Karma means action. Commonly, it can mean the law of cause and effect. We’ve all heard of phrases such as good karma and bad karma. Sadly, there is a lot of tosh on this huge and very complex subject. But it all starts in the head.
Karma and the mind
Karma begins in the mind. We all think too much. If we try to stop the mind from having thoughts, we fail. Many people who begin to learn meditation give up because they erroneously believe that the mind should come to a complete stop. Those who carry on and find inner peace realise that the energy and activity of the mind have to be reined in gradually. There is no magic quick fix.
The mental smokescreen
Not only do we think too much, something in the modern psyche convinces us that unless we are thinking, we are being idle. Few people can sit and do nothing unless they are having a nap. To sit without doing anything and without having thoughts is an enormous skill. To do it properly, the mind must be absolutely clear. That requires extraordinary vitality in our mental faculty. But because we have not yet learnt how to do that and discover our inner potential, we generate a mental smokescreen of thoughts about – well, about anything really.
Multi-tasking – a skill or karma nightmare?
Some people are very proud of the fact that they can multi-task, which to them means that they have the wonderful ability to think about three or four things simultaneously. Perhaps they can. Or perhaps their thinking shifts from one thing to another in rapid succession without full awareness on any of them. Whether we claim to multi-task or not, what is certain is that our minds are in a state of almost perpetual motion. Even if we sit or lie down with the intention of doing nothing, the mind keeps working.
Energy – the brain drain starts in the head
This busy-ness of the mind is not something the world imposes on us. It is not some sort of virus or other affliction that we caught from someone else. Our incessant thinking patterns are self-generated. They are the result of mental karma – cause and effect.
The more we think, the greater the movement of energy in the body and in the mind, resulting in even more mental activity. Every thought follows a previous thought and is the cause of yet another. If we could harness all this movement and convert it into electricity, all the world’s energy problems would be solved in one fell swoop. But we can’t and so we waste most of our mental energy.
What we can do…
Our aim should not be to stop thinking altogether but to reduce our thinking so that the mind becomes clearer. When we achieve that, our mind becomes very strong as we conserve more of our mental energy. Just as importantly, as we begin to create less mental clutter, the body settles, too, and our sense of well-being improves.
… create sweet music!
Perhaps we could analogise the mind to a musical instrument. The more notes we play, the more we will want to continue playing; but the sounding of many notes doesn’t necessarily make for a good melody. The musician has to exercise sufficient self-discipline to ensure his playing is coherent and has the right degree of harmony. He also has to know when to stop, otherwise there is a song without end. Our thinking is the same – it should be creative and harmonious, providing the basis for a positive and more enlightened mind, and also be capable of pausing for silence.
From The Art of Not Doing: How to Achieve Inner Peace and a Clear Mind
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