The concept of karma has been a topic of philosophical conversation for centuries. Specifically, the consequences of good karma and bad karma have been explained by many of the world’s foremost thinkers, including the Dalai Lama.
However, karma is not as simple as modern television and self-help books make it out to be. There are applications for karma and karmic thought. Understanding the lessons of karmic justice can help you in your personal and professional life. The best way to understand karma is to first learn the 12 laws of karma.
Definitions of Karma
What is karma? The simple definition of “karma” is it is the Sanskrit word for “action.” Karma is an active process. There are several Western models helpful to understanding this paragon of Eastern philosophy. First, understand Newton’s laws of motion: Every action has an equal but opposite reaction.
For those more familiar with Christian tradition, the Golden Rule may also be a rough outline of what is karma in Christianity. Karmic energy is found individually in thoughts, desires, a conscious decision, and many other simple activities. Karma is also found in patterns of behavior. Regardless of the philosophical application of karmic laws of the universe, control of an individual’s karma is directly in the jurisdiction of that person.
Karma in Buddhism
Karma is a central tenet of Buddhism. One of the more important topics includes karma and reincarnation. The simplest energy is karmic. The endless cycle of reincarnation is dictated by one’s karma over a lifetime.
Though they may seem like polar opposites, the Buddhist concept of mindfulness and the Western concept of prayer are similar. Mindfulness is what happens during meditation. Meditation is the time an individual takes to reflect on his or her own karma. Getting accustomed to shutting out the world and leaving thoughts behind to focus on more metaphysical concepts requires practice. However, it is also an opportunity for you to manifest your desires and rid yourself of negative energy.
Part of the difference between Western philosophy and Buddhism is the view of the person in general. For example, in regards to Christianity, an individual is a sinner and is always trying to get right with God. When compared with Buddhism, people are divine beings.
All forms of life deserve divine love, and that love manifests with understanding one’s place in the universe. This is accomplished during meditation, but also during daily activities. Everything a person does—positive or negative—has karma attached. Ultimately, this karma determines if when reincarnated one goes to a higher level or if they remain where they are.
The 12 Laws of Karma
Understanding karma is to understand how actions reflect spiritual values that create strong women and men. The Western idea of karma being retribution for doing something wrong is only a part of the story. Karma reflects in each character trait and is a direct result of how an individual pursues universal truth.
Intentions do matter as well. Understanding karma can help a person to change bad habits. This alone is an act of loving kindness that, at least in the Buddhist tradition, has a positive impact on future lives.
The 12 laws of karma serve as a guide to how each personal contribution to the world you make – whether positive or negative – can affect you and those around you.
The Great Law of Karma
The first law of karma is the great law, which states, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”
For example, if you are a true friend, then you will have plenty of true friends in return. The bottom line with the Great Law is that you get what you put in. This is why many in the West see karma as a “what goes around comes around” idea.
The Law of Creation
You must be an active participant in life; you can’t simply glide by and expect things to fall into place. This law dispels wishful thinking and implores those seeking to build good karma to put good out into the universe.
The Law of Humility
In order to change something about yourself, you must accept something. In fact, this principle is the first of the 12 steps for Alcoholics Anonymous. “My name is X and I am an alcoholic.” According to AA, you can’t change your trajectory unless you are willing to confront uncomfortable truths about your behavior.
In less specific circumstances, true joy cannot be experienced until there is acceptance of what prevents you from seeking true joy or truth.
The Law of Growth
Many people wonder why history repeats itself and lay the blame externally. This law states that the people and places you inhabit are entirely of your choosing. We are responsible for changing ourselves. We cannot expect circumstances to change for us.
This law promotes being active in the adjudication of your life, and by challenging yourself to grow.
The Law of Responsibility
A universal truth is that we mirror what is around us, and what is around us mirrors what and who we are. So, if your life is lack luster, then you are not shining!
Being responsible means taking ownership of where you are, where you want to be, and what you will do to get there. Similar to the Law of Growth, you can’t expect things to change around you; rather, you have to be an instrument of the change, as Gandhi famously implored.
The Law of Connection
This law showcases how the universe is a patchwork of interconnected energy. Simply put, you must take care of the smallest tasks so that other things may fall into place.
Think about things in your life that you wish to accomplish. Conquer the small tasks first. Then, you may find the universe opening up to your ambitions.
The Law of Focus
This law will upset all the multitaskers out there… One can only focus on one thing at a time. This is important because a divided mind is more susceptible to negative thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation are big parts of the Buddhist tradition because they improve focus.
So, if you focus on being a higher spiritual being, then negative thoughts of greed and selfishness will fall by the wayside.
The Law of Giving and Hospitality
This might not seem appropriately titled, but it is… For example, if you claim to be a true friend, then at some point in your life you will be called upon to demonstrate this particular character trait. This is where theory meets practice. Ultimately, when you claim a truth, this is where you demonstrate the truth and find out exactly who you are.
The Law of the Here and Now
Buddhism doesn’t focus on the afterlife in the same way Christianity does. One of the main Buddhist teachings is that Nirvana exists here on Earth in impermanent moments. This law discourages looking backwards or looking forwards. It encourages us to exist and appreciate where we are now.
Once you are centered on where you are in the present moment, only then can you decide where you want to go, and take the necessary steps to get there.
The Law of Change
Simply put, history repeats itself until we take control of our lives and institute the changes we seek to make.
The Law of Patience and Reward
You can’t expect great rewards without having to toil at first. A person is encouraged to “embrace the grind” and enjoy the time working towards a goal with the knowledge that the goal will arrive, but it will arrive at a time and place of its choosing. Hard work always pays off.
The Law of Significance and Inspiration
You get what you put into something. The key here is energy and loving contributions. The whole can’t be great unless the contributions come from a place of love and altruism.
This law functions on a spiritual level but there are material applications as well. When the material applications don’t necessarily match expectations, then the spiritual part fills the gaps.
12 Laws of Karma – Getting the Most Out of Your Life
Being mindful of where you are and where you want to be is critical. Applying these laws to your life will be nothing less than a net positive. Whether you seek to be more Buddhist in your application or fit the laws of your life, good things will come either way.
Understanding the laws of karma or the 12 principles of karma will help you get the most out of your life. No, the rewards may not necessarily be material—but they will be great.