Karma… the big one that’s so hard for us to wrap our heads around. I’m mentioning it now because last week I spent a wonderful three days in Woodstock, New York taking yoga classes with Jivamukti founders Sharon Gannon and David Life. Sharon had a few things to say about karma that I would like to share while it’s fresh in my head.
The Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Ashram
I’m keeping things simple by summing up the meaning of karma into action. Basically we do something, whether it’s a thought, a word or a physical function and then there’s a reaction. It’s not always immediate and it’s also not always obvious. My yoga teacher Jordanna has said that we can never stop acting, therefore we can’t break the cycle of karma by stopping all of our actions. Instead we have to act with pure intentions. So acting with selflessness is the key to “good” karma.
Sharon told us that 100% of our karma comes from how we treat other people. She read Yoga Sutra 4.15 from various translations:
“Due to differences in various minds, perception of even the same object may vary.” ~Sri Swami Satchidananda
“Even though the external object is the same, there is a difference of cognition in regard to the object because of the difference in mentality.” ~BonGiovanni
“Although the same objects may be perceived by different minds, they are perceived in different ways, because those minds manifested differently.” ~Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
These aren’t the exact translations she read, but you get the point. In my meager opinion this points out a remarkable flaw in the golden rule we were all taught as children (treat others as you would like to be treated). We each see the world in our own unique way, so we don’t necessarily all want to be treated the same way. Of course respect and politeness go a long way, but I think there are many instances where we are looking at things through our own lense. We think we are being nice, but have we seen the whole picture?
Sharon asked us what color wood is. Most of us envisioned the color of a table. She pointed out that a table is dead wood and that the trees outside are alive and a different color. Life is about perception. As yogis that want to work through our karma we have to analyze our own perceptions.
Karma is about making the best possible choice with each thought, word and action.
“How we treat others determines how others treat us, how others treat us determines how see ourselves. How we see ourselves determines who we are.” ~Sharon Gannon
What are your thoughts on karma?