Thursday, November 30, 2023

How to Outwit Bad Karma!

 How to Outwit Bad Karma! 


There is a way out of bad karma, but the “way” is narrow and straight and “you” get left behind. You want to hear more? 

What is karma? Karma is the self-balancing after-effects of previous actions, including thoughts and emotions, not just physical deeds. Thus, the term “karma” includes what is ordinarily considered “good” karma as well as “bad.” However, most casual uses of the term “karma” tend to assume “bad” karma.  

What, then is “bad” karma? Bad karma is the unwanted boomerang effects of your previous not-so-laudable actions. If you purposely hurt someone (physically or emotionally) you might expect the law of karma to dictate that you will be hurt in return (whether by the person you hurt or another person). Good karma would be the kindness that returns to you for having been kind to others.  

The law of karma can be seen in the law of physics that states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In nature, we would refer to the law of karma as the principle of cause and effect. Whether in science or human behavior, our expectations assume the law of causation even though we often cannot see the chain of causes that lead to a specific effect. We would go crazy if our world was not so governed. Life would not be worth living if we could not reasonably expect to exchange good habits for bad habits; if we could not improve our skills, our health, or our relationships. Science wouldn’t exist to improve our lives if experiments could not be duplicated dependably.  

This fundamentally important aspect of human life is akin to the law of gravity. Our lives would be in disarray if gravity did not hold sway on our planet. 

The justice system metes out greater punishment to evil deeds that are done intentionally as compared to accidental misdeeds. This recognizes the importance of intention. Intention reflects consciousness and the implicit participation of doership. Thus, karma is tied to the degree of conscious intention and awareness.  

Doership therefore holds the key to karma: good or bad. Accidents that I cause generate karma (effects) that cannot be changed but their boomerang impact on me sometime in the future is lessened for not having caused the accident intentionally. If I accidentally kill a pedestrian with my car on a dark and rainy night, I certainly incur karma but it is not the same as my committing “first-degree” murder.  

So how to beat my “bad” karma? There are several stages each of which relates to the degree of my ego involvement. 

Stage One: Practice Stoicism Practicing “stoicism” or non-attachment and non-reactivity reduces the tendency to ADD more karma while, at the same time, mitigates the impact of “incoming” or “ripening” karma. Stage One is therefore very efficient.  

Whether “good” or “bad” karma, the solution is the same. I’ll explain why we want to address “good” karma and not just “bad” karma. 

For my purposes, Stoicism is synonymous with non-attachment. One of the most famous aphorisms of the Yoga Sutras is stanza two which defines enlightenment as the neutralization of the mental reactive process to circumstances, thoughts, emotions, memories, and imaginationThis does not imply one becomes an automaton. Rather, to be non-reactive means to be calm and non-attached. There are countless layers of this state, but in the yoga tradition deep meditation is the key. But as the philosophers of Stoicism counsel us, it can begin with seeing life philosophically, meaning, from the God’s-eye point of view. 

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the now-famous life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” gave this advice: “What comes of itself, let it come. Conditions are always neutral; they may seem happy or sad owing only to the attitudes of the mind.” 

Calmness and non-attachment are not the same as apathy, however. Apathy dulls the mind and awareness, and, to a degree, apathy steals from us the power of self-control. It thus undermines our ability to act calmly. Calmness and non-attachment require presence of mind to uphold their power when circumstances become intense, whether with success, failure, pleasure or pain. Presence of mind requires willpower and centeredness.  

Using will power and the power of habit to remain neutral is easy for the small things but close to impossible for most people when the big tests come.  

Meditation is a far more effective practice for developing consistency in achieving non-attachment. There are, however, many degrees and types of meditation. Meditation that is practiced devoid of spiritual attitudes and wisdom is far less effective than when practiced in its traditional context of devotion, selflessness, self-control, and openness to wise counsel. 

The reason I include “good” karma is that “every coin has two sides.” How can we achieve even-mindedness if we get excited over good fortune but pretend to remain even-minded in misfortune? You will find that the practice of non-attachment will impact your response to both good and bad circumstances. Non-attachment is the steady development of calmness under all circumstances. There is a deeper reason for this equality, however.  

The deeper purpose and power of Stage One is that it prepares us to detach the sense of doership from all actions: both good and bad. While intentional calmness can take us to the brink of what I will call Stage Two, it cannot by itself, cannot carry us over the finish line. 

Stage Two: Soul Consciousness. Human beings have the power to withdraw beyond the realm of causation, away from the play of opposites and boomerangs! The soul is forever free of karma for it is made in the image of God. As we accept divine guidance from within, we achieve freedom from karma. Daily meditation and inner communion with God, attuning one’s human will to the silent voice of intuition is the way out from the soul-degrading serfdom to habits and the reactive process. 

Moral reasoning; scriptural interpretations; pleading emotions; these are rooted in ego consciousness and ego consciousness is the problem. When the ego is transcended in soul-consciousness, the law of karma is transcended also. When there’s no whirling vortex of “I” and “mine” the chain of causation is cut. Our actions, guided by the divine will, accrue to the benefit of others. 

God who created the law of karma suspends the sentence of judgment for those souls who are united to Him. The way to escape the decrees of cosmic law is to live in divine consciousness.  

No matter how busy we are, we should strive in the inner silence to attune ourselves with God. By silent devotion we can deepen our awareness of divine love and wisdom. God is above the law. 

(Note the text above includes excerpts from the Wisdom of Yogananda: Karma and Reincarnation. Published by 

Joy to you! 

Swami Hrimananda 



Friday, November 17, 2023

Looking for a Friend

 Looking for a Friend 

Nature has designed our bodies to be constantly engaged with our surroundings. Our ego is designed to keep us involved in our thoughts, emotions, memories, desires, fears and imaginings.  

Do we ever stop to wonder and observe who it is that is thinking and doing all these things? Without consciousness and without self-awareness of being conscious, none of these activities would be possible. Like building a car, consciousness is the chassis upon which the shape, color and functions of the automobile are constructed. With a car there’s no need to crawl under it and observe the chassis but with human consciousness, there’s every reason to re-direct our attention upon the consciousness that is otherwise normally peering outside of itself, engaged in these many activities. 

Why is that? Consciousness is intelligence. Consciousness is the source of our ability to think, feel, act and experience life. Consciousness thus contains the “DNA” or “programming” that allows us to be who and what we are, at least as we self-define ourselves. Most people would probably respond and say, “So what? That’s obvious. What’s the point?” 

There isn’t a point until or unless we are willing to reflect that the very nature of that consciousness is not ours; it is not unique to us; it appears in others; it would seem to be the source of the amazing beauty, complexity, and innate intelligence that we see from the smallest quanta to the billions of galaxies. It is everywhere and in everything.  

When we reflect that the source of our awareness is the same everywhere, the word “God” might arise in our thoughts. Oh, maybe some other words, too, because while words are just, well, words (thoughts and sounds, really), the words point (potentially) to some-thing. Or perhaps in the case of pure consciousness, no-thing at all.  

If we stop to consider that this Consciousness-no-thing is the very essence and source of our self-ness and if we stop to be present with it, ceasing our internal mental narrative and external activities, we might find something wonderful arising within us, like a lotus flower that opens to the rays of the morning sun.  

The very nature of consciousness is that it doesn’t impose anything upon us. Beyond bestowing life and the powers and abilities inherent in the form it occupies, it does not judge; it only observes. It is patient and always available when we are conscious. With practice, however, we might find that it has much to offer but be warned that it cannot be ordered to do our bidding. 

Our restlessness of mind and body veils our awareness of the presence of our only real well-wisher, friend, and constant companion. Regular meditation, by contrast, reveals our Friend and helps us develop a long-term relationship together. Our Friend is the essence of humbleness insofar as most of the time and most people never pay our Friend the slightest attention though we owe everything we call ourselves to this Friend’s powers and presence.  

Just as our human friends influence our attitudes, interests, and activities, our invisible Friend will influence us over time in certain ways that are suitable to our deeper nature. As the very source of our life, there are some general qualities that our Friend will bestow upon us if we are open to receiving our Friend’s influence: vitality, health, equanimity, intelligence, acceptance and calmness. On the basis of such qualities, it is easier to love others without attachment and to think, feel and act in ways that resonate with our Friend’s silent voice which is our conscience.  

By now you have concluded that this Friend of Friends might be called God, Christ or guru. A saint or avatar is one who has achieved complete identification with this Friend and thus can introduce us to our Friend. 

There are countless methods of prayer and meditation, but I want to focus on this simple, but challenging, practice of “Looking for my Friend.” Here are some suggestions: 

  • Your mind, like Moses, will guide you to this Promised Land but, like Moses, your mind must stand outside the door. 
  • So let your Mind re-mind you that you wish to go within and meet your Friend. Let your mind be your verbal guide until you enter the Holy of Holies to commune in Silence. 
  • Calm and center yourself. Any standing, lying or sitting position will do, though the standard upright position of meditation is the best. Closed or open eyes as you feel. 
  • Smile subtly with soft eyes at the thought of meeting your Friend. Open your mouth slightly as if you are about to speak. 
  • Gaze into the near distance to gently fix your eyes as if to take into your view all the way to the left and right of your peripheral vision and thus not fixing your gaze upon any specific object. 
  • While gazing thusly, feel in your chest, just above the sternum, a soft perhaps warm feeling. This supports that subtle smile and soft eyes. 
  • With either your eyes or the entire field of your body’s awareness, feel that you are looking at.........looking. This is like placing two mirrors opposite each other: they go on to infinity or, put differently, it is like an echo chamber, though of awareness not of sound. 
  • Like catching a wave or feeling a passing breeze, it won’t be easy to hold this feeling because it cannot be done with tension or willpower, but with deep relaxation into the space that is between thoughts or other mental and physical activity or movement. 
  • You will tend to oscillate in and out of this space. The mind will constantly want to take over the space. With practice, the experience becomes more readily accessible and for longer periods of time. It takes skill and practice but even a little of this practice brings great rewards of relaxation and even calm euphoria or well-being. 
  • If you are inclined towards devotion, then feel that you are meeting Christ, Krishna or one of the masters in this silent space; and, that it is with their grace and presence that you are guided and held in this space. 
  • Otherwise, let your Friend do the (silent) talking. In time, your Friend will reveal more and more. 
  • During the day, when stressed or needing answers, call upon this Friend in this space even for just a nano-second. Even a little of this practice will save you from fears and suffering. 

Here are the lyrics from a Christmas song called “Looking for a Friend” by Swami Kriyananda. I have adapted them for this article: 

Looking for a Friend 


Where are you going my little one? 
“In hope these empty streets I wend; 
I’ve seen a star rise in the east, 
And I’m looking for a friend.” 

Where are you going, good shepherd folk? 
“From a lowly valley we ascend. 
A wondrous vision sent us here: 
We’re looking for a friend.” 

You learned men, where are you going? 
“Our souls’ long journey we would end, 
Therefore we’ve come to Bethlehem: 
We’re looking for a friend.” 

Good people, let me come with you. 
Perhaps he’s just around this bend, 
But whether near or far, I, too, 
Have been looking for a friend. 

May you, too, find the Friend within you! 

Swami Hrimananda