To some, karma is a completely pointless exercise and excuse not to do something, while for others, it’s become a mainstream belief, based solely on complete conjecture.
There are some who are struggling in life, suffering from bad health or financially, who pinpoint it to some type of karmic retribution of some past deed done wrong, this in either their current life, or even a past one.
Karma is viewed as an organic internal judicial system, where if “it’s” going to happen to them, and if they deserve it, then they’re doomed to receive the due judgment, based solely on some past act which they may have once committed.
The Traditional Meaning Of Karma
The historic definition of karma is based on intention. Extracted from ancient beliefs, karma is all about the nature of our true intentions. These are acts that we do at the precise moment of our lives. Translated, karma is “intention.”
To better understand this meaning, it’s believed that for every action that we take, the motivation always has two distinct components.
The first being our “bare behavior” of actually doing the act, while secondly, what our intentions are behind that behavior.
The definition of bare behavior in this sense would include any type of physical movement, what we say, or what our thoughts are.
What forms our character, isn’t the action of the bare behavior itself, but rather our intention in performing that action. The intention becomes karma.
For instance, when you participate in a physical action such as waving a wooden stick, the bare behavior becomes the actual waving of that stick.
The true intention of what’s behind that action could be. Using a wooden spoon to bake a cake, which is a good intention. Or it could be clubbing a wooden baseball bat over someones head, this out of sheer anger, for no apparent reason, which is a bad intention.
Types Of Intention
There are several different intentions which motivates action, they are:
• kindness or anger
• compassion or cruelty
• generosity or greed
The intentions which are based on kindness, compassion, or generosity, are all non-harmful and usually positive actions which can relieve suffering.
The intention of baking fresh chocolate chip cookies is one of good-will, displaying the kindness and generosity intentions.
The other actions, however, which are anger, cruelty, and greed, are all intentions which can cause or be harmful to someone.
The intention of clubbing someone over the head with a baseball bat in anger, just to steal or hurt another, are intentions of anger and greed.
The same physical act of waving that stick around can also be applied to speech. If you yell at someone, “Stop! Don’t move!” what that’s doing is displaying your “bare behavior.”
The intention could be based on complete good-will, such as attempting to stop someone from stepping off the curb and getting hit by a car.
Or the intention could be completely ill-willed, yelling, “Stop, Don’t move! while holding a gun on the intention of robbing him.
This also applies to your thoughts and what you think as well. If you see someone who appears to be homeless on a cold wintery evening, this is the bare behavior.
The intention could either be one of compassion, hoping that person finds a warm place to stay that evening, or the intention of cruelty, hoping that they get frostbite.
Intentions Defines Our Character
This definition of karma can help in our development as caring individuals, if we decide to act on our non-harmful intentions.
What we’re doing is predisposing and conditioning ourselves, to act that same way again. So once we plant that behavioral seed, it eventually becomes a habit.
On the other hand, if we constantly act out our actions on harmful intentions, we then also predispose ourselves to act the same way in the future, making it a lot more likely that we’ll repeat the same harmful behavior.
It Then Becomes Inclination
Inclination, is defined as a persons urge or tendency, to consistently act in a particular way. Karma eventually becomes all about inclination.
Each time that our intention happens to be ill-willed, for instance, then our future inclination to respond the same way, with that same ill-will, will most likely occur over and over again.
What we’ve become is conditioned to that mindset, it becoming habitual. So we’ll more than likely, act out in the same bad manner in the future.
But conversely, each time our intention is for the greater good, to be kind, our inclination will be to respond in the future, with the same kindness, which is further strengthened.
What we’ve then decided is to learn how to be kind, and as a result, we will more that likely be kind in our next similar bare behavior action. The same applies to the other intentions as well.
We Illuminate Our Karma
Once we form this character, in turn, it begins to project a positive aura of us which illuminates on the world, and everything around us.
How many times have you seen a complete stranger, and instinctively knew they were kind. The reverse is also true as well, once we decide to respond our actions towards anger, greed, or cruelty, as that’s what we project to others.
Developing Our Inclination
So the key to developing our inclination, hopefully for intentions based on good will, is to determine whether our actions such as our speech, will promote further suffering towards others or ourselves, or would it ease it.
Practicing the art of mindfulness, helps since it makes us a lot more aware of our tendencies when we react.
Then, instead of just reacting on impulse or out of habit, we can instead be able to examine our exact intentions, before we decide to take that action.
Our implications can potentially be life altering. It’s also entirely possible that we can change ourselves, regardless of how deep our habits may be. “When intending, what one does is karma…
Thus, when we intend not to cause harm, we then “do” karma, meaning that we’re kind, or are becoming kind, generous and compassionate, and vice-versa.