Karma vs Dharma

Karma vs Dharma

sunrise under
Photo by denis collett

There is another way of seeing the dynamics of karma and dharma.

To recap, karma is action, energy. It is doing. The devata do and this creates experiences for us, the experiencers. Our experiences are then processed and digested. If we resist or grasp or otherwise get in the way of the smooth flow of action, we create residues of incomplete action. This is often what people call karma.

Most people are identified with their sense of personal me. This ego-sense lays claim to doing as mine. It grasps at events to say I am, I did, I think, and so forth. And yet the ego knows it’s not the doer. It claims doership to give the appearance of being in control, obscuring our actual role as the experiencer.

Dharma is often understood to mean purpose. It is defined in 4 levels: universal, community, time of life, and personal. However more deeply dharma is that which sustains. From a deep perspective, the world is being created and recreated in every moment. In order for the field of experience to be sustained for our evolutionary unfoldment, there are principles of life that keep the overall world stable.

Dharma includes everything from spiritual practice to community engagement to family obligations to right food. Whatever keeps things going in a harmonious way is dharma.

Our dharma and karma are both built into the structure of our form.

Divine Shakti or power can be said to flow into the field of consciousness, bathing it. Shakti has direction causing consciousness to move in directed ways, to flow. The devata use vibration to create patterns and structures to guide the flow into form. Further Shakti’s steer that flow into these specific structures and thus forms and experiences arise.

From this perspective, dharma is the permeable structures or “walls” that steer smooth flow. Dharma structures harmony and balance into form.

However, when an experience is resisted and is not digested, it leaves residues. If those are not resolved they can causes structures of resistance I spoke of on Deep Patterns. Deep enough and they alter the structure itself. This is a different kind of wall we can call karma – unresolved action. We might call this potential energy but it comes in the form of resistance or inertia. These walls are not harmonious and interfere with flows, creating turbulence, friction, and a buildup.

As Dorothy Rowe observed, the walls of karma block flow. The walls of dharma steer flow but are more permeable and might be called holographic.

Healing resolves these areas of resistance, restores balance and dharma, and brings smooth flow of life. It is opening, freeing, and fulfilling.

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    1. Hi Sabrina
      Better to think of them as the musicians producing the rhythms. The rhythms can be embodied but those are effects, not the source of them.

      In the Rishi, Devata, & Chhandas trilogy, Chhandas is form but means rhythm. For example, in the Rig Veda, each set of verses has a named value for each – the Rishi or seer who cognized (experienced) that aspect of reality, the Devata who produced the experience, and Chhandas, the meter or rhythm of the expression or experience.

      In other words, if you’re experiencing an embodied rhythm, you’re experiencing the subtle object rather that the actual producer of it. Thats a little more subtle.

      A complete experience is when they’re all conscious. 🙂

      Make sense?

    1. I talk about this more in a post called The Brahmasthan scheduled for the 22nd. Visually, the devata are like points of light. Its their vibratory signatures that create forms like the devas. Although we can also say the devas exist prior to that as fundamental laws of nature or programs, the devata are what bring them (and everything else) to life, so to speak.

      Nice. Embodying laws of nature is related to embodying aspects of the cosmic body or body of all bodies.

      If such an experience arises naturally, fine. But I’d be a little careful about favouring that as She’s a destructive form. A necessary part of the process but not one I’d amplify. Your nature may be different. 🙂

      1. sabrina

        oh yes, it was a natural arising out of the rage of a particular situation (betrayal and divorce). And i do see the devata as points of light, normally, that then become the rhythms, but I understand what you said about them being musicians. The Kali event makes some sense to me in that fire destroying my inner attachments so that I can move on.

  1. G

    Hi David,

    Could you elaborate more on the devata appearing as points of light?

    I started seeing points of light twinkling in the sky a couple of years ago but dismissed it as most likely some sort of purification / unstressing, rationalising that if it was something of note it would develop and become more clear over time. So far the experience has remained the same. Hundreds of points of light twinkling, shimmering in the sky usually when I’m lying on the ground on my back outside doing asanas and my vision is softened.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi G
      Purification will go away. Light flashes and sparkles can also be kriyas or energy openings. Something sustained thats non-physical is a form of refined perception. The range is vast.

      It’s useful to keep in mind that the world is created in layers. The devata that create vibrations that create structures and fields and thus forms are at very subtle levels. Twinkling out in the world is thus something else.

      Points and orbs of light I’ve heard described as prana. Thus they’re more likely in natural places. The twinkling may be the light itself changing or moving or it may be atmospheric effects. You may be able to work that out with close observation.

      Thats what I’d suggest but there are all sorts of possibilities.

      As Maharishi used to say, something good is happening. 🙂

      1. Bojan

        I also sometimes see points of lights twinkling when i am looking in the bright sky. But in my case this happens becose of some troubles with my eyes and nothing else. But i don’t have any other experience with subtle perception so i can’t judge other people’s experiences.

        1. Hi Bojan
          Yes, there are several things that can be subtle perception or a disorder. Tinnitus of the ear is another. Sometimes people are hearing the cosmic hum and think its a disorder. Merging of senses is another. They come together near the source, so we can “hear” colours, etc. But if there is integration problems, the senses can muddle together.

      2. G

        Hi David,

        I was recently listening to a Dorothy Rowe webinar and she seem to talk about the experience I was attempting to describe above.
        From her November 18th, 2017 webinar, Energy Healing with Light.
        “How many people have seen those little things that look like… little pins of light if you look up into the sky, a blue sky… and they’re just like there’s lots and lots of them and they’re floating all over the place those are… I asked being because I’ve been seeing them since I was a little child… and those are prana, that’s a perception of prana in the air life it’s like Chi it’s like pure consciousness in the light in the air you can see them often if you stare into a blank sky you stare off the window of the airplane or something you’ll see them.”
        Link to her talking about this here:

        1. Thanks for posting the reference, G. Yes, prana in the air. I’ve had the experience myself but at the time thought it was some visual noise, like from too much sugar. (laughs)

          I’m more inclined to notice what I’d call clouds of colour which are a bit more subtle. The devata as points of light are a great deal more subtle.

          One of the challenges of talking about some of this is as above, so below. The very subtle often expresses similarly on grosser levels. And the greater the diversity, the greater the ways that may show up.

          So you have disorders similar to subtle experiences, very coarse similar to very subtle, and so forth.

          It all gets much easier when the range between consciousness and the physical becomes more apparent. Then things can be placed in context more easily.

          It also helps when the intelligence is apparent within the experience. Then it’s nature is known too. 🙂

    2. Michael

      Hi G!

      As David said, “it is something good”. 🙂

      That sounds like what in dzogchen is called “thigles”. In that tradition it is the smallest particle that makes up the material universe.

      They have something called “thogal” and part of that is sky meditation. Looking at the sky with softened vision to experience these points of light. If you do that they will change their forms (this technique has several layers of effects and benefits), moves you into a deep meditative state where you understand how this material universe is build and this has a deeply purifying effect on our system even down to the elements (that is why they use it, to clear all remaining ignorance and realize the rainbow body).

      Hope that helps

        1. Michael

          Hi David!

          I am no expert on dzogchen, but as far as i know they use it to “go into pure being” and at the same time understand the make up of the universe and purify the individual vessel. It was often only practiced after, at least deep experiences of being had been made or self realization had been stabalized.


  2. N

    Hi David

    Thank you for the article.

    So, is the resolution of our karma a part of our dharma? Said in another way, is our dharma set up, so that it steers us down the route that helps us resolve our karma in the fastest way possible?

    I’m also wondering if a certain mantra affects what a persons dharma is? So mantra A gives rise to one dharma over time and mantra B gives rise to another dharma over time?
    Or is the mantra, simply a tool to dissolve the karma that blocks the dharma from unfolding (where some mantras may be better suited to dissolve certain types of karma better than other kinds)?

    1. Yes, you could say that. Of course, dharma is much more. And its always in the context of the whole, not what you might think to be right or best.

      On mantra, no. A mantra can certainly change the local balance of emphasis and amplify this or that. But it wouldn’t change the dharma itself.

      In the practice I use, mantra is used to go beyond and touch source, amplifying its presence and dissolving karma in the process. There are more specific mantras that can be used for tasks like healing by bringing balance to a certain area.

      In other words, mantra is more about resilience and balance that then aid shedding barriers to that.

      I’ve never explored using a specific mantra for a specific block as it hasn’t been needed and that would require very high skills.

      1. N

        Thanks. So, I usually don’t experience (I think) pure consciousness when doing TM, but I do feel lots of clearing happening. Do you think that consciousness is more present in my meditation than I think?

        1. Hi N
          The experience of pure consciousness (samadhi, transcendence) is often quite vague or generalized for a long time. We may get occasional clear glimpses, especially if we have a chance to get lots of rest. And yet, TM takes you into that on a regular basis. Those times where the thoughts quiet briefly or there is a bit of a space are it.

          This is clear from both scientific research and for when it does become clear. It also becomes clear it’s been working for a long time.

          The clearing is triggered as a result of settling deeply so thats another pointer. Releases happen in the outward stroke.

          So yes, consciousness is very present in your meditation and in your day to day life. But we’re talking of seeing the seer which doesn’t become obvious until it’s woken up to itself. 🙂

          Thats the tricky thing about subtler practices. Its easy for the mind to write them off because there isn’t flashy subjective experiences. And yet research and long term practice shows the benefits.

            1. It’s a goal for some people to experience that regularly. But most people have influences like fatigue that get in the way of clear experiences.

              Ironically, the experience itself is void of content so there is little to remember and it’s easy to forget we ever had such an experience.

              And yet each time we change states of consciousness, like falling asleep, we go into a brief neutral gear of transcendence. Everyone every day touches it. What meditation does is help take it deeper and make it more conscious.

              In India, they use the analogy of stresses being like sleeping elephants. Sometimes, we can sneak through the elephants and have a clear experience. But usually one of them wakes up and kicks up dust, bringing us back out again on thoughts.

                1. (laughs) I used to think that was required – some kind of perfect purity. But I’m still clearing elephants.

                  We just have to clear enough. And then through the cycles of time, things come together for grace to happen.

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