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Yoga Articles by Julene Packer-Louis

Five Types of Karma
by Julene Packer-Louis

What is Karma?

The Vedic concept of Karma can be translated to the Christian concept of "you reap what you sow". It is the universal law of cause and effect and perhaps the scientific law of for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is not fate, it translates to "action". At the end of the movie Forest Gump while sitting on the bench, Forest recalls his mother's and Captain Dan's idea of fate and free-will and then says: "I think both are happing at the same time." I agree with Forest and think that he nailed the concept of karma. We come into this life with karma accumulated from past life times and while in this life time we create some more. So to the extent that are repeating our patterns, choosing to continue to act or react in the same fashion from attachment to a certain perception, we feel like it is our fate to continually experience this same drama or dynamic. However, this is arising to bring to our awareness the karmic patterns we need to change. We have the free will to work off or neutralize our karma from past and present lifetimes during this life. The ultimate goal is moksha, [liberation, release, redemption] from the wheel of samsara [the cycle of life-death-rebirth].

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talk about karma in KAIVALYA PADA. Kaivalya translates to detachment from soul matter. Pada translates to foot, step, portion, or matter. So this section of Yoga Sutras deals with the steps we can take to detach from the karmas stored in our soul matter and lodged in various parts of the body, both physical and ethereal. The beginning of this chapter speaks of spiritual evolution and the activities of the mind that create attachment and see things as black, white or mixed. I'll quote a few passages from my copy that is translated by Mukanda Stiles and leave you to your own mediation on the true meaning.

"IV, 8: From the maturation of these residual impressions, only corresponding potential desires manifest."
"IV, 9: Because residual impressions and memory are identical, their continuity is sustained, although they may appear to be separated by difference in birth, place, or time."
"IV, 10: There is no beginning to this cycle, and, because of the permanence of the primal will to live, there is no end."
"IV, 11: Cause and effect, support and its supported object are inseparable, in the same manner, so are the impressions and memory bound together. With the absence of one of these factors, impressions will vanish."
"IV, 12: The past and future exist in their own essential form. Yet, owing to differences in characteristics, they manifest at their own pace."
"IV, 13: These characteristics, manifest or unmanifested, are due to primal natural forces."
"IV, 24: the mind accumulates countless desires, although it exists solely for the sake of being close to the True Self."
"IV, 25: Dwelling upon self-centeredness completely ceases for one who sees the distinction."
"IV, 26: Then the mind is inclined toward discriminative thinking, which pulls irresistibly toward absolute freedom."
"IV, 27: In the intervals between these thoughts, distracting thoughts arise due to other past habitual thoughts."
"IV, 28: Their cessation is like that of the obstacles that were previously described, that is, destroying them through meditative absorption."
"IV, 29: One who is free of self-interest, even from the attainment of the highest realizations, and who possesses constant discrimination is showered with virtues from being absorbed in Spirit."
"IV, 30: From this comes a cessation of obstacles and karmic patterns."

Sanchita Karma: Sanchita means accumulated. This is the sum total of karma from all life times. These are our accumulated past actions from past lives that show up in this life. It is what we carry in our karmic suitcase through incarnations. When we neutralize a portion of this karma in our suitcase, it becomes unpacked, we leave it behind. Yet we will create more karma in this life to pack with us for next time, and that is also Sanchita. And so it goes, packing and unpacking bits of karma; both good and bad for either will attach us to the wheel of life. It is the karma we bring in, create, and take out; the entire accumulation of past and present karma. Sanchita Karma shows up in the birth chart as both the challenges and gifts we brought in to this life within us.

Parabdha Karma: Para means other, chief, extreme, greatest, highest. Rabh means begun. Abdha means year. This is a portion of Sanchita karma that is manifesting in this life. This is the results of past actions manifesting in the present. It is the overabundance or extreme of certain patterns that are coming to the fore of the highest importance to be addressed in this life. Parabdha Karma is triggered by transits to the natal planets, and seen through the dashas [planetary periods] of Vedic astrology.

Kriyamana Karma: Kryaa means activity, doing, work, performance, rite. Mana means idea, view, belief, thought, opinion, the mind. This is the work of our thought patterns. It is current, instant karma. You speed, you get a ticket. You yell at someone, they yell back. You hug someone who is sad, they hug you back. You feel angry inside and attract an accident. You reminisce about an old friend and they call you on the phone. In my opinion this one has the most to do with "the law of attraction" as it is being meant today in The Secret and other such books. What you think about (mana) you bring about (kriyaa). Prashna or Horary Astrology deals with Kriyamana karma.

Agami or Agma Karma: Gam means coming. This is the karma we are making in this life to take into the next. These are the seeds we are sowing to pack into our karmic suitcase for future incarnations. We notice this when we see someone continually getting away with something and wonder when they will get caught. We see this in the person who gives freely to so many and yet is constantly running into one hardship after another, waiting to be paid back for their good deeds. Agami karma will catch up to us eventually, perhaps not in this life time, but in the next. Muharta or electional astrology deals with Agami Karma, as we choose the best or most auspicious time to manifest the fruit from the seeds we've sown.

Samhita Karma: Samhita means connected with, agreeing with, union, joined. This is our collective karma. The karma we experience globally, nationally, in the groups we associate with, the company we work for, and with those we are thrown together with by sheer happenstance. Passengers on planes, trains or subways that wreck have the same collective karma. We incarnate in a specific country that resonates with the collective karma we are to experience in this lifetime. Mundane astrology deals with Samhita Karma.

© Julene Packer-Louis 2010