What is the law of karma?
It is not in fact a law, because there is nobody behind it as a lawgiver. On the contrary, it is intrinsic to existence itself. It is the very nature of life: whatsoever you sow, you reap. But it is complex, it is not so simple, it is not so obvious.
To make it more clear, try to understand it in a psychological way, because the modern mind can understand only if something is explained in a psychological way. In the past, when the law of karma was talked about – when Buddha talked about it and Mahavira talked about it – they had used physiological, physical analogies. Man has gone far away from that, man has moved far away from that. Now man lives more in the psychological, so this will be helpful.
Every crime against one’s own nature, every one, without exception, records itself in our unconscious – what the Buddhists call alayavigyan, the storehouse of consciousness – each crime.
And what is a crime? It is not because the court of Manu says it is a crime, because that court is no more relevant; not because the Ten Commandments say it is a crime, that too is no more relevant; not because a certain government says it is a crime, because that goes on changing. Something is a crime in Russia and the same thing is not a crime in America. Something is a crime according to the Hindu tradition and the same thing is not a crime according to the Mohammedan tradition. Then what is crime? There has to be a universal definition for it.
My definition is: that which goes against your nature, that which goes against your self, your being, is a crime. And how to know that crime? Whenever you commit that crime it records in your unconsciousness. It records in a certain way: it records and starts giving you a feeling of guilt. You start feeling yourself despised by yourself, you start feeling yourself unworthy, you start feeling yourself not as you should be. Something inside you becomes hard, something closes inside you. You are no more as flowing as you have been before. Something has become solid, frozen; that hurts, brings pain, and brings a feeling of unworthiness.
Karen Horney has a good word to describe this unconscious perceiving and remembering. She says “It registers”. I liked it… it registers. Everything that you do registers itself automatically. If you have been loving it registers that you are loving; it gives you a feeling of worth. If you have been hateful, angry, destructive, dishonest, it registers and gives you a feeling of unworthiness, a feeling of being something below human, a feeling of inferiority. And whenever you feel unworthy you feel cut off from the flow of life. How can you flow with people when you are hiding something? Flow is possible only when you expose yourself, when you are available, totally available.
If you have been cheating your woman and seeing another woman, you cannot be with your woman totally. It is impossible, because it registers: deep in your unconscious you know that you have been dishonest, deep in your unconscious you know that you have betrayed, deep in your unconscious you know that you have to hide it, that you are not to reveal it. If you have something to hide, if you have something to keep secret from your beloved, there will be distance – the bigger the secret, the bigger the distance will be. If there are too many secrets then you are completely closed. You cannot relax with this woman, and you cannot allow this woman to relax with you because your tenseness creates tenseness in her, her tenseness makes you even more tense, and it goes on creating a vicious circle.
Yes, it registers in our books, in our beings. Remember, there are no books which God is keeping: that was an old way of saying the same thing. Your being is the book! Whatsoever you are and whatsoever you do is constantly being registered. Not that there is somebody writing it; it is a natural phenomenon. If you have been lying it is registered that you are lying, and now you have to protect those lies, and to protect one lie you will have to tell one thousand lies, and again to protect those one thousand lies you will have to go on and on and on. You become, by and by, a chronic liar. Truth becomes impossible for you, because to tell one truth will be dangerous now.
See how things go together: if you tell one lie then many lies are invited – the same attracts the same – and now truth is unwelcome, because the darkness of the lies will not like the light of truth. So even when your lies are not in any danger of being exposed you will not be able to speak truth.
If you speak one truth, many other truths are invited – the like attracts the like. If you are naturally truthful it is very difficult to lie, even once, because all that truth protects you. And this is a natural phenomenon. There is no God keeping a book. You are the book. You are the God, your being is the book.
Abraham Maslow says, “If we do something we are ashamed of, it registers to our discredit. And if we do something good, it registers to our credit.” You can watch it, you can observe it.
The law of karma is not some philosophy, some abstraction. It is simply a theory which explains something true inside your being. The net result: either we respect ourselves, or we despise and feel contemptible, worthless and unlovable.
Every moment, you are creating yourself; either a grace will arise in your being or a disgrace: this is the law of karma. Nobody can avoid it. Nobody should try to cheat on karma, because that is not possible. Watch… and once you understand it things start changing. Once you know the inevitability of it you will be a totally different person.
From The Wisdom of the Sands, V.1, Discourse #2
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation