This is a guest post by Lisa Runningbear for Powered by Intuition

Karma is a word that is pretty well known in our culture.

But, it isn’t well understood in terms of what it really means—that is, what the Buddha understands it to mean.

We think of it in terms of sayings like, “what goes around comes around”, “You get what you give” and “an eye for an eye.”

The truth of karma is about intention, not action

For example, if a woman cuts open a man’s chest and he dies, depending on her intention the karmic consequences will be different. If she is a surgeon and cuts his chest open to repair his heart, that is very different than if she stabbed him in a fit of rage.


As one Buddhist stated, the law of karma is the capacity of intentional action to produce an ethically appropriate result.

If our intention is accompanied by a motivation towards kindness, compassion and generosity, we will be led towards happiness; however, if our intentions are accompanied by motivations of greed, aversion and delusion we will be lead towards suffering.

When you choose your intention, you choose your consequences

The consequences of your karmic intentions can be immediate or they can happen over a lifetime. And although it would be interesting to, it is impossible to track down exactly which karmic intention led to which consequences, good or bad. The web of Karma is just too vast.

The only thing you can do is focus on what your intentions are in the present moment, and ensure that they are good. Our intentions are more apt to be good when we are present. Living in the past and the future tends to put us in a state where we are more prone to react based on the emotion that we are feeling at the time.

The present moment

The present moment is this moment. It is the moment that will have passed by the time you complete this sentence. Everything you do is in the present moment. All of your plans are made in the present moment. Even when you think about your past and future, you think about it in the present moment.

Conditioning and Illusion

Unfortunately, many of us are conditioned to live in the past and the future. The past and the future give us the illusion of safety. We already know what happened in the past and the future hasn’t happened yet. Living in either of these states doesn’t require us to be there.

Have you ever got into your car, driven to work and not remembered the details on you got there?

What traffic was like, what you saw along the way? Then you know what it is to not be present.

Time goes by without you. And if you are living in a painful past or our worrying about a yet to come future, it adds a layer of stress on top of it.

We don’t have control of the thoughts that pop into our heads, but we do have control over what we do with them. You decide whether you are going to relive your thoughts as though they were happening in the present moment or let them go and BE present.

So, be aware of your thoughts. If you are not careful, they can take you out of the present moment and into a fantasy world—a fantasy world where you are not mindful of the karmic intentions you are setting and the unknown consequences that will be sure to follow.

Do you find yourself living in emotions from the past or in the future and reacting in the present? How have reliving these emotions affected your life? What steps are you taking to live in the present moment?

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Lisa H. (aka RunningBear) is the writer behind Getting to Zen, which is dedicated to those in pursuit of authentic happiness through purposeful living. Be sure to sign up for her RSS feed and download her new free eBook Getting to Success.

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