Karma: A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny

Karma: A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny

by Sadhguru

Most people perceive karma as a balance sheet of good and bad deeds - the mechanism whereby we cannot evade the consequences of our own actions. However, karma has nothing to do with reward and punishment. It simply refers to your action and responsibility. Your intention and how you respond to what happens to you determine the accumulation of karma. 

In Karma, Sadhguru puts you in the driver’s seat, navigating your destiny, by living consciously and fully inhabiting each moment. Karma is an exploration and a manual, empowering you to live intelligently and joyfully in a challenging world.

Summary Notes

Transform your vasana (tendencies)

“If you see a thousand faces before you, your vasana is likely to draw you toward someone who is similarly inclined.”

Whatever you think or do leaves a certain imprint within you. Gradually these imprints configure themselves into tendencies known as vasana. Vasana is generated by a vast accumulation of impressions caused by your actions, thoughts, emotions, postures, and energy. You attract certain life situations based on your vasana. 

A simple thought pattern makes you function in specific ways. The way you think affects how you feel, act, and what you attract into your life. With a little awareness, anyone can transform habit into choice and compulsion into consciousness.

Actions to take

Volition: The Basis of Karma

“However, when each of us realizes the enormous consequences of our volition, thoughts, and actions, it could be the dawn of a great possibility: a conscious planet.“

We call someone on a spiritual path if they are taking control of their own destiny. The alternative is an existence where you are being pushed around by your accumulated tendencies, habits, and prejudices. What you call fate is a life situation you unconsciously created. 

Every action we perform has a consequence. Whether the consequence bears fruit today, tomorrow, or ten years later is irrelevant. Unconscious actions from years ago may still have consequences today. If you become a hundred percent conscious, your destiny becomes a conscious creation. This is your karma, your responsibility.

Actions to take

Karma as Runanubandha (Physical Memory of the Body)

“Their runanubandha would often draw them to a certain set of people or places or circumstances over and over again.”

The differences in people’s personalities are entirely due to memory—physical, mental, emotional, and energetic. As this memory plays out, you become an automaton following the commands of your past (karma). Gradually, your ability to use your discerning mind diminishes, your ability to choose is impeded, and your karmic circle is decreased.

There is a simple way to check if you are increasing or decreasing the size of your karmic circle. When life situations place you in unfamiliar or unexpected terrain, what is your reaction? How would you react if you were asked to dress up for a special occasion, lost your keys, or had to sleep on the floor in a hotel? These are small triggers. Think of larger ones and consider your reaction. If the thought of these situations makes you anxious, you inhabit a very constricted karmic space.

These unconscious reactions become the unexamined aspects of your personality. Over time, these patterns grow more rigid and frozen. You might say, “Oh, this is the kind of person I am. This is my personality.” If someone offers you a better way to live, you might just shrug it off and say, “No, no, but this is how I am.”

Actions to take

Improve Posture to Release Deep Emotional Stress

“The spine is not merely a collection of bones. It is the very basis of communication and perception within the human system.”

Taking care of your spine rejuvenates your body. This can greatly impact your mental and emotional life and how you function. Squatting (preferably with your feet together) is a powerful process of activating and strengthening the spine and the muscles alongside it. Regularly squatting prevents your spinal system from collapsing (and the pinching of nerves) as you age. 

If you have spinal damage, this is a good way to regenerate the spine and ensures all-around benefits for the entire body. This is also a more scientific approach to unblocking emotional impasses in the human system and promoting chitta vritti nirodha—the liberation of consciousness from fluctuations and bottlenecks.

Actions to take

Selective Involvement Is the Basis of Bondage and Entanglement

“When involvement is selective, you fall into the trap of entanglement. Here is the central problem: selective involvement leads to suffering and karma; detachment leads to lifelessness.”

Our capacity to choose is a great human gift. However, most of us tend to choose selectively than inclusively. We choose based on memory - compulsive likes and dislikes, attractions, and aversions. When memory enters the action, it becomes enslaving, and the consequence lives with you. By breeding memory, you create karma that will compel you into future situations.

When your involvement is inclusive, you operate consciously (not because of memory), which is liberating. This means there is no compulsion, no consequence, no entanglement, no friend, no foe. It is possible to be involved without getting entangled if you feel the same within yourself - whether meeting a stranger or a friend. There is no karma if you remain unchanged, even if what you do or say is relevant to the situation and the person.

Actions to take

Karma and the Physical Body

“It is not merely your lifestyle—what you eat, what you drink, what you inhale—that has an impact on your body. The subtlest aspects of your thought and emotion can also influence the physical.”

Karmic memory keeps building, ruling, and manifesting unconsciously – from the body's outermost sensations to the mind's fixed ways of thinking. You may have tried to alter certain habits but fall back into the old ones after a few days.  It is not easy to come out of karmic limitations without simultaneously addressing them on the mental and physiological levels.

Generally, people are unaware of their bodies until they experience a toothache or backache. One of the simplest ways to begin cultivating awareness is to start with physical awareness. Starting with the body allows you to practice cultivating and maintaining your awareness continuously. This simple process can help release chemical deposits built up in the boy due to many fluctuations in thought and emotion. It will alter your perception and experience of the world.

Actions to take

Akashi Mudra in Enhancing Your Perception and Performance

“I often tell seekers that the aim is not to see something, but to simply learn to see.”

If you enhance your perceptual capability, or your ability to see, your actions will be more effective. The best way to enhance this perceptual ability is through a practice called the Akashi Mudra. You could do this, especially when you need to be at your best or perform at your optimal capacity.

Actions to take

Namaskar to Unite With the World

“Let us put our hands together and unite the world. May you unfold your being with folded hands.”

The physical world is a product of polarities: masculine and feminine, yin and yang, ida and pingala, Shiva and Shakti, right brain, and left brain. The longing to find the union of these polarities finds expression through ambition, conquest, love, sex, and yoga.

Yoga means union. The simplest form of yoga is to put your hands together in namaskar. Namaskar brings harmony between the polarities within you. Namaskar yourself into peace and love. Namaskar yourself into union within yourself and with the world.

Actions to take

Creating a New You

“If your thought is powerful enough, if your visualization is powerful enough, it can even break through the bonds of karma.”

Most human beings do not realize the tremendous power of creativity they have been endowed with. This is because most of their creations are determined by their compulsiveness, not by their freedom. Anything created by limitation will be limited. The power to create increases when you see your ability to respond is limitless.

If you drop your self-image completely, you will find yourself in great freedom. You now have the power to live without a self-image at all. You also have the power to transform your image altogether.

Actions to take

Pause to Calm and Clear the Chaos

“When things are going out of control for no explainable reason, you need to turn off the engine for a while. Bring the whole machinery of thought, emotion, and action to a halt for a short while.”

Your karma has developed certain tendencies that make you move in certain directions and attract certain life situations and people toward you. If you find that you are constantly attracting the wrong people or situations into your life, it’s time to pause, take a step back, and re-draw this subconscious software that has been written into you. Think of it as if your car gets out of control while on the road. What is the first thing you would do? Isn’t it to stop the brakes and stop it? 

It is the same with your life. When things are going out of control for no explainable reason, you need to turn off the engine for a while. Bring the whole machinery of thought, emotion, and action to a halt for a short while. The simple act of pausing and focusing on your inner self can make a big difference. Your mind and body will work miraculously after this, simply because you gave your system the time it needed to fix and re-draw itself.

Actions to take

Fall Asleep as if You Were Dying to Eliminate Karma

“If you fall asleep as if you’re dying, you will see that your karma barely has any impact on you. You will find over time that you are moving from compulsive behavior to a conscious existence. You will be reborn daily.”

It is important to frequently remind yourself that everything you consider to be yourself is an acquired identity. We each have years of accumulated information or karmic substance. This information creates intention, which moves you in a particular direction. Cleansing this layer of information can transform you in miraculous ways.

One simple way to approach this is to make sure you are physically exhausted every night before going to bed. You will always sleep well and deeply. This kind of sleep can be karmically rejuvenating, as many ideas about yourself will fall away. There is a more conscious exercise you can perform to supercharge this habit.

Actions to take

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