Recently, someone asked me “how can I overcome Karma?” So, let’s think about this.
She said, “When I’m in a certain situation, I always react in the same way, which I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be like this. I want to stop this Karma, and sometimes I succeed, but a lot of the time I still keep reacting to situations.”
I think everyone feels this way, especially when they want to develop spirituality. And actually, I think everyone struggles with this. I know I do. And it doesn’t matter how long you practice, this happens all the time — each time it gets deeper, and each time our ego gets more sneaky.
So, I’ll share my experience on how to get one up on Karma.
First, what is Karma?
Mahayana Buddhism tells us that human beings are made of the three Karma of body, words, and mind, so it can be said that these three are action, speech, and thoughts. And practice is meant to align those three elements. Karma’s meaning also includes the universal law of cause and effect.
So, in considering the question of how we can overcome Karma, we have to understand that it means repetitious or repeated actions, words, and thoughts. Sort of like a habit: in certain situations, we repeat the same reactions. We do the same thing each time. We say the same thing each time. We think the same way each time.
To stop these reactions, the cause of the reactions must be found. Where did these reactions come from? Why did they happen? Most commonly they come from the past, from your memories, experiences, and emotions; even if you don’t remember something, it’s still in your subconscious.
(Those memories and experiences are called seeds of Karma, and they are stuck in the collective consciousness [the Araya consciousness]. As you may know, the collective consciousness is not personal, it is connected to all beings. So your Karma is not actually “yours,” it just appears to you as Karma from the collective consciousness.)
So, look in your subconscious, feel what’s in your heart, feel how it is reacting. Usually, these reactions are connected to old emotions. What are the emotions that made you react? And what memory is connected to those emotions? Keep looking at your heart and find that memory or memories. Then, if you can laugh about yourself and say, “How could such a small thing make me suffer for so long? I’m so stupid!” And don’t say this in a self-deprecating way — say it with humor!
Humor is a key factor in overcoming Karma, so if you get serious about yourself, you’ll have a hard time with this.
One of my reactions is “anger.” In certain situations, I reacted with anger. I kept reacting like this for a long time without knowing why I was doing it, but one day I said to myself, “This is enough, I want to stop reacting this way,” and looking deep inside my heart, I heard a voice saying “I want to be understood, why don’t you understand me, why don’t you listen to me?!” It was as though a small child in my heart was crying and screaming, and was expressing this feeling on the outside as anger. Actually, it still sometimes comes out, but now, after I laugh at myself, think how childish my reaction was, and feel that I’m receiving Amida Buddha’s love for my childishness, I react way less than I used to, and there is peace in my heart.
So if you now feel that “enough is enough — I’m not going to repeat the same reactions with everything I do, say, and think anymore,” and are determined to overcome your karma, recognize its cause, and laugh about it, then you are almost there! Repeat this cycle each time and make it deeper so that you can see your heart, and you’ll feel Amida Buddha’s love (or god’s love [they are the same, different in name only]). Do this, and your practice will deepen.
However, sometimes you still can’t overcome those reactions. If so, you’d better check your motivation. If you are doing it for yourself, then you might not be successful because you are driven by ego and you are not seeing ego as the cause. If your motivation is for others (or for the field and the world), if you are motivated to overcome Karma because you care for the people around you when you react, then you will receive help. And that help will come from something great — whether it is god or Amida Buddha, it doesn’t matter; again, they are the same, we just call them by different names.
Don’t worry: ego is smarter than you, but Amida Buddha is much smarter than ego. ^^
How much “you” there is in your motivation equals how much of “your ego” is in your motivation. What’s important is how much you can recognize your ego and how much you can erase it. This is the basis of spiritual practice; without erasing ego, there is no spiritual development. Actually, not recognizing ego and not erasing it gives power to evil and makes it stronger, with the result that you become a Drifter.
The next checkpoint is “how determined you are to create a better future.” If you keep looking back at the past and remain attached to it, then you aren’t creating the future; instead, you are counting how many times you failed and or just spending a lot of time saying self-deprecating things like “I’m not good enough.”
A better future will be realized if you keep imagining, moment by moment, what you want the future to be like, and aligning your actions, words, and thoughts with your idea of a brighter future. Create better and new Karma each moment — create new and better actions, words and thoughts for others and for the world.
When you live in this state, you feel so relaxed. And the energy of the field around you will be lifted — it will be lighter and clearer.
Let’s clear our old Karma and create a better world!