gaining Knowledge – Higher Truths, cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 17: Gaining Knowledge – Higher Truths)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 16: Types of Engrossments, cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 15: Types of Engrossments)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 14: After the Mind is Stable)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 13: Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind, cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 12: Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 11: Obstacles & Solutions)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 10: Samadhi Attained by Devotion, cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 9: Samadhi Attained by Devotion)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 8: Effort & Commitment – Cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 7: Effort & Commitment)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 6: Types of Concentration)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 5: Practice & Non-Attachment, cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 4: Practice & Non-Attachment)
- Karma, Self-determination and Free Will
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 3: Un-coloring Your Thoughts – Cont.)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 2: Un-coloring Your Thoughts)
- The Teachings of Yoga (Part 1 – Yoga Defined)
- Yoga Provides Relief for PTSD Sufferers
- Navarasa – the 9 Rasas or Emotional Essences
- Yoga, Sensitivity and Intention
- Using Bandhas to “Lock-In” Your Life-Force
- Yoga and a Grateful Heart
- Is It Important To Be “Spiritual?”
- Meditation – It’s Not What You Think!
- Looking for a Guru?
- Yoga, Ayurveda and Whole-Foods
- Yoga’s Perspective on Fear & Guilt
- Develop a Positive Attitude with Yoga
- Break the Stranglehold of Thought!
- The Siddhis – What Are They & How Should We View Them?
- The Problem of Thoughts & Yoga’s Solution
- Locating the Source of Stress & the Way of Yoga
- The Ego According to Yoga Philosophy
- Principles of Health and Natural Healing
- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and Advaita Vedanta
- The Wisdom of Patanjali
- Yoga, Love and “Connection”
- Common Household Toxins: Are They In Your Home?
- High Blood Pressure – Yoga Lowers the Numbers!
- Therapeutic Yoga Asana for Diabetics
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Yoga Eases the Weariness
- Obstacles to Spiritual Awakening (Self-realization)
- Measuring Spiritual Growth
- Yoga Helps Manage IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga? A Beginning Student’s Dilemma
- Nooch – Excellent Source of B12 for Vegan’s and Vegetarians
- The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)
- The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)
- The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)
- Brain Function – Yoga VS Aerobic Exercise…
- Practicing Self-Enquiry in Daily Life
- Are You Happy? If Not, Here’s Some Tips…
- Introduction to Blue-Green Algae (an overview)
- Summer – The Time for Healthy, Cleansing Foods
- Restorative Yoga Practice and Its Many Benefits
- Got Belly Fat? Yoga Asana Can Help!
- Overweight? Yoga is for You Too!
- Positive Thinking, the Power of Thoughts and Patanjali
- Improve Your Posture with Yoga
- Managing Sciatica With Yoga
- Want to Quit Smoking? Yoga Can Help!
- Yoga to Improve Breast Appearance
- The Main Traditional Indian Yogas
- Yoga, Aging and Bone Loss
- Managing Anxiety with Pratipaksha Bhavana
- Using Yoga to Deal With Those Persistent Samskaras
- The Importance of Meditation to Yoga Practice
- Meditation Proven to Decrease Stress and Reduce Inflammation
- The Awesome Benefits of a Yoga Retreat
- Start Your Day Right with “Wake-Up Yoga”
- Sanskrit Will Enrich Your Yoga Practice
- Relieve Allergy Symptoms with Yoga
- Could Yoga Practice Cause Your Skin to Break Out?
- Mala – Hindu Prayer Beads
- Core Strength and Its Importance
- Try These 12 Tips for a Healthier Life…
- Attention – It Can Prevent Injury During Yoga Practice
- The Importance of Attitude & Yoga Practice
- Diet, Hot Yoga and Your Skin…
- You Too Can Apply The Ultimate Beauty Treatment
- Yoga Asana to Balance Your Doshas
- The Meaning of Hand Mudras
- Yoga for Improved Eyesight (Video)
- The Importance of Balance in Yoga
- The Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga
- Boost Your Immunity with Yoga Practice
- Addressing Common Yoga Injuries (Pt. 2 of 2)
- Addressing Common Yoga Injuries (Pt. 1 of 2)
- Yoga Asana, Emotions & Our Internal Organs…
- Jala Neti – De-mystified…(Video)
- The Basic Mechanisms of Yogic Breathing
- An Anatomical Analysis of Yogic Breathing
- Asana – Protect Your Joints with Proper Alignment
- Yoga – as a Solution for Sleep Disorders
- Homemade Vegan Facemasks
- The Ethical Standards of a Yoga Teacher
- Do the Yamas and Niyamas Support Veganism?
- Yoga & the 5 Kleshas
- Ayurveda & the Three Doshas
- Recovering from Antibiotic Use (or over-use?)…
- The Five Principles of Yoga…
- The Five Koshas (Part 5 – Anandamaya Kosha: bliss sheath)
- The Five Koshas (Part 4 – Vijnanamaya Kosha: wisdom sheath)
- The Five Koshas (Part 3 – Manomaya Kosha: mind sheath)
- The Five Koshas (Part 2 – Pranamaya: air sheath)
- The Five Koshas (Part 1- Annamaya: food sheath)
- The Five Koshas (Sheaths)
- The Five Niyamas (Part 5 – Ishvara Pranidhana)
- The Five Niyamas (Part 4 – Svadhyaya)
- The Five Niyamas (Part 3 – Tapas)
- The Five Niyamas (Part 2 – Samtosha)
- The Five Niyamas (Part 1 – Shaucha)
- The Five Yamas (Part 5 – Aparigraha)
- The Five Yamas (Part 4 – Brahmacharya)
- The Five Yamas (Part 3 – Asteya)
- The Five Yamas (Part 2 – Satya)
- The Five Yamas (Part 1 – Ahimsa)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 8 – Samadhi)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 7 – Dhyana, W/Video)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 6 –Dharana)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 5 –Pratyahara)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 4 – Pranayama)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 3 – Asana)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 2 – Niyama)
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Part 1 – Yama)
- Patanjali’s Eightfold Path (the 8 Limbs of Yoga)
- 5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 5)
- 5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 4)
- 5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 3)
- 5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 2)
- 5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (part 1)
- The Miracle of Oatmeal Water
- How Diabetics Respond to a Vegan/Plant-based Diet
- Whey Protein Supplements vs Plant-Based Proteins
- Yoga & Body Detoxification…
- Third Eye Meditation – Opening the 3rd Eye
- The Importance of the Feet & Pada Bandha in Yoga
- How Inflammatory is Your Diet?
- My Hero – Birke Baehr…
- Raw Vegan Holiday Salad Recipes
- Vegan Holiday Snack Recipes
- Vegan Holiday Dessert Recipes
- Healthy Holiday Indulgence
- Veganism & Yoga
- Non-GMOs after Prop 37 (Video)
- Health, Wellbeing & the “Little Known” Bindu Chakra
- Yogic Alignment – Body, Mind & Spirit
- Serious Health Threat – Autointoxication
- The Basics of Cleansing & Detoxification
- Are You Addicted to Food – Think Again
- Are You “Sold” on Organics?
- Ten-hut – Yoga & the Military
- Yoga and Depression
- Combating Fibromyalgia
- Welcome To New Rae Indigo Blog
Popular Blog Tags
Post Your Comments
You must be logged in to post a comment.