Journey

What is Karma & how does it work?

5 Talks

Karma - Is it a doctrine, a concept or a philosophy? Does it imply the Pur lives are pre-destined? What are it's implications on free will? In this insightful journey of 5 videos, Sadhguru demystifies Karma. Sadhguru elaborates, what is Karma, where are the accounts of Karma kept, is it a kind of reward and punishment system, and how can we make use of Karma for our own wellbeing.


Preview

What is Karma & how does it work?

2:57 min

What is Karma? Take charge of your life!

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, asks Sadhguru - What is Karma, and why have you written a book on Karma? Sadhguru demystifies this oft misunderstood term - Karma!

Vishen: What is karma and why did you write this book?   Sadhguru: Karma means action. Whose action? My action. Whose responsibility? My responsibility. Karma is the most dynamic way to exist. In the sense - Karma essentially means - when you say my life is my karma - it means my life is my making. The moment you see it's my karma, your successes and your failures are yours. The moment you see it is all yours, you will do the best you can. When you leave your destiny from your hands and think it just happens to you, we can call that fate. So crafting your destiny is possible, only possible for one who sees my life is my Karma, whether he he or she uses that word or not. In so many ways human beings around the world have realized, that it is their thought, their emotion, their actions, their focus and orientation within themselves, which gets them where they want to go. Others think it is happening from somewhere else. So those who think it will happen from somewhere else, will live accidental lives. And they always have somebody else to blame for things that did not happen in their lives. For things that they are not, they think it's because of somebody. You could be in the best place, and be absolutely miserable. You can live in a palace, and be horrendously miserable. You can live on the street, and be exuberantly joyful. Both are possible. Human experience is caused from within. Pain and pleasure, joy and misery, agony and ecstasy happens from within us. So, when it is happening from within us, at least what is happening from within us, must happen my way. What is happening from within me must happen my way. What is around me is not all mine. Everybody has their piece in it, maybe I also have a piece. I can push for a bigger piece, but that's it. There is never going to be any time for any human being, where the external situations will be 100% the way you want it. It never ever will happen. But what is within me must be hundred percent the way I want. Otherwise I'm a lost case. This is what Karma means. That you take you, take charge of all that you can take charge. There are a few things that won't happen. In our lives, if we do not do what we cannot do that's not the issue, but if we do not do what we can do we are a disaster. Once you see my life is my Karma, you will not be such a disaster. That is the important aspect.

3:14 min

A crash course on Karma

So when we utter the word karma, it is not one simple formula. Or it's not, you know people are saying theory of karma. We are not talking about any theory. We are referring to a certain reality. Karma means memory. Action and memory.

So when we utter the word karma, it is not one simple formula. Or it's not, you know people are saying theory of karma. We are not talking about any theory. We are referring to a certain reality. Karma means memory. Action and memory. Past action exists only in the form of memory, isn't it so? Yes? Memory, not just what you carry here. Every cell in the body carries its own memory. Why one atom behaves differently from another atom, though the same ingredients is, it has a memory. A hydrogen atom has one kind of memory, oxygen atom has another kind of memory. Unless you mix them up, they will continue to behave like that. It is in a small circle. You are in a little larger circle. The universe is in a much larger circle. But the same memory rules all of it. So when we say karma, we are not talking about some concept or philosophy. We are referring to a certain reality which is finding manisfestation as who you are. The very shape of your body is because of memory. If a bird eats a mango, it becomes a bird. If a worm eats a mango, it becomes a worm. If you eat a mango, you become a human being. Same mango, how many things it's doing, depending upon what kind of memory it carries. Isn't it? What you call as a seed. In the same soil if you plant an apple seed and a mango seed, this will only produce apples, this will only produce mangoes because seed is a certain amount of memory, isn't it? Whether it is a seed of a plant or your father's seed which enters your mother's womb, it is just memory, and memory, and memory, isn't it so? This is karma. And this goes right back. Right upto the elemental level, everything is memory. Only the pure element is free from memory. So the idea. When we start, we starting off Bhutesha because that's the most important thing that he mastered the element. That's why we bow down to him. Because he mastered the elements. He has an eye which has no memory. A taintless eye which sees everything just the way it is. So yoga essentially means developing an eye which is not contaminated by memory. Which simply sees. It does not see things the way your memory perverts it. It simply sees everything the way it is. This eye will see those things which do not stop light. Right now these two eyes can only sees what stops light. If you start seeing something that does not stop light, that means another dimension of the eye is beginning to function.

3:37 min

Who keeps the accounts of karma – where are they kept?

So karma is not about punishment and reward. Karma is not a book written somewhere, some ledger that somebody is looking at and punishing you or rewarding you. Karma is not a ledger up there. This body, this mind, this energy, is our ledger. Here it is and it plays out in so many ways. Internally, in terms of human experience, how joyful you are, how peaceful you are, how loving you are, how wonderful is your experience of life, this is entirely your karma. Because the pleasantness of the body, the pleasantness of the mind, the pleasantness of our life energies and our emotions, are 100% in our hands.

So karma is not about punishment and reward. Karma is not a book written somewhere, some ledger that somebody is looking at and punishing you or rewarding you. This gift culture from heaven must go because for all the things that you do very easily, you can pass this off as god's will. Many terrible things men have done, have always been passed off as divine will, all right? So it's very important that we move people from religious beliefs to a responsible existence here because this is a brief life. If we want to make something out of this, this must be our making. This is our karma. This is what karma means. Karma means, when I say my life is my karma, it means that my life is my making. If I am doing well, it's me. If I'm not doing well, it's me. If I have a fantastic experience here, it's me. If I have a miserable experience, it's me. This much straightness of life everybody must get, that you're straight enough to admit that both your success and failure, your joy and misery, especially the inner things of joy and misery, peacefulness and turmoil, these things are 100% your making. This is what karma means. Karma is not a ledger up there. This body, this mind, this energy, is our ledger. Here it is and it plays out in so many ways. Internally, in terms of human experience, how joyful you are, how peaceful you are, how loving you are, how wonderful is your experience of life, this is entirely your karma. Because the pleasantness of the body, the pleasantness of the mind, the pleasantness of our life energies and our emotions, are 100% in our hands. Human experience happens from within. That means it's entirely our karma. We can make it the way we want. If we make our human experience very pleasant on all these four levels, in body we're healthy and exuberant, in mind we are peaceful and joyful, in emotion we are loving and compassionate, in our life energies we are blissful and edging on ecstasy. Now outside situations will not determine the nature of our experience. Outside situations, we can strive to improve, we can try strive to change. But as I said, in the outside situation there are many pieces, all those pieces don't belong to us. We also are one piece depending upon one skill, intelligence, capability and willingness to strive. That piece can be enhanced but it is never 100% yours or mine, the outside situation. It is also the times in which we exist which determines what kind of situations we are in. But human experience is entirely our karma and we must take charge of that first. If we take charge of this, our ability to create external situations also the way we want it, is greatly, greatly enhanced.

3:30 min

Do I have free will or Is my life predestined?

But, this moment's karma is in your hands. Yesterday's karma, you cannot change. But this moment's karma is in your hands. This moment's karma could be a karma of freedom or of bondage. If you handle this moment in a certain way, you will be free from everything that was yesterday. If you do not handle it that way, yesterday will rule you today.

Q: I want to know about how much of our life is governed by karma and how much is our free will? Can you change what you did yesterday? Sadhguru: You cannot change that. But, what you make out of it today, that you can change. That is always in your hands. Always and always. It's in your hands. It is by your thought, by your emotion, and your action. This is how you perform your actions, isn't it? So, karma means, till now whatever you did, the residual impact of that is definitely there upon your life. But, this moment's karma is in your hands. Yesterday's karma, you cannot change. But this moment's karma is in your hands. This moment's karma could be a karma of freedom or of bondage. If you handle this moment in a certain way, you will be free from everything that was yesterday. If you do not handle it that way, yesterday will rule you today. This is also your karma. This is also your. See, please do not understand karma as some kind of punishment and reward. It's not like that. It is just that everything that you touch with your mind, with your emotion, with your body, a bit of it sticks to you. The residual action is remaining with you. Yesterday, whatever you did, is it not there in your memory? Is it not there in your memory? Is it not influencing what you do today? Yesterday what you thought, is it there in your memory? Is it not influencing your thought and action today? Yesterday what you felt in your emotions, is it not there in your memory? Memory is not just mental memory, memory is on many different levels. It is in your body, it's in your chemistry, it's in your energy. In many different back up systems are there for your energy. For your memory. So this memory is acting itself out. But, this moment, if you wish to be conscious, this memory, you can use it whichever way you want. You can look back on your life and laugh at all the stupid things that you did. You can look back on your life and cry, why did I do all these stupid things? Or you can look back on your life and learn that, okay, I did all these stupid things yesterday. What is the smart thing that I can do today? Same karma. Yesterday's karma is same karma. But this moment's karma can be different depending upon how consciously you act this moment, isn't it? This moment's karma can be either karma of sweetness or bitterness. Yesterday might have been sweetness or bitterness, you cannot change that. Can you change what you did yesterday? You cannot change that. But, what you make out of it today, that you can change. That is always in your hands. Always and always. It's in your hands.

1:55 min

How to use Karma for your well-being?

Ultimately, life is neither suffering nor bliss. It is what you make it. This is why karma is very important. To understand the nature of karma, how it is stored within us, and how we can use this to our well-being, to make our life into a beautiful experience irrespective of what sort of situations we are placed in. This is what karma means. That means, you determine the nature of your response and experience to all that happens to you.

Ultimately, life is neither suffering nor bliss. It is what you make it. It's of utmost significance in human life to have this fundamental understanding that human experience is generated from within us. So if what is generated from within us happens to be either pleasant or unpleasant, but we are attributing it to various other life situations. This simply means we are conducting our life unconsciously to a point we do not know what we are creating. We are not aware of the very experiences that we are creating from within. Being blissful or in a state of suffering is not a natural consequence of your birth or, life situations in which you have landed. It is a consequence of the way you respond and experience these situations. This is why karma is very important. To understand the nature of karma, how it is stored within us, and how we can use this to our well-being, to make our life into a beautiful experience irrespective of what sort of situations we are placed in. This is what karma means. That means, you determine the nature of your response and experience to all that happens to you.