Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 344 – Transcending Karma and Putting It
to Good Use
Date: July 9, 2009
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
While, on one hand, it is not possible to fathom the full consequences of
karma, on the other hand it is quite possible to influence all outcomes of
karma through our attitude and actions.
The common preoccupation with sin and guilt (see
Lesson 132) is a good example of how far astray we
can wander (or be led) in our attitudes. It does not have to be that way.
We have a choice about how we view the world and what we do in our
life each day. The actions we choose to undertake will have short term and
long term consequences. The sincere cultivation of bhakti
(spiritual desire) and engagement in daily spiritual practices have the
power to alter our relationship with karma to be one of constant joy and
Our choices each day tend to be colored by the
many influences in our life (unfathomable karma!), and the ingrained habits
we live by, so we might question whether our free will is an
illusion. Do we really have a choice about the things we do? If we have
given the time and effort to strengthen a higher ideal in our life, we will
have a choice. Our ideal, our ishta, will be our choice
(see Lesson 339). From that, everything else
will flow. This is the vital connection between bhakti and the actions we
undertake, which determine our relationship to the karmic machinery of cause
and effect that is constantly operating in life.
Whether our chosen ideal is for God or for Truth, in whatever form we may be
drawn to, the effect will be the same. Ideals like these reach beyond the
limiting aspects of karma. Having a high ideal is the sure way to reach
beyond whatever limitations we are facing in life. Devotion to a high ideal
is the way by which we can transcend karma, even while we are making good
use of its underlying principles.
There is free will. However, exercising it effectively requires some
finesse. If our chosen ideal inspires us to make choices that take us beyond
the influences that distract us, then we will be on our way.
Developing bhakti in relation to our chosen ideal is the first step.
Then we will be presented with opportunities and act in ways that promote
the process of our spiritual development. In the AYP approach, we use an
integrated system of practices, beginning with deep meditation.
The move to engage in daily deep meditation is a
key one, once we have found the will to act on our spiritual desire.
With deep meditation, we are cultivating the natural presence of inner
silence within ourselves, an abiding stillness that penetrates all of
our thoughts, feelings and actions. This innate stillness, also referred to
as pure bliss consciousness, is beyond the ups and downs of life.
Life goes on as it did before, but stillness resides in us as a silent
witness that we recognize as our transcendent Self. As we come to
know our Self beyond the many influences in our life, it has a profound
effect on the way we view events. We see life occurring as change on the
ocean of our stillness. Even catastrophic events will be unable to touch us
in our deepest realm of Self-awareness.
This is the transcendence of karma. It is not the elimination of karma.
Karma will go on, but our relationship with it will change, and it’s role in
our life will change also.
Once we have begun daily deep meditation, we will be on the road to becoming
the master of karma, rather than its servant. When we act from the
perspective of inner silence, our actions will be capable of transforming
the influences of karma in ways that are evolutionary and joyfully
liberating, rather than in ways that are darkly limiting. For one who is
awakening in the fullness of expanding inner silence, the mechanics of karma
become a vehicle for spiritual development. Likewise, the expansion of inner
silence through daily deep meditation, provides for constant expansion of
bhakti (spiritual desire). It is a cycle of desire, action and consequences
leading to a life of ever-expanding peace, creativity, and joyous service.
This shift is a gradual one, occurring over years of daily deep meditation,
increasing bhakti and the normal course of our life’s activities. Steadily,
our actions in daily life rise to the level of divine relationship. While,
before, we may have spent significant energy attempting to either reclaim or
change the past, we now spend our time in the present, enjoying what is, and
engaging in conduct that is both immediately fulfilling and sowing the seeds
for a better future. Both our past and future can be made better by living
increasingly in the now.
We do not do this by trying to. It cannot be done that way. We can’t will an
immediate shift in our quality of life, because the life we are living has
been structured in us for a long time. But we can gradually unwind the
structures within us through the power of bhakti and yoga practices. And, in
doing so, we can transform our relationship with karma. Karma will not be
eliminated. It will be transformed. There is the idea that karma can be
erased, made to go away. This is not so. As long as we have action, we will
have consequences, the process of karma. But we can transform karma’s
influence to be uplifting and divine – this is just as true for so-called
negative karma as it is for so-called positive karma. The fact that
consequences are coming to us from past actions does not mean any particular
coloring comes with it. It is we in the present who do the coloring. All
karma can be seen as being for good or ill. As our inner silence grows and
matures, all karma will become a positive springboard to new openings
This is not a passive experience. It is not the killing off of desires. It
is the transformation of desire to divine purpose. Then we find that our
ever-seeking desire has been the guru in us all along, carrying us
steadily forward into fullness. Then all events become opportunities.
The blend of bhakti, spiritual practices like deep meditation, and our
actions in ordinary life, leads to a harmonizing of influences sown in the
past, and the fulfillment of openings in the future. It is all happening in
the now. While it has been said that we should "Be here now," this can be
expanded to say, "Be and do here now."
Our earnest commitment and active surrender to our chosen ideal in daily
living is what makes the difference. Once we have realized our abiding inner
silence, we can make good use of karma, no matter what it is bringing us in
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed
instructions on how karma can be transcended and transformed, see the
Bhakti and Karma Yoga book.