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We’ve all had those painful “Aha!” moments when we look in the mirror and realize that we’ve actually been the cause of a lot of the problems in our life. Swami Kriyananda gave some great advice for such times: “When you see a fault within yourself, don’t despair, but rejoice. It’s been there all along, but now that you’ve seen it, you can start working to change it.
So what are some spiritual tools that help us to break free of our karmic patterns?
Karma is simply energy generated by past thoughts or actions that we’ve steered in a certain direction. This understanding gives us a handle on the subconscious patterns that control our behavior, and the ability to direct the flow of energy in a positive direction. With conscious awareness and determination, replace a negative pattern with a positive one.
If, for example, you’ve been critical of others, attracting in turn criticism back to you, use your will power to offer acceptance and support to everyone. Though the battleship of our karma may be slow in changing its course, in time a new direction will be set, heading us now toward the open seas of freedom.
Use affirmations repeatedly with deep concentration to change chronic patterns of thinking. Find a prayer or affirmation appropriate to a specific karma that you’re working on, and let it be your constant companion. For example, if you have a problem with mindless snacking, use these words of Paramhansa Yogananda whenever temptation comes: “Today I will rise above the consciousness of food and know that I live by the pure peace of silence. I will feed my soul constantly with the Divine Manna of Peace.”
Be patient: The deeper the karma, the longer the time required to change it. As Master recommends, don’t constantly dig up the spiritual seeds you’re sowing to see if they’re taking root. Let them grow in their own time to become mighty plants.
Bring the problem to God in meditation and prayer. Some years ago I was faced with a test that was causing me a great deal of pain. No matter what I did to free myself from the clutches of this karmic beast, it tenaciously confronted me every day. Finally I went to Swami Kriyananda to ask his advice about how to break free of it.
With wisdom and love, he said, “Everything that you’re doing is good, but ultimately it’s God’s grace that frees us from our karma.” From his words I understood that our sincere efforts and desire to be free draw the grace that brings release. We have to do our little part, and then God steps in and unties the knots of karma that have kept us bound.
And so it happened in my situation. Though it took some years, ultimately the karma was dissolved in an unexpected, beautiful, and deeply satisfying way that I couldn’t have envisioned myself.
Through the grace of God and Guru, may we find freedom from all limitations.