If you’ve got an hour and a half to spare, you can listen to Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success: A Practical Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams in its entirety. Over the next seven weeks, I’ll break down the seven spiritual laws of success and discuss ways to implement them. The third spiritual law of success is the Law of Karma.
Most people – myself included – have some misconceptions about karma, but after you read this post, you can toss those misconceptions away like lint from a dryer!
Chopra describes karma as conscious choice-making. It’s both action and its consequence – cause and effect simultaneously. Any time we perform an action, that’s a karmic episode. Each action or choice generates a return energetic force of like kind. Chopra calls us infinite choice-makers, and at any time we are in that field of pure potentiality where we can access an abundance of choices. Of all the choices available to you, you chose to read this, and I am so happy and thankful that you did!
The key to understanding the Law of Karma is to begin the mindfulness work that allows us to become consciously aware of the choices we make in each moment.
Whether we like it or not, everything that is happening in this moment is a result of the choices we’ve made in the past. We don’t realize this because most of our choices come from unconscious autopilot programming.
Most of us have repetitious and predictable responses to our environmental stimuli. We are bundles of conditioned reflexes that are constantly being triggered into predictable, almost Pavlovian outcomes of behavior. Our reactions seem to be automatically triggered, but they are still choices, albeit unconscious ones.
It’s crucial to understand and realize that the choices we make are just that – choices.
For instance, if someone chooses to insult you, you will likely choose to be offended; if someone chooses to compliment you, you will likely choose to be flattered.
However, if we are able to take a step back and recognize that the choices we are making are, in fact, choices, we are able to move this choice-making from the unconscious autopilot programming into that of conscious awareness. When we make any choice, Chopra advises we ask ourselves two things:
1. What are the consequences of this choice that I am making?
2. Will this choice bring happiness to me and those around me?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then full speed ahead! But, if the answer is no – if the choice will distress you or those around you – then don’t make that choice. There is literally an infinite amount of choices available to you at any moment, but there is only one choice that will lead to the happiness of both yourself and others. When you make that choice it will result in a form of behavior that Chopra calls spontaneous right action.
Spontaneous right action is the right action at the right moment, the right response for every situation as it happens. When you choose this action, it will nourish you and everyone else influenced by that action.
So how can you know when you’re making the right choice?
Listen to your body – it will tell you. As you’re in the state of conscious choice-making, ask your body what will happen when you make this choice. Consciously put your intention into your body. When it’s the right choice, your body will feel and send you a message of comfort. If your body sends a discomforting message, it’s obv not the right choice. Chopra says some people feel this in the area of the solar plexus, but for most it’s in the area of the heart. You can put your attention in your heart and ask it what to do, then wait for a response in the form of a physical sensation.
This does take practice, and it may be almost undetectable, but trust that it’s there and that your heart will always know the correct answer. Chopra tells us that the heart has a computing ability that is far more accurate and far more precise than anything within the limits of rational thought. It doesn’t have a win/lose orientation
When I started doing heart-focused meditation, I struggled to actually feel my heart beating. This was both scary and frustrating, but I chose to believe that my lack of feeling was what I was meant to feel. It was sad realizing that my heart was so walled off, even to myself. Part of the issue was the old idea steeped in toxic masculinity that the heart is mushy and sentimental, but I learned that the heart is where our intuition lives. With acceptance and practice, the sensation came. It was faint at first, but even now as I write this I’m able to zone-in on the feelings in my heart. Recently, I’ve been listening to the sounds my stomach makes as I’m contemplating a choice. Sometimes it answers, and that’s great, but sometimes another sensation in my body answers and I get to suss out its meaning.
It’s exciting to always be exploring and creating yourself!
Now, what about past karma and how it’s influencing us now? Chopra outlines three things you can do about that.
Pay Your Karmic Debts
The Law of Karma says no debt in the Universe ever goes unpaid. Energy is constantly swirling back and forth around us. Most people pay their karmic debts despite the suffering that may be involved, but remember: suffering is a choice as well. We don’t suffer from what happens to us, we suffer from the stories we tell ourselves about what happens to us.
Transmute or Transform Your Karma
As you’re paying your karmic debt, ask yourself some questions:
How can I make this experience useful to my fellow human beings?
What can I learn from this experience?
Why is this happening, and what is the message that the Universe is giving to me?
By asking these questions, you’re able to take a karmic episode and create a new karmic expression. You haven’t gotten rid of the karma per se, but by doing this, you shift your perspective and can look for what Chopra refers to as the seed of opportunity. You can then tie that seed of opportunity with your dharma, or your purpose in life.
We’ll talk more about dharma when we reach the seventh spiritual law of success.
Transcend Your Karma
With meditation, you can wash away your karma and become completely independent of it. Chopra says each time you meditate it’s like washing a dirty piece of fabric. Each time you wash it, more and more stains come away. Clean linens for all!
You can begin practicing the Law of Karma today by witnessing the choices you make each moment. Ask yourself if the choices will benefit you and those around you. If you can’t arrive at an answer, ask your heart and allow yourself to be guided by its messages of comfort and discomfort. When you do this, you will be able to make spontaneous right actions for yourself and everyone around you.
Check back next week for a review of the fourth spiritual law of success, the Law of Least Effort.