By Andre Haralyi M.A, C-IAYT

Karma literally means “action or deed.” The concept of karma highlights the law of cause and effect, comparable to what modern physics calls the “natural law,”  that seems to permeate all aspects of existence. Every action leads to a reasonable result. Everything that happens originates from something done in the past.

“According as one acts, according as one behaves, so does he become. 

The doer of good becomes good, the doer of evil becomes evil. 

One become virtuous by virtuous actions, bad by bad actions. 

Others, however, say that person consists of desires. 

As is his desire, so is his will. As his will is, so is his deed.

As his deed is, so is his destiny.”   

Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV.4.5

The following Chinese Proverb offers a similar concept, connecting thoughts, words, actions, habits, character and finally destiny in one single chain of events. Destiny in this case is not understood as something predetermined but rather directly influenced by the quality of one’s being.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.

Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

Chinese proverb

The doctrine of Karma-Yoga, as explained in chapter three of the Bhagavad-Gītā, encourages an active life, as action is considered to be superior to inaction. According to this path, the performance of actions should be done as an offering, without attachments for its results. One should overcome the illusion that he/she (ego personality) is the agent. In order to attain the state beyond action (free from the bonds of Karma, from cause and effect) Karma-Yoga propounds the idea of desire-less action (Niṣkāmakarma), where every action is an expression of the true Self.

“In action alone is your right-interest, never in its fruits. Let not your motive be the fruit of action, nor let your attachment be to inaction.”

Bhagavad-Gītā  II.47

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