We hear the word karma thrown around a lot in everyday conversations. It’s paired with sayings such as, “What goes around comes around,” or my personal favorite, “Karma’s a bitch.”
Understanding karma in this way suggests some grand form of universal justice, with tally marks for good and bad actions and a universe that doles out consequences accordingly. This is a common misunderstanding of the Laws of Karma.
Karma stems from Hindu and Buddhist belief systems. The Sanskrit word karma translates as “action,” and includes our deeds, words, and thoughts.
There are 12 Laws of Karma, and understanding these laws can help us see the interplay between our actions (or causes) and effects.
Simply, everything you do creates a response.
Think back to your science classes and Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Karma is essentially the life application equivalent to this law. And you thought you would never use what you learned in science class!
Here’s Your Guide to the 12 Laws of Karma:
To fully understand the 12 Laws of Karma, we have to examine them individually.
1. The Great Law
When most people talk about karma, they are referring to The Great Law. Sometimes translated as The Law of Cause and Effect, it shows us that whatever thoughts, energy, or deeds we give out, we will receive back.
You reap what you sow. If you want happiness, peace, generosity, and love, then you must exhibit these yourself and treat others in this way.
2. The Law of Creation
Life doesn’t happen to us; you are in charge of creating it and making it into what you want.
Don’t wait for great things to fall in your lap, go out and create them yourself. Look at what’s surrounding you. It reflects what’s going on internally. If you find yourself surrounded by chaos, then there is internal chaos as well.
Surround yourself with what you want and who you want to be to create the future you desire.
The Laws of Karma also apply to the laws of success: How to Apply Deepak Chopra’s 7 Spiritual Laws of Success to Your Life
3. The Law of Humility
Start with where you are. If you want to change anything, you must have a true understanding of what you are starting with.
Accept this with humility, and then actively work to change what needs to be changed. Use self-reflection to see where you are in life and humbly work toward what you want instead.
4. The Law of Growth
Growth starts within us. We cannot change the world around us before growing ourselves, and that growth should never stop.
There are always new things to learn, ways we can improve, or skills or traits to develop. When we grow and change who we are at our core, then our life will follow, and maybe even the world around us. Change yourself to change your life.
The Laws of Karma apply to your yoga practice too! Here’s The Science Behind Yoga and Spirituality: 3 Reasons Yoga Leads to Spiritual Growth
5. The Law of Responsibility
Ultimately, you are responsible for your life’s journey. Take ownership of what’s happening, both the good and the messy. Don’t make excuses for or not deal with the bad.
You cannot control everything that happens to you, but you can take responsibility for how you respond to these things.
6. The Law of Connection
We are all interdependent, meaning we are connected in some way to everything around us. We are also connected to our past, present, and future.
Everything you’ve experienced in the past makes you who you are today, and influences who you will be tomorrow. This includes things you’ve done and people you’ve interacted with. Your interactions with others will influence their lives as well.
7. The Law of Focus
We can only put our energy toward one thing at a time. We may claim to be marvelous multitaskers, but in truth, we accomplish more when we focus on one thing at a time. This applies to tasks, goals, and thoughts.
Prioritize your tasks and goals, and work to finish one before starting the other. The Law of Focus helps to keep our thoughts in line as well. If you focus on things like love and peace, then you aren’t distracted by feelings of greed or anger.
Have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time? Improve Your Concentration With These 10 Yoga Poses
8. The Law of Giving and Hospitality
This brings to mind the expression,“Talk the talk and walk the walk.” Essentially, follow beliefs up with actions that support those beliefs.
In life we will have many opportunities or tests to do something to demonstrate our commitment to that belief. Your actions will reflect what you believe. These tests may show that you need to grow a bit more if you find yourself not able to put your beliefs into actions.
The Laws of Karma come into play in the paths of yoga as well! Here are The Four Paths of Yoga Explained: A Comprehensive Overview of Bhakti, Jnana, Raja and Karma Yoga
9. The Law of Here and Now
This is all about living in the present. You lose the ability to enjoy the moment when you focus on the past or future.
The present is all you really have. Embrace the present by letting go of negative thoughts or behaviors that hold you to your past.
10. The Law of Change
This law helps us to understand that history will continue to repeat itself until we learn from it. When we finally learn the lessons that we need, then we will be able to change our journey.
If your life seems to be on repeat, evaluate what lessons you are missing and use that to help create a new future.
The Laws of Karma go hand-in-hand with the law of dharma: How the Buddhist Concept of Dharma Can End All Your Suffering
11. The Law of Patience and Reward
Simply stated, hard work pays off. If you put in the work needed, for as long as it takes, then success will eventually follow.
It may take longer than you planned, but with consistency, your hard work will pay off. Find joy in doing the work, you will find the reward is even sweeter at the end.
12. The Law of Significance and Inspiration
We are all connected, and our actions have value and impact on others. We should share our skills and gifts with the world to have a positive influence on it.
You may think that the skills you have or actions you can take are small, but their impacts may not be. Every action you make can have a positive and significant impact on the world around you.
Rewards will only happen when you put forth effort and energy. This is quite similar to The Great Law. The Great Law focuses on the individual, and this law focuses how those actions affect society and the world.
The Takeaway on the 12 Laws of Karma
Karma’s not about doing good or bad. Rather, it teaches us that everything we do affects or changes us and the world around us.
Whether you hold any spiritual beliefs or not, understanding the 12 Laws of Karma helps to see the relationship between actions and consequences.
Apply these Laws of Karma and you will find a more fulfilled, productive, and impactful life. There is great freedom found in understanding how your actions work to change your life and the world around you.