Karma by Sadhguru: Insights on Karma from a Yogi

What are the key points in Karma by Sadhguru? What does Sadhguru teach about the law of karma?

In Karma by Sadhguru, the author uses his background as a spiritual leader to explain how the reality of karma is different from misconceptions about it, and he details how to manage your karma. Understanding these concepts can help you live more intentionally and build positive karma.

Read on to learn more about what the law of karma is and how it can apply to your life.

About Karma: A Yogi’s Guide to Crafting Your Destiny

In Karma by Sadhguru, the spiritual guide and yogi author argues that karma is the key to understanding life and how to live it. But many people misunderstand karma. He explains that karma isn’t an external system of reward and punishment, but a way of living rooted in your actions, thoughts, and emotions that has profound consequences for your current and future lives. Drawing on ancient wisdom, Sadhguru explains how we can harness an understanding of karma to lead a more intentional and fulfilling life and eventually, if we choose, experience spiritual liberation.

Sadhguru, also known as Jaggi Vasudev, is a popular spiritual leader whose teachings primarily stem from his knowledge and experience as a yogi. In 1992, he established the Isha Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers yoga workshops worldwide and spearheads various projects, including the Rally for Rivers—an environmental campaign aimed at rejuvenating Indian rivers. Sadhguru has written other books including Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, which provides insights into yogic practices and personal well-being. He is also an internationally sought-after speaker, having addressed academic institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and global forums like the United Nations. 

In this article, we’ll begin by explaining Sadhguru’s definition of karma. We’ll then elaborate on the four types of karma and how they impact you. Finally, we’ll explain what you can do with karma and offer practical strategies for those who wish to release themselves from the cycle of karma altogether. Since Sadhguru discusses karma largely based on his experience as a yogi, we’ll also put karma in the context of its philosophical and religious traditions and examine his assertions from a scientific perspective.

What Is Karma?

In this first section, we’ll address misconceptions about the concept of karma and explain how Sadhguru defines it.

In Sanskrit, karma directly translates to “action” or “deed.” However, Sadhguru explains there’s a common misunderstanding that karma is an account of all your actions, good and bad, tallied up by a higher power to determine appropriate rewards or punishments. For example, you cheated on your partner, and so the next day you get in a car accident—karma. But Sadhguru argues this is an overly simplified and inaccurate understanding of the idea.

Sadhguru clarifies that karma isn’t an external assessment of your actions; instead, it’s your inner programming created through your past emotions, thoughts, and actions—your memories. Your karma is the sum total of your memories that shapes the way you perceive and respond to the world. As you accumulate memories, you build a mental database of experiences that influence your behavior and decisions. Over time, these behaviors solidify into personality traits and thought patterns—your inner programming—that influence all your daily reactions and decisions. 

For example, if someone you love has hurt you, you might be hesitant to trust others in the future. Or, if you’ve always been good at sports, you’ll likely feel more confident pursuing athletic goals because your memory of past achievements boosts your confidence. 

The Relationship Between Karma and Reincarnation

To fully understand karma, we first need to understand reincarnation.

According to Sadhguru, reincarnation is a continuous process where the energy body, the nonphysical sheath linked to the body and mind, takes on various forms across different lifetimes depending on the karma accumulated in previous lives. The actions and decisions you take in your current life set the trajectory for future lives. Reincarnation is a progressive journey where each life, influenced by your karma, presents opportunities for growth and learning. However, as long as you keep accumulating karma, you remain stuck in the cycle of reincarnation. But if you successfully release yourself from karma, then you can escape the endless wheel of life, death, and rebirth.

Sadhguru emphasizes that you don’t need to believe in reincarnation to benefit from a deeper understanding of karma. He argues that spiritual truths, including concepts like reincarnation, should come from a place of inner experience and realization rather than mere belief. 

Types of Karma

In the next section, we’ll elaborate on the different kinds of karma. According to Sadhguru, there are four types:

Sanchita karma, or accumulated karma, refers to your total karma, including karma inherited from past lifetimes that you may not be fully aware of.

Prarabdha karma, or allotted karma is a selection of karma from your total accumulated karma that you carry through your current lifetime. Your allotted karma shapes the circumstances and situations you face. You can work through your accumulated karma by living out a portion of it (your allotted karma) in each lifetime. 

Agami karma, or future actionable karma, refers to the karma that’s generated by your current actions and choices that have consequences either in this lifetime or in future lifetimes. 

Kriyamana karma, or present actionable karma, refers more specifically to the instantaneous or immediate consequences of your actions. It emphasizes the cause-and-effect relationship between your actions and their immediate results. 

An Example of Types of Karma in Action

Here’s an example to help illustrate the four types of karma in action:

Imagine Maria, a skilled and caring doctor who works tirelessly to provide medical aid to impoverished communities around the world. 

Sanchita karma (accumulated karma): Maria might have been born into a family of medical professionals due to some past life karma. Perhaps in a past life, she had a deep-seated desire to heal and help others, or perhaps she had unresolved issues related to health and well-being that she carried forward into her current incarnation. Maria’s inclination and capability to be a doctor stem from her accumulated karma.

Prarabdha karma (allotted karma): From her vast store of accumulated karma, a certain portion becomes active in Maria’s present life, influencing her circumstances, such as where she is born, her family background, her aptitude for medicine, and the specific challenges and opportunities she encounters. For instance, despite her hard work, she might face unexpected hurdles in her career like bureaucratic obstacles or challenging health scenarios in the communities she serves—all of these could be seen as manifestations of her allotted karma.

Agami karma (future actionable karma): As Maria makes decisions and takes actions in her current life—for instance, choosing to serve in impoverished communities, deciding which medical procedures to perform, or navigating ethical dilemmas—she generates future actionable karma. The energy and intentions behind her actions, whether altruistic, self-serving, or somewhere in between, will contribute to her karma that may unfold in this life or future lives. If she makes choices from a place of compassion and selflessness, she may accumulate positive agami karma. If not, she may accumulate negative karma.

Kriyamana karma (present actionable karma): Maria also experiences the immediate consequences of her actions due to present actionable karma. For example, if she neglects her own health and well-being because she’s always tending to others, she might fall ill—an immediate consequence that might teach her the importance of self-care. Alternatively, the gratitude and positive energies from those she helps, as well as the emotional fulfillment and expanded skills she gains from her experiences, might be the immediate positive karmic results of her selfless service.

The Nature of Karma

Sadhguru emphasizes that karma isn’t an ideology or doctrine, but a law of the universe, like gravity or the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. You’re impacted by karma whether or not you believe in it. Everything you do, think, or feel has consequences, which might manifest immediately, after some time, or in another lifetime.

Sadhguru adds that karma isn’t inherently good or bad. In a world without karma, there wouldn’t be consequences because your choices and experiences wouldn’t matter. Karma is embedded in the human experience. 

Your Relationship to Karma

According to Sadhguru, you’re in control of your relationship to karma. There are three ways you can choose to interact with it:

1. You can continue to accumulate karma: According to Sadhguru, every action, thought, and emotion you engage in leaves an imprint that adds to your karma. By living unconsciously and reacting compulsively to life’s situations, you add to your karma. This continuous accumulation establishes thoughts and behavior patterns that determine the course of your life. 

2. You can take control of your karma: Living more consciously allows you to take greater control of your karma. Sadhguru emphasizes that by acting with awareness, you can reduce the impact of your karma on your life, leading to a life of greater clarity and less compulsiveness. 

3. You can release yourself from your karma: Beyond the human experience, a higher plane of spiritual existence is possible.The ultimate goal for many spiritual seekers is to transcend the bonds of karma entirely to experience “mukti” or liberation. For Sadhguru, this liberation means transcending the limitations of body and mind to become one with everything and experience life in its full depth and dimension. He explains that when you’re truly liberated, you’re free from the cycles of birth and death, experiencing an eternal sense of peace and union with the cosmos.

How to Take Control of Your Karma

According to Sadhguru, the best way to take control of your karma is to live more consciously. Anytime you act unconsciously—based on memory rather than present and conscious awareness—you accumulate karma. However, conscious actions that are performed with full awareness, intention, and mindfulness can transform your karma, leading to a more balanced, positive life, free from the influence of past conditioning or automatic reactions. 

How to Release Yourself From Karma

According to Sadhguru, the most efficient way to free yourself from karma is to release all attachment to the concept of the self. He explains that by transcending the illusion of separateness and recognizing the interconnected nature of all existence, you can dissolve the boundaries that create karma, leading to a profound sense of oneness with the universe and liberation from the cycle of karma. Releasing all attachment to self will allow you to release your karma all at once. 

Practice Karma Yoga

You can also release your karma by working through your allotted karma one life at a time. One tool that can help work through your allotted karma is karma yoga, a spiritual path defined by selfless action and service. Sadhguru clarifies that karma yoga is about seeing one’s life and work as a form of worship or offering, rather than a means to an end. He argues karma yoga is about the attitude and spirit with which you approach life, rather than simply acts of service. When you approach life as a gift, you act without attachment to self, allowing you to live more freely, in harmony with the universe, fostering a deeper connection to everything around you.

Release Karma on the Physical Level

Practicing karma yoga at the physical level can enhance your physical health and help your body work through your allotted karma. Sadhguru offers several methods to engage with karma yoga physically.

His first recommendation is to practice hatha yoga, a form of yoga that involves specific postures and breathing techniques that balance the body and mind. Through particular poses and exercises, hatha yoga can help erase entrenched patterns and memories that make up your accumulated karma and can prevent the accumulation of new karma.

Sadhguru also recommends Bhuta Shuddhi, a practice that focuses on purifying the five elements, or “bhutas,” in our bodies. In yogic philosophy, the elements—earth (prithvi), water (jala), fire (agni), air (vayu), and space (akasha)—are the fundamental building blocks of all life. Sadhguru explains that Bhuta Shuddhi is the foundation of every yogic practice because yoga, in its essence, is about aligning the individual human system with the universal system. The practice of Bhuta Shuddhi allows you to take on a greater karmic burden to work through in this lifetime.

Release Karma on the Mental Level

The next step in your journey is freeing yourself from mental karma. We’re tied to our past and future, and thereby lose our freedom in the present moment. To release mental karma, you must first understand the nature of how we perceive time. By shifting your perception of time, you gain the ability to let go of past burdens and future expectations, giving you the ability to respond to the present moment with a fresh perspective, uncolored by past prejudices or future anxieties.

Release Karma on the Energetic Level

Sadhguru emphasizes the importance of engaging with karma not just on the physical and mental levels, but also on the energetic level. While our physical and mental strength may deteriorate as we age, our energy doesn’t operate under the same constraints. When cultivated and cared for through practices like karma yoga, our energy can remain vibrant and youthful throughout our lives.

Karma by Sadhguru: Insights on Karma from a Yogi

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

One thought on “Karma by Sadhguru: Insights on Karma from a Yogi

  • February 19, 2024 at 10:02 pm

    Didn’t see an audio version


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