I am wondering how karma between people is carried forward from one life to the next.
For example, if one person has a strong attachment to another person – perhaps a dying wife’s attachment to the husband she is leaving behind, or a dying mother to her son –but the other person does not have the same feeling of attraction, can the attached person force his desires on the unattached one?
Could my karma be determined by someone else’s strong desires? Could someone else’s will overcome my own will?
The first thing you need to understand is that karma is always fair.
Karma is the impersonal working of cause and effect in our lives. Because most people don’t remember their past lives, or even understand clearly their own motivations, the “fairness” of the matter is not always self-evident.
The modern tendency to see oneself as a victim is, spiritually speaking, a disaster! Until you take full responsibility for your own destiny, spiritual progress is impossible.
An important thing to understand is that you don’t always need to think that you are being punished by your karma and deserve what is happening to you.
Not at all! Many times the lesson is to stand up for yourself – to have the courage to cast someone unworthy out of your life, and refuse to cooperate with the wrong demands that others make of you.
Every thought, deed, response, emotion, and desire we have reflects the level of our consciousness at the moment it occurs. We act according to how we perceive reality, and according to how we perceive our best interest.
Each of our actions reflects an inner voice that continually prompts us to try to find greater happiness. Even if our response is misguided, we always feel that it is the best way to behave. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it.
If someone treats you unkindly, and you respond with anger, it’s because some part of you believes that revenge will give you happiness. This reflects your understanding of reality.
But if someone betrays you, and you respond with compassion for the person’s ignorance, that reflects an entirely different perception of reality.
This is why the saints can forgive even very cruel actions directed at them. They simply understand reality in its deepest dimension. Forgiveness is their nature. All of us will achieve that level of consciousness. In the meantime, we express who we are.
Everything we do is recorded as a vibration in our spine. The vrittis, or whirlpools of energy that are stored in the spinal chakras correspond to the vibration of the thoughts, feelings, and actions that created them.
When the physical body dies, the chakras remain intact. The pattern of energy in the chakras determines the nature of our next incarnation.
If the dying wife feels that her well-being depends on having a specific man as her husband, the vibration of that desire is recorded in her chakras.
We do have repeating relationships with certain souls, as our love deepens and becomes more refined through repeated association. Still, even the most exquisite human love is only a stepping-stone on the way to knowing the infinite love of God.
Whether the wife will find the same husband depends not only on the stored energy in her chakras, but on the pattern of the husband’s karma as well.
If he longs for her company, that desire could draw them together. If he despises her, that could draw them together. If he fears being close to her, that could draw them together. If he feels sorry for her, and worries about her wellbeing, and if he lacks faith that God will take care of her and feels it is all up to him, that could draw them together.
In order for them to be together again, there has to be a karmic lesson that he still needs to learn by being with her.
Overcoming a too-personal definition of love may be the very lesson that the dying wife needs to learn. If the husband has already learned it, and he loves his wife not only for herself but also as a manifestation of God, he may not need to marry her, or perhaps anyone, ever again. But she may have to live through many cycles of personal love before she learns that love itself is what she craves, not a particular expression of love. As a great saint, Sri Anandamoy Ma, said, “There is no love but God’s love.”
There is nothing wrong in this gradual process of deepening realization. We learn by having our own experiences. Our karma draws to us the experiences we need, and if we act with conscious attunement, we will learn from them. The more attuned we are, the more quickly we learn. The more we rebel against the karmic law, the longer it takes, and the more we suffer.
In the meantime, can one soul force karma onto another? No! Karma is always fair. There has to be a corresponding resonance in order for two souls to be drawn together.
This is where Kriya Yoga comes in. As it is explained in Autobiography of a Yogi, Kriya works directly on the energy stored in the chakras to burn up our karma. Dissolve the vrittis of your desires, and you dissolve your karma. You can get rid of it without having to live through it. That is why Kriya dramatically accelerates spiritual growth.