Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

31 What Is Karma?§


Like a boomerang, our thoughts, words and deeds always return to us, in this or a future life, according to the universal law of karma. As people say today, “what goes around, comes around.”§


God Siva creates the cosmos and He resides within it. His many special laws or systems are at work within our complex universe. The law that causes an object to fall to the Earth we call gravity. The law that governs the reaction of thoughts, words and deeds we call karma. It is an automatic system of divine justice. By this law, what we sow, we will reap. Actions and the fruit of action are both called karma. There are three kinds of karma: the karma of all deeds done in our past lives; the karmas we bring into this birth to experience; and the karmas we are making by our actions now. Good, helpful thoughts, words and deeds bring good karma to us in the future. Hurtful actions bring back to us painful karma. Doing bad is like planting poison ivy. Doing good is like planting delicious mangos. Understanding the law of karma gives us the power to act wisely and create a positive future. Gurudeva said, “You are the writer of your own destiny, the master of your ship through life.” He meant that karma is not fate. It can be overcome. Through understanding the effect of their actions, individuals sooner or later learn to refrain from committing misdeeds. This is what we mean by saying, “Karma is our teacher.” It teaches us to refine our behavior. Even difficult karma helps us grow, by teaching us the painful results of unwise actions. No matter how well we understand karma, facing it bravely is still a challenge. Our ego gets in the way. Our emotions are stirred and we react without thinking. Such weakness can be overcome by perfecting our character according to the yamas and niyamas. The effects of karma can be softened in several ways: by accepting and not reacting, by doing penance, by performing good deeds that balance the not-so-good we have done and by seeking the grace of God and guru. Karma applies not only to individuals but to groups, communities and nations.§


GURUDEVA: Siva’s devotees accept all experiences, however difficult, as their self-created karma, without cringing or complaining. Theirs is the power of surrender, accepting what is as it is and dealing with it courageously.§