Musings on Karma, Jesus, and Meditation
Reflections on living Easter consciousness today, and every day
“You talk about Jesus Christ and declare Him as the Savior,” she said. “How are you able to integrate your faith with these concepts you share, like karma?”
The tone in her voice wasn’t of moral indignation but of genuine curiosity. And the rest of the audience, I think primarily comprised of Christians, some more traditional than others, leaned forward to hear the guest speaker’s response. There was a yearning in the atmosphere in that yoga room. It felt open, tantalizing, alive.
This was the second meeting. Other discussion topics included samsara, reincarnation, soul mates, and soul tribes. You might have thought it was a workshop in Buddhism or the Law of Attraction. In the first meeting the previous week, there was a short talk on tantric meditation, with quick references to Brahma and Shiva. So you might have thought it was a workshop in Hinduism. And in both meetings, a central theme was how to positively influence the world using meditation — “Jesus meditation.” Hmm, maybe mystical Christianity then?
Well, this beautiful melding of terms, ones recast in more expansive ways, beyond doctrine and dogma, was precisely why I attended both talks. They were intriguing. Admittedly, some topics went over my head, but others felt familiar. And I was captivated, because I’ve always been drawn to how the world’s greatest religions and traditions of “higher consciousness” share common archetypes, how they articulate similar ideas but only in different ways.
Because yes, I am Catholic, but beyond that I am spirit, and I think everyone else is, too. And underpinning all these systems are universal spiritual themes, ones I’ve been studying and trying to consciously apply for a while now.
Reliving Our Thoughts, Reliving Our Past
The concept of karma originates from the Eastern religions, predating Christianity for thousands of years.
But its philosophical technicalities aside, in practical terms, I understand karma to be the unconscious patterns that run our lives. And all these patterns stem from our deepest, subconscious beliefs — ones that have been ingrained in us by environmental and cultural conditioning.
For example, if your core belief is that people are dishonest and selfish, you’ll keep finding yourself in situations where people really are. If your core belief is “walang forever,” then you’ll keep reincarnating yourself amidst the rubble of failed relationship after failed relationship. (Well, “failed” in the conventional sense, anyway, but that’s for another post.)
Probably for around 15+ years of my life, my core belief was that it was a scary world. I was a very sensitive child, and the slightest criticism or teasing at school made me incredibly embarrassed and insecure. I didn’t know how to process my feelings, so they stayed inside of me and festered for a long time.
So to cope, year after year I’d put up walls. Walls in the form of layers of books and layers of fat. And of course, these walls would keep manufacturing the conditions that would confirm my belief.
Thus turned my “wheel of suffering.” Sure, I had a few close friends throughout my schooling, but I was mostly lonely, mostly afraid, and always beset with physical problems associated with obesity. At my heaviest, I was 300lbs.
Of course, karma isn’t only personal. It’s also collective, and certainly generational. Most of our core beliefs develop in early childhood. Either we learned them from our parents, or our parents simply failed to help us navigate our thoughts and process our emotions. Maybe they just didn’t know how.
But as adults, we’re at choice. Either we blame and play victim, and keep unconsciously reliving the pain of old wounds day after day, situation after situation.
Or, we extend compassion, realizing that our parents had parents, too. That they might have inherited similar beliefs, but that they nevertheless loved us as best they knew how.
And therein lies the way out of karma: forgiving ourselves, and forgiving each other.
Burning Karma Through Forgiveness
It’s currently Easter, and it’s crossed my mind: Did Jesus ever think about “karma”? The term isn’t used in the Bible, but Galatians describes a parallel notion of “reaping what you sow.”
Whatever the case, Jesus did prescribe an antidote to karma: the commandment to “love one another.”
Let me explain. I think another way to describe karma is that it’s the opposite of the notion of love begetting love.
It’s a life trajectory whereby fear-based (i.e., loveless) thought and behavior lead to more fear-based thought and behavior, which lead to more fear-based thought and behavior, and so on.
We could call it the Wheel of Suffering, our own personal hell, or all the stress, anxiety, and depression that can, at times, make life feel unbearable. If we remain unconscious of our thoughts and behavioral patterns, we keep playing out the same nightmare over and over again.
But one thing can “burn” karma: forgiveness.
If we remember that the deepest core of anyone is someone who yearns only to give love and to receive love, if we remember that moments of loveless behavior are actually cries for love, if we remember that love truly is the answer, then it’s easier to forgive.
And then we place ourselves on a new trajectory, one whereby loving thought and behavior lead to more loving thought and behavior, which lead to more loving thought and behavior, and so on. Karma is burned.
Jesus demonstrated this on the cross. “Forgive them, Father,” he said, while in the thrall of the worst torture. “For they know not what they do.” Jesus understood that those who persecuted him were asleep to who they were.
And that was the sort of consciousness that led to his resurrection. In metaphysical terms, he transcended the mortal realm, resurrecting into a consciousness where the effects of other’s loveless behavior could touch him not. Having so completely aligned with God’s Will — Love — Jesus “overcame the world.”
Whether our own personal crucifixion is in the area of family, or relationships, or health, or finances, or anything else, leaving the cross requires forgiving the people (maybe including ourselves) and the circumstances that put us there.
Whatever tradition sings to our hearts — Christian “Salvation,” Jewish “Promised Land,” Buddhist “Nirvana” or “Enlightenment,” Hindu “Moksha,” or secular full “Self-actualization” and inner peace, the key to attaining it is Love.
Meditating Your Way to Forgiveness and Back to Your Self
So, are we just supposed to go around forgiving and loving everyone all day?
It sounds radical, but that’s the kind of unconditional, radical love we’re all called to embody.
It’s much easier said than done, which is why it needs to be repeatedly said.
Heck, I’m far from perfect and still fall off the spiritual bandwagon every so often, but I know I’m much better than I used to be. And like anything, when you mess up, you just try again.
What keeps me on track is daily prayer and meditation. People ask, What’s the difference? The definition that’s clung to me is from Eckhart Tolle: Prayer is us talking to God, and meditation is allowing God to talk to us.
I’ve been praying for most of my life, but meditation is something I got serious with only several years ago.
The technique taught during the talk in that yoga room involved closing your eyes, focusing on an inner light, and reciting a specific mantra. That was similar to the transcendental meditation (TM) technique I practiced in 2019, but these days I focus on meditation exercises from A Course in Miracles (ACIM).
Fortunately, as the speaker said to me, it doesn’t really matter what technique you use (there’s a bunch!). The result of meditation, he said, is that it “increases your vibration,” which in turn ripples out and positively influences your environment.
“Does it really work?” another audience member asked.
The speaker, with a knowing smile, responded with a gentle invitation: “Try it out yourself.”
His point was that you can only know it experientially. But it will manifest as the fruits of the Spirit, in the form of love, peace, joy, compassion, and more.
Whether the goal of meditation is to increase your vibration; or, from my former TM practice, to reach “Pure Consciousness”; or, from ACIM, to hear that “small, still Voice for God” — honestly, I think they all say the same thing.
From the silence and stillness emerges an ancient memory of our true Self — the One made in the image and likeness of God. The One unphased by the chaos and turmoils of this world. The One who remembers that we’re all in this together, that we’re all innocent children of God, and that, in fact, we’re all One.
Regularly entering that sacred interior with consistent spiritual practice — whether meditation or prayer or something else — we literally form neural synapses that make it easier and easier to return to it time and time again, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.
Beyond the forces of the ego and above the laws of karma, Jesus lived in that realm 24/7.
And I think that’s the message of Easter — that if we surrender to God and truly become disciplined disciples of Love, we can, too.