I have a favorite old Webster's Dictionary from 1979, which I still love to use to compare definitions to what I find online. Within its faded pages, the definition of karma reads: 1. the force generated by a person's actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and its ethical consequences to determine his destiny in his next existence. While this definition is rooted in several ancient belief systems, you do not have to be a Buddhist or a Hindu to understand karma in a modern context and put it into action to create positive outcomes in your life.
We experience variations of the karma concept every day, in every culture, whether we consider ourselves to be spiritual, religious, agnostic or even atheist. Think for a moment about the phrase, "What goes around comes around." Or how about, "You reap what you sow?" And most of Western culture has been taught The Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." These are all very powerful lessons, and they all mean the same thing, just said in different ways that resonate with individual personalities, preferences, cultures and beliefs. For example, even today's scientists understand karma through studies of cause and effect.
As explained by Roy Eugene Davis, a very wise sage and direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda—the Indian yogi and guru who brought the teachings of Kriya Yoga to the West in 1920—karma is "an influence that can produce effects. Causative influences may be subconscious conditions or inclinations, habits, mental attitudes, states of consciousness, desires, beliefs, intentions, expectations, behaviors and actions."
This brings me to the second definition of karma in Webster's dictionary, 2. Vibration. (This is one of my favorite concepts!) Thoughts, emotions and mental energy are all vibration, and any resonance or frequency attracts to itself more of the same. Quantum physicists began to explore the relationship between energy and the structure of matter at the turn of the 19th century. As noted in a great article on the website Collective Evolution: "We are really beings of energy and vibration radiating our own unique energy signature—this is fact and is what quantum physics has shown us time and time again."
Perhaps Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a genius physicist, electrical engineer and inventor, sums it up best: "If you want to know the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." And, if you want some heavier reading on the concept, delve into the works of Albert Einstein and Max Planck, as well as Nobel Prize winners such as Niels Bohr.
Karma in Action
At an everyday level, here's a story to help illustrate how karma/vibration works. One afternoon I was driving into work, and I received a call from a coworker warning me that there was a very disgruntled customer waiting in the store. (Not the way I wanted to begin my workday!) I immediately felt myself get defensive, tense, worried, angry and ready to walk into an unpleasant situation. Thinking about it actually started making me feel physically ill. I didn't even know what this woman was upset about, and I was already filming a horror story in my head.
Then it hit me! It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and I worked in a lovely environment that allowed me to wear flip-flops and shorts to work if I chose to do so. Why was I letting this unknown person ruin my day before it even started?
So, instead of reacting with defensive, angry thoughts, I realized I should imagine meeting this person, having a great conversation and creating a happy ending for both of us. For the next few minutes, I visualized a pleasant encounter and a positive outcome. When I walked into work, I smiled at her, introduced myself, commented on the glorious day we were having, and then asked how I could be of service to her. I felt the atmosphere shift, and she tentatively smiled back at me. Within minutes we were joking around and the problem was resolved with very little effort and no negativity. Now some people would argue that it was just good customer service. Sure, you could say that, but isn't this the same as doing unto others as you would have them do unto you? Cause and effect? Karma in action?
In my thought process while driving to work, I changed my vibration from anger and defensiveness to reception and kindness. In other words, I projected out what I wished to receive back. That is karma—and it is the original recycling program.
See the BhakTee Life tee shirt design Karma: The Original Recycling Program.