The Vedic scriptures say that a person who understands the Law of karma is deprived of suffering. Such a person overcomes his fate through a righteous life and thus gets rid of suffering. In this article, we will explore the 12 laws of karma and how we can correct our fate and improve our lives by following these laws.
What Is Karma?
Let me start by clarifying what karma is.
Karma is a Sanskrit term that literally means “action” or “doing”. In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention which leads to future consequences. Each action can be analyzed through the prism of the four elements of karma:
- the object of the action;
- the action itself;
- the attitude to the action that has already been completed (judgment).
And only by combining all these four elements of karma can you fully determine what kind of action is committed, what consequences it can lead to, and even assume how soon a person will receive the effect of his action (the cause).
It is important to note that karma is not a punishment or retribution, although it can be translated that way. Karma is the consequences that a person receives based on how he lived. There is no influence of providence here, so a person decides what will be best for him, and he himself can decide how to behave in order to influence fate as much as possible in this and subsequent incarnations.
The Four Elements of Karma
Now, let’s take a deeper look at the four elements of karma and what they mean.
#1: The Object of the Action
This is the first thing we evaluate when we try to analyze an action. There is an opinion that our interaction with people, and with living beings, in general, is due to karmic connections that we have with those people/beings.
According to Vedic knowledge, anyone we meet, anyone we can see, any living being that comes into our view, has some kind of karmic connection with us. In your life, you never meet or see people or other living creatures who wouldn’t have a karmic connection with you. Everyone we interact with in one way or another has a karmic connection with us from our past lives. It’s just that the intensity of these connections is different.
For example, a person with whom we just exchanged glances at the store has a weak karmic connection with us, and our parents are souls with whom a karmic connection has been formed over many lifetimes, therefore, it is very strong.
The second element of karma is motivation. Paradoxically, actions can often look the same, but it is the motivation that determines how a given action can be characterized.
For example, I’m sure you’ve heard about brutal methods Zen teachers have been using for helping their students on the spiritual journey. Zen teachers have been using hits, jabs, and shouts to cut off a moment of thought. For the same purpose, they could through away a student from the window. As you can see, the action itself may look cruel, however, the motivation behind the action is noble. The Masters were not hurting their students out of anger or frustration but rather from a sense of compassion. Their motivation was to help their students on their spiritual journey.
At the same time, we can see lots of violence in the world coming from anger, jealousy, hate, etc. In such cases, the motivation creates negative karma.
Thus, you can see that the same form of action can have radically different motivations that lead to different karma.
Now let’s talk about the action itself. People often believe that if you have the intention to do something bad but you couldn’t do it due to circumstances beyond your control, then it doesn’t count as a bad action.
However, according to the Divine Law, any action, complete or incomplete, causes the karmic effect.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ (Matthew 5:21) But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22).
Thus, if a person has a desire to kill someone, but does not commit murder, for example, because of physical weakness or because of fear of punishment, it is not at all his choice, but rather it is just a coincidence. And if the circumstances had been different, he might well have carried out his plan.
Jesus also said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Matthew 5:27) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Again, Jesus is talking about the fact that the inability to commit a vice does not release a person from responsibility.
We should always keep in mind that karma accumulates on three levels: the level of the body, speech, and mind. And if a person in his thoughts “executes” somebody — this is the same as if he would have done it on the physical level.
This is confirmed even by modern science – according to neuroscientist Jeremy Bennett, our brain does not distinguish real events from our fantasies and reacts to everything in the same way. The same applies to karma.
#4: Attitude to the Action
This is the final element of creating karma. There is an opinion that even if a person committed the most terrible act against, for example, his parents and his motivation was the vilest, but after committing the act, he realized that he was wrong, and sincerely repented — this will facilitate the retribution for the committed act.
But this rule also works in the opposite way. For example, if a person made a donation, but his motivation was selfish, for example, he learned about the law of karma and purely out of commercial interests decided to donate money to get some “karmic benefits”, then, in this case, such an attitude to the completed action will affect the final result: either the reward for the act will come much later, or in a much smaller amount.
What Are the 12 Laws Of Karma?
It is important to remember that everything is energy. Your emotions and thoughts are energy in motion. Every action creates corresponding energy that comes back to you in the form of a positive or negative consequence.
Learning the 12 laws of karma helps us to understand how karma really works. By following these laws, we become more mindful of our thoughts, emotions, actions, and deeds and create a better life for ourselves and others.
Now, let’s explore the 12 laws of karma and how they work.
#1: The Great Law
This is the law of cause and effect. When you hear someone talking about karma, it’s most likely they’re referring to the first law of karma. What you sow, you will reap. Or, what you give is what you get. If you put out positive thoughts and actions, you will receive positive consequences. If you put out negative thoughts and actions, you will receive negative consequences.
#2: The Law of Creation
This law of karma reminds us that each of us is a part of this universe and requires us to participate in it. Each of us is a co-creator. To a greater or lesser extent, you are responsible for everything that happens in your life, on this planet, and in this universe. The accumulated karma of the members of society also affects the development of the whole society. Therefore, we have to remember our responsibility to co-create this reality in a harmonious and peaceful way.
#3: The Law of Humility
This law reminds us of personal responsibility for everything that happens in our lives. It teaches us to accept that our current reality is the result of our past actions. Only by accepting the situation, we are able to change it. In order to do it, we need to develop spiritual awareness. As soon as we become aware of the situation or the state we are in, we will be able to influence it.
When you find yourself in some negative situation, do not rush to blame others, humble yourself and turn your gaze inward. Accept this situation and the lesson you have to learn from it.
#4: The Law of Growth
As we evolve and change, our external reality will expand and change as a result. Having begun to grow spiritually, you change a whole layer of your life. Therefore, there is no need to force your reality to change. Start with yourself. You can change only what you have control over, which is yourself, not others. If you want a better life, focus on your spiritual growth – and the reality will “catch up” to your new level!
#5: The Law of Responsibility
This law states that you are the product of the choices you make. It teaches us that we have to take full responsibility for our lives and for what happens to us. Do not blame other people, parents, the government, or colleagues at work. Turn your gaze to yourself as the cause of everything that happens to you. In order to practice this law, take responsibility for the part you play in every situation you have.
#6: The Law of Connection
Our past, present, and future are connected. Everything we’ve done in the past has led us to where we are right now. Everything we’re doing today will lead us to our future. And the quality of the future will depend on the quality of energy we are putting out there today. Your negative attitude today will bring negative consequences in the future.
In other words, who you are today is the result of your actions in the past. And who you will be tomorrow depends on your actions today.
#7: The Law of Focus
This law states that you cannot put your energy toward two things simultaneously. When we are focusing on too many things at once, we tend to slow down and be less productive. But when we concentrate on one thing at a time, we accomplish much more, and with much better results.
#8: The Law of Giving And Hospitality
This law states that you should practice what you preach. Let your actions be the reflection of your deepest beliefs. For example, if you want to be surrounded by kind and loving people, you need to focus on cultivating kindness and love for others. Think about your highest values and let them be your life principles.
#9: The Law of Here And Now
This law of karma states that we shouldn’t regret the past, shouldn’t worry about the future, but focus on the present moment. When we spend too much time thinking about our past or our future, we are taking energy from our present.
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”– Eckhart Tolle
#10: The Law of Change
This law states that the situation will not change and will be repeated in different forms until you learn your lesson and evolve into a better version of yourself. This is the only way to stop the vicious cycle.
#11: The Law of Patience and Reward
This law is all about being patient and not working for the reward. May your main reward be the true joy and pleasure of the process itself. When you comprehend the basic laws of karma step by step and implement them, rewards always find you at the right time.
#12: The Law of Significance and Inspiration
This law of karma states that we all have unique gifts that we can share with the world. Each of us is capable of making a positive impact on this world. Work with love and invite inspiration in everything you do. Live according to your higher purpose, and it will fill you with strength and energy. Remember that what you invest your energy into plays a big role in your life, and vice versa. Focus on a positive contribution to this world, and you will always succeed.
The Bottom Line
As I already noted above, the law of karma has nothing to do with retribution. It should not be understood as a reward or a punishment that comes from God or the Universe or someone else. We can look at this law from the perspective of retribution only in such a way that a person forms his reality by his actions, therefore, retribution will occur depending on how many positive or negative actions and thoughts were generated during past lives. From here such concepts as “negative” or “positive” karma originate. If a person has “negative” karma, then it may have to be eliminated for several incarnations and it will continue to affect a person in the form of life circumstances, his environment, etc.
However, it is important to remember that each of us has the potential to eliminate negative karma by choosing the thoughts and actions that will contribute to the creation of the desired reality and harmonious life.