Religions and philosophies teach us that there are three kinds of karma. There is (1) the karma that we are born with; (2) the karma that we are creating at any one moment; and (3) karma we will encounter in the future. All of these karmas are created by action, whether by thought, word or deed. It is this karma that keeps us bound to the wheel of death and rebirth, for we keep coming back to pay off these karmic debts over and over again.
The most intense karma is created by desire and craving. We long to be rich, powerful, or in control. We are attracted to pleasure and adverse to pain. We are like puppets on strings controlled by these addictions and aversions. For every longing and desire that we crave and do not experience in our lifetime, we are bound by karma to return to experience. It is the desire and aversion that creates the karma that binds us to the cycle of death and rebirth.
Furthermore, we believe that we create karma when we cause suffering in others, consciously or unconsciously. As we are all one, we have to experience that which we do to ourselves in order to understand what it feels like. This is the Mosaic law, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The aspect of the law that is often overlooked is that since death is an illusion we will keep coming back to satisfy the law that must be satisfied. These are the teachings of the religions and philosophies.
The higher teachings of the saints and enlightened masters state that all of this is an illusion we create for our own enlightenment. We perceive karma is self-perpetuating and inescapable because of our limited grasp of the situation we call life. However, the illusion can be overcome and enlightenment reached when we recognize the simple fact that we are the divine creators OF EVERYTHING and can change this by simply changing our minds.
We can’t do this by ourselves. As Albert Einstein once stated, “a problem cannot be solved by the thinking that created it.” The only way we can find our way out of the illusion is to find an enlightened teacher who can show us the way. In other words, it is our desire-filled conscious that keeps us enslaved to the operation of karma, and it takes a teacher or saint to show us how to detach from this illusion. This is why the teacher will tell us “to keep our eyes on the teacher” because it is the only way to escape the distraction of pleasure and pain. If we focus on the teacher and the teachings, we have a chance of self-realization and liberation. If we are constantly distracted by desire and avoidance, we will stay caught in the illusion of thoughts and matter.
It is a self-fulfilling belief that karma is inescapable. Until we understand the nature of our thoughts and attachment to materialism we will always be hooked by karma and its operation. The only way to escape this illusion is by the practice and discipline of self-analysis and awareness of every thought, word and deed in the light of our own divinity. When we can see God at all times in ourselves and others, we will be freed from the operation of karma and its illusion.
When someone does something that makes us feel like a victim, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we feel imperfect, unworthy or unhappy, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we compare ourselves to others or sit in judgment or lack, we are buying into the illusion of karma. Anytime we believe that we are anything other than God creating our experiences for our enlightenment, we are buying into the illusion of karma.
By finding a saint or enlightened being and becoming a student, one can learn to discipline him or herself and through practice release the bondage of karma. Discipline comes from the word “disciple”, one who follows a teacher. By focusing on the teachings, one can let go of the illusion of materialism and thought forms that arise as addiction to pleasure and aversion to pain. By focusing on our innate goodness, one no longer strays from the five virtues; peace, love, truth, non-violence and right action. By contemplation and meditation of our role in this life to create the experiences that will lead us to enlightenment; we escape the (de)illusions of perception and projection.
I had a wonderful experience in Scotland not too long ago. I was blessed with the occasion to stay with a man whose whole life is focused on helping others. On a day a winter storm was closing roads and airports, I went with him to help push total strangers out of snowdrifts. He laughs often and helps many. His first thought on arising is always “how may I serve?” It was a humbling experience to be in his presence. My guess is that he knew on some level that life is an illusion to be enjoyed and not suffered.
We all get what we need when we are ready. When we follow a teacher and apply the teachings (disciple/discipline) we have a choice to believe that karma is inescapable or an illusion. We have a choice to follow a higher path to enlightenment or continue to wallow in the maya of our illusions. We have a choice to believe we are divine creators of our experiences or the victims of our karma. This is the true nature of “free-ing” will.