You believe in Karma? Really?!?

I know, I know. But there are some things that really puzzle me, and karma is just such a neat, tidy and convenient explanation (did you notice how nowadays everything’s about convenience? We even have convenience food!). Anyway, let me give you an example:

When I did my teacher training we were asked to step in front of the microphone and say why we were there. It’s an easy enough question one would think. Why are you here? After all you’ve just paid a few thousand dollars for the course, another few thousand for the plane ticket to India, and convinced your boss that it’s absolutely crucial you take this time off, right now.

And because in ashrams it’s not like in the real world, where it’s your last name that counts, but everyone just uses their first name (or their spiritual name, but that’s another topic), with my name I was pretty much right there, at the front line. I felt really stupid, standing there, mumbling something about ‘I felt it was the right time‘ or ‘I just felt that I had to do this‘.

By the time we reached ‘Z’ and even France from France could only tell us a variation of the above, I knew one thing: Believe it or not, no one knew why they crossed the globe, spent all their savings and (many of them) quit their jobs. The atmosphere started being a bit, how can I say – awkward. The thought crossed my mind that maybe we were just a bunch of crazy yoga people crammed into an ashram in a remote corner of India who had no idea why they were there.

However, our teacher knew why (yes, exactly – the one who had asked us in the first place). He said that such a decision is not made in one lifetime. That you’re building up for it. That the seed of something is always planted long time ago and takes several lives to sprout. That every single one of us had some kind of affinity to yoga before even though we might not be able to remember it now.

Right, this sounds a bit crazy, I thought. But then I realised: Not one single person had had a better explanation. Why do we suddenly feel the urge to do something? Where does this come from?

Looking at it from a slightly different angle, let me ask you: Where does talent come from and what makes a genius?

Someone like Mozart, who composed from the age of five, yes five! There’s only so much you can teach a five year old boy. Where does this come from? Of course certain talents run in certain families and I guess part of it is a matter of genes, being in the right environment and having someone who furthers a career and helps exploiting a talent. But instead of just believing that some people are gifted, which implies that they haven’t done much but rather received their talent as a gift – there’s another – call it yogic – way of seeing this.

Nothing is being given to you for free, and nothing is being given to these people for free. The world is not an unfair place, and karma works itself out, no matter what. Whoever you see succeeding now worked their ass off previously. Maybe not in this life, but certainly in others. It’s just one way of seeing it, but one that comforts me. And one that encourages me at the same time.

Gangotri, Ganges River, 1850s

Gangotri, 1850s. Has one of my previous incarnations been there?

A while ago I did a trip to Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges, where I had a very embarrassing moment: The priest performing a religious ceremony for us asked what were the names of our families seven generations back because, he explained, this is the number of generations karma needs to work itself out. I couldn’t go more than two generations back, a fact that was only excused by me being a Westerner (I still got a bad look, though).

Bottom line: While believing in karma seems a bit crazy, it explains a lot of the crazy stuff that’s going on around us! 🙂

So what’s your take on things?

~ Andrea

Categories: Inspiration

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24 replies »

  1. Hi Andrea, Thanks for stopping by to read my post “Blogging is a We not a Me”. I’m glad it led me to your site, which I’ve been enjoying. I was brought up by hippies who taught us to believe in karma and reincarnation like it is the most normal thing. In my adult life I’ve come to my own place of understanding and I think it’s a terrible shame for anyone to believe karma is retributive. Karma is not about punishment! The universe doesn’t work in a human, attached way. Karma is simply energy that we build, neither negative or positive. There is no way to detach one life from the continuum of lives we have lived. You can’t say a person did harm in one life so the next life will be terrible. You are assuming knowledge of just one life, whereas before that life something else happened and before that another group of effects were built. At the same time, some mystics say that we choose certain karmic journeys in certain lives; I’ve heard it said, for example, that handicapped people can be souls who’ve chosen to rest in that life. So it’s not retributive at all, and very different than what we might assume. More food for thought on this great thread! cheers, bllu


  2. Thank you for your Like of my posting……About Karma, many people often make the popular mistake of thinking that it is all about ‘justice’ or that what you do to others will somehow come back to you in the same form, i.e. that if you hurt someone in a particular way then you will be hurt also right back in return in order to learn the lesson by experience of why what one did was wrong…..This may be a small part of the truth of Karma, but it is quite small……Ultimately, Karma is simply about providing more and more opportunities and experiences for growth and becoming who one truly is, which means learning from past mistakes also of course – but this learning and awakening can come in many different ways according to each person’s Soul’s Need……it is not like a machine where if you do one thing then the universe gives you only the same……there is a Divine Consciousness that sees that all beings are unique and need different experiences (some painful, some joyful) in order to grow beyond their present state of Consciousness… one person’s Karma will be fulfilled in a way that is right for them (and right for the others that are connected to them, and the others to them, and so on…..). Karma is much much more dynamic than our minds are able to realize……Ultimately, even, the most powerful transformative agent of Karma is Divine Love, which can change anything, without destroying anything or causing more suffering……that of course is a more difficult thing to realize, not just for any one person but for the collective humanity as it is now presently living. So, that’s my little (not so little!) offering on Karma, of which there is much more…….Thank you Andrea for your blog and lovely Soul, I wish you Grace along your Journey (and everyone else).


  3. Karma explains everything. I strongly believe in it, things don’t make sense otherwise. And karma, can’t be explained in black and white. It is complicated and as you mention as well, it is spread over lifetimes – crisscrossed in fact. It doesn’t follow a linear path – something the western philosophy is so based on.


  4. I have only just begun my yoga teaching training (or perhaps I’ve been here before) but from what I understand, dharma produces karma. Also, since everything is about balance, I believe that karma creates dharma as well. If you listen to your karma, you will find the work you need to do. Thank you for this post. Glad I found your blog!


  5. This is nice post. I know that I’m doing yoga for a reason. I wrote about this reason on my blog because I want to be persistent and I don’t know if without help I can manage that. But I REALLY know why I’m doing it. I need it. It is so simple. I think that doing yoga without reason couldn’t be true. Because if you do this not for you but for others (ex. want to boast in front of friends during lunch time) it is fake. But I think it will help you either.


  6. Sounds like a transformative trip! Seven generations back – how fun to consider. Sadly, I couldn’t name my ancestors 7 generations back, though my maternal grandfather did this research so it would be relatively easy to find.


  7. I think it’s the beauty of life that we don’t always have to have exact reasoning behind a decision we make. Sometimes life will simply push us in the right direction. We might not understand why we act the way we do or why we pick up different habits, but I have noticed the more I become aware of myself and my body, I start to automatically make decision that will positively influence my life.
    I’m happy for you and the fact that you let life push you in the right direction. I don’t know if I believe that karma is working, but no matter what is pushing you to do things, I hope they will continue to be positive and make you happy.



  8. Seeing that others have it is the Universe’s way of showing us it’s possible. Just a thought 🙂 Thanks for sharing! I am intrigued by your curiosity and empowered from your experience.

    With love,


  9. Totally believe in Karma … but sometimes I think we use it an excuse not to take the blame for things that we simply screwed up on … if that makes sense. BTW, thanks for coming by The Flavored Word – I’m new to WP and not sure how you even found me … I’ll bet you wouldn’t laugh an my unhappy baby pose 🙂


  10. I really like your explanation of this. I started yoga when I was around 12 and then gave it up for many many years. I don’t recall making a conscious decision to bring yoga back into my life, more like it has been there for me in a gentle non-threatening way, just waiting to welcome me back, without judgement. I


  11. I love the idea of karma, as you said at times the abstract concept can offer explanation to the crazy world we live in. Yet, it’s not just that karma gives excuse to others’ behavior, it’s that our own karma is how we react to what surrounds us.


  12. An elder yoga teacher once told me, when learning I’d read and loved “Autobiography of a Yogi,” that the mere fact I had encountered and read the book meant that I was at a place on the incarnational spiral where simply being receptive to the book means my karma must already be somewhat purified. I’m also interested in the idea of the karma associated with being born into a spiritual family, say a family where yoga has been practiced for generations. A birth into a spiritual family is also considered an auspicious karmic marker. About Mozart: Mozart’s incredible ability could be a karmic “leftover” from past lives OR perhaps his karma was to experience the intensity of talent within him and all the egoic challenges that presumably included.


    • That’s interesting you say that – I was born into a spiritual family, and my 4 year old daughter is the 5th generation yogini in our family (she does yoga with me when she feels like it :)). I don’t teach yoga, but have a daily practice, and always feel like I have come home when I do yoga or go to a class. I also read and enjoyed autobiography of a yogi ;). I have a feeling I have a blessed life, and it seems I am right 🙂


      • Ooh how sweet, it’s amazing to discover yoga so early in life, it took me more than 20 years. But then they say that it’s not us finding yoga but yoga coming to us when we’re ready so I guess it all happens at a certain time for a reason 🙂 thanks for commenting!


  13. Coincidence, I think not. I have been enjoying your blog for a while now. And so I was happy to read that you also went to Gongotri. I was in Gongotri this October for a meditation retreat. All of us at one point or another wondered how it happened that we were there. The answer…How could we not be there? – Karma? perhaps. Dharma? definitely. Either way, Gangotri is life changing/life affirming. Do you still have your holy water? Sun Salutations by the river at sunrise? Immersion afterwards? Brrr but wonderful.


  14. Important subject. The more I work with the idea, the more sensible it is, even obvious. Everything affects everything else. Our choices affect our future probabilities. I was the other night talking with someone who was doing improv dance and lamenting that she hadn’t been able to sustain the ballet practice of her youth. I suggested that the ballet practice was still very much with her and that the energy that had infused it had now taken different form, etc.

    We wear a lot of ruts into the ground and they can get deep enough that it looks like that’s the only way we can go, but we have some bit of awareness and free will that will allow us to see the rut and try to deal with it and free ourselves – and maybe we unwind a bit of karma. We have agency in this flux and it seems reasonable to me that our influence and unfinished work must continue until resolved, however many births that may take. Excellent post. Thanks.


  15. I gave up believing in karma this year. I believe in dharma, or the fact that we are have a unique purpose in being here with talents specific to that, but I think karma let’s people off the hook for their responsibility to work for justice. I have been told several times by yogis that my son’s serious illness is karmic, and those people were able to say that and brush me off, wheras people who don’t believe in karma have often asked me how they can help. I have seen this in myself too when I used karma to explain suffering. After reading ” When Bad Things Happen to Good People” I found that I believed this approach- a loving god who is not omniscient and so therefore random things and bad things happen without there being any cosmic plan for them. so I am a yogi who does not believe in karma…


    • Thank you so much for your comment. It’s interesting how people voice their opinion on what happens to other people. I’m sorry to hear about the comments you received. I believe we cannot comprehend why things happen to us, and quite often awful things happen to wonderful people. Why not use the energy wasted on trying to understand things we cannot grasp for finding ways how to improve a situation. Karma is often understood as something that’s thrown back at us, but it’s equally important to emphasise that with every deed we create our own karma for the future.
      I wish you all the best and send you a lot of strength,



  16. I love this post – very thought-provoking, thanks. I wonder a lot about how I came to yoga – in many ways it seems at odds with my character. I also think a lot about karma and reincarnation. I totally love the Buddhist philosophy – up until the point it starts talking about reincarnation, and then I falter. Yet I totally ‘feel’ the concept of karma. I realise you can’t have one without the other, from a Buddhist frame of thought, and I am always struggling to reconcile this. Hmmm, lots of food for thought!


  17. It’s funny I had been told many times that yogis will keep coming back to yoga lifetime after lifetime and becoming a teacher is the decision of many lifetimes, same as you were told. However I never put it together that musical “geniuses” or brilliant brain surgeons may have also been called over and over to these professions… interesting brainfood.


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