As an Indian-American, my traditional understanding of certain concepts often bumps against the way they are used in mainstream America. This is particularly true of the word karma.
In the U.S., in daily conversation, movies, and media, karma is used as a glib prescription and prediction: Remember, what goes around comes around. The lesson seems to be that it's in our best interest to treat others well.
Within family conversation, however, karma seems less like a guideline for personal action and more like an inescapable machine, influenced entirely by the past, and pushing life in a direction outside my control. Indeed, I've often heard family members who are grappling with unexpected and difficult situations, pause and exclaim karumu! (karma) to acknowledge Fate's ineluctability.
But within minutes of reading Sadhguru's Karma, these incomplete and inaccurate paradigms in my head, and all their accompanying misconceptions, shattered. Sadhguru's profound knowledge of this existential mechanism underlying all of life, and particularly human life, swiftly destroyed the simple, and even laughable, good-bad tallies and right-wrong scoreboards propping up my casual and faulty usage of this word.
After that much-needed dismantling, Karma then invited me to rebuild the paradigm, this time properly grounded in one immutable and indisputable principle, a principle independent of any religion, scripture, culture, country, or system of morality:
Every single action — physical, mental, and energetic — has a consequence.
From that steady platform, I followed Sadhguru's dive into the staggering depths of ancient wisdom, learning how each and every one of my imprints and impressions, habits and compulsions, now comprise what he calls the "software" underlying my life journey. As the book unfolded, Sadhguru revealed the layers of memory each person holds, the varieties of intelligence at play within every living being, and how they all interact to create and accumulate not only individual karma, but also the collective karmic legacy of humanity.
While the first half of the book gave me a more accurate understanding of the karmic paradigm, the second half ignited a comprehensive, and much-needed, psychological re-set — by putting me at the center of that paradigm. For the first time, I comprehended that everything I experience, even what I attribute to outside forces, actually initiates within me. And as such, I possess the power and ability to shape how my life unfurls.
This shift makes it impossible for me to remain fatalistic, to withdraw into passivity, and to feel handcuffed by fate. Rather, it motivates me to become aware of my many compulsions, and instead to operate consciously and wholeheartedly in the present moment, at every moment. It affirms and confirms that I create my life.