Sunday Service: Karma and How to Avoid Having Bad Things Happen to Good People


Week of April 27 – May 3, 2014

This week I visited the Mormon holy place of Kirtland, Ohio, where the first Mormon temple was built. I was inspired by the Mormon concept of the Bishop’s Storehouse.

Basically, every Mormon fasts once a month and donates the money they saved from fasting to the church. The church then uses this money to create a storehouse of goods that it distributes to the poor and needy.

What a wonderful concept! You better believe we will be putting this idea into practice with the Philia Mission later this year.

Our next American Vedanta event in Cleveland is set for April 30. We had great success with our last event a few weeks ago, I hope you can attend if you are in the area.

This week we bring you a spiritual talk from the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand, an unofficial Ramakrishna Mission center where I am an assistant secretary.

We hear a lot about karma, but what does it actually mean? How can karma be useful in our lives today? This talk explains.


Peter Kowalke


ImpressionThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Karma: How to Avoid Having Bad Things Happen to Good People

By Bindu Anand

Karma is a word that has truly entered the mainstream today. Some old ideas may still exist, but new meanings have been added as well. So, it will be helpful to revisit the definition.

Karma comes from the root word, “kri,” which means “to do.” Therefore, all action is karma. The result of an action is actually karmaphala (fruit of an action), but today we tend to use the word karma for both the action and the result of the action—which of course causes a bit of confusion. People tend to say, “This is my karma,” meaning the fruit, not the action itself.

From our everyday experience we believe that actions have consequences—that each action has a reaction. We throw a ball on the ground and we expect it to bounce up; we call someone and expect an answer; we work and expect to be paid. We hope that the actions we do will lead us to happiness and that we will attain the things that we work for with our actions.

We also hope that there is justice in this world: that if we do good deeds, it will lead to pleasant results, and if bad deeds are done, there will be punishment or consequences for those acts. These are the very premises that the karma theory is built upon.

When we use the word karma as the result of an action, saying “this is my karma,” when a good or bad thing happens to us, we should be forewarned that karma determines our experience, not our action. Thus if we do something, that is not our karma, but it is done by our own free will. The joy or sorrow that comes our way is karma, which is a result of our previous actions.

To delve into it a little deeper, action can produce two results…

(read more)


GitaBook of the Month

Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

The Bhagavad Gita is unique among religious texts in its emphasis on the discharge of everyday duties, irrespective of their nature, as an effective discipline for the realization of God. The Gita teaches that if a man performs his duties, surrendering the fruit to God and discarding all selfish motives, he gains purity of heart and achieves ultimate liberation. It is knowledge of God that gives man the strength to face calmly and cheerfully the duties of life. The Gita shows the way to spiritualize life and illumine even its drab and gray phases with the radiance of the Spirit. It lays down practical spiritual disciplines which can be followed by all, irrespective of faith and creed.

It is common for spiritual giants to offer their own commentary on how best to interpret the Bhagavad Gita, and the famous social activist and Indian saint, Mahatma Gandhi, lends his interpretation in this edition.

(Learn more about the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend YouTube videos, audio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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