Redemption, the Discipline of Karma
>> Would you mind penning a few words on what you mean by "redeeming" karma (as opposed to paying back / suffering the consequences, etc.) I have a feeling this is a very important point. Could you give a (simplistic if necessary) example? <<
To re-deem a thing is to restore to it its original value or, to give it a new value. This is the proper action in regards to karma, as opposed to "suffering", "wallowing in" or "paying back".
Karma is best described by the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." The part that's usually left out is: "For surely, what you do unto others will, in the end, be done unto you." This expresses the fact that we live in a reciprocal universe wherein every causation creates an effect that ultimately returns to its source.
In practical terms, this means that every one of our actions has consequence, either positive or negative, depending upon the nature of our action and its relationship to the environment in which it occurs. When our action is motivated by negativity or when it is inappropriate, a negative effect ensues. When this negative effect returns to us, we call it negative karma. Conversely, when our action is motivated by positivity AND is appropriate, a positive effect ensues, and when this positive effect returns to us, we call it positive karma.
At its root, karma has one purpose: to teach us a lesson. What resolves karma is the learning of the lesson it seeks to teach us. With negative karma, this lesson is to never repeat the negative causal action. With positive karma, the lesson is a bit different; namely, that we must multiply positivity.
Negative karma is not redeemed when all we do is suffer its effects. It is only redeemed when we have completely integrated the lesson it carries for us. For example, when I was young and foolish, I cheated on my lover. This causation resulted in the ending of that relationship and in my entering into another relationship wherein my lover cheated on me. This negative karma taught me exactly how painful it is to be cheated upon. Once I integrated that lesson and learned to never, never cheat on another person, I was released from relationships in which cheating was a factor. Now, I would never cheat on another person and I do not attract people who would cheat on me. Out of this negative experience, a positive result was achieved, and this is the aim of karma. In this way, I returned the original positive value to my negative karma and I gave to it a new value -- I re-deemed it.
Similarly, positive karma is not redeemed by merely basking in its glow. To redeem positive karma we must pass our good fortune on to others and in this way multiply the positivity we receive. When we treat our positive karma in a self-centered way, it demeans it and drains it of value. But when we instead, spread our good fortune outward and share it with others, it then acts as a positive causation anew and within the lives of others. For example, when I was young and foolish, I was allowed, due to an accumulation of positive karma, to penetrate a ways into the Mystery. I basked and reveled alone in my discoveries and in the end they amounted to little -- I drained their value away through my selfishness. Eventually I learned to share my good fortune instead of hoarding it all for myself. In time my good fortune multiplied as I repeatedly shared it, and now I share it freely and my penetration into the Mystery continuously grows. In this way, I increase the value of my positive karma -- I re-deem it.
The key to the redemption of karma, is our discovery of its essential lesson. When we experience either negative or positive karmic effects, we must look within for its root causation. We must seek out the causal act and understand why this act caused this effect. From this dynamic we must learn what it is about our actions that we must change (in the case of negative karma) or increase (in the case of positive karma). Otherwise, our karma will accumulate and repeat itself until we do make these discoveries. Karma is neither punishment nor reward -- it is our most persistent teacher and task-master.
The greatest guide in this journey of discovery is our conscience. It alone will tell us where we have erred and where we have excelled.
I said previously that in order to be free from the wheel of Samsara, the adept must redeem karma the instant that it is created. At the moment of the adept's physical death, all personal karma must have been redeemed or reincarnation will ensue. Thus for the adept, the redemption of karma is a continuous discipline. As each negative effect is caused, its root lesson is immediately sought out and integrated; and as each positive effect is caused, its positivity is passed outward and multiplied throughout the lives of others.
It is important to note that it is the elimination of ALL accumulated personal karma -- negative AND positive -- that frees the individual from Samsara. Negative karma accumulates until we learn its lesson and change our behavior, but positive karma accumulates when we hold onto it and do not pass it freely on. Thus the adept gives freely and without reservation, acting as a conduit for positivity, not as a source. This is a subtle and important distinction between being a conduit and a source. When you are a source of positivity, you accumulate positive karma, but when you are merely a conduit, you do not accumulate -- you re-deem.
As incarnate beings we incur not only personal karma, but also group karma (i.e., family, nation, species, etc.). Personal karma we can redeem on our own, but group karma must be redeemed by the entire group. Thus, the redemption of group karma requires more time. As we redeem our own personal karma, we are doing our part in the redemption of our group karma. But we can never alone redeem the entirety of the group karma. All we can do is our part and actively promote the group's awareness that it has karma that requires redemption. This is where the multiplication of positivity enters in. As we multiply positivity, it helps redeem the group karma, or at least, brings the group one small step further toward its redemption.
When we redeem our own personal karma, we, in effect, remove ourselves from participating in the increasing of the group's negative karma -- we therefore diminish the rate of accumulation. But we will still experience the effect of our group karma at a personal level, just as all the other members of our group experience it. For example, an instance of group vs. personal karma would be the destruction of our planetary environment. At a personal level, we can change our habits so that they are not destructive and we can promote the knowledge that our actions are destroying our planet, yet still we all experience the negative effects our species has wrought upon our environment. Until we learn, en mass, that our actions are destructive AND then change our actions, we will all suffer.
Another example of where personal and group karma intersect is war. We can individually live in peace and manifest love, but until we, as a whole people, learn to live in peace and manifest love, war will remain.
When we redeem our own part of our group karma, we remove ourselves from many of the group consequences; or rather, we change our relationship to those group consequences and experience them in a more positive way. For example, when we live in peace and manifest love in our lives, we are less likely to find ourselves in contentious, violent situations; or when we do, we deal with the contention from a place of peace and love.
Whether karma has a personal or a group causation, it must be redeemed at a personal level. Ultimately, group karma is redeemed the moment all members of the group redeem their own personal parts in the group karma.
Karma is not an onus or burden, nor is it a debt owed. Karma is our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. If approached correctly, it is our surest, most trustworthy, friend. It's our conscience turned outward for us to see. It's the voice of our Holy Guardian Angel, whispering its message of love. All we need do is listen, trust and follow.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
12 Nov 2001