Monday, February 22, 2010

The Seven Kinds of Karma

I wanted to share more extensively about karma before continuing with the Telepathic Link Yoga essays. The reaon why is that the Telepathic Link Yoga is meant to be an accelerated method for burning away karma by connecting with the blessing energy of a light being. Strictly speaking, there is good, bad, and neutral karma. Good karma are causes for a happy, peaceful, compassionate, wise, and creative life. Bad karma are causes for an unhappy, painful, angry, fearful, and sad life. Neutral karma are causes that are neither. When the phrase "burning away karma" is used it is about eliminating bad karma.

In the earliest teachings of the Buddha, he taught the 12 nidanas, which are the twelve interdependent causes and effects of karma. The chain of causation is circular, rather than linear, it is like A causes B causes C causes A. This means that karma has a repetitive pattern. This also means that causes become effects and effects become causes. Some of the causes are psychological and within an individual sentient being. Some of the causes are physical/external and connect an individual sentient being with larger patterns of causation. Ultimately, everything causes everything else. Inside this field of interdependent causation, the free choice of sentient beings is a significant factor. The chain of causation is not airtight or fatalistic. There is Quantum Uncertainty within the process. Free choice is not entirely conditioned by our past and is not entirely free from past influences either. This understanding allows us to grow rather than merely change. There are four places where we can change our karma. We can make better choices in our present moment (ethical idealism). We can burn away the imprints from our subconscious mind (meditation). We can not identify with no self phenomena and rest in our true nature (meditation). We can "remain with the sensation" and not react to external stimuli (meditation).

The first kind of karma is "obscuring karma". This is related to the mental poison of delusion. This kind of karma blocks us from seeing the truth of something. The most active form of obscuring karma is "projection" where we see what we have denied and repressed projected on some person or event. If we deny our anger, push it into our body, and not feel it anymore, then the whole world will be seen and felt as a place of anger and warfare.

The second kind of karma is "general karma". This is the result of all the lines of karma converging and becoming our general level of life. Humans generally have a certain kind of life condition, certain amount of happiness, sadness, work, love, and lifespan. This reflects the general karma of humankind at any point in time. General karma has changed for humanity over time. Things have gotten generally better with new collective challenges also appearing.

The third kind is "balancing karma". These are usually individual lines of causation, but can also be related to whole groups of people who share the same karmaic process. This karma is simple. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is a balancing process. If we kill someone, then we will tend to attract a murderer in our life. In practice, this kind of karma is not this linear, since other causes can soften this karma or change it. If we sincerely regret what we have done, when can mostly erase this outcome. If we help others and save someone, we can balance the karma without eventually needing to get killed ourselves. New causes enter the stream and can shift how our karma will manifest.

The fourth kind of karma is "habit force". This is similar to the law of momentum. We tend to stay in our habits and our habits produce a certain kind of life pattern. This is also known as conditioning. This is a far deeper karma that many humans realize. We are often completely run by habits and are basically sleep walking through life on autopilot, like programmed robots, and are almost not living at times.

The fifth kind of karma is "like attracts like". This is similar to the law of gravity. This is different from balancing karma in that balancing karma has a polarity of abuser and victim and requires us to keep switching roles. The like attracts like is where people of a similar vibration will find each other and interact with each other. This can sometimes include balancing karma too. It could be as simple as too angry people who secretly want to fight just finding each other and fighting each other.

The sixth kind of karma is "completion karma". These are events processes that are somehow unfinished and need completion, like grieving over the loss of someone in our lives. We sometimes block completion karma from finishing, hold, for instance, tears inside and let the held energy poison our whole life. This is usually because a subtle clinging and resistance holds the energy inside us. Completion karma is sometimes called "lesson karma" because something needs to be learned so that the pattern can finish and end.

The seventh kind of karma is "imprint karma". These are impressions stored in our subconscious mind that attract events to us and us to them. They are like hypnotic implants that make us do things until we are aware of them and release them.

A particular karmaic process can be and usually is a combination of all these karmas. I am sharing these processes here so that thinking about karma expands from the usual linear view that if you do something good, then you get something good, and if you do something bad, then something bad happens to you. While this linear view gives some feeling for how karma works, it is oversimplified to the point where it is not accurate. Just as Newtonian Physics came to similar laws, like the laws of motion (F=MA, inertia, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and gravitation), when a mapping of what happens in the real world, where multiple lines of causation are converging and diverging, mutually influencing each other, and so on, the events that conform to these laws are complex. The law of karma depends on a kind of synchronicity governing macro-events, rather than the movement of objects and the interaction of objects within standard temperature and pressure conditions that make them behave in more predictable ways.

There is one question about whether or not a Buddha is free from the law of karma. Some Dzogchen Buddhist teachers tend to feel that he or she is not free from the law of karma and some other teachers feel that the law of completely transcended when we fully awaken. I like the Zen Buddhist answer that a Buddha is not free from the law of karma and not bound by the law of karma, but is one with the law of karma. At its highest level, the law of karma merely becomes the process of creation. We can create whatever life we want once we are conscious of how it works. I think this is why it is important to not objectify the law of karma into some kind of rewarding and punishing god who watches us with candies and club.

One friend said that he did not like the law of karma because it encourages a tendency to blame others for how bad their lives are. We can be uncompassionate to others, which is not really healthy karmaically, since what we condemn we usually attract into our lives. But the law of karma should ideally make us humble. It means that we accept that every painful event that happens to us was at least partially caused by us. We can also be happy with the law of karma, because it means that evil is ultimately stupid and backfires on itself, and can therefore never fully take over the world. It also means that eventually we can master the law to such and extent that we can make our lives immune to further sorrow and learn how to teach others to do the same. The main enemy is not "conscious evil" which does not really exist, but unconscious ignorance which can make poor choices and cause sorrow for ourselves and others. When we understand karma, too, we understand an interconnectedness, that what we give we also receive. If we condemn someone for creating a painful life, then we have not yet fully realized how we might be doing the same and how easy it is to fall into unwholesome patterns and live them out. We are all learning how to live happy, creative, loving, purposeful, and wise lives and we can all learn from each other. The purpose of stating the law of karma is not to assign blame and let people wallow in their pain, but to show how we are unconsciously creating our lives all the time with our thoughts and choices and therefore show how we can master our lives by mastering our minds.

When the third eye fully opens, we can see the karmaic patterns behind the lives of everyone we tune into. It is opening up to a field of causation and seeing the lines of cause and effect that are being created by people and converging to form the events of human life. There are karmaic lessons that can be learned to change the outcomes that are destined to happen, if the person chooses differently than before. Karma is a kind of circular causation, where the same wars actually happen until the unconscious hatred is recognized and released. Some people are having the same argument with each other, lifetime after lifetime, attracting "special hate relationships" that are very familiar to them. If you look carefully at some people, you can see the ease and depth of their argument shows that they have practiced their angry words to the point where the whole dance is well timed and choreographed. It can reveal things started in past lives. The whole relationship is not merely "good" or "bad". It is a pattern with both happiness and pain. It becomes a general karma that the participants live out that forms one of the ten worlds.

The main point of the law of karma is that there is order behind what happens to us in life and the order responds moment to moment to our thoughts, emotions, and choices to form the events that unfold for us. We are normally not aware of what we are doing and how our choices are making our lives. This is living unconsciously, acting out our conditioning, and reaping the appropriate results. Because we are interconnected, one person meditating and evolving can help raise the people around him or her, sending ripples of causation that uplifts and awakens those around him or her. There is an interaction between individual and collective karma behind how this works. Some Buddhist Masters, like Padmasambhava, evolve so rapidly that they move beyond collective human history and only appear to others who are moving outside this collective pattern, at the edges where someone is breaking through "mass consciousness gravity" by meditating to "escape velocity".


  1. I wanted to add a footnote that the different kinds of karma are symbolized in Astrology by the planets. Saturn is repetitive karma that keeps happening until a lesson is learned. Pluto is generational karma that is transmitted through a family lineage (like attracts like). Neptune is karma that has to do with illusion versus reality (obscuration and projection). Chiron is karma that has to do with "sink or swim". When Chiron works we either pass the test or die. Retrograde patterns are "review karma", we go over old ground to see if we missed learning anything about what happened. Opposition patterns have to do with transforming conflict into complimentarity. Square patterns have to do with things running cross purposes to each other and require a lot of awareness to harmonize. Triangle patterns are generally good karmas where things work synergistically in easy manner. 12th house patterns relate to things that come from other lifetimes. 4th house family patterns are also worth looking at in terms of karmaic patterns that are inherited. Astrology works through understanding synchronicity and how planetary patterns are synchronistic with human life patterns. Behind this is a kind of psychophysical psychology similar to the 12 nidanas in Buddhism. The psychological language of astrology has very rich descriptors for many processes. Even if astrology is only seen as a series of psychological metaphors to describe our inner life, it would be worth studying in this regard.

  2. Hi Will,

    So if we list them all then :: obscuring karma , general karma , balancing karma ,habit force ,like attracts like,completion karma, imprint karma. Only Balancing karma is the karma which help us undoing the bad karma we did in past , and rest of the Karma in one way or other creates the bad karma for us. Let me know if i am wrong anywhere and i am interested in how to make use of these seven kind of karma's.

    If we able to identify the kind of karma we are going to create/generate and at the same time keep the 'aim' in our mind to not to get involve into those karma which leads us to no where ? All the rules given by all the religions 12 nidanas in Buddhism , 10 commandments in Christianity , 5 ethical vows of Jains are given so that we can create only good karma and at the same time not to create bad karma ?? I somewhere read that all rules and laws given to us are based on the normal life of those being who already have developed astral body , but layman's like us don't see the relation between these two ??

    Just asking :-) and thanks a lot for the posts.

  3. Dear Attila, Very thoughtful question! The 3rd, 4th, and 5th ethical precepts of the Eightfold path are about not creating any more new adverse karma. In general, yes, the ethical idealism of most religions has the intention of not creating anymore bad karma. The 6th, 7th, and 8th precepts of the Eightfold Path are about burning away the karma, as root samskaras in the subconscious mind, that have already been planted (the 1st and 2nd precepts are about getting the understanding of what is needed and committing to the healing process). The natural behavior of an enlightened being, motivated by unconditional love, guided by wisdom, and interacting with skillful creativity is beyond creating adverse karma. The ethical ideals are meant to emulate the behavior of awakened Buddha nature. I say "meant to" because sometimes the moral rules of a religion do not express a high level of ethical idealism. For instance, I do not think stoning homosexuals to death for being homosexuals is even ethical at all and chopping off hands for stealing is overpunishment. The phrase "developed astral body" is interesting, because the astral body is our emotional body, and some teachers have shared that there is a "higher emotional center" that eventually awakens in us. The forerunner to this is our awakened conscience. When this starts to awaken, we feel deep remorse for our unconscious behavior and how it has hurt others. This remorse can burn away the roots of adverse karma very quickly and very directly. The main reason why I gave the list of 7 karmas was to sensitize one to how karma in general works and the forms it takes. As a healer, I have found it necessary to notice them this way in order to apply various remedies. Obscuring karma dissolves in the light of awareness. General karma dissolves in blessing energy and breathing. Imprint karma dissolves through mandala work and dreambody work. Completion karma dissolves by allowing completion to happen. Habit force dissolves by commitment and discipline. Balancing karma dissolves by simply accepting why it has happened and accepting the lesson. If a person resents the lesson, then there is a trace of karma yet to be dissolved. You are right in that bad, unwholesome, or painful karma is ultimately the same and is something not worth creating. The remedies are more about as painlessly as possible dissolving such karma before they manifest as painful events, while they are in subtle form. Balancing karma works very effectively, but it is also the most painful way to learn, since it means that something similar happens to us that we did to others. Oddly enough part of having a conscience is becoming so empathic to the sorrow of others that we cut off any motivation to hurt others for any reason. This empathy stops us from generating the energy that attracts painful balancing events to us, because our empathy has already created the experience merely by sensing it in others. This kind of empathy accelerates our emotional evolution. The Dakini Unishavijaya is invoked in the "Trinity of Immortality" (with Amitayus and White Tara) to help beings uproot the deep karmas that cause aging, traumatic accidents, and death (on the level of the subconscious mind and the subtle energies). The key that the Buddha gave was to show subconscious thought impressions (samskaras) are at the root of our karmaic activity and how to end this activity by uprooting them (in meditation). Blessings, Will


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.