Karma and the Awake

Karma and the Awake

A few weeks ago, I posted an article on Karma Post-Enlightenment. Since then, it’s become a very popular article but also the subject has come up several times in life events. I thought it worth going further into the subject.

Firstly, there’s a key aspect to understand in the dynamics of karma aka action or energy. To get from inertia (Tamas) to clarity (Sattva), you have to go through transformation (fire, Rajas).

People in transformation can sometimes have a lot of fire and can be attracted to chaos and conflict or drama. It resonates with their dominant energy. Block them and you’ll get a fiery response. This can be quite overt or subtle, like a rather sharp edge.

We also see this in dominant meme’s, like ‘the world is illusion’. As Shankara observed, this is actually an effect of dominant Rajas rather than awakening. It’s common with the transformation of awakening but is an effect of the transformation rather than the stage itself.

It’s wonderful that a lot of people are awakening now but many are doing so without a lot of preparation. Our culture in the west really doesn’t support sattvic lifestyles well. So many are experiencing drier or more drama-filled transitions. And you see some spiritual discussion boards full of the repressed or angry. But in a spiritual way, doncha know.

To understand this better, it’s useful to understand that Spiritual Awakening is a shift in being. It is not in itself a perfection of the body-mind. It does not require a clear energy body, only clear enough. So the shift of awakening can be very clear or very foggy or somewhere in between. We can say there are degrees or values of clarity.

First, there are people who have tastes or who gain some features of it but have not actually shifted yet.

Then there are people who awaken but not yet clearly. Some teachers don’t consider this a true shift until it is clear. Adyashanti called this non-abiding.

Then there are people who wake somewhat clearly then fall back into mind for a period of unwinding. Adyashanti talks about this. Satyam Nadeen called it the deliverance. It’s pretty common.

Then there are people who wake clearly and sustain it. But typically they too have some unwinding to do. It’s very rare for it to be total, in one go.

This unwinding is a process of clearing the energetic debris and aligning the physiology to the new stage of development until it is fully established. Of course, it works better if we support it. And that’s easier if we understand what’s going on and we’re not confused by concepts like being “done.”

To understand the unwinding, it can be useful to understand the principles of energy and karma.

Karma is said to have 3 types. The mountains of backlog, the suitcase we bring into this life to resolve, and the new backlog we create during this life.

We will tend to produce less and less new karma as we wind down our attachments and reactivity. That can be said to be pretty much complete with establishment although some deeper stuff may arise to be cleared on occasion. The bulk of our backlog is typically roasted with the awakening itself. This leaves just the sprouted seeds from the suitcase that are active in our life. Most of the awake are working through that remaining load. Their life will get progressively simpler (typically – there are exceptions) as this winds down.  Thus when they die, the karma is done and they’re not obliged to return.

Some do anyway. Or some wake but don’t complete the process and come back to do so. And some stick around after the karma is done to help. We’ll see a lot more of these variations over time due to the many who have shifted now.

This karma also has the flavours or qualities of the 3 gunas. Karmas that bring drama and pleasure and craving, karmas that bring lethargy and dullness, and those that bring happiness and clarity. Some talk of karma in terms of “good” and “bad” but that’s just a subjective judgement. All is to be resolved.

We see examples of unresolved energy issues with teachers like Neelam who has had an ongoing struggle with a difficult auto-immune issue. Adyashanti has had some recurring health challenges, apparently related to energy.

Obviously, even the very awake can have difficult health challenges, bizarre events, or walk into stupidity and bad behaviour. The trick is, the big hunks of karma tend to come with a blind spot. So we walk right into it. It all comes out of the unresolved past.

Thus, you see periodic stories of a teacher getting caught doing something appalling or having their past blow up on them. What it all means is we’re all still human. That doesn’t mean it was OK, just human. Enlightenment does not mean super-human. Just another stage of development. A much more satisfying one, but still a ways from perfection.

You do want to discriminate in your choice of teachers but be very careful about judging. If they have a body, they more than likely have karma. It’s unfathomable in it’s machinations. You can also see dramas around a teacher that are the baggage of unresolved students playing out. Some organizations are like giant karma processors.

For a teacher, respect should be earned, idolatry burned.

One of the key distinctions in someone clearly awake is that we shift from being a me to being the Cosmic Self. We become consciousness itself, the observer. When established, we are no longer identified with the body-mind so are no longer caught in the field of karma. We can learn to see it energetically (to some degree) and release it without having to act it out in the world. But the body-mind still has it’s karma as described above. So karma is still being experienced but we’re not caught by it. Even if it blindsides us.

Another aspect of stepping back into the observer is we see life living through us and we realize it always has. It was only the ego making false claims of doer-ship and control. As the perception refines, we also discover the actual mechanism of doer-ship and how the world is created and sustained.

But this establishment can take time. Usually it also takes practice to wind down old habits and allow source to act and speak through us. This can also show up in ways we might not be comfortable with, so there’s some getting used to it. Perhaps we may have the idea of being a certain type of person with certain skills. And then something different shows up.

Meantime, we’re seeing a lot of people who:
a – don’t understand these principles
b – are acting out their not yet very conscious unresolved crap or shadow

For the awake, this means it can be amplified by the greater power of attention. If they’re not very conscious of their feelings, they also are not very conscious of the effects or consequences of sharing that energy or acting it out.

The awake have that potential to complete their karma and not come back again. But if they keep feeding it, they’re not winding it down and can create new ones. If they take on the role of leader or teacher and feed it in others, they amplify the effect even further. Some people are attracted to energy like theirs. But for the amplifier, it will come back to haunt them.

Of course, it’s not always clear who’s being used as a vehicle to facilitate people becoming conscious of their junk and who’s just causing trouble. Karma is unfathomable so again, be very careful not to judge others. Also, we’re all starting from a different place on the path. The one’s who seem to have it easy have simply already done the work, perhaps in prior lifetimes.

The point here is becoming conscious of how you feel within. This is your energy environment. If what is arising is uncomfortable, it’s an incomplete experience showing up to be resolved. If it’s blank, that means it’s unconscious. If you learn to facilitate this, you’ll make wonderful progress.

While this may make awakening sound messy, that’s because it is. It’s another stage of our natural development like puberty. Not perfect and tidy. But I can assure you that the effort to clear the sludge has a direct relationship with quality of life – awake or not.

Take care of yourself and enjoy life.


Last Updated on December 4, 2017 by Davidya

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  1. Michael Jaksch

    Just want to mention for readers that like me really resonated with the posts “karma and the awake”, “healing the past without being the past”, “karma post enlightenment” etc.
    A wonderful work that really goes in the same direction that David mentions here is “The presence process – revised edition” from Michael Brown.

    much love to all

  2. Thanks, Rose. It’s been an interesting week for living examples of this showing up in all their splendour. It obliged me to lower some expectations. (laughs)

    Your distinction between someone awake and someone clear of Stuff to actually embody it properly is a good one.

  3. Michael Jaksch

    Hi David!

    That distinction you mention that comes from Rose “between someone awake and someone clear of stuff”
    resonates extremly deeply with me!!
    ……what i felt intuivly all along but could not put into words.
    thanks both of you!

  4. You’re welcome, Michael in N. Europe. 😉

    It’s one thing to recognize who we are beneath the mind and body. It’s another thing to embody that in life.

    Just finishing up an article called On Bliss. This comes to it from yet another angle. If we’re clear of Stuff, then the bliss ever-present within can shine through. Not so much, then it comes and goes. Or may even leave us with a sense of inner void and emptiness. We can be liberated but absent all the richness of a more established stage.

  5. Terry Ferguson

    Adyashanti said that to be awakened doesn’t require all the edges being rounded off a’ la personal development processes, but that those who have cleared a lot of the ego are a lot easier to be around! I agree to a point, but if you haven’t done the inner work (and it is WORK) you will be creating more attachments, more karma and suffering. This will pull you back into the mud even more quickly that can be imagined. The old saying “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” comes to mind. I seem to recall many lifetimes of struggling to get back to a prior attainment, and so I believe that purification practices of all kinds are necessary. Happy Sadhana, Tapasya or Xiu Lian, however you want to call purification practices!

  6. Hi Terry
    Yes, the more the energetic baggage still present, the more we’re reactive and creating new karmas. Simply awakening is a big step but unless we wind that stuff down, we’ll just be playing it out with even more power of attention behind it. And that pushes us back into the wheel of karma, more lifetimes etc.

    I’ve seen similar with some prior lives. Part of that is due to the cycles of time. There are opportunities, as now, to make great strides. But if the development is not established, then we may be obliged to try again in less opportune circumstances.

    Even someone with a great deal of progress can have deep frozen blocks that gradually soften and then arise in the experience. That may play out as karmic events or if they’re a little more clear about it, can be resolved energetically.

    Do we have a physical body? Then we have more purification to do. 😉

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