Understanding Karma at a Basic Level
The universe is operating in a certain harmony. Karma neither rewards nor punishes, it only restores its lost harmony. It is man who suffers or rejoices based on past acts. If someone does bodily or wordily harm to another, that person has to suffer in the same way. Thus at basic level karma can be directly related to cause and effect ie: what you sow so you reap. But this is only part of the story.
Types of Karma
There are three types of Karma: Sanchita, Prararbdha, and Agami. Sanchita is accumulative karma. The results of Sanchita are reaped in this birth and/or in the future birth. Prararbdha is what we do with our present state of existence, while Agami are the actions yet to be performed.
To give an analogy, Sanchita karma is like the money your parents saved for you, Prararbdha karma is like what you are earning for yourself and Agami is like what you are saving for your children.
Karma and Reincarnation
Man’s present life is the mere repetition of his previous life. So any action performed by man may come to fruition in a minute, day, year, or in a life or in several lives. Collective actions performed by everyone will remain in the form of something unseen until the time of fruition (Refer Jung’s collective unconscious for better understanding).
According to karmic theory, when one dies his soul (which is enveloped in a subtle body and invested with the sum of total good and bad actions/thoughts) passes into another physical body based on deeds done by him in his previous life and continues its journey until emancipation.
Why We are not the Victim of Our Past Karma?
If there were only Sanchita karma, then no doubt we are all victims of our past karma. But we have control over Prararbdha Karma and Agami through which we can alter upcoming Sanchita Karma.
Let us understand this with an example: assume you have spilled the oil on the kitchen floor but you don’t have time to clean them immediately. In the evening, you forget about the mistake you did in the morning. As soon as you enter the kitchen, you slip and fall down on the floor.
Now let us see the same situation again but with a little twist. Assume you have spilled the oil on the kitchen floor and you don’t have time to clean them immediately as you are hurrying to the office. A 3rd person takes the job of sticking a post-it note saying “Slippery floor” on the kitchen wall before you reach the home. (Nevermind who that third person is, we’ll come back to that) In the evening, you were again totally lost in the hectic schedule of the day and you forget about the mistake you did in the morning. But this time when you enter the kitchen, you notice the message “Slippery floor”, so you make an effort to wipe it immediately.
In the above example, do you agree that having a message of “slippery floor” would help you to be aware? In a similar way, astrology is sort of the ‘note’ in the kitchen that helps us clean up a spill.
How Can We Take Control of Our Life?
Understanding our past deeds and making a conscious decision in our present life can help us to take control.
Let me illustrate with an example: karma defines the equation of present life. No one can change the fixed number in the equation (ie: Sanchita Karma) but one can change the input to the variables (Prararbdha) in the equation to get the desired result. So if my life equation is 10(x) (the value 10 in the equation is fixed) but I have complete free will to substitute x. If I substitute 10 then I will get 100, but if I substitute 20 (more free will) then I will get 200. So the real secret to taking control of your life lies in breaking the limiting beliefs of past karma. Understanding the fixed parameters in life due to past karmic results and exercising free will to alter the variables will make life better.
If the road ahead is full of pitfalls, then the vehicle in which you travel will decide the consequences you face. If you travel on a bike you will have a painful journey, but if you travel in a BMW you may feel the bad condition of the road but only to a limited extent.
So far I have discussed making better choices with Prararbdha karma to minimize the damage caused by Sachita karma without breaking the karmic chain. But is there any way to break the chain of karma? Yes, it is possible by attaining spiritual mastery.
You may be aware that every object that goes above earth will be pulled back due to earth gravitational force. But if you can throw an object with a velocity of 11.18km/s then it would escape from Earth’s gravitational influence. Similarly, attaining spiritual mastery with a proper guru can make someone break their karmic chain and attain emancipation.