Karma, meaning action, is a Vedic term for explaining the reincarnating soul’s evolution from life to life.

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Today’s science emphasizes genetics as the main mechanism behind this evolutionary process. It has discovered an underlying ‘genetic code’ behind the vast diversity of life, linking all creatures together in the evolutionary process. This marvelous genetic code is simpler, more concise and yet more powerful than any code or data base that the human mind can invent. So one must also ask: Can such a physical information code exist without any enduring intelligence behind it?

Karma and rebirth are the means of this evolution of consciousness, its underlying modus operandi. Only an intelligence that is reborn can evolve in awareness. Otherwise intelligence would die with the body.

The reincarnating soul is our ‘karmic being’ as opposed to our human personality that is but its mask. The soul, called Jivatman in Sanskrit, carries our karmic propensities called samskaras from one body to another.

Our karma, we could say, is the DNA of our reincarnating soul. Just as the body has its particular genetic code, the reincarnating soul has its particular ‘karmic code’. The soul’s karmic code is based upon the life patterns it has created, the habits, tendencies, influences and desires it has set in motion over many births. These karmic tendencies or samskaras like seeds ripen in the soil of our lives, taking root and sprouting according to circumstances. Our soul’s energy is filtered through our karmic potentials, which create the pattern of our lives down to a subconscious and instinctual level.

For the evolution of our species and for our own growth in consciousness, we must consider both the genetic and karmic codes. We cannot understand ourselves through genetics alone, which is only the code of the body; we must also consider the karmic code, the code of the mind and heart. Note how two children in the same family can share the same genetic pattern, education and environment and yet can have very different lives, characters and spiritual interests. This is because of their differing karmic codes.

To change ourselves it is not enough to alter the genetic code. We must learn how to alter our karmic code. However, to change our karmic code is not much easier than to alter our genetics! It requires that we change the way we live, breathe, see and think, such as Yoga and other Vedic sciences instruct us.

Our present planetary crisis, our crisis in consciousness, is also a ‘collective karmic crisis’. We are setting in motion long-term negative karmic consequences by our civilization out of harmony with life. Such powerful collective karmas can bring about deep disturbances in the world of nature, including alterations at geological and climatic levels that can go far beyond what our species can control.

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