|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 403 ]
How to Mitigate the Forces of Karma
Although the law of cause and effect can seem to be a constant and heavy burden to some, it is important to remember that karma never gives us more than we are capable of bearing. If the burden seems relentless, or unfair, then this is a clear sign that we are simply not getting the point!
Otherwise put, our desires and our subconscious conditionings may be so firmly rooted and have such a strong control over our attitudes and actions that we fight 'tooth and nail' to avoid change -- a change which is ultimately for our own good. But as Swami Gitananda used to tell his students, "You cannot break the law (of karma). You can only break yourself over the law!"
This is sometimes the case where one refuses time and time again to learn the lessons which life continually presents to them. Then karma, at some point, invariably kicks them so hard that their world literally ‘falls apart’ around them. In extreme cases, it may even knock them right out of this life entirely!
Thus to some, karma can indeed seem a cruel force. But in the same way that a loving parent uses a stern hand from time to time to wean a child from a potentially destructive habit, karma is the force which serves the single purpose of leading us to the highest, eternal peace and joy. It is only through our own refusal to see, whether consciously or unconsciously, that which is ultimately good for us, that we incur pain and suffering.
The ultimate elimination of the blows of karma comes when one has obliterated ignorance at both the conscious and subconscious level. This is the highest goal of yoga. When one has sufficiently elevated their own consciousness, then they have rightfully chosen to live an intelligent life based on the highest ideals. This person then always performs the right actions, in the right way, at the right time, leading a life that is in perfect harmony with this Cosmic Law. However, at lesser stages along the path, the places where most of us reside, these forces of cause and effect may still, to some degree or another, be lessened as we continue to learn and to evolve our understanding.
The whole purpose of karma is to stimulate spiritually beneficial changes in behaviour, attitude and consciousness. Once that educational change has occurred -- once one has perceived the profound truth of their karma (or the 'reasons' for 'results'), the cause and effect relationships -- and has undergone a transformation in understanding and attitude, then one no longer needs to experience karmic effects on any other level. In other words, one no longer needs to reap what they have sown. They have already learned what it is that karma endeavours to teach them...
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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