In my meditation this morning, I had a chance to see something about karma. One could say that after experimenting with a lot of different types of spiritual practices over the years, I never really understood karma until this morning. Though God knows, in theory, all of the different practices, with different teachers and different perspectives that I used to explore were aimed at one thing: to clear my karma.
But what does that mean, exactly? To clear one’s karma?
When I was younger, karma was the Eastern equivalent to the good/bad sin/redemption polarity I had grown up with. Only karma gave you a lot of lifetimes to work it out. There was a sense of something being “right” and something being “wrong.” And the consequences of doing the wrong thing or the benefits of doing the right thing – that was karma. In my mind’s eye, those definitions of “right” and “wrong” were written on a wall somewhere in heaven. If I could just memorize the list and put as many stars in the “right” column as possible, then God would love me and I would be protected and taken care of somehow.
What I saw in my meditation this morning was very different but deeply moving. Yogi Bhajan talks about the “you within you.” And the more I meditate on Gurbani and try my inadequate best to translate into English, I’ve found that “Naam” is really the experience of the You within you. The Divine Identity that lives within the heart. The Soul-Being that has come and gone through so many cycles of birth and death. And that the Naam and the mind are very different experiences within oneself. The mind has a pull. It pulls the being this way and that way – with its thoughts and desires, dreams and hopes, fears and fantasies. But the mind is not who we are. It’s a temporary identity gives to us in time and space. For this lifetime, for whatever brief purpose the Inner Being has come to the earth for.
But that Inner Being, that Divine Identity, that Naam, that You within you – has its own purpose. Its own reality and destination. And karma isn’t when you break a rule of what’s right and wrong written in some seventh heaven somewhere. Karma is inside of us, in the here and now. It’s a simple issue. The breath of life has been given to each of us as a gift. With this breath – are we delivering what the Inner Being has comes here to experience? Or not?
Gurbani talks about how the hand of the One guides everything. So how can we call anyone good or bad? When we get caught up in the judgements we might have with each other, we loose sight of our own inner judgment. It doesn’t matter what another person does. We have no control over each other, really. We can attempt to manipulate and influence. Cajole or threaten. But there’s no guarantee it’s going to work. Every human being is absolutely sovereign ultimately. And it’s a waste of breath to judge or control – though God knows it’s a very powerful habit that we can sometimes get into with each other.
But with every breath, through a meditative mind cultivated by the Guru’s words, we can judge ourselves. Am I living this moment in alignment with my spiritual Identity? Am I acting in this moment in a way that reflects the reality of my own dignity and Divinity? Am I applying the gifts of my body and the talents of my mind to deliver the journey that my soul took birth to take? Am I remembering that Deathless Light within myself? Or am I forgetting?
This is karma from what I have seen and experienced today. Those breaths, those moments, when we forget our Inner Divinity, our Inner Being and Light. And we let the pull of desire take us away from doing those things that the Spirit came here for. It’s hard because as a child, I never learned that God lives in me. Much less that the purpose of human life was to experience that. I was taught a lot of other nonsense that has never served me. It just created a lot of confusion. But when through the Guru’s teachings, we can find and touch the Naam within us – and we can know – hey – this is who I really am – then karma is simply the account we keep inside of us of when we have lived according to our Inner Divinity, or when we have betrayed ourselves -when we have betrayed our own Inner Truth. And in the name of balancing that account, we come back again and again.
I don’t have any conclusions to offer here. But what I am grateful for is to see today that this whole karma business – this whole business of coming and going – it’s between Me and me. Its between the Divine Identity that has existed since beginingless time and will continue unto Infinity – and the temporary “me” – this body, this mind that definitely had a beginning and will definitely have an end. The karma is whether or not I am capable of keeping my agreements with my Innermost Self – or whether I turn my back on that and get lost in the games of Maya. Its OK – karma happens. But I am grateful to see that its contained within me, and to know that the Guru promises that by meditating on Gurbani the balance between the mind and the Naam can happen. Everything can be put back into proper balance. And in that way, the karmas of lifetimes can fall away and the cycle of betraying my own Self can end.
May you be blessed to find the Light of the Divine within you, and to share that Light wherever you go.
Happy Valentines’ Day
All Love in the Divine,
Ek Ong Kaar Kaur