|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 399 ]
Adhibhautika Karma is the karma that results out of the activity of the material or external world. In other words, it is the effect of the material world on our personal world.
These karmic effects one must suffer simply as a result of the fact that we live here in this material universe. Effects from earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and floods, dangerous encounters with other species, or diseases sprung from the natural environment are a few examples.
It would seem that this karma is, for the most part, out of one's own personal control and would be seen simply as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, Swami Gitananda Giri also makes a poignant comment that "accidents are people looking for a place to happen," which would suggest that we are, on some level responsible, whether consciously or unconsciously, for the situations in which we find ourselves and for their subsequent results, whether good or bad.
Many people come up against a rational hurdle with the concept of karma when they see those people around them experiencing things which, to the practical mind, do not seem fair or reasonable.
For instance, a great fortune may be bestowed upon one who has a reputation as a rather unsavoury character; or conversely, some great tragedy, illness or accident may befall another who many people see as a good and kind person.
But the 'causes' for these 'effects' usually go beyond our current life's activities, and therefore are not readily knowable to us. Adhibhautika karma could be more properly seen as being tied to actions of previous lives for which we either reap the rewards, or pay the differed costs, and our only recourse is to experience them with dignity, strength and the higher wisdom of the big picture.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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