Eckhart Tolle talks about karma being a state of action and reaction. In fact, the word ‘karma’ means ‘action’. When we become trapped on the karmic wheel, we are participating in a type of sleep state. We unconsciously ‘sleepwalk’ between action and reaction.

But if we awaken from this state, we can step away from the pain body of previous incarnations, previous generations, previous grievances carried forward sometimes for centuries.

Forgiveness, for oneself first, and then others is one step towards waking from the karmic wheel and finding freedom from the action/reaction concept.

I say concept because Karma is a concept, and we can choose to cling to it or not. There is, of course, cause and effect, but that is not the same thing as action and reaction. Cause and effect is ‘if I light a match there will be a flame’. Action and reaction can be part of cause and effect but we have a distinct end choice: to participate in the reaction or not.

I’ve always viewed karma as an Eastern interpretation of Western religion’s ‘punishment’ tenet. Western religion punishes in the afterlife (hell), while Eastern religion doles it out for lifetimes until you somehow, someday, come to a state of coming clean. When I practiced Christianity, I had Jesus to wash me clean. I grew uncomfortable with being saved, Goddess in me felt it dis-empowering on many levels.

As I moved toward Eastern philosophies, I explored karma. But that also felt dis-empowering.

If I harm someone, I may go to jail or whatever the consequence is of my actions. Cause and effect.

If I harm someone and go to jail and choose to forgive myself, walk a kinder path, ask forgiveness, participate in victim impact, consciously create a life that will not affect future generations, break the cycle…I step off the karmic wheel. The reaction to that one action can end with owning my action and transmuting it.

Ahhh, you say, but what about the other end, the reaction of the person you hurt? Well, that is that person’s responsibility towards their own karmic reaction, their own chance to explore forgiveness, breaking the cycle of what happened.

AND, when we do, the idea of someone suffering during the next lifetime or this one for what they did becomes actually quite unpleasant.Suffering people cause suffering, so why would we want that to proliferate for generations? It actually makes no sense.

We find compassion for the situation and the person and ourselves. That is consciousness.

I have had plenty of chances to practice what Ekhart Tolle teaches about karma. Not easy, but truly rewarding.

Forgiveness…a lesson in self-love.

Image: E. Tolle