Notes & Quotes: Karma by Sadhguru

The following are my favorite quotes from Sadhguru's Karma: A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny:

  1. Karma is about becoming the source of one's own creation. In shifting responsibility from heaven to oneself, one becomes the very maker of one's destiny.
  2. For every other creature on this planet, the struggles are essentially physical. If they eat well, they are just fine. But human beings are different. For humans, when the stomach is empty, there is only one problem; but when the stomach is full, there are one hundred problems!
  3. It is up to us to decide the nature of our bequest to the planet. This is what the anonymous Jain monks of Velayudhampalayam did. Aware that every action has a consequence, they chose to live consciously. As a result, the achieved a certain kind of immortality that the rich and powerful in the history of the world have seldom managed to attain.
  4. Karma is not a punishment or reward; it is just the process by which life tries to fulfill itself.
  5. When your actions are no longer about you, when they are simply based on the demands of the situation, when narrow self-interest no longer fuels your volition, you have reached the end of karmic production. Your liberation is assured.
  6. If you avoid any experience--whether pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy--it is big karma. But if you go through the experience without resisting it, the karma dissolves.
  7. Your karma is not what is happening to you; your karma is in the way you respond to what is happening to you. 
  8. When you involve yourself intensely in physical activity, you expend a great deal of nervous energy. But now that human beings have become so inactive, almost every person suffers from some kind of anxiety or unease. This is simply because of trapped physical energy. In comparison, you will find that those committed to some form of intense physical exercise are often at a different level of balance and peace and peace and much less entangled in sexuality and other physical drives. This is because one aspect of the person have found full expression.
  9. It is impossible to perform physical activity without your thought, emotion, and energies being involved. The same activity can, of course, be performed with different levels of involvement. Those who work only for a livelihood often feel constrained and suffocated. But when you are deeply involved in your work on every level, you will find activity invigorates you; it does not exhaust you.
  10. The goal for every freedom seeker is the same: to attend to your karma now rather than wait for life to throw it at you.
  11. We have always had a choice: between inclusive action and paralyzed volition, between intelligent dynamism and pathetic fatalism. Why do we so often chose the latter?
  12. The one thing every seeker needs to remember is that the inner journey can only be taken alone. Once this realization dawns, it marks the birth of spirituality. This realization is sometimes scary for those who are used to living in groups, to making collective life decisions. Yes, you can walk together in the outside world, but in the inner world, everybody walks alone. 
  13. On a certain day, three men were working on a site. A passerby came and asked the first man, "What are you doing?" The man looked up and said, "Hey, are you blind? Can't you see I'm cutting stone?" The passerby went to the second man and asked the same question. "What do you think I'm doing?" growled the second man. "I'm trying to earn my living. I need to fill my belly." The passerby went to the third man and asked again, "What are you doing here?" The man stood up in great joy. "I'm building a glorious temple!" All three men were doing the same work. For the first man, his work was simply cutting stone. For the second, his work was simply a means to eke out a livelihood. For the third, his work was an opportunity to create something beautiful that he cared for deeply. The how is the pivotal issue.
  14. It is not the content of your life that matters. It is the context of your life that does. 
  15. When my daughter was twelve years of age, she came to me, a little troubled. I gave her just one guidance: "Never look up to anyone; never look down on anyone." If people practiced this simple sadhana, they would see everything just the way it is. If you look up to someone, you will exaggerate their positive qualities; if you look down on someone, you will exaggerate their negative qualities. But if you simply look--not for something, but just look--you will see things just as they are. Now your ability to navigate your way through life is greatly enhanced.
  16. Karma yoga is usually interpreted as doing one's duty. This again is utterly false. Now, this may sound outrageous, but let me say it: there should be no such thing as duty in this world. Duty is tyranny. The very idea was concocted by people with vested interests.
  17. You have love for something, you do it; if you have no love, it is better to simply desist from action. Doing something miserably or self-righteously is not a contribution to life.
  18. You will see after rigorous, immersive work that there is suddenly no intention left in you to do anything. Now the real spiritual process unfolds. Only if you have known intense action will you know the bliss of inaction. Once your energies get to a boiling point, it is very easy to transform them and make your life happen in the most harmonious way possible. That is the whole purpose of karma yoga.
  19. These are the only two things that you are suffering right now: your memory and your imagination. Nothing more.
  20. This moment is all there is. Accepting this is not a formula. It is not a theory. It means seeing reality just the way it is. It means aligning yourself with the way things are, not the way you think they should be.
  21. The very way in which you experience life--whether you see it as sweet or sour, beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant--is your responsibility, as your ability to respond is what determines the nature of your experience.
  22. The more you start seeing that you are responsible for your life, the closer you move toward your liberation. If you try to pass the buck to somebody, you will start moving toward your entanglement.
  23. Whatever you eat, drink, and breathe is energy. Whether you transform it into physical, mental, or life energy is up to you. Energy is neither created nor destroyed; it is only transformed.
  24. Many choose to live their lives at this superficial level. They opt for self-improvement rather than self-transformation, hoping that a life of tepid affability and general agreeability will take them to the ultimate. They forget that the social has nothing to do with the existential.
  25. Whether you smoke or drink or pray all day, your actions can still be compulsive. Whatever you do, if it is done with joy and gratitude and if it moves you toward freedom from cycles, it makes all the difference. If a certain prayerful attitude grows within you out of your joy and gratitude, that is beautiful. It is the context, not the content of your life, that determines karmic accumulation.
  26. The eights limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga, as it is known) are structured in a particular way: the first three limbs (yama, niyama, and asana) are considered to be the fire aspect are purifactory; the last four (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi) are considered to be the light aspect and are enlightening. The fourth limb--pranayama--is considered to be the intermediate transitory step, combining both fire and light.
  27. I want to invite you to that place of borderless ignorance--that the ancients have called enlightenment--and the only way to get there is to lose yourself. There is no other way.
  28. A teaching, after a certain period of time, becomes a block by itself. You will twist it to your convenience. People have done this to teachings all over the world. Initially, a teaching has an impact on you because it is new and you have no clue as to how it works. But over a period of time, you will start twisting it to your convenience. You will make the teaching support you. This is counterproductive, because the teaching is not meant to support you; it is meant to demolish you!
  29. The realignment of the chakras--or energy centers--in the human system can produce dramatic results. Energy interventions can completely rewire the system and alter the impact of genetic, evolutionary, and elemental memory. It is these dimensions of memory that unconsciously restrict us in many ways. To become free from their impact or to learn to disconnect from them when necessary is a very important aspect of yogic practice.
  30. The longing for liberation, or mukti, is not because life is miserable. When you are miserable, you long for heaven, not liberation. The longing for liberation arises only when life is good, but you naturally want to evolve to the next dimension. You do not want to go through the tedium of the same cycles time and again.
  31. If you function unconsciously, your karma rules you absolutely. As soon as you can function with some awareness, the power of karma over your life weakens. In life beyond the body, discretion does not exist, so karma rules absolutely. If you have pleasant karma within you, it gets magnified, and if you have unpleasant karma within you, it gets intensified. It is these internal conditions that are referred to as heaven and hell in many traditions.
  32. It is your responsibility to exercise the choice every moment of your life: either to follow your tendency or to make a conscious decision. If you live with this sense of responsibility, your tendencies will not rule you, and your future will not mimic the past.
  33. If your pursuit of external science and technology were accompanied by a pursuit of inner well-being, this would be less of an issue. But enhancing the physical without finding access to the nonphysical dimension is the fundamental problem.
  34. A mirror simply reflects everything. Nothing sticks to it; no residue is left upon it, and it never makes any judgment about what it reflects. It does not discriminate between pleasant and unpleasant, beautiful and ugly. When your mind becomes like this, you are in a state of samadhi. When all these distinctions drop away, the life energy no longer clings to the body. At this point, it starts dislodging itself from the physical.
  35. For the yogi, the ultimate aim is mahasamadhi, or ultimate dissolution of the limited identity. This means a voluntary relinquishment of the physical, mental, and energy bodies. There is nothing life-denying about this. It is instead about giving up the limited for the unlimited. You could think of it like this: Instead of sitting on the beach, you choose to become the ocean. You choose to move from limited pleasure to the unfathomable ecstasy of boundless existence.
  36. Existentially, no distinction exists between the life of one being and that of another. But physically and mentally, there is, of course, separateness. By linking the two on an energy level, you can create a certain life support system for yourself.
  37. The ultimate guidance you can offer is to help someone transcend their suffering. This is what the great sages and mystics down the ages have done. They remind the world that there is a way out of suffering. Even if there is pain, there need be no suffering. The ability to see this difference is the supreme human attainment.
  38. My only aim is to help you recognize the miracle of life that you are. Everything else is a distraction.
  39. Karma does not mean God is sitting up there punishing bad people and rewarding good ones. There is no such thing. But what kind of society we live in--is that not our collective karma? That we are living uninvolved in a society in which horrific things happen--is that not our karma? If all of us live without any humanity in our hearts for all the atrocities going on around us, that is our karma. We get the society we deserve.
  40. If there is collective will, we can bring many things to some sense of order. With concerted and participatory action, much can be changed. But if you attribute all this to divine will, things will go on endlessly in the same way.
  41. Now, suppose you were driving with a drunk friend. If he crashes his car, you might also be seriously injured. If you were to say "This is unfair--this is his karma, not mine," it would be absurd. Your karma is that you were with a drunken friend. This is the way existence works. If you are in tune with, it will not crush you. If you are not in tune with it, it will crush you. 
  42. Anything that is karmic dissolves only when the discerning mind is in function. If you just leave it unexamined, it hardens into a tendency. These tendencies are working upon you all the time.
  43. With children, the less you try to influence them, the more they are influenced by you. The more you try to try influence them, the less successful you will be.
  44. For those who have died without living out a full life cycle, the Allotted Karma, or prarabdha, has to wear itself out. The pranic body has to come to a certain state of passivity or inertness. This happens when there is no longer any active karmic substance. Now, the new allotment, or installment of prarabdha, will begin to manifest itself. As this happens, the energy body regains its vibrancy and will then take on another physical body.
  45. This is what every human being should aspire to: discrimination only on the level of action, not involvement. Action is necessarily limited. It involves a certain expenditure of energy, time, competence, and other factors. Discretion is necessary only on the level of action; otherwise you will waste yourself. But involvement is an internal state, and it needs to be all-inclusive. 
  46. There has been a great emphasis in the yogic tradition on cultivating the right attitude toward life because, depending on your attitude or quality, you attract that kind of thought, emotion, and experience toward yourself.
  47. The moment of death is particularly important in determining the kind of quality you have and the kind of karma you attract. So if you die in anger, in hatred, in misery or in pain, you attract another kind of karma.
  48. In the last forty seconds of a person's lifetime, many lifetimes of Accumulated Karma play out in fast-forward. In those crucial forty seconds, if a person manages to stay aware, they can drop lifetimes of karma. It does not matter what kind of life they have lived. If they are in a consecrated space, or if they have done some spiritual practice and manage to stay conscious, that intense phase will wipe them clean and they can dissolve their karma altogether. 
  49. Dying in joy or love is a wonderful way to die. Dying in what the yogic tradition calls the samadhi state is the ultimate way to die. This means that while you are living, you walk consciously into death.
  50. Tigers have no real choice other than to be a tiger. They go by their instincts. They have no choice as we know them: they cannot transform themselves into vegetarians or get married or become yogis! Their life is fixed, so there is not much karmic action. Certain personality differences still exist: there are angry tigers, docile tigers, lazy tigers. But there are no major differences. Human life, on the other hand, is not fixed. You have the choice and the ability to be any way you want in a given moment. That is the freedom and the curse. Most human beings are suffering their freedom.
  51. Every human being is in the process of becoming divine. Every human being is in the process of awakening to their own destiny. Whether this happens today, tomorrow, ten years or ten thousand years later, is always open to question. But once you see that life is moving toward its ultimate nature of its own accord, you also put your energies into it and go faster. That is, you turn consciously spiritual. Collaborating with Nature's plan is all you need to do.
  52. What about me? If you are able to completely eliminate this question, you have annihilated the enormous sense of self-significance that most human beings live with. Now you can dismantle the elaborate karmic chains in one swift single stroke. You emerge from the debris of your karma a liberated being.
  53. There is a difference between walking out of the body and committing suicide. Suicide means you want to escape a difficult situation. Walking out of something means your term is over and you are stepping out joyfully. If you escape from prison, you will be on the run the rest of your life. But if you are freed from prison because your term is up, you are a free man. That is the difference. And it is a big one. 
  54. In order to fly you need to be willing to drop all investments. You need to reach the point where you are no longer interested in saving yourself. You no longer want to take incremental steps toward your liberation. You realize that if you take incremental steps to infinity, you become endless installments and never get there. When you see your limited identity for what it really is--a hollow bundle of thoughts, likes, dislikes, and prejudices--you are ready to abandon it.

Notes, quotes, Karma, A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny, Sadhguru