You have undoubtedly heard the word Karma
used in reference to eastern philosophy. It is ordinarily explained
to westerners by saying that we reap what we sow. Karma is the consequence
of our own actions.
Many years ago I was discussing this subject with a protestant
minister who told me the following story.
As a young man he was sent to the Philippine Islands to do
missionary work. He did not say why he was sent there. Almost all
of the people in that area were already Christians.
As it happened, their choice did not matter much. Subsequently,
Japan declared war on the United States and invaded the Phillipines.
He and the other missionaries were rounded up and crammed down into the
filthy dank hold of an aging merchant ship and sent off to…he never found
The conditions in the hold of the ship were horrific.
There was little light and the only air which could enter the cramped and
overcrowded room came in through a small steel grate on the hatch.
Bad as things were, they got worse. The ship was torpedoed, killing
many of them instantly. Water crashed in on them though a hole perhaps
twenty feet across.
The lights began to fail and the minister knew he was about
to drown. He looked at the miserable little steel grate, which he
knew was locked but as if by a miracle the face of a terrified young Japanese
soldier appeared behind it. A face that he never expected to be there
and a face that was burned indelibly into his memory forever. The
soldier shot the lock off with his rifle and then disappeared.
The result of this was that some of the prisoners got out.
The minister, having had enough of his Japanese captivity made a break
for. He did not say anything to anyone. He dove into the water
and started swimming. There was oil and fire on the water, screaming
and explosions everywhere. He expected to be shot, but he did not
look back…better to die than to go back.
The shot never came and he was able to clear the ring
of fire. There was an island in sight. Unfortunately, distances
across the water can be very difficult to judge accurately.
He swam and swam. The sea was not especially rough and
the water was not cold but the distance was great. He swam until
his lungs burned, until his eyes blurred, until he was so tired that he
sank beneath the waves. Each time he settled down a few feet below
the surface he would finally force himself back up just once more until
his brain was no longer working quite right and exhaustion began to close
upon him irreversibly.
Consciousness was starting to leave his body. It was then as
he settled into the depths for the last time that his feet hit something.
He was confused. He was prepared to drown by then and almost too
tired to care but many things flashed suddenly through his mind.
At first he thought a shark was under him; that he was about to be eaten.
He pushed away from the thing and then realized that the thing was the
bottom of the ocean. He was in the surf not twenty yards from the
shore of that island!
Now I want you to bear in mind that this man had swam for
several hours and never saw or heard anyone or anything thing the entire
time so it was somewhat of a surprise for him to realize that there was
another person between him and the shore.
He could not see very well by then but two things quickly
became obvious. The first of them was that the other person was as
he said, pardon my French, a Jap. The second was that the Jap was
not going to make it. He had toppled facedown in the surf not three
steps from the shore.
The minister did not know what to do. He was spent himself
and after all of the horrible treatment he and his friends had suffered
at the hands of these people he was not eager to be caught on this island
with one of them. Nevertheless, as he staggered by and saw the final
stream of bubbles coming up from the soldier he was moved to action.
The minister grabbed his enemy by the collar and stumbled and dragged and
pulled him those last three steps out of the water where they collapsed
onto the sand where they slept for several hours.
His horrible enemy turned out to be a boy barely 17 years
old. Moreover, it developed that he could speak English and that
he was a Christian boy from a missionary school who was only in the Japanese
army because the authorities would have killed him and his family if he
The boy hated the war and he hated the army, and---
there was one other very special thing about him: This
was the same boy who came down into that flooding hell hole and shot the
lock off the door.
Therein a great law was demonstrated. Sometimes when
we open a door for someone else, we also open it for ourselves. Especially
if this is done selflessly and without expectation of any profit or reward.
If that boy had not gone down into the flooding passageway to help the
other Christians, he would never have reached the beach himself.
That is an example of Karma. It is an example of how
our own actions come back to us. We could think of it in one sense
as an energy transaction. There was not a lot of energy involved
here, none of the spectacular displays we see in our popular motion pictures:
only enough to take just three more steps. The catch was that
the boy had to get it from someone else.
In Eastern philosophy and several of their religions Dharma
is the word they use to name the law of the universe. Karma is the
operation of that law and here a moment of introspection may be in order.
Many of our western religious denominations have lost their
paths. Dharma for them has degenerated into a list of don’ts.
In truth many of don’ts listed at the beginning of the Christian bible
were by any measure just plain good advice. They were things people
ordinarily hadn’t ought to be doing and they made sense in the context
of that period. Most of them still make sense.
But, returning to the idea of Karma, in the end the true measure
of a persons life will not be found in the things they did not do.
The fortunes of love and life can change very quickly and
if you are ever feeling especially successful and important it would be
worthwhile to ask yourself this question. If I needed enough energy
to take just three more steps, would it be there? and more important,
is there any reason it should it be there?
Life is about energy. It not is about what we say be
believe, it is about the choices we make. We can put good energy
into the world around us, or not.
All of you who have studied with us for very long have had
opportunity to participate in the knesiology experiment. In it a student
is told to hold their left arm out straight from the side of the body so
that it makes a 90 degree angle with the floor. An instructor then
places two fingers on the students wrist and he or she is told to hold
their arm up as the instructor pushes down.
The student is always able to resist this force because you
cannot push another persons arm down using only two fingers. Notwithstanding
that, when the student is told to repeat the sentence: “I am weak and unworthy”
ten times out loud their arms are easily deflected. Strong athletic
sports figures go down just as easily as small women.
In this experiment our students are shown that thoughts held
in their own minds which have not even reached the level of belief can
compromise their energy systems.
Tonight we want to tell you something else. Energy and
thoughts you radiate into the world around you can come back on you too;
just as dramatically as in the knesiology experiment.
The simplest example of this might be going out of your way
to insult someone and having them punch you in the mouth for it.
Generally the cause and effect relationship is far more subtle than that,
but it, nevertheless, exists and it has very practical consequences in
our daily lives not only in our relationships with others but in our relationship
Some of you may have seen some of Zig Zigars motivational
seminars. In one of them he speaks about owning a million dollar
thoroughbred horse and he asks the question: “ If you owned a million
dollar thoroughbred racehorse would you let it stay up all night, smoking
cigarettes, eating junk food and drinking Alcohol?” “I don’t
think so. Yet most people do exactly that to their billion dollar
bodies all the time.” That is an example of karma in the making too
and it is a perfectly obvious one.
If you treat your body poorly, it is going to start feeling
poorly. Likewise, if you radiate evil and destructive energy into
this world that is exactly what is going to come back to you sooner or
later. It can take years for these cycles to complete themselves
but they always do. Not all of the things which are in your life
now are the result of Karma but many of them are. Some of the good
fortunes and misfortunes you are experiencing now are the simply the result
of things you did, or did not do, and forces you yourself set into motion.
As students of Yoga we have the opportunity of trying to get
a handle on this process and to start exercising control of what comes
into our lives.
It isn’t always easy to maintain your yoga practice but the
truth is that each hour you spend doing yoga and spiritual activities will
return many hours of vitality to you. You will come away from each
session with more power than you started with. Not only will this
add days, months and years to your life, they will be more productive days.
It will give you more time, not less time.
When we do yoga regularly it increase our energy levels.
Our physical health improves and our mentality improves. Our ability to
meditate improves. That is a kind of karma in itself but there is
another kind which is likely to be associated with it too. It results
from the thoughts and energy we radiate from ourselves.
As you do yoga and practice meditation the power of these
thoughts and this energy will increase. This is usually overlooked
but most of us need to get a handle on it.
Tonight while your energy channels are still open from the
first meditation I want to ask each of you to join our united circle to
radiate love, joy and healing into the world.
Never underestimate the importance of this. As a united
group in this circle we can project light into the world of far greater
power than we could possibly do as the same number of individuals acting
Remember the lesson of the Japanese boy who opened the door
for someone else and remember the law of Karma. We have no right
to expect to find love and light in this world if we are not prepared to
contribute to it ourselves.