The Trap of Karma

As the mystical East has gradually seeped into Western culture, it has given us many gifts, ways of managing thought through meditation, numerous yogic systems that cover all areas of our being from the inside to our most exterior visual particles; Sacred texts from outside time with their tales of entities in their flying machines from other worlds and planets, well sculptured wisdom,  the accumulation of trillions of hours contemplation on our core nature, and the ‘Nature of Being’ in general.  Such glorious things full of truths and a very fertile field of misconception.
The Upside of Karma
In the West we have ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ deeply ingrained in our subconscious, even my atheist friends would give that a social-media ‘like’.  But when we imbibed ‘Karma’ into our vocabulary, we obtained a new tool for not only putting our thinking and feeling of vengeance at rest, we also ended up with a little guy who sits on our shoulder and says, “Yeah, nah, yeah, better not do that”.  We acquired another filter, a brake for the wayward thoughts, and to keep the ‘wild horses of the senses’ in order, to add a little restraint by thinking ‘nah, it’s going to hit me hard on the rebound’.  Karma is useful for keeping the community in check.  We don’t need to dig around too much to see it is a core principle of Hinduism and Buddhism; it’s likable at best, but it does feel like a tsunami when it ‘hits ya’.
Karma Sucks

Oddly enough I am not big on Karma, and I don’t mean that I don’t wish to experience the affect of karma slapping me with its backwash for my supposed ‘misdoings’.  It’s not that at all; getting paid a fair price for your work or for the avocado crop is reasonable in any mans language, and if you stomp on someone’s tulips, the idea of a ‘fair is fair’, an equal response is OK.  There is something else, and I call it the ‘Karma Trap’, and will attempt to articulate the hidden issues.  If we don’t address it at some point, we will be stuck on the wheel of life forever.  As we know at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching is ‘what causes suffering, how to get rid of it, and getting off the wheel of life’, there are  other tenets but these things are the main focus points. There are many interpretations of these core ideas, and I think it is good to see diversity, even if the meaning of them is somehow misconstrued, at least people are thinking, and so long as it doesn’t delude a lot of others, thinking for ourselves is better than blind faith; sometimes concepts are just markers in someones evolution, by eventually seeing the flaws in them, they become a lighthouse for others. Blind faith only strengthens untruths or partial truths; blind faith may carry us for a while along particular pathways of our lives, but ultimately things need addressing eventually.
Going ‘Round and ‘Round
Does it ever stop? This karma thing, it does seem like an endless audio or video loop; same, same then back to repeat from the start again?  If we read the scriptures,  the ones from the supposedly mystical East, we will find references to the ‘Guru’ taking away our karma; other texts will say, “if we do enough Karma Yoga (service to the world around us) it will dissolve”, or “if we do Japa (repetition of the Holy Names of God) , eventually things will be OK, rest assured you are going to make it”.  Then there is Jesus, if we look at His life, some people will say from their perspective, he absorbed the ‘sins of the world’. One of the translations of what Buddha said, goes something like, “All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states”.  We don’t have to look far for attitudes, wisdom and PARTIAL truths about karma.
The Limitations of the Questioner
Recently I watched a very good question and answer live-stream session online, it was facilitated by a man from America with plenty of experience with ‘things of the Spirit’ from the Indian tradition, and from life in general; his answers to the questions were all sensible, suitable to the level of understanding of the questioners.  But “here’s the rub”, a questioner will always bring to the table their story of Spirituality.  A question is often but not always, being asked according to a limited understanding, it’s like a child saying “mama, how come you are so big”, we know from experience that the mother may not be tall, everything is relative to our individual perception, from the lens we look through. Usually, unless it’s J.Krishnamurthi,  Nisagadatta, or someone with an extraordinary depth of experience, the (supposed) Guru will say something that will put the thoughts of the questioner at ease.  After the question is answered, the questioner may walk away with something to work with or may even have their problem resolved, their thoughts will come to rest for a time.  Personally, if I were given the answerer’s-seat, the questioner would not be let off so easily, things of the Spirit are serious stuff, it is not ‘cafe society chat’, or like going to a doctor who looks into the eyes of a patient with a feigned sense of caring, and gives a bottle of  colored aspirin; we could die any day, it may be someones last day on earth.  If we start to dig into the questions, in most cases there will always be sensible answers for them, but the parameters of the questions will be confined to a limited view, a story of what that person ‘believes God to be’, or is based in linear-thought, this means “if I do this, this and this, eventually my result will be ‘whatever'(you fill in the gap there)”. The world spins around, sunrise – sunset, repeat; and the ‘arrow’ of time goes from A to Z, with milestones on the way.  There is another way, and this is closer or in line with  what the great Jnana Yogis would say. We will look at karma through this window and not through the one people are familiar with, the ‘user-friendly’ version that they like to hear, are attached to or have built their lives around; we are going elsewhere, if not, it is a waste of time writing on this subject; adding to the ‘old story’ is meaningless.
Question Everything
So how do we put an end to karma? Is it possible? Is it true what the Sages and great scriptures say? Is it absurd to doubt what people say is Truth?  I think we need to stop and think a little, put a limiter on the ‘yes, yes, true, true I believe it, the great ones have said it, so I must follow’ and absorb it into my thinking because it sort of fits with ‘what I know’. That type of thinking is fair, it shows dedication and devotion, but it is dangerous. We don’t need to take it on; and no we are not betraying God by questioning the validity of things.  Any God worth anything would love the honest-seeker.  When a child asks the mother, “Why mummy, why?” , the mother is patient,very  understanding and is delighted the child has an inquisitive mind, it’s a healthy sign of growth.  If we just keep gathering information and stacking it up as a belief system, we become secondhand human beings, dullards…. great minds come out of questioning, by saying, ‘I want to be sure, I will test it myself, I have doubts, I don’t believe you, I am not a slave to limited social consciousness.” We need vibrant minds.
Do we as individuals who are not deeply entrenched in Eastern traditions have the right to question it all? It is Sacred to some.  And also, those who are born into those cultures, do they have the audacity to challenge those who have gone before, their forefathers, the elders, the very core of their traditions ?  Absolutely! We do not need to play ignorant and hand over to others, this is not necessary; we are far greater and wiser than we think, we just need to move aside what is in the way .
The World is Flat to Some People
We as a species, the greater community are what I call Flat-Earthers, we get stuck in social consciousness, we stay there for a long time and it takes a lot to change the ‘normal’. There are a number of people who are back in pre Pythagorean thinking who still consider the earth is flat, or have recently, due to viewing a very unscientific youtube video, altered their understanding about this beautiful rock spinning in space and assume that we have been duped and the planet is really flat; we will let these people be.  ‘Flat-Earthing’ is also applicable to ‘karma’, there are various things that people assume to be so; things, opinions become part of communal-thinking and are often not questioned, this can be a problem.
When we look at ‘karma’ closely, we will see a number of things.  By ‘learned nature’, we are very judgmental people, the biblical ‘eye for an eye’ revengeful god is often waiting to raise its hideous head; in the minds of some people,’karma’ can very easily become one of the ugly god’s arms, or cerebral tools for ‘smiting’ the evil doer.   Humans as a rule, love to see the bad-guy get belted, Hollywood has built its fortunes on this type of thinking, the movie empire-monster in its quest for trillions of dollars and to control / influence the thought of the common-man, has quite regularly made villains out of good people, glorious cultural groups have been vilified into being the enemy of white America. ‘Karma mentality’ for many is running in the background like a software program, when someone stuffs ‘him/her/other over’, the software kicks in and says “karma gonna get you asshole’, then they go about their business, a slight throb from the pain of the experience but there is a moving-on because ‘karma will fix it’. There are many aspects to the subconscious karma software; it is used as a moderator in our lives, this is good, yeah nah yeah, maybe sometimes, but when we grow up, or better I say ‘forward into the future’ we see something else. Having the ‘karma brake’, we are more inclined to think, “mmm bad idea, if I do that, the tsunami will get me if it’s real bad, or if it’s a moderate misdeed, the ‘dumper’ on the shoreline may knock me over and the salt water and sand will get in my bathers and not be overly pleasurable’.  I did previously say ‘forward to the future’,  the ‘us’ that matures and is wiser, does not require the karma software to moderate our behavior.
Jumping out of Linear Time

We are bound in space-time, and this is the problem; we naturally have a linear mentality… doctor spanks us when we are born; when we pass-over, our loved ones bring flowers and see the good in us that they often missed as we became over-familiar and our sparkle was hidden by the mundane of what the insensitive call ‘everyday life’.   Just on the other side of death, some believe is that moment when life’s experiences get tallied, and a direction is decided upon…  one guy at the gates of Valhalla talking to his buddy says, “what we gonna do with this one?”, his co-gatekeeper replies, “It’s borderline, send him back to planet earth to sort stuff out”, it’s a very good playground for transformation, there’s plenty to do around here.  Is it true? It doesn’t really matter to me in the scheme of things; let’s look closely at this.
Instant Karma

We were talking about karma, the thing mentioned in John Lennon’s “Instant Karma gonna get you” song, and in numerous Buddhist and Hindu texts, we know it has a lot of baggage, as we also have; and many of us feel it is probably true; the logic is, there would need to be a sense of order to maintain balance in the Omniverse we move in, observe and experience, it seems fair from a limited view.  I started this article challenging the idea of karma.
Here’s the issue, and I will go straight to Buddha, he’s always moderate and sensible.  As mentioned already, the core of His teaching is about what causes suffering, how to stop it and how get off the wheel of endless rebirth.  If we solve that, then karma takes care of itself.  The Jnanis (the yogis of seeing the unity in the diversity, those who see the roots of the tree growing into everything, and the ground it sits on) will always remind us that ‘movement’ is movement away from ourselves,  a ‘going away’ from what we are.  Buddha was a Jnani, the Buddhists may disagree, if they are busy being Buddhists they will; Jesus was the greatest of Jnanis, the Christians will disagree, they are busy wanting Him to save them and are caught in the crucifixion instead of rolling away the stone and letting Him go free; the resolve to all problems is Jnana.  Some translate it as ‘knowledge’, that’s a misleading interpretation.
Karma is Going Nowhere 
Karma implies movement.  With the karma viewpoint, the world is seen as a flat-line of experience, it goes in an order that may suit an accountant, a statistician, it may even be close to the thinking of the world of classic-physics, or in a way resemble an ordered database a little . With a ‘karma view’ we are always measuring, always wanting or chasing something in the future that is better than what we already have or is equal to the ‘accumulation of our goodness’.  Living our lives like little kids, be a good kid and mummy or daddy will give us a lolly.  This is so childish and has zero to do with spirituality and is indoctrination.  We end up turning God into a big parent, someone or something that is waiting or wanting to adjudicate on our every action; it is fear based.  This God is nowhere to be found apart from in our heads; I am not trying to kill God. This ‘God thing’ will exist without my opinion.  I remember a great Sage saying to a friend of mine ‘God is very big’, he repeated it a number of times to my friend.  When we have a small view of what God is, we put limitations not only on God but also on ourselves, our potential and we associate with small, safe beliefs.  If we are always ‘adding up points’ , we will always be in strife; when are there enough points? When will we be good enough?  I won’t even blink when I say this, but the answer is “never”; God in this case becomes deeply ingrained with our feeling of self-worth.
Getting off the Main Highway
Even if the the flat-line jumps in and out of bodies from lifetime to lifetime, it is still a small view.  What’s happening is a person is extending the ‘womb resident-baby-child-teen-middle age-getting wrinkly,  put me in a box stages’ beyond the parameters of the body and making a longer string into other time spaces.  The worlds we move in are not linear, they are imaginarily linear, we make it linear because it is easy to manage, it fits into our story of the the world, the tale of man is written by idiots and very few question it. The question when it is asked is often answered with somebody else’s story of God.  It must be thrown out the window, we need to be insecure, shaking, fragile, unknowing, unhindered by the thoughts of others, until then we are attached to belief systems; attachment is the great obstacle.
For Every Action There is an Equal Thought
Confusing the idea of ‘for every action there’s got to be an equal reaction’ equals ‘karma’, is small minded, this is the major problem.  We are bigger, much larger than the body, sublime, wondrous; and we are not bound by the body, it is ‘thought’ that binds us.  Knowing that the problem is ‘thought’, takes us into other areas, it leads us into understanding consciousness, and a quest for seeing the construction of the world clearly. The world is in constant motion, it is not static, it is only still when we look at it, then it’s off again.  Seeing this reordering, is the beginning of the  end of the limited thought. Everything rests in Emptiness, it all comes out of the living Silence and is always present.
By stepping out of the world of ‘karma’ does not mean ‘do what we like’, there is a responsibility,  knowledge brings about obligation, but not in a forced way, it is common sense.  When we see that everything is from the same tree, we don’t poison the tree, we nourish it.
To Be or Not to Be
We have a choice, we can stay with karma, the path of endless becoming, always seeking, never being good enough because we don’t have enough points to get the golden handshake of God…or we can let go right now, this takes courage, this means that everything we have ever believed to be true must be sacrificed.  This is the crucifixion of the self.
Tilopa 2.0

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6 thoughts on “The Trap of Karma

  1. Wow, great read, thank you so much. I cannot say I agree with all but this is a fantastic perspective that is well thought out and written.
    I think the only issue I really have is in Karma is going no where part. I find karma anything but that of the likes of a flat line, an accountant, or statistician. In the relative world nothing could be more dynamic. The constant intertwining and entanglement of billions of beings being fuelled with new actions ( action is the best one word definition of Karma I know ) all creating even more and more connections and possible outcomes sounds amazing to me.

    Now I agree that karma must be left behind, in my opinion on an ultimate level, it does not even exist, independently at least. But we should not forget that it is an important part of the way. For instance, if we wish to climb a mountain but in between us and the summit is a rushing river. One that is impossible to swim across, but we must cross it in order to reach our goal. So we need a boat, the boat transports us to the other side so that we can keep on walking. When we no longer need the boat we leave it there on the shore and carry on to the top. The boat still however maintains its importance as we never would have reached the goal without it.

    What are you thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you once again.
      Firstly, maybe it’s good that I clarify ‘going nowhere’, in context here ‘going nowhere’ is within the framework ‘everywhere’, it is part of the totality and the mind (or more specifically ‘thought’ is dividing, and ‘everywhere’ is ‘away’ from (for lack of words) the experiencer. And this does not in any way devalue the ‘totality’ that includes the other possibilities of ‘seeker, pilgrim and the goal sought’.
      I think for it to make total sense, there is a certain window to look through. It is one that I personally am comfortable with and it is a bit outside the square, but is transformative when we dig in. That window to look through is the one of ‘Being’, the other window that all religions and supposed paths look through is that of ‘Becoming’ (do this this and this and you reach a goal eventually.) As long as there is movement, it is AWAY from what one is seeking, all movement implies that what one is seeking is greater than what one is, and is a denial of what is at the core. It’s the old ‘dog chasing tail’, ‘deer seeking musk’ analogy. There will always be opposition to the idea that ‘all paths are futile, that all attempts to reach a goal are counter productive’…that’s the path of doing. ‘Do this this and this and you get something’, but the DOER is the sought. Karma is essential to the worldview of the ‘Becomers’. For example, people who are interested in the path of Bhakti (most of my friends) will always need ‘karma’ to be in the equation, without it their PATH won’t make sense, as there is no way of evaluating their actions. However from the Jnana perspective karma is not so important, it is relevant to the world of form (including subtle forms and thought forms). Although it is indefinable, the essence of all things is Empty, and Emptiness is underlying all things, and accessible at every moment. What is in the way is ‘thought’. Thought divides, and thought is bound by time (whether it be solar time or that of another experience of existence) , and is also relevant to space. Space, and I don’t mean EMPTINESS (the ocean of super consciousness), is what brings about distance, joining with time creates space-time, without this there is only Emptiness. Karma relates to the world of form, the world of form is always changing, but our core Being is not. Karma is about the world of forms and Becoming something greater than what we consider ourselves to be, and is not about Being, it is about man not God (if that’s what we care to call the indefinable). The path of Becoming is known as the Path of Endless Becoming, and its name is self evident of the attributes.

      Karma is relevant to paths that have a seeker or a pilgrim on a journey, a quest for liberation and within that structure is totally valid. But in the scheme of things, the Jnani will always see the futility of it.

      The idea of a boat or a mountain is of no interest in Jnana, those things are form-bound. But it is a very good point in the ‘path’ context, but in Jnana, there is no need for a path. I guess the difference is really ‘in Jnana there is an undoing of thought, a dissolving of the story of man and gods’, but even when I state that, I could easily give the wrong impression.

      It is not so important that anyone agree with what I am saying, but I think to question everything is critical, beliefs and traditions are secondhand and are easily misconstrued.
      Most of what we see in the world of yoga is secondhand and most of what I see on the stage of life is relating to what I call the ‘last civilisation’, and that may sound odd, but we are on the cusp of a new civilsation, there are new beings coming in that have a different story for humanity; the old story just doesn’t work, humn beings are moving on as a species. The idea of ‘ageless truths’ really needs to be scrutinised as there is so much potential for an abuse of power. But the Bhagavatam, the Upanishads and other texts, if we dig around in them are extraordinarily potent in undoing what we know, it’s a lie, a total fabrication. It is WHAT we do with those scriptures that is critical, that we see them as seeds for transformation and not as belief systems that wrap around us and dumb us down.

      May all beings be happy … or All beings are ultimately happy 🙂


      1. You know you talk from the highest level out. But you must know that most if not all are still on the restive level. You need to speak to them, only then can we raise the level of understanding to were we can affect change. I know that we can converse on the ultimate level, the only question is, is that enough? Do we settle for that?

        Or do we dig deep and help the masses along the way that you and I have already begun?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there is a lot to explore in what you say.

    You may know Ramakrishna, the teacher of Vivekananda, he wasn’t a very intellectual man, but he had experience. Ramakrishna once said. “I would rather taste the sugar than be the sugar”. And this is where Ramakrishna and take a different fork in the road. His ‘holding’ in the space where there is still other is ‘valid’, but is dualistic in nature, he wanted the sweetness of experience, and this is what many people prefer. Ramakrishna was great, if people would ask questions regarding specific things, he would say ‘go ask vivekananda’, Vivek’s role was, as I see it dealing with another part of the Dharma, to help put the busy thinking-minds of others at rest; whereas, if I dumb it down, Ramakrishna’s was about experience. If we look around a little further, we see Ramana’s role was that of speaking from the ‘centre’, the Self, non-dual; there would be no need for him to compromise his experience and swap into dualism, he is not interested in it. Ramana’s impact was broad and long reaching. I have met a couple of great men in my life, both were from the stream of Ramana, personally, I have never met anyone with deep-super-consciousness from any of the bhakti streams. I have met great bhakta’s, people who are totally devoted and everything is for their (what they believe to be God). Even Ghandi tried to get to see Ramana, but the crowds were so big at the time, he wasn’t prepared to swamp Arunachala with visitors.

    I think it is important that we are honest and true to ourselves, to do what is ‘natural’ to us; the results will always be better, and as we move through our worlds we unfold the ‘dream’ according to our understandings and what makes us ‘sing’ in our hearts.

    I think not having an agenda is critical. Personally I write because I have no choice, it is natural to me and articulation of experience through writing is semi-critical to the deepening of what I have experienced over a 35 year period. Quite frankly there is no issue if everybody in the world disagreed with what I wrote,
    i trust my experience.

    In the 1970’s Krishnamurthi stood up in the town hall in Sydney and spoke, he said to everybody ‘you are all going the wrong way’. This could easily be misconstrued and there could be conflict arising from that. “what right… blah blah… how dare you … you are arrogant … we are all on different paths … lots of blah”… but when we look at what he was saying clearly, it was, “you are moving away from yourself, all your ‘doing’ is getting in the way, just be still, stop reaching, what you want is what is that which is seeking.”

    I think deepening of our consciousness is all we can do, and from that deepening , what emerges is empathy, compassion, understanding, forgetfulness, newness for life…. I am confident that humanity is on the edge of super-consciousness, this is fait accompli… knowing this takes a lot of pressure off and we are not fooled by the news media, and are clear that things will be ok.

    Kind thoughts to you


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