Law of Karma and Suffering

Lesson 4/16 | Study Time: 10 Min
Law of Karma and Suffering

The law of Karma

Karma is the law of action or the law of cause and effect. On the micro level in the West we think of karma as “what goes around comes around;” Learn to live according to the spiritual rules of eternal life and improve the quality of your life because your mind, emotions, speech, and actions are affected by this law. 

Mankind sometimes gets struck by their "destiny". Some suffer from illness, accidents, from being beaten half death or death. Mankind - made in the image of God - to fear or to learn to be fully responsible for all they do. The law of Karma explains why illness, accidents, and disasters of any kind may occur to some persons, and why others may enjoy a happy life, free, healthy, and joyful. Learn to properly apply this law for your benefit - it will be at the same time for the benefit of all.

The law of karma is simple and has been known for thousands of years. The law of Karma is known in Christian teachings, as well as in many other cultures. It says: “Whatever you do to others - will be done to you, in this or any future incarnation of your soul”. This law is so straightforward and logical, it sometimes is hard to believe, that some people still think they may somehow get around it. If you knock your head against a wall, it is obvious - it may damage the wall and it may hurt your head. If you knock someone by physically fighting - you may cause harm, pain, and injury to the person and the law of Karma requires you to experience the same pain. This is to have you learn to behave in a way that causes pleasant experiences for others and yourself alike. 

Whatever you do, you may attract persons around you, that have the same or similar Karma as you have. If you are of a physically fighting nature, you may attract such persons again and again. Until you start to become aware of your behavior and start to be fed up with the result of your very own actions. Until you start to strive for a more peaceful environment. The only sure method of finding one is changing your very own behavior.

The Cause of Suffering 

The Buddha states "Life is suffering". Both the ancient yogis and the Buddhists point to the kleshas (afflictions) as the causes of our suffering. These "afflictions" distort our minds and our perceptions affecting how we think, act, and feel. The five main Klesha's (afflictions) vary in intensity on our psyche, from being inconsequential in their effect to utter blindness. These kleshas not only create suffering but are said to bind us to the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, thus preventing us from achieving enlightenment. The Five Kleshas are:- 

Avidya (ignorance) is the misconception of our true reality, believing that the temporary is eternal, the impure is the pure, and pleasure is painful. This false representation of reality is the root of klesha and produces the four others. Non-science, untrue, bogus, illusion, delusion, lack of awareness of reality or the real, unenlightened, backward. It is also the ground in which the four other Klesha fertilize. Thus Ignorance is when we think the unreal is real; that matter is the ultimate or only important real substance; mistaking religion, dogmas, or superstitions for spirituality; when we think in terms of "I," "I am the body," "This is me." Ignorance is the absence of knowledge of the spirit of man. 

Asmita (I-am-ness) is the identification of ourselves with our ego. We create a self-image of ourselves that we believe is us, but it is not us. This self-image can contain both external (I am poor) and internal (I am a bad person) false projections. We become trapped within the projections we have created of our life. The "I" or "Me-maker," is the opinion we have of ourselves, but one which is seldom shared by others. An imagined personality. Mistaken identification of nature, mind, and spirit as the body. To identify oneself with worldly life, the body, and the senses. Arrogant conceit is often a cover to hide one's inferiority; Real men and women do not need to advertise themselves. The ego is a mask we wear to try to hide and veil what we are. 

Raga (attachment) is the attraction to things that bring satisfaction to oneself. Our desire for pleasurable experiences creates mindless actions and blind-sighted vision. When we cannot obtain what we desire, we suffer. When we obtain what we desire, our feelings of pleasure soon fade and we begin our search for pleasure again, becoming trapped in an endless cycle. Possessiveness, ownership, liking, attraction. Attachment to people, things, and ideas. To join, connect, or associate ourselves with something. "This is ours," "This is mine." Attachment in its negative sense to things we cannot own or keep. Often the cause of quarrels, violent conflicts, and even war. Expressed also as race, nationality, country, my money. Attachment can only have free play on lower mind levels. 

Dvesha (repulsion) is the opposite of raga, aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. If we cannot avoid the things we dislike, we suffer. Even thinking about unpleasant experiences produces suffering. 

Abhinivesha (will to live) is the deepest and most universal klesha, remaining with us until our deaths. We know that one day we will indeed die, yet our fear of death is deeply buried in our unconsciousness. 

Overcome Sufferings

The first stage of working with the klesha is to simply acknowledge them. Reflection promotes self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-knowledge to uncover and see the klesha's and their roots as well as how they create suffering. The direct opposition of concentration and other yogic techniques can counteract simple klesha's. Gross klesha's are overcome with meditation, a burning desire to make a change, and seeking wisdom. Yogic techniques are said to burn away the impurities of the kleshas to purify the mind so we can see the reality of the world and experience our true nature.