karma and ahimsa

Ahimsa is the absence of violence. Gandhiji's practice of Satyagraha, or truth-force, was built on this idea of ahimsa. What confuses the student of yoga is how the idea of karma is to be reconciled with the idea of ahimsa.

Karma is seen by many as a law that teaches an eye for an eye. It has been compared to Newton's laws. The idea seems to be a quaint one: a violator will be violated, a thief stolen from. That is a common, though violent and misinformed idea of karma.

Karma is seen in our practice of yoga as a repayment of rna, or debts. If someone does something to you, let us say steal from you. In doing so they are simply repaying past rna. With that act, the olds debts have been paid and you are now free as long as you do not respond to the act by creating a fresh act. Governments get entangled in ever increasing violence by being reactive and recreating new karmas that are then acted out and reacted out infinitely.

The key to understanding karma is this. The act has no power whatsoever on your essence, the real you or your higher self. As Vimalananda has taught us, it is only with your ego-identification with the act that you create rnanubandhana, or debt-bondage.

Ahimsa, the absence of violence, is the only reliable way to end karmic ties with what is undesirable. For once we have paid our debts we are free!

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