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Ritual and Karma

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodne...
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The Sanskrit word karma, which usually refers to the effects of our actions through various lives, originally meant "ritual." Action or karma is always a ritual; that is, whatever action we do sets in motion certain forces, not only of a personal but of a collective and cosmic nature.

All action, we could say, is like jumping into a stream. We can choose the stream to jump into, but once in the stream we come under the stream's forces, which are no longer a matter of choice. Whatever we do places us in a stream of action which has a momentum that will carry us in a particular direction. Conscious actions reinforce the energy of consciousness, which causes us to grow in awareness. Unconscious actions reinforce habit, inertia, and the energy of ignorance, which places us under the domination of the external world.

Once we recognize that action is karma, we will approach our actions with an awareness that makes them sacred. We will then give even simple and everyday actions an attention so that we do not let ourselves drift in the stream of unconscious action into greater darkness and sorrow.

However, most of us seldom recognize the karmic or ritualistic nature of our actions.  This is because effects of our action manifest only through time. Some of our actions do not bear fruit at all in the present incarnation.  Unless we look at the really long-term consequences of what we do, it is difficult to take control of our actions.  For example, if we could put our hands in a fire and not get burned until some months or years later, we might carelessly throw our whole body into a fire. Yet this is the type of delay that often exists between destructive mental actions and their outer consequences.

Extract From - The Culture of Ritual and the Quest for Enlightenment - By David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)
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