When we are striving to build our spiritual development we sometimes get the feeling that our development is being hindered. One of the worst obstacles is Bad Karma. All of a sudden you start making a mental list of every situation in your life where you might have reacted mean or unfair. Questions come up like, “Am I paying for my grandmothers’ mistakes?” Writer Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D explores this belief that so many of us have about karma. Here is what he has to say about it.
When we believe our bad karma prevents us from making progress and spiritual development, we are relieved, since we cannot help it, it is not our fault, things just work out that way. We have all the good will but, unfortunately, adverse circumstances interfered and curbed us in implementing our great intentions. We therefore wait for a more favorable occasion, and tend to put ourselves in the position of the victim.
This attitude appears to be logical, but it is not. May whatever happen to us in life, may we face whatever difficulty, that, in most cases, comes about as a consequence of our previous actions and choices. No matter what is happening to us in the present moment, that is the outcome of our previous, unconscious actions, we sowed the seed from which our present difficulties sprang up. We are not the victims of circumstances; on the contrary. We create and operate the bad karma we complain about and on which we wish to blame responsibility for our bad luck.
We must change that attitude in order to be able to break out of the vicious circle. Our attitude will only change if we recognize that there is nobody and nothing we are able to blame responsibility on, but ourselves. We must therefore give up looking for excuses, and we must shoulder the responsibility for our actions and for our spiritual development. There is nobody but ourselves in the way of our own spiritual progress, we ourselves have blocked the way with our previous attitudes.
The truth is that we are now set free of our bad karma. Freedom means that now, in the present moment, we act consciously and do what the present moments requires us to do. Naturally, in order to be able to do that, we must submit to the present moment, the present circumstances. That conscious surrender means that we do not resist the present moment, we do not attempt to run away from it, but try to bring ourselves into an inner harmony with what we have in the present moment.
Our inner harmony with the specific situation means that we fully accept that situation. So as to accept the situation, it is necessary for us to be alert, we need to be present in that specific situation. Being consciously open, we will recognize and clearly see what the situation demands from us. Whatever we do in that state of complete alertness, will not be the cause of any bad karma, since our action is in accordance with the possibilities and requirements of the situation concerned.
Then, if in lack of alertness, we make the wrong decisions, we must accept responsibility for the consequences. Accepting responsibility in turns means that we accept the circumstances and, become alert to the specific situation, we find the path leading to the right decisions. That is how real intelligence streams into our actions, and that is how the present moment becomes a teacher in our spiritual journey.