50 If you have an interest in freedom, you have only to be rid of your karma.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 50 

One who is firm in the understanding of Yoga, casts off here in this world both good and bad karma. So yoke yourself to Yoga. Yoga is skill in action.

Yoga is skill in action.
In this verse the word yoga refers specifically to Karma Yoga, the action-yoga of the last verse.

One who is firm in the understanding of Yoga.
When you understand action, you understand yoga
The magical language of Sanskrit gives us the necessary clues to reach this understanding: Yoga, which means ‘union’, implies action—something uniting with something else is an action. In the last verse we learned that this action is called Karma Yoga, ‘action union’, and that it will unite us with Truth, Absolute God.

Casts off here in this world both good and bad karma.
If we understand yoga, we can practice it and rid ourselves of our karma. 
We usually think of karma as ‘good’ and worth keeping if we like what it brings, and ‘bad’ if we don’t. But this verse suggests that both good and bad karma need casting off, so having any karma at all is not in our best interest.

After this life, it is our karma that throws us back into another body, and we pick up where we left off. This appeals to some, others not so much. If things have gone fairly well for you in this life, you may not be motivated to avoid having to come back and do it all over again. (But do you know what’s in your Pandora’s box?)  

When you truly understand what yoga is, you will understand action. When you understand action, you can use it to end your karma. The end of karma is the beginning of liberation (moksha), freedom from the bondage of rebirth.

The superior action of Karma Yoga ends karma and leads to freedom.

Karma Yoga is something of a double entendre. ‘Action’ is the meaning of both karma and yogaKarma derives from the root kri, ‘to do’, and yoga, derives from the root yuj, ‘to yoke together’. Both suggest action but point to different kinds of action.

Remember the previous verse where we learned about a superior kind of action that was called ‘yoga‘, and an and inferior kind of action that was called ‘ordinary’? Ordinary action brings about karma, whereas superior action does not, but ends karma. Hence the process is called Karma Yoga.

Karma – Action, root ‘to do’ = doing: ‘Inferior action’ requires the use of the will and accumulates karma.

Yoga – Action, root ‘coming together’ = uniting: ‘Superior action’ is natural and spontaneous and ends karma.

So yoke yourself to Yoga. The root of the word ‘yoke’ is the same root as ‘yoga‘, suggesting that we become united with uniting.

Yoga is skill in action. When we understand yoga, we understand that it is a skill. But we were told in previous verses that yoga is ‘indifference’. Indifference yields union. With repetition it becomes a skill.

Indifference + skill in action = Yoga.

Now that we understand this, as with any skill the next step is to develop it through practice. In my lineage, this is accomplished through a radical form of meditation in which ‘indifference’ is synonymous with ‘surrender’.

Surrendering ourselves to Absolute God, Absolute Truth, both indifference and the development of the skill of superior action take place automatically. We call this practice Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, or Surrender Meditation, a spontaneous experiential meditation in which the evolutionary force, kundalini, is activated naturally and safely, as the accumulation of karma diminishes and ultimately ends.

Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma

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The Dharma of Karma 4 — Variables

Have you ever heard someone say, “You only get what you deserve”? Hearing this bit of karmic wisdom, your mind starts scanning its contents for bad things that have happened to you in the past, and immediately lays the blame on you for all of it: “It couldn’t have happened to me if I didn’t have it coming.”

Karmic Absolutes

“Nothing can happen to you (or for you) that you don’t have coming.” “You can only get what you deserve.” Such statements, while minimally useful to some, are virtually useless, even harmful, to most. Though they have a grain of truth to them, they are incomplete, and can take you on a journey through a kind of self-battering, and seriously impede your spiritual development.

Dharma – Law. The established nature, character, peculiar condition or essential quality of anything.

Karma – Action. From, kri, meaning ‘to do’. One’s destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

The Dharma of Karma – The law of cause and effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Over the past few years, inspired by a passage in Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, I have been giving a lot of thought to the workings of karma. In this particular passage, the immortal Babaji is sitting around a fire with his disciples, when he picks up a burning brand and touches one of the disciples on his shoulder, burning him. Stricken with horror, one of the company asks him why he did it. Babaji explains that he did it to rid this disciple of his karma to die a horrible death by fire, and precedes to lay his hand on the burn and heal it completely.

This got my attention. What happened to “equal and opposite”? How was a small burn, lasting only a short time, going to short-circuit this fellow’s karma to die a horrible death by fire? This could only mean one thing: I had to rethink my understanding of karma.

I thought about throwing a ball against a wall, and how the ball never seems to come back quite the same way—it comes back, but usually at an angle and at a lesser velocity. I thought of boomerangs and other things, and there always seemed to be a good possibility that a reaction could vary.

How does this relate to us and our karma, and what changes the reaction?

Taking Responsibility

When we take responsibility for our actions, we have thrown the ball, we have created karma. Karma doesn’t care if an action is good, bad, or neutral, it will still bind us. But we care because we don’t want bad things to happen to us, so we try to do the right thing.

A few years ago, I realized that a decision I had made a long time before in the name of doing the right thing, had been a terrible mistake. I had made this decision believing that nothing bad could happen if I didn’t have it coming anyway, and took a terrible risk. The outcome was not only harmful to me, but it enabled the other person involved to continue harmful behavior, which was harmful to him, and to those whom he would harm.

I spent years afterward listening to my mind accuse me with, “You only got what you deserved”. This seriously handicapped my sadhana with self-denigrating thoughts and beliefs of unworthiness. This is not humility, it is negative reinforcement, the most powerful and effective means of growing the ego.*

Taking the Blame

Don’t let this happen to you. If someone socks you in the jaw, it’s on him. Do not let people tell you that you must have had it coming—you don’t really know this for certain—and not to blame the other guy. Even if you do have it coming, if he hit you, that’s on him. He is responsible for that sock on the jaw, it was his action, his choice. Not yours. So don’t take it on. Surely you have enough of your own karma? And consider this: the act of taking it on creates more personal karma.

Karmic Variables

What affects, or changes, the returning trajectory, the reaction, is us—all of us. Because we are all interconnected, what one of us does affects the rest of us to greater and lesser degrees. These variable effects alter the karma of every one of us, helping or hindering our forward movement toward happiness and fulfillment. Understanding this inspires us to follow fundamental principles for successful living° so that we not only serve ourselves in removing obstacles and oppressions, but we serve everyone else as well, at the same time.

Yoga teaches that all action occurs in nature, and that what we really are is not nature and does nothing at all. What we really are is divine. We acquire karma because of our ignorance of this Truth, but when we realize Truth directly, we become free of the influences of karma. 

Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Having surrendered all actions (to God), the embodied one sits happily, the ruler in the city whose gates are nine (the physical body), neither acting, nor causing action.
— Bhagavad Gita, ch 5, vs 13.

Durga Ma

* The word ‘ego’ is used to indicate the sense of oneself as the doer of action, from the Sanskrit, ahamkara, ‘I do’.

° ‘Successful living’ – The first and most important of these principles is ahimsa, non-injury. All other principles and teachings hinge on it. (See Ten Keys to Success and click on Learn more.)


  • In an online course, Mental Yoga will give you the skills needed to neutralize anything.


The Dharma of Karma 3 – Desire

As I sit here in my sunny room, doors and windows open, looking outside at the grass greening, the blooms beginning to open and a few clouds scudding across the sky, a nice breeze on my cheek, I find myself drifting back to an old desire. I guess no matter how good we may have it on any given day, there’s always another desire waiting in the wings. And I am very proficient at having both conditions present in the same moment. I am content, but there’s that other thing I want that would make even a day like this, seem better.

Dharma – Law. The established nature, character, peculiar condition or essential quality of anything.

Karma – Action. From, kri, meaning ‘to do’.  

The Dharma of Karma – The law of cause and effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

As a yoga practitioner, this would be an excellent opening for a discussion on how desires keep us bound in ignorance, but I am of the opinion that suppressed desires have a way of becoming the most powerfully domineering desires of all (we talked about how that works before).

Anything that we suppress becomes hidden from us—that’s the whole point of suppression. This includes thoughts and feelings, but hidden desires have a foot in both worlds (mind and emotion) and they drive us to try to force life, even though we may not realize it. Hidden desires relentlessly drive us to get them satisfied. They dominate our lives. We adjust things to meet their demands, and we turn into raving fast-laners or couch potatoes. Some of us wonder why we’re so stressed or depressed and what we’re doing wrong. Some of us blame someone else, preferring to try to control the people and things around us to practicing a little self-honesty and looking inside. But inside is where the solution lies.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t have what you want. What I am addressing is the problem of those pesky hidden desires and what you can do about them, not to mention the ones you do know about—you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones you’ve tried everything possible to get to come to fruition and it’s just not happening no matter how hard you try, no matter how many affirmations you do, no matter how much you try to stay positive.

Incidentally, it is a smart move to watch out for this insidious type of suppression: “Oh well, I really didn’t want that anyway, what I really want is _________,” or “All those affirmations I’ve been doing must be working, just look at that parking spot I just manifested!” These tactics just push away from you the very thing you’ve been wanting. They are evidence that you are still in a state of want, whether you admit it to yourself or not.

Want, or desire, is an affirmation of lack that reinforces the thought-idea that you don’t have what you want. This negative affirmation stops the manifestation of the object of desire. Tricky, isn’t it? This principle is what is behind the teachings of ancient sages who tell us to abandon desire—not because desire is bad or wrong, but because it doesn’t work. Not only does it not work to nurse a desire, it has the opposite effect.

Desire is a negative affirmation of lack.

The key is self-honesty and bringing hidden desires to the fore. You won’t succeed in this without self-honesty. It is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever undertake to do. It can be down right humiliating, and even scary. But if you want to make improvements in your life, you really must practice self-honesty. It has a way of creating profound shifts of a very rewarding nature.

What does all this have to do with karma? Well, I’m thinking about how self-honesty allows for the opportunity to avoid creating more karma. I’m also thinking about the difference between the presence of a desire, which doesn’t of itself create any karma, and acting on that desire, which does create karma. Our karma is what binds us, limits us, so who wants more of that? More bondage, less freedom.

Riding the Desire

While you’re practicing self-honesty and waiting on The Big Shift, here’s something else you can try: Enjoy the desire itself. Ride the desire. It’s already there and you didn’t put it there, so why do anything with it? It is enjoyable in itself, so enjoy it, don’t avoid it—that would be doing something (= karma).

Desire: don’t drive it … ride it !

That’s what I was doing this morning before I started writing this to you. I was content, but when the desire I spoke of surfaced, I just enjoyed the desire itself. I didn’t try to do anything about it because I knew that trying to do something about it would ruin the contentment I already had, and just create more karma.

I’ll close now, and wish you happiness and the effortless fulfillment of all your desires.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You Really are),
Durga Ma


  • In an online course, Mental Yoga will give you the skills needed to neutralize anything.

The Dharma of Karma 2 – Personal Power

Have you ever heard the saying, “What goes around, comes around”?  That’s one way to understand karma

Dharma – Law. The established nature, character, peculiar condition or essential quality of anything.

Karma – Action. From, kri, meaning ‘to do’.  

The Dharma of Karma – The law of cause and effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The word ‘karma’ simply means ‘action’, but the inevitable effect of action is that it will have a rebound of one kind or another. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Karma – Action.  From kri, ‘to do.’

If we were to realize that thought is behind all of our actions, we would probably try to change some of what’s going to “come around” and change some of our actions by changing the thoughts that precede them.

Many modern-day teachings focus on positive thought, the idea being that thought manifests, and if your thoughts are in alignment with your aims, your aims will manifest. The movie The Secret supports this with the “law of attraction”. However, when taking up the practice of positive thinking, we would do well to keep in mind the old saying, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Your own aims are positive for you, but what is positive for one person may be negative, or even neutral, for another.

The Law of Attraction and Aversion

If we are to be honest with ourselves, we have to realize that ‘positive’ translates as ‘attraction’, or ‘desire’, and ‘negative’ translates as ‘aversion’, or ‘negative desire’.  In other words, something is positive for us when it’s something we want or like, whereas something that is negative is something we don’t want or don’t like. So all this negative and positive business is all relative. And here lies another secret:

Life in this world, the mind included, is made up of opposites.  

Remember Noah’s ark? Noah had to keep pairs of opposites equally in tact in order to keep life in the world in tact. That the world and the mind are made up of opposites is not the secret. Sages have know this for eons. No, the biggest secret of all will always be the one we keep from ourselves. It is the thought that is opposite the positive one that we’re trying to cultivate, the thought that we shove under the rug, that is the Big Secret. What happens to that thought? Where does it go?

That opposite negative thought, the thing you don’t want or like, will go deeper into the mind and become stronger by hiding it from yourself. This happens not because you are strengthening the positive thought, but because you are suppressing the negative one, thereby giving energy and power to it.

You won’t notice that this is going on because you’ve hidden the negative thought and it no longer exists for you. But it is precisely because it is hidden that is gains so much power. The secret things in the mind are the most influential at a personal level for this reason, and this reason alone. You can only upstage negatives, you can’t make them go away—a negative is just the flip side of something. So it is better know what they are than to leave them so conveniently tucked away. Knowing about them, and giving them equal time, will quickly drain their power.

Seeing and acknowledging the negative flip side of a positive,
will cause the negative to weaken.

Just think about the word ‘secret’. Remember the movie, The Secretˆ? Weren’t you attracted to that title? We are all attracted to secrets of one kind or another—personal secrets, secret societies, secret conspiracies, secret loves, secret methods and techniques, secret initiations, etc. We love a good mystery. That we are drawn to these things is a phenomenon produced by our own propensity for keeping our own secrets, especially the secrets we keep from ourselves, secrets we don’t even know we have, or have forgotten, things that are sub (below) -conscious, suppressed.

So what do we do about this if we are to pursue positive thought in order to navigate life more smoothly and live our dreams?

Deflate the Power of the Negative

The first thing to know is that, once the opposite negative thought of the positive thought you wish to manifest is brought to equal consciousness, it looses its effectiveness and becomes powerless over you. Practice Mental Yoga and develop this skill.

Practice Conscious Choice

The second thing to know is that, once the opposite negative thought of the positive thought you wish to manifest is brought equally to consciousness, only then can you make a conscious choice between the two.

Without this piece, choices are influenced entirely by the mind (i.e., by that negative, hidden, secret thought), in which case, conscious choice isn’t really conscious, is it?—because you’ve left something in an unconscious, subconscious, place in your mind and you don’t have all the pieces.

You may believe that you have already made this choice, but if you did not bring the opposite negative thought equally to consciousness, it was not really a choice made by you, it was a choice made by your mind under the influence of attraction or aversion, and not really your choice at all. You have been had by your own mind.

Access Your Inherent Power

What is so amazing about this process of equal consciousness of opposite thoughts, is that you become more empowered by bringing these opposites to the surface—equal time, equal consideration—and choosing between them. By doing this, you will have made a conscious choice.

Conscious choice is the basis of your own inherent power—you’ve got it in spades—so all you have to do is access it. With familiarity concerning opposite thoughts and the application of conscious choice, you can do it.

1. Your own power is inherent.
2. The way to access it is through conscious choice.
3. Conscious choice requires self-honesty and equal awareness
of opposites.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma


  • In an online course, Mental Yoga is taken up in greater depth and practice.


Surrender Meditation & Non-Doership

In Surrender Meditation, activities generated by the Life Force (prana) occur spontaneously. 

You experience that these activities are done without the control of the mind, that they are the activities of Prana, and that you are not the doer of these actions. And though there may be thoughts in the mind, they are not controlling things but are merely incidental.

The dilemma here is that you have been taught that you must always take responsibility for your actions, so how can it be acceptable to not assume responsibility for your actions in meditation? The answer is simple: Eliminate the “always” and limit assuming responsibility for your actions to everywhere at all times except for the time you are meditating alone in your own meditation room.

As long as you assume the role of the actor, you bind the Prana to your will. As long as Prana remains in bondage, karma is acquired and Kundalini remains dormant. The bondage of karma is the property of the ego, (ahamkara, “I am the doer”). All actions for which the ego accepts responsibility create bondage, whether for good or ill.

By assuming the role of the actor, you are bound by action (karma) and the Life Force (prana) is not free.

Physical activities done without the control of the mind are the activities of Prana. This describes the spontaneous physical activities that occur during Surrender Meditation and should make clear the necessity of allowing such actions to arise. The necessity is that you experience non-doership for yourself.

When everything is being taken care of by Pranayou are in effect, inactive in the midst of activity. You are not doing anything, so you are not bound by action (karma). In the state of Union (yoga) you are fulfilled, so because there is nothing left to desire, there is nothing to do. This state of non-doership is the essence of Surrender Meditation.

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From The Song of God, a translation of the original Bhagavad Gita,
Durga Ma, ©1994

When you know inaction in action, and action in inaction, wisdom is attained, and all actions performed are Yoga. When desirous intentions are excluded from all your undertakings, karma is consumed in the fire of this wisdom. When you have let go of all attachment to the effects of action and are always accepting of what may come, even when acting, you do, in effect, nothing at all.

When action is performed with the body alone in the absence of any self-involvement for personal gratification or gain, no karma is incurred. Content with whatever comes … when you remain the same in success or failure, even though you act, you are not bound.

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From The Science of Meditation,
Swami Kripalu, ©1977:

When the body acts under the control of the mind, ego is projected into the mind, and unnecessarily accepts the responsibility of being the ‘doer’.

Through the practice of dhyana (meditation) generated by the grace of God or guru (shaktipat), one can experience inactivity in activity. Because the aspirant clearly realizes that physical activities done without the control of the mind are the activities of prana (life energy), he remains inactive and devoid of desire. Activity is activity and inaction is inaction, yet one can experience inaction in action and action in inaction. What a wonderful experience! Activity devoid of ego is true inactivity.

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Egoless Activities of Prana:

  • Action free of desirous intentions 
  • Action done without attachment to the action 
  • Action done without attachment to the effects of the action
  • Action free of self-involvement for personal gratification or gain
  • Action done with equanimity in success or failure

Because you relinquish doership by surrendering yourself to the Divine in meditation, the Divine takes care of everything, you incur no karma, and Prana, no longer under the domination of the will, is free. When Prana is free in the body it purifies the energy channels. When these channels have become sufficiently purified, deep meditation occurs spontaneously, and the stage is set for direct experience, samadhi and union with the Absolute.

Durga Ma

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Posts on Enlightenment

Posts on Kundalini

Posts on Surrender Meditation

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The Dharma of Karma 1 – Divine Law

When someone says to me, “Everything is perfect, everything is just as it should be”, I nearly always respond with some smart-crack like, “Tell that to the ninety-five percent of humanity that is either hungry or being tortured”.  But what I have left unspoken in this statement is that what is perfect, and working perfectly at all times, is Divine Law.

Divine Law

The Sanskrit word for Divine Law is dharma, the way things really are in the Absolute, and the way things work in relative realm of this world. The main features of Divine Law are cause and effect and a few fundamental principles.

Acting harmoniously with Divine Law
is ‘obedience’ to God.

The principles of Divine Law, yama niyama (Ten Keys to Success), are descriptive of Truth, God, Spirit, the Absolute, and You as you really are. Knowing what these principles are and having a good understanding of them provides the knowledge necessary for making good choices in life. When your choices are in harmony with the principles of Divine Law, your life goes more smoothly, you experience more happiness, and the law of cause and effect works in your favor.

Cause and Effect – Karma

Every action has an equal and opposite re-action.

The choices you make govern the nature of your actions. Whether your choices are made consciously or not, when your choices are in harmony with Divine Law you will act in harmony with Divine Law. When you act in harmony with Divine Law, your life goes better and you don’t get negative re-actions (“bad karma”).

The law of cause and effect (karma) is consistently perfect
in its role with Divine Law (dharma).

As our karma plays out, we sometimes have difficulty recognizing what is going on in our lives and why—the “equal and opposite reaction” is often not what we would expect. When a ball is thrown against a wall and it bounces back, it doesn’t bounce back to the same exact place from which it was thrown. Similarly, when our actions come back around to us, they may not take the expected form. For example, a teacher once briefly touched his disciple’s shoulder with a hot coal to prevent him from dying in a fire as his karma would otherwise have dictated.

An Illustrative Story About Mary

Mary had a very difficult childhood and grew up with some very limiting and debilitating conditioning. She was consistently defeated on the cusp of success at every turn, no matter to what the success was related. She was painfully sensitive, not only in a general way, but to the pain and struggles of others everywhere in the world. And she had a very morose dark side that never made any sense to her because she was a “good person”. Mary wondered, if she was really was a good person, why so many bad things kept happening to her.

She went to one therapist after another who always took her back to her childhood and the inappropriate things her parents did to her. For a while, this made her very angry with her parents for destroying any chance of happiness in her life, but because she was sensitive she understood why they had acted as they had. What she didn’t understand was why she had these parents. Surely this must mean that she was fundamentally bad. But Mary didn’t really believe that anyone was fundamentally bad, so this remained a mystery to her.

Then one day she had a breakthrough. It arrived upon waking before any thinking had the opportunity to assert itself, and charged her with enormous energy and insight.

The insight made her weep.

With a bang, Mary realized that she had been placed with these particular parents to prevent the resurfacing of specific propensities of another lifetime. She wasn’t being punished—suffering hadn’t been the point—and she wasn’t bad. The parents she had and the traumas she had endured had made her the very opposite of the person she had been in that other life—an opposite re-action that neutralized negative karma created in that lifetime.

Once Mary’s breakthrough had taken root, she experienced genuine relief, and more and more connections began to surface to reveal the amazing accuracy and perfection of Divine Law and the law of cause and effect.

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Mary is currently enjoying contemplating the probability that this karma has been completely cancelled, and is looking forward to positive changes in her life.

Durga Ma

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