What constitutes elevated action?
At every moment I have a choice over how I respond. Even if I am restricted in words or actions, I have a choice over how I think and feel, and those thoughts and feelings are the seeds of my actions, or my karma. As is the quality of the seed, so is the fruit. Some seeds bear fruit quickly, some more slowly. In fact, thoughts and feelings are actions in themselves because they have an effect on me and those around me. They also determine the quality of my actions. For this reason we have to consider the consequences of action in the long term.
It is easy for us to understand the seeds of negative actions. We identify five gross vices — greed, anger, desire, attachment and ego — and many subtle vices such as jealousy, impatience, disregard etc. Sometimes the subtle vices can go unnoticed in the short term, or even pass for virtues, but in the longer term they cause suffering. For example, I may help someone, but if I want their love and respect in return, a state of co-dependency may develop, and in the long term that will weaken us both.
So, what constitutes elevated action? Action which is a step beyond the usual ‘good deeds’ that I can do; something which brings about a deeper change.
Elevated karma is karma that will bring about positive change in the self, in the environment around me, and ultimately the world. It is karma that is done with true spiritual awareness, an awareness that affirms the spiritual identity and original qualities of the self. The Brahma Kumaris affirm the spiritual identity of the soul as an infinitesimal point of light that resides in the centre of the forehead, and we practise ‘soul consciousness’ as a way of moving beyond the ego or identification of the self with role, position, wealth, status, relationship, and even gender. This is a true state of nonviolence; the state where the inherent qualities of the soul are motivating every thought, word and action. This is elevated karma.
Another dimension to elevated karma is that once the inherent goodness is awakened in the self, then the next step of connecting or aligning myself to a greater Source, a Supreme Being, happens in a very natural and powerful way. The source of my power is no longer just human power but also Godly power within the self. In affirming the existence, and then relationship, with a Supreme Being, the quality of karma comes to a completely different level. The return of such karma is manifold. God’s love, peace and power will come to me. Entering into karma in this way can also mitigate the effects of negative karma already created.
We do not live in isolation, and our actions have an influence on others. We cannot teach by words, but through our lives. The philosophy of karma can promote social justice, but the method is not to fight against something that we feel is not right, but to rather focus our energy on creating something new that can be an inspiration for change in our world.
(Excerpt from a talk at The World Congress of Faiths.) Maureen Goodman is the Programme Director for the Brahma Kumaris UK, and BK NGO representative to the United Nations in Vienna.