Karma for beginners: right motivation

In the law of karma motivation is front line and center. Do you do for yourself, your own wealth, success and fortune? Do you do it out of compassion, because you know that person can use the help?

It’s the most basic psychological process: our motivation, why we do what we do. The hard part is that usually we have all kinds of reasons for doing things. You take care of yourself when you’re not feeling well, not only because it makes you feel better, but also in order to be able to go to work tomorrow. That work serves the people who depend on it.

You might be a volunteer in a retirement home because you need something to do, to have some company, but also because you care for the inmates.

Tibetan Buddhist teachers stress that you can rejoice in all the positive things you do, including the positive motivation you feel. That rejoicing is a sort of motivation in hindsight.

Similarly, the karmic consequences are, so it’s said, less of you honestly regret doing a negative action.

It makes sense: if you rejoice in the positive things you’ve done, chances are you’ll do them again. If you regret stealing something, chances are you won’t steal again (or as often).

In reverse: If you regret every little bit of generosity you display, chances are next time you won’t give as much.

The point is to get clear what your motivation is – the layers of your motivation. Not in order to beat yourself up over every time you put your own needs first, but in order to be realistic. Realistic enough to take care of yourself and avoid overwork, for instance. Realistic enough to give that dollar to that beggar this time around.

A version of this post appears in my book Essays on Karma.

4 thoughts on “Karma for beginners: right motivation”

  1. Katinka,
    This is a great article, to expand further, according to the Spiritual Master Dada Bhagwan, Dada says “What do people call karma? According to people in general, karma means going to work, performing meritorious deeds, charity, and religious activities. The Self-realized however, call this resultant karma instead of karma. The gross karmas, which can be seen and experienced through the five senses, are all resultant karma or discharge karmas. That which was charged in the past life is being discharged in this life. It is manifested and becomes visible. The karmas performed at the present time are done at the subtle level. The charging point is very difficult to grasp or recognize”. To get a more in depth understanding, I came across this website which may be very useful for further reading and understanding the Science of Karma. http://www.dadabhagwan.org/scientific-solutions/spiritual-science/the-science-of-karma/

    Hope this helps further.

  2. I would like to add further that the intention of Karma is equally important.
    At times we do certain things not because they are morally and ethically correct, but because of societal reasons, to impress people or for just being called how good and helpful we are. It feels good when such things are thought and said about us. Such deeds do not count.
    If you are helping others then it should be with pure intention, with no hidden ulterior motive. Such things are not meant to be bragged or flaunted about. You did something good because you wanted to do it. You did not do it because you wanted people to know about it and praise it.

  3. There is no practical engineering operation in this place that can be called karma, my opinion. It exists to the degree everything else exists, as we wish to believe it. Another tack to take is to accept that all exists as creation, or consciousness, whatever you want to call it, and accept it on equal terms with everything else. This tends to apply perspective and with that comes understanding. Which leads to more perspective and understanding, ad infinitum.

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