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Karma: Facing our Destiny with Free Will

Karma is one of the most basic concepts at the heart of Indian philosophy. When we combine an understanding of karma with yogic practice, we can consciously and quickly journey toward enlightened living and higher consciousness.

By Dr. Swami Shankardev Saraswati and Jayne Stevenson

Karma and meditation

The root cause and nature of our karmic patterns can only be fully understood through meditation, which is the most important yogic tool for managing karma. By developing awareness, we can clearly see our karmic patterns in action and respond to them using whichever yogic techniques we have learned. Meditation also gives us a calmer, less emotionally reactive mind and nervous system, so that we can respond with more peace and wisdom and with less fear, anger, or attachment.

The key is to apply yoga and accept the old karmas that are running their course, as well as to actively work to create new and better karmas for ourselves. To do this, we need to identify what we want out of life, then build these new patterns with care and intelligence.

Planning a better future is not always easy. It requires a great deal of self-effort, trial and error, and learning from experience and introspection. Yoga and meditation, talking to wise people, being part of a yogic community that shares wisdom, and studying wisdom texts from many sources greatly assists our development.

Ultimately, we can aim to reduce the number of karmic patterns we are bound by and achieve greater freedom through practicing karma yoga and developing the capacity to give to others. This reduces our narcissistic obsession with our own problems and gives us a higher, more universal perspective on life.

Dr. Swami Shankardev is a yogacharya, medical doctor, psychotherapist, author and lecturer. He lived and studied with his guru, Swami Satyananda, for ten years in India (1974- 1985). He lectures all over the world. Jayne Stevenson is a writer and filmmaker with many years of experience in yoga-tantra. She is cofounder of Big Shakti, a Web site and on-line magazine with a tantric approach to yoga and meditation. Contact them at www.bigshakti.com.


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