by Sadhguru

  • Philosophy
  • Ashto = 7/10
  • Jonesy = 7/10

‘Karma is about becoming the source of one’s own creation. In shifting responsibility from heaven to oneself, one becomes the very maker of one’s destiny.’

What is Karma?

Karma is the natural basis of all existence. Karma is about becoming the source of one’s own creation. It makes each one of us squarely responsible for our own destinies and above all, the nature of our experience in life. It doesn’t allow us to blame our parents, teachers, our countries, our politicians, our gods, or our fates.

Karma literally means action. Unfortunately, most people see karma as a life audit of sorts—a balance sheet of merits and demerits, virtues, and sins. It’s like a ledger maintained by some divine chartered accountant who assigns some people to celestial bliss and consigns others to a lower-level world. This isn’t merely false or absurd. It’s tragic. It has led to much bogus philosophising and empty academic debate, and boosted the fortune teller industry.

It is important to remember that karma isn’t a doctrine. Karma has nothing to do with reward and punishment. Karma means we have created the blueprint for our lives—we are the makers of our own fate. When we say ‘this is my karma’, we are actually saying ‘I am responsible for my life.’

Are you ready to hear about a dimension that is so empowering that it tells you that you’re fully capable of taking the reins of your life into your own hands? If you’re willing to find out how the mechanism works, this book is the key. Once you are at the wheel, your experience of the ride will never be the same again.

The Karmic Cycle

Karma is like an old software you’ve written for yourself unconsciously. Think of a CD on which music is being recorded. The disk is like your body. The music is analogous to the impression recorded upon your body. Now the music is just a small impression on a compact disk. But when you play the CD you don’t experience the disk, you experience the music. Karma is similar. You are not actively experiencing your energetic, mental, or physical body. You are only facing the music.

Once that software is written, your whole system functions accordingly. Based on the information from the past, certain memory patterns keep recurring. Your life turns habitual, repetitive, and cyclical. Like so many people, you probably don’t know why certain situations keep recurring in your inner and outer life. This is because these patterns are unconscious. As time goes, you turn into a puppet of your accumulated past and you become ensnared by your patterns.

How Karma Designs Your Life

Whatever you do with your body, mind, or energy leaves a certain imprint; and these imprints configure themselves into tendencies. These tendencies go by the word Vasana in India, which means smell. This smell is generated by a vast accumulation of impressions caused by your physical, mental, emotional, and energy actions. Depending upon the type of smell you emit, you attract certain kinds of life situations.

In this context, the smell doesn’t imply an odour. It simply means that if you exude a particular kind of Vasana, existence will ensure you land up in certain places at certain times. So what moves toward you and also moves away from you is determined by the smell that emanates from you. Your Vasana depends entirely on the kind of residual memory or karmic content you carry.

Karma is Internal

Consider the following scenarios:

  1. You are playing with a knife, then it hits someone and kills them.
  2. You get into an argument with someone while cutting vegetables. In the heat of the moment, you stab them and they die.
  3. You meticulously plan how you would dispose of an enemy. You pursue them and thrust a knife into them.
  4. You behave in a friendly manner with someone and invite them over to dinner after a wonderful meal. When they sit back satiated, you slit their throat.
  5. You act perfectly normal with a person. But internally, you keep plotting all the terrible things you want to do with them.

The same ingredients are present in the first four cases, but the karma is not the same. The consequence on the other person is the same, but the impact on you is determined by your volition. It is the level of bitterness and hatred that causes karma—not the act alone. Therefore, the fifth is the worst in terms of karmic accumulation. Acting out the bitterness externally has a grave physical consequence, but allowing the bitterness to grow and multiply within has even deeper internal consequences. You may not have been sentenced to prison, but you have imprisoned yourself!

Why Do People Suffer More than Others?

If there is a god, why not create everyone equally? Why are some disabled and others able-bodied? Why are some poor and others rich? And why can’t everyone carry positive karma? What is the point of terrible inequality?

These are questions that have plagued humans since the dawn of time. If you examine the questions, you will see the primary cause of human suffering is not physical handicap or poverty. The cause of human suffering comes from oneself.

Let’s distinguish pain and suffering. Pain is physical. It is produced whenever there is an injury to the body, and it’s the body’s way of alerting you something is wrong. Suffering on the other hand is psychological. It is produced by you and is 100% self-manufactured. You don’t have a choice about pain, but you do have a choice about suffering.

The karmic substance inside yourself may happen to contain all the necessary ingredients to create suffering. Perhaps you planted all these ingredients unconsciously in your past. So what can you do about it today? The answer is simple: don’t manufacture suffering for yourself today. Maybe terrible things happened to you yesterday. Maybe you lost everything that is precious to you. But when you get up this morning, you still have the choice to stop the suffering.

This is how your food is grown every day. A large part of agriculture is just weeding because there are more weeds than plants growing in your garden. If you keep weeding you will have your own garden. But if you sit back defeated, you will have a patch of weeds. The same idea holds true for your life. You have your seed of karma, but also your weeding karma. This is where volition comes in, and where intention becomes paramount. If you decide not to perform your weeding karma, your life will just be an overgrown wilderness. But if you choose to tend your garden, your life could yield an incredibly rich harvest.

The Fox & Lion Story

On a certain day, a man was seized by a spiritual thirst. So he went to the forest, sat cross-legged under a tree, and started chanting aum. One day he returned after his meal and sat down on a rock. He was about to resume chanting when he saw a fox. It had lost both its forelegs but was still well-fed and healthy. This struck the man as distinctly odd. In a jungle governed by the law of the survival of the fittest, it was strange to see a disabled but healthy animal. How had the fox managed to survive?

That evening he heard the growl of a lion while meditating. He promptly stopped chanting and climbed up the tree. The lion had a big chunk of meat in his mouth; it walked up to the crippled fox to deliver the food and walked away. The same practice went on day after day. The man then had an epiphany. If a crippled fox was being fed in the jungle by a generous lion, then why should he keep running to town in search of food? Surely God wanted him to trust that God would provide him food one way or another. And he should only focus on his spiritual practice.

The man survived the first few days; but by the fifth day, he could barely stay conscious. On the seventh day, he was gasping for life caught in the throes of death. A yogi happened to be walking by and asked, ‘What happened to you?’. The man replied, ‘A divine message from God.’ The other yogi then commented, ‘Why did you choose to imitate the crippled fox rather than the generous lion?’


We’ve always had a choice. Between inclusive action or paralysed volition, between intelligent dynamism or pathetic fatalism. When we say our life is our karma, it means our life is of our making. The moment we absolve ourselves of responsibility, our life resembles that of the crippled fox rather than that of the generous lion.

Most people live in states of great inner tumult because they believe a God up there or others around them are responsible for their lives. The moment you believe that your ability to respond is limitless, you have now shifted the source of creation from heaven within. Now it doesn’t matter if you have confirmed tickets to heaven. Once you know the source of life is throbbing within you, those tickets are quite irrelevant. The significance of karma is that it means that none of your identities is absolute; all of them are capable of constant evolution.

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