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Karma, Reincarnation and the Interconnectedness of All Things

Updated: Feb 15

Karma and Reincarnation – an interpretation for the modern day seeker


Dawn

Yoga is full of paradoxes. As humans we seek the ultimate generalisation: the Universal Truth. As we live in a world where we are beginning to have to deal with the possibility that our universe is based on “random design” at a quantum level, itself a contradiction in terms, we are beginning to approach truth as more of a paradox or a riddle, than as a goal. The aspirant yogin is encouraged to inquire, inquire, inquire, but then when she encounters metaphysical roadblocks on her search for truth, she is asked to place provisional faith in the teachings and trust in the guidance of those who have gone before.

Provisional faith is all very well as an investment for this lifetime – we all put our efforts into endeavours which may bear fruit for us in the future. For example, we pay our mortgage on the house in order than one day we may one day own it and obtain security and comfort, or we put our money and intellectual efforts into education so that we may one day be wiser and more useful to society. We modify our behaviour so that we may create harmony and peace around us in the hope of making friends and not enemies, and in the hope that our community will come into balance at some point in the future. None of these favourable outcomes are absolutely guaranteed but we choose or don’t choose to place our bets on positive progression and we prepare to accept the consequences of our actions as individuals.

The traditional yogic view of action, or karma, maintains that the consequences of actions for which you do not receive “payback” in this life, will arise in your subsequent lives. This is the concept of Karma. For every “good” action you perform, you put karmic reward in the Karma bank, but for every “bad” action you perform, you increase your savings in karmic retribution. This immediately presents the problem of moral relativism – what is good and what is bad? We turn then to the intentions with which we approached the action and we learn that if our actions are performed with intentions of compassion and love then we receive “white” Karma, likewise intentions of hatred or envy create “black” Karma and selfless intentions create clear Karma – the clear Karma is available only to enlightened beings who have balanced at the Karma bank and exist on earth to selflessly serve in their community. Most of us act with a mixture of good/ self-interest/not sure and so we receive mixed, or “grey” Karma; we also get the grey Karma when our positive actions have negative consequences, after all “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

However, what happens if we die before having paid our Karmic overdraft? According to early yoga and


Buddha at Bodh Gaya


Buddhist texts, the “seeds” of Karma remain in our (blank) and emerge in the life of the next body that our (blank) is inserted into. Christopher Isherwood describes this (blank) as being the mind, but we are assured in yoga that the mind is an object and firmly a part of our psychophysical structure which ceases to be when we die. The seeds of Karma cannot attach in the Atman or the soul, as this is the stuff of pure, unchanging consciousness. Buddhist writings, refuting the Atman, describe the “anatman” but it would appear that this idea still implies through negation of the thing that there is a thing and that this no-thing is the idea of individualised consciousness after death. So what is reborn? Memories? Experiences? Impressions? Surely these form our identity and part of our mind, and if we follow yogic logic then they are illusions insofar as they are constructs of the finite and limited human intelligence. How could products of these fragile projections enter the unmanifest and re-emerge as new people, and furthermore, new people with debts to pay?

This interpretation of Karma is startlingly close to the Christian idea of heaven and hell –one reaps reward or punishment in the afterlife for one’s conduct on earth. Early Christianity embraced the concept of Karma and reincarnation, only to find that congregations grew complacent and wayward when given the possibility of several lives during which to perfect themselves, and Christians quickly did away with future lives in favour of heaven and hell in order to restore more strict codes of morality to society. The prospect of eternal damnation is admittedly far more disarming than being reincarnated as a gerbil, however limited the gerbil’s scope for creativity.

Another problem that we encounter is that of generation of Karma for those who act in the world but who have no capacity for moral judgment – animals, children and inanimate objects. If they possess consciousness in some form then they possess the potential for enlightenment and so how can they improve their place in the hierarchy of spiritual order if they have no ability to create their own Karma? These claims on the laws of Karma seem to be fabricated for convenience, to fill a hole in the already rather precarious logic of this interpretation of Karma, rather than as a genuine map of this far-reaching law of causality.

So, is Karma a social control mechanism or a universal law? If my life and experiences are a product of my past Karma, then do I have free will? Do we live in a moral universe which dispenses “divine justice”? What is reincarnated? Are we just trying to accept old cultural paradigms designed for ancient societies, whose thinking and understanding of the universe was universes away from ours? Are we thinking in terms of doctrines or guidelines?

The Buddha famously described his Dharma or teachings, as “a raft, which would serve to carry us to the farther shore of spiritual awakening”, (Nagapriya, 2004). I would like to reinterpret the wisdom that has been handed down to us over the millennia, by sages speaking to us from ancient India to modern-day America, and make a distinction between constructs and truth, and between models and meaning.

When we look at the origins of Karma, the case for new wine in old casks becomes much stronger, although in the case of this philosophy, the old casks weren’t broken but remained more or less intact, albeit a little misshapen. Yogic and Buddhist thought has its roots in Brahmanic traditions which were developed from inspiration and guidance sought from the Vedas. The idea of Karma, initially hinted at in the Vedas was further developed later in the Upanishads. Brahmanic life revolved around ritual sacrifice in order to prolong time, which was only sustained by the gods, who demanded gifts in return for this bestowment. Life after death was implied in the Vedas and then given a more substantial acknowledgment in the Brahmanas, at which point in time the purpose of the sacrifices became to ensure a favourable rebirth in the devaloka, the god-like realm. Properly executed sacrifices earned people merits, which could be transferred into the afterlife at the point of death. Karma was always collected posthumously. It was also possible, and it still is in Sri Lankan Buddhism, to transfer favour from one person to another. Sri Lankan Buddhists will take food to the monastery when they lose a loved one, in order that the merit from this sacrifice/ good deed may be transferred onto their kin in the afterlife.

It wasn’t until the Upanishadic age, when teachings were internalised, that the importance of conduct shifted from ritual to ethical. It was believed that life in the deva realm would finally run out, resulting in a final death; gradually this idea developed into the idea that on extinction of the deva life, the being would return again to earth. Voila the first theories of reincarnation. The Chandogya Upanishad suggests different types of rebirth depending on one’s conduct in the previous life, and here, Karma as we know it was born. Many interpretations have not changed very much since this time. Sacrifice was internalised along with other practices and instead of making offerings, people would leave their families and renounce all worldly goods; the ascetic’s entire life was a sacrificial performance of denial and deprivation.

Jains, Buddhists and yogis enthusiastically adopted this notion of Karma, most directly in relation to the idea of ahimsa or non-harming. But, whilst the Jains focused largely on external behaviour, going to such extremes as to wear masks over their faces so as not to inhale insects, or taking a brush with which to sweep away any small creatures lying in their path for fear of treading on them, Bhuddists and yogis focused on the internal intention of actions. The concept of Karma later attained the status of “law” after it was related to the “law” of cause and effect which was extrapolated by the philosopher Kant and adopted by Tantric thinkers who used this natural law to demonstrate the amorality and the ultimately free nature of the universe.

During the pre-Christian era, in the time of the Bhagavad Gita, Karma rested on the notion that the universe was a just and righteous one, and that good deeds brought favour upon those who performed them. However, the yogi strived for perfection in action and his deeds were selfless offerings to God. Krishna commands Arjuna, “Offer me all thy works and rest thy mind on the Supreme. Be free from vain hopes and selfish thoughts, and with inner peace fight thou thy fight”. (Mascaro, 1962). Arjuna is urged to renounce his impulse to identify egoically with the fight against his own relatives and he is warned that if he fails to fulfil his duty then the cosmos will fall out of order and the truth will be obscured. Here we can discern the true function of Karma – to bring the universe into balance. Karma yoga, or selfless service, is a vehicle by which the yogi can purify himself by neither desiring good or bad consequences from his actions, and attain the inner peace he needs to achieve union with the divine and transcend the duality of the manifest world. His very actions are offerings of love. Juan Mascaro, a translator of the Gita, describes this path towards perfect balance, “Every little work in life, however humble, can become an act of creation and therefore a means of salvation, because in all true creation we reconcile the finite with the Infinite, hence the joy of creation.” (Mascaro, 1962)

A few hundred years later, Patanjali became the proponent of the white and black Karma seeds 1 and illustrates the dire consequences of self-motivation in thought and action – being tied to the painful world of attachment and aversion through rebirth after rebirth.

We can see how useful the idea of the Karma bank is, then, in reinforcing the motivations of the yogi. It is contrary to human nature to act selflessly, and we will inevitably, consciously or unconsciously, desire some form of reward for, or satisfaction from our actions which only serves to strengthen the ego and create samskaras, or ingrained habits which will inhibit future spiritual growth. For the yogi, the path is long and full of pitfalls and the practitioner finds herself continually second-guessing her knowledge, experience and actions. The Karma account is a handy contrivance to keep the serious adherent to the Sanatana Dharma, and the rest of the population, on a path of positive conscious creation and to keep anarchy at bay.

Of reincarnation – is this a convenient debt collection agency for the Karma bank, an expression of our self-conscious inability to conceive of our own non-existence, or a veritable fact?

Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi makes a critical analysis of the bible, and by giving a yogic interpretation he draws parallels between Christianity and yogic thought. Regarding the concept of reincarnation in early Christian teachings, he asserts that at the end of the Old Testament, Elijah and Elisha are predicted to be reborn as Jesus and John the Baptist – their roles reversed as teacher and student to show the perfection of Jesus’ knowledge. A messenger appears to John the Baptist’s father Zacharias to hail the coming prophet. “Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John…And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord. And he shall go before him, in the spirit and power of Elias…”. (Luke 1:13 – 17) Jesus identified Elias as John the Baptist: “Elias is come already, and they knew him not…Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17: 12 – 13). It is said that when Jesus is transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:3), it was his guru Elias with Moses that he saw. Additionally, the famous quotation “All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) suggests a sympathising with karmic “laws”. The idea of divine retribution and reincarnation was spread across developing religions, keeping the proletariat on their toes.

We have discussed the Vedic rituals which eventually developed into Upanishadic and, later, Buddhist, concepts of ethical conduct being rewarded or punished in the next life. Patanjali offers “proof” of reincarnation in Chapter 2 Sutra 9, “The desire to cling to life is inherent in the ignorant and in the learned. This is because the mind retains impressions of the death experience from previous incarnations”. (Patanjali, 1953). Patanjali postulates that our instinct to fear death is because we have experienced it in a former life. But, do we not fear that which we have never experienced more than that which we have? There is certainly a case for the presence of memory in the DNA of each species, which would tie in with Darwin’s theory of evolution. It would appear to be experience which has travelled to a cellular level, and in this sense our essence is reborn as the DNA and cellular memory that is passed from generation to generation.

So where are the seeds of Karma kept, supposing we are reincarnated? Buddhist theory refutes the notion of reincarnation as it does not recognise a permanent, fixed Self, as in the Atman, and supports instead rebirth. Buddhism holds that there is no-thing which is the self, and that any individualised consciousness arises in dependence upon certain conditions. If there is no-thing to pass from life to life, then what is reborn? If the Atman is reincarnated then how can it contain something which is not the Atman? For all traditions which support this theory it is a very problematic question to answer, and Buddhists especially have devised colourful and imaginative ways of reasoning: The Puggalavada school of Buddhism maintained that there was a personal entity which transmigrated from life to life, however this sounds remarkably like a soul, and so the idea is difficult to defend at the first gate and it would certainly fall down at the second. Tibetan Buddhism seems to have been the most creative, and details the whole process of reincarnation in The Book of the Dead. It posits that, upon dying, we do not realise that we have died, and then we are confronted with a series of spirits in angelic and demonic form. Often we are so frightened by the light of these spirits that we scuttle towards the nearest womb. This would also suggest that there is some kind of personality there to feel frightened, and so brings us back to the problem of identity and essence of being, and how these things relate to the geography of the transcendental. There is a very complex structure to the afterworld of lights and realms described in The Book of the Dead, which correlates loosely to the astral planes spoken of in yogic literature, but as with all descriptions of other worlds and post-death states, the common human is unlikely to glimpse them first-hand before it’s all over.

Tibetan Buddhists will seek out incarnations of lost gurus and favourites, and restore to them the objects and status of their previous lives. The reborn guru is subjected at a young age to a series of tests where he must recognise possessions previously belonging to the former loved one. This process is known to be widely open to corruption and furthermore it is impossible to prove the reliability of such a practice.

Dr Ian Stevenson tirelessly researched the topic of reincarnation, interviewing children who “remembered” their previous existence. He was unable to prove that reincarnation did exist, but concluded that there is a lot more to this world than we are capable of understanding.

The inexplicable nature of some things indicates that we humans, with our finite minds and self-conscious nature, can only think within certain parameters and self-created constructs. Kant showed us this when he made the distinction between “phenomena” and “noumena”. He asserted that all things had two types of existence, that which we could know in its appearance, it’s “phenomenal” existence, and the thing-in-itself. The essence, or the thing-in-itself, could not be known by an observer, and this is known as the object’s “noumenal” existence. Everything is subject to time, space and cause and effect – man-made constructs and observations which may be applied to the world that we perceive to be around us, but only in a phenomenal sense. In this sense objects are not free but subject to determinism, or natural laws. Space is the medium by which we perceive things through our senses, whereas time is the measurement by which we gauge how these things change. In a noumenal sense, the object is not subject to the human perceptive constructs of time or space, is therefore not subject to cause and effect, and is essentially free and unknowable.

We may thank Kant for giving us a quasi-logical theory behind behaviour that we cannot explain; assuming that there is an Ultimate Reality, the soul or consciousness exists on a level beyond our cognitive ability and parameters of individualised consciousness, and the behaviour of such energies does not necessarily comply with our expectations; thus, asking such questions as “where” is spirit and what does it “contain” are futile in this context.

Kant may also take credit for bolstering Patanjali’s theories of the unknowable nature of the object, although Patanjali proposes that we may come to know the object through concentration resulting in dissolution of the subject/ object relationship2. Another strike for yogic thought performed by Kant’s theorising is the refutation of the morality of the Universe, thus giving us back our free will.

The Buddha held that if one was to spend one’s life getting caught up in metaphysical questions, then one would be dead by the time one found the answers. He instead directs attention to the suffering of human existence and how to transcend it. Practice and transformation are valued above belief and faith.

One detrimental effect of the traditional, moral view of Karma is that it encourages passivity. A concept which underpins the caste system in India, it causes the poor to starve, the lame to be ostracised and those born into lower castes to do nothing to increase their status or comfort. Hindus can be afraid to help others in their plight for fear of actually doing them a disservice and condemning them to work off their bad karma at a later stage and prolonging their contract with samsara, or the wheel of suffering which is life on earth.

In the instance of unfortunate circumstances or natural disasters that wipe out whole communities, it would be naiive and simplistic to dismiss the fate of the victims as unavoidable and just, it would also be a threat to free will and an implicit support of moral determinism. Here we can turn to the Buddhist concept of dependent origination, which states that all things come into existence dependent on the existence of other things and that Karma is only one element. To tackle this, the Buddha explained:

There are certain recluses and Brahmins that teach thus, who hold this view: – whatsoever weal or woe or neutral feeling is experienced, all that is due to some previous action…Then I say to them: “So then, owing to a previous action, men can become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, abusive, babblers, covetous, malicious and perverse in view. Thus for those who fall back on the former deed as the essential reason there is neither desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed nor abstain from that deed.

(Nagapriya, 2004)

The elements of choice and environment accompany Karma as determining factors of occurrences.

It is becoming accepted that thoughts in themselves possess a vibrational quality. It is possible to measure the strength and location of thought-waves in the brain, and apparatus has been developed that can track the meditator’s thought patterns throughout his meditation. If our physical actions come from thoughts then we can see thoughts in themselves as originating actions which have a physical, energetic existence. This is relevant to Karma, as Karma more recently is accepted to be a law of causality. Just as it is difficult for the modern Western person to conceive of non-linear time, so it is problematic to conceive of energies that the average person cannot see. However it is not hard to conceive that when you are feeling angry and vindictive, you receive back negative energy from those with whom you interact. Conversely when you are feeling open, happy and expansive you tend to engender calmness and tranquillity in those whom you encounter. When you act with compassion and kindness, you create a certain energy field around you which has the knock-on effect of a ripple of kindness and compassion which influences the energy fields of others, and therefore influences their actions. This generates favourable, harmonious conditions for you and those around you. When acting with self-interest but with good intentions for others, you are acting in a manipulative way and so you create a slightly different energy around you which others will subliminally pick up on and this will affect their energy field too.

We constantly influence our environment and the people we meet, and in this way we are all embodied in each other through our thoughts and ideas. As we are physically made up of our environment in the air we breathe and the food we eat, so we are mentally and emotionally made up of all the people we have ever met.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle in his book A New Earth, speaks of the pain-body. The pain-body is a negative energy body that we carry around as individuals and as larger cultures, and it carries the pain of separation and fear that we feel as existential angst. The pain-body is sometimes latent but can be triggered at any time when coming into contact with the pain-body of another which aggravates it. When we act from anger, fear, envy or greed we are acting with the pain-body. It is a field of negative emotional transmission which we can see as a modern day model for “bad karma”. When we act from pain we create pain for others and for ourselves.

Biologist Richard Dawkins talks of units of cultural transmission which he calls “memes”. Memes are passed from person to person in the form of ideas, and make an imprint on a person’s psyche which in turn becomes a part of their own consciousness. By way of memes, we can live on for hundreds of years after our physical, bodily, death, as a meme is inherent in a painting, a piece of writing or any form of cultural expression which possesses longevity. People can access the mind of Leonardo da Vinci by looking at his paintings, or indeed we can draw conclusions about the identity of Patanjali millennia after he recorded the Sutras. So we can say that having read Patanjali, a part of him is reincarnated in us by way of memes.

Nagapriya, in Karma and Rebirth, talks about the “me” of his childhood and how the previous “me” was to all intents and purposes a completely different person. But one could not say the one’s former self was separate from oneself and neither can one say that she is the same. We can look at reincarnation in the same way: our consciousness expresses itself in different ways over our lives and when we die it does not disappear but joins karmic energy, thus we may live on in different people in different ways but not as individualised egoic consciousness. “In reality there are no bits and pieces, just an indivisible totality in which we participate; there is no absolute distinction between what we are and the world in general. We could say that we are concentrated nodes of energy.” (Nagapriya, 2004). Stephen Cope, in The Wisdom of Yoga, puts it like this,”We create our world through our actions. Every act has the power to change the entire field of mind and matter. The universe is like one big sweater, and each one of us is knit into it.” (Cope, 2006). This is Karma and reincarnation working through the ages but not as “an eye for an eye” but as a law of cause and effect in consciousness.

So if we are free to influence our world however we like, and if karma is a law of causality rather than morality, then why be good? Tantric scholar Dr Douglas Brooks, in his blog Rajanaka Sammelana, tackles this problem of a non-ethical universe, “…our human nature is no less divine because we fail to be morally perfect…Moral absolutes, like all absolutes, are intrusions upon a prior claim that the universe is making on us: that we are free…”. (Brooks, 2009). Quantum physics is showing us that the universe has the potential to act in any way at any moment and is not subject to constraints or demands; another paradox that we confront here is that an utterly random universe with utterly powerful potential exists alongside Karma, a law of order. This is part of the playful dance of nature – the lila of prakriti, the manifest world. Brooks encourages us to live with awareness of lila, and of our choice to be good in view of consequences in a world that demands nothing of us other than our presence.

Again we come back to balance; it is another paradox that we must find balance between chaos and order in an essentially random realm which itself evolves as a result of imbalance and change. That we have the freewill to choose the positive evolution and awakening of humankind is even more remarkable than the alternative, “The question of being “good” isn’t a feature of what the universe wants; it might be what we want because it suits our interests, because it empowers us” (Brooks, 2009). Brooks goes on to say that Karma is a hierarchy born of choices which brings the world into identity and structures relationships. Karma proves that power (of choice) doesn’t confer advantage but that advantages are made of power.

Shakti: power; the ultimate power of the universe, existing in its essence as manifestation of the transcendental power which governs all worlds and universes (multiple universes have also been made possible in modern-day thought by research into quantum physics). The dynamic equilibrium of Shakti holds the play of the gunas, or qualities of nature and in a universe that is not obliged to unfold in any particular way or with any order or purpose, the will of Shakti and the actions of the gunas has determined that it is this way and no other. So Shakti has interest which is demonstrated by her will. There is a consciousness, a thing-in-itself, which desires the beautiful and magnificent evolution of the universe that we see around us. We have evidence of evolution taking place for the better efficiency and comfort of species on Earth – an intelligence which operates through will, not of the individualised consciousness but of the greater intelligence at work in nature.

What is the motivation for this continuous act of creation and joyful expression? Why is the universe constantly expressing itself in different and evermore wonderful forms? Why is humankind journeying towards the evolution of consciousness? Yogic thought maintains that the underlying presence is love itself. Aleister Crowley in his book Liber Legis summarises the equation as “Love is the law, love under will”. Although Crowley’s meaning may be different from what a yogi can infer from this, we can use this phrase to demonstrate that at the source of creation there is believed to be an all-embracing, immanent force, an all governing law which we can call love, God, Supreme Consciousness, Ishwara or Brahma, and that the driving force of its expression is our very own free will. Love is the constant, will is the drive and creation is the variable.

It follows that all acts of creation are acts of love. But that is not to say that all destructive acts are acts of fear, love’s opposite. In this context love has no opposite, it is the only absolute and the Source; acts of negativity and destruction are also acts of love, but conditioned love – they are acts inspired by love and expressed according to the conditions from which they arise. Inherent in this principle is the yogic belief that acts should be offerings of love, and that, if we are to attain equilibrium and transcend suffering, acts should not performed with self-interest but with absolute love for the divine. Thus love is expressed manifold in the expressions of nature, and is offered back to itself to complete the cycle.

The interconnectedness of all things is where we find our answers to the puzzles of karmic laws and in life after death. As part of the cosmic sweater, no one person can exist upon the Earth without having an impact upon it. Caroline Myss, in The Anatomy of the Spirit, describes a meeting with Sogyal Rinpoche, teacher and author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The Rinpoche states that when a soul leaves the Earth, his departure changes the energy field of the whole planet. When it is a great teacher or spiritual master who dies, then the effect on the Earth’s energy field is even greater. Every time we take a breath, boil the kettle or call a friend we make a small but significant change to our environment, a change which will likely affect others in ways we cannot even imagine. This perpetual flux of reaction and consequence has been in existence at least since human self-consciousness first blushed. If we view this with non-attachment we can see the beauty and infinite potential of impermanence: our actions may reap consequences but we are the masters of our actions and therefore our future. We possess the power and potential to endlessly create and therefore evolve but we must do so consciously and with recognition that we are love, and our acts, our Karma yoga, are creations that connect us with the Supreme love.

The Buddha, when asked if we exist after our earthly death, replied, “Not exactly”. When asked if we do not exist after our earthly death he replied, “Not exactly”. To grasp the concept of karma and rebirth we can follow the Buddha’s Middle Way – neither an nihilist, nor an eternalist, the Buddha understood that being continues, but not always in the same form. The Gita teaches, “That which is non-existent can never come into being. That which is can never cease to be.” Patanjali supports this in Chapter 4 Sutra 12 when he states that all states, past, present and future exist within the object at all times.

The ideas that governed the minds of our ancestors were understood by way of systems and models which moulded to and sprang from the cultural paradigms and understandings of the day. Systematic retribution and the promise of a second chance were acceptable at that time and served as incentives for communities to bond productively with compassion. It was reasonable to present the concepts of karma and reincarnation in their antiquated form to serve as teaching tools. Today we are motivated by different outcomes, and we are heavily and irrevocably influenced by the advances of science. Our worlds are much bigger in terms of how far we can see and reach and experience the world, we are instructed on such concepts as ecosystems, biological functions and astrology; we have scientific and philosophical theories, maps and photographs which illustrate to us the interconnected nature of things. The old language of “seeds” of karma, of “good” and “evil”, and the idea of a reborn personality no longer fit snugly into our perception of the universe and we are much more likely to talk in terms of “consciousness”, “flow” or “memes”. As there has been a seismic paradigm shift since the days of the Mahabarata, the Sutras and the Dhammapada, we need a new model from which to learn. Our goal of awakening is the same and the underlying principles and truths have not changed, only our perception of the universe and the way we interpret it. The vast majority of us, instead of sacrificing goats and ogling the stars to achieve personal transformation, are doing voluntary work and obtaining information from the newspapers or the internet. In order to understand karma and reincarnation we need only to understand that the universe will always act to balance change, and that change is inevitable and erratic. Love is the motivator and it is love that will bring the universe into balance. If we act consciously with love and recognise that we are separate from others only in our false perceptions, then we act to unify all things in self-realisation. Our great Unifying Law: Love, is at the heart of the Great Paradox, a paradox we can only solve by surrendering to something greater than ourselves.

Word count

5773 words (inc. citations.)

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1 Patanjali Chapter 4 Sutra 7. “The karma of the yogi is neither white nor black. The karma of others is of three kinds: white, black, or mixed.” (Christopher Isherwood translation 1953).


2 Chapter 1 Sutra 41: “Just as the pure crystal takes colour from the object which is nearest to it, so the mind, when it is cleared of thought-waves, achieves sameness or identity with the object of concentration, this may be either a gross object, or the organ of perception, or the sense of ego. This achievement of sameness or identity with the object of concentration is known as Samadhi.” (Patanjali, 1953).