Why Do We Have A Karmic Backlog?

Why Do We Have A Karmic Backlog?

In a forum discussion, the following point arose I thought worth sharing:

Why do we end up with such a backlog of karma?

Before we explore the answer, it would be good to review the way karma is understood.

Firstly, karma simply means action. It operates on the level of energy. In the field of action, everything seeks balance. Thus, for every action, there is an equal response. Without this balance, creation would collapse from either too much inertia, agitation or purity. (the gunas) As I reviewed prior, dharma is the force that brings balance.

If we culture good deeds, we will experience good fruits. Similarly, negatively-driven deeds will bring more of the same. Even when enjoying our good fruits we should enjoy culturing more, lest we confuse our blessings with deserving and fail to culture a comfortable future.

Karma operates both individually and in groups. Group karma tends to draw us back together with the same people or cultures.

Discussions of karma often raise the debate about determinism. However, from a karmic perspective, the only difference between free will and determinism is time. Free will in our past leads to apparent determinism in the present. Our response to what arises determines what will come around later.

As energy (action) moves in cycles, sometimes we’ll experience a quick response. And sometimes, we’ll accumulate results until the right time when it will bear larger fruit. That’s when we experience  remarkable events, good or bad.

Karma is said to be in 3 forms:

1 – the mountains of our past unresolved karma that are said to drive us forward into further lifetimes. This is called Sanchita.

2 – the portion, often described as a suitcase or handful, that we tackle in this particular life. This is Prarabdha and is said to be chosen or ripened in time. At any given time in our life, we can divide this karma into the sprouted and unsprouted. The sprouted is that which is expressing in our life at present. The unsprouted remains to arise.

3 – the new karma we create in this life is called Kriyamana (or Agami). It’s largely added to the mountains.

And now to the original question: If we only produce some karmic obligations in each life, why do we have such mountains? This I would say is due to a variety of factors.

For one, karma can only be resolved on its own level in a similar form to which it was created; in a human life and in equivalent energetic circumstances. Sometimes, it needs the same people (souls) too. Thus, it awaits the cycles of time for the equivalent circumstance to arise again. Also, on occasion, we tend to produce massive debts that may alone take multiple lives to resolve.

To return to balance, we must be willing to resolve our history. There is a popular idea that we “choose” our karma for this life. And this is circumstantially true from a soul’s perspective, although karma itself operates largely via laws. It’s not like grocery shopping. When others circumstances impinge on ours, there will be some obligatory experiences simply due to equivalent circumstances arising.

We could say choice comes more in our willingness or unwillingness to take responsibility for what we have wrought. When we act, we often don’t recognize the consequences. We’re caught up in the experience and fail to consider any harm we may be producing. Or even the depth of the good we’re creating. In fact, until we’re able to experience the world from outside the field of karma, trying to consider consequences can just lead to a bunch of second-guessing. Until we’re detached enough to see the dynamic at play, we’re driven more by our reactions than our intelligence.

This detachment comes in stages. At first we realize what we’ve done afterwards. Then we start to notice while it’s happening. Only then can we begin to choose and diffuse. And finally, we begin to see the impulse to react as it arises and can let it go. From this place, we can resolve the reaction and the original energy that drove it, thus restoring energetic balance and ending that cycle of karma.

This detachment tends to arise in different aspects of our lives at different rates, depending on how much clearing we’ve done. Some of us may have bigger or more entwined issues in relationships but less with work, for example. Thus, we’ll see the unraveling more in one area than another.

For less mature souls, when the opportunity comes to resolve consequences and balance energy, we may not feel comfortable dealing with our stuff. Being ego-identified, we’re more likely to make it personal even though karma is just laws of nature. We may feel we’re taking on obligations we didn’t recognize taking on in the first place. We’ll feel we didn’t ask for it so why is it our job? Why would I want that unpleasant situation again? Thus, rather than resolving debts, we may choose to resist them. This sustains the karma (energy) and obliges us to experience it again in the future. Sometimes, our resistance will even enlarge the issue. This is the essence of the wheel of karma.

Not only that, but if we don’t take responsibility, we’re more likely to ignore consequences and add to our balance as well. It’s amazing what a deluded ego can justify. We see this writ large on the world stage all the time.

This combination of factors leads to the mountains of history. It builds up, like many people’s credit card balances. Before we know it, we have a mountain.

A more mature soul will be more willingly take on challenges. They’ll recognize the dynamics and not take it personally. They see not only self-responsibility but the benefits of clearing the decks energetically. Even there, we may choose to take a “karmic holiday” on occasion and enjoy our accumulated fruits.

Happily, we don’t have to slog through every imbalance we’ve ever made. The court of karma has some tricks.

The layers of existence are progressively more powerful. Most karma is created in the field of energy and emotions. If we bring resolving energy to them from deeper levels such as feeling, we can resolve big hunks internally. Forgiveness is a profound way, for example. Most powerful of all is spirit. When we transcend or enter samadhi, the power of pure spirit can “roast” mountains of the backlog. This just happens automatically. Also, as I mentioned here, when an open space is created, what remains to be resolved may rush in to be seen.

Then, what comes to remain is the “sprouted” seeds, the circumstances that drive your life now. Our softened attitude and approach will much reduce the production of new debts. Gradually the seeds are resolved and life becomes simpler, less dramatic, and smoother. Our purpose and path become clearer and the growing peace and bliss become less and less disturbed.

Karma is a good thing. It is the mechanism by which we’re able to draw circumstances and thus experiences into our lives. From the perspective of spiritual evolution, that’s why we’re here. Understanding how to clear the decks smoothly and invite good experiences is a big help in making the best of our time here. And in having the most fun.

Last Updated on June 16, 2016 by

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  1. Davidya

    Hi John
    I agree. Towards the end of the post, I mention transcendence or samadhi. This is an eastern approach to connecting to spirit and thus grace.

    “Born again” or born into spirit is the same as the eastern “second birth”. This is also called Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness. The true rebirth is when we live in spirit 24/7, not just have occasional experiences of it. In that state, the detachment I describe above is complete and we cease being caught in the cycle of karma.

    This also serves as the foundation of God Consciousness, when we have a living, intimate sensory relationship with the divine.

    The post was mainly to understand the mechanism, then how we move past it.

  2. Raz

    “The true rebirth is when we live in spirit 24/7”
    I believe wanting as physical body to live in spirit, is like physical body connecting with a car in the world of traffic, confuse it´s self with being the car and wanting as car to live in body. This is over stretching it´s self, living “for” rather then “from”.

    We, as present spirit is driving a body of past and future. The connection is so intimate that it´s easy to forget our original, present self.

    Physical body teaching spirit lessons of past and future limitation. Spiritual body teaching physical body lessons of timeless unconditional =)

  3. Davidya

    Hi Raz
    It is nonetheless a natural experience to identify with our experiences and the body. We can even follow this through childhood development. But if we have the right knowledge, we can continue our development and move past that identification. Then we make that shift to “living ‘for’ rather then ‘from'”.

    It’s good not to confuse the effects of our state of consciousness with the cause. Identification is not the cause of suffering in itself, for example, but rather is an effect of being disconnected from the divine. As we restore that connection, the effect eases and we can “escape” from identification.

    Karma is much the same. It’s almost impossible to act rightly in all circumstances when we’re caught up in our experiences. When we detach from them and begin to step into the flow of the divine, then right action becomes spontaneous and natural. No trying is required.

    Love your closing paragraph. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Raz

    “But if we have the right knowledge, we can continue our development and move past that identification. Then we make that shift to “living ‘for’ rather than ‘from’”.”

    So true, I also believe it is mostly our ideas of knowledge about our development that slows or hinders us from deepening further. As you put so nicely in your next post ‘Let go, just be’ and your talk about progress and purification.
    I believe that living ‘for’ always has a story of some form attached that is ego grounded.
    When I say living ‘from’, I am referring to the authentic self.
    It´s like understanding that we can’t extract this world, only infuse it.

    I believe this is our main mission, simply to be here and infuse this world with our home essence. Everything else is secondary.

    “It’s good not to confuse the effects of our state of consciousness with the cause. Identification is not the cause of suffering in itself, but rather is an effect of being disconnected from the divine.”
    This confusion is what I mean by ‘over stretching the self in to an object’, I´m not saying you should discard your “sense of self” only your belief about sense of self. Your perception of self is not yourself, only a reflection of possibility. I agree, there is obvious practical use of identification that does not cause suffering in itself, but it is only surface deep when we understand that identification is not identification, it´s just called identification.

    “Karma is much the same. It’s almost impossible to act rightly in all circumstances when we’re caught up in our experiences.”
    It is with much joy that I find myself, every now and then when I´m in a quiet environment, a part from my past will spontaneously resurface to be healed and resolved internally. In the beginning when this started happening I did not understand the purpose and just found it unsettling, reliving it instead of transforming it. The process of this has become so much smother after I started working actively to ‘clean the dirty dishes’ so to say. I have come to feel much lighter, connected and at peace.

    Thank you for your reply, I very much enjoy our conversation and find it very fulfilling. =)

  5. Davidya

    Hi Raz
    Thanks for your very thoughtful responses.

    The key in all these is a regular connection with spirit/source. As that becomes familiar in our experience, it softens the identification, the grip of the ego, and allows that right action to come through us. Understanding this process helps us to support it, as you observe.

    While its true that our ideas about awakening can be a barrier to being it, if we don’t understand what is taking place, we can even more get in the way of it. The key is a comfortable understanding, but held loosely and open to what unfolds. As an awakening develops, this becomes easier to do – we get used to reality changing. (laughs)

    I would say that our primary role is to have our specific experiences of the nature of reality. We’re here for reality to know itself. That also entails a process of going deep into the experience, then returning to the source This last part is a key part of our life as we approach the fulfillment of our “mission”.

    Yes, identification becomes more association or relationship.

    Yes, I mentioned how the process can create a space for issues to arise in, seeking to be resolved. What we experience of “karma” is often in its push to find balance and resolution. Plus, as we “cleanse the windows of perception”, we notice things we didn’t before. Sometimes, it can be like peeling an onion, layer after layer.

    Thanks again.

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