Creating good karma is as easy as thinking good thoughts and performing good actions. In the post “An Introduction to Karma” I noted ways you might improve your karma. Today I’m offering more concrete suggestions.
Whether we’re living in a cave, a small town, or a big city, we must act. According to the laws of karma, all actions produce results. It follows that if we want to produce results that make us happy, we’d better act in ways that produce happiness. In fact, as yogis, we’re always on the alert to improve our lot. We try to live by the rules of happiness, like Patanjali’s yamas and niyamas. Yogis meditate every day because it’s the lifeblood of our practice and creates mental peace. Additionally, we take responsibility as citizens of our communities and the planet. This is a constant effort. It requires awareness and right action.
Most spiritual aspirants don’t have the means or character to live a solitary life, meditating in a distant cave. Our lives include families, friends, work, and play—along with our spiritual interests. We live a normal twenty-first-century life. Even if we did live in a cave, we’d have some responsibilities, although they’d be simpler and fewer. We’d need to tidy up the cave from time to time, go outside for some fresh air and exercise, and seek food and water.
Living in the World with Integrity
Spiritual seekers live in the world with integrity, according to our society’s customs. The Better World Handbook: Small Changes That Make A Big Difference (aff link) is a user’s manual for anyone who wishes to live higher principles. It gives advice that helps us make the world a better place. The book is especially helpful for those who don’t know where to start. Authors Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler, and Brett Johnson are all sociology professors. They explain that people become cynical and apathetic about the world’s condition.
The authors say that we’ve fallen into a sort of stupor. We know that things have gone very badly but feel helpless to affect change. The chapter “The Ten Thought Traps” lists common excuses that we might try to hide behind. The focus, however, is on encouragement to change our outlook:
“Think about the world that you would like to live in. Let yourself imagine a world that you could be proud to leave for your children—a world where peace, justice, compassion, and tolerance prevail and where each person has more than enough food, shelter, meaningful work and close friends.”
The Seven Foundations of a Better World
Following “The Ten Thought Traps” the authors launch into “The Seven Foundations of a Better World,” which details major areas to which we can contribute:
- Economic Fairness
- Comprehensive Peace
- Ecological Sustainability
- Deep Democracy
- Social Justice
- Simple Living
- Revitalized Community
Each of these foundations includes the authors’ research and statistics. Concrete goals and viable alternatives help us readers confront various challenges along the way.
This book is chock-full of inspiring real-life examples. Countless people and organizations are already working toward bettering the world. These examples help motivate and direct our own efforts. As I read the stories, I realized how easy it is to make small contributions in every one of the foundations. There’s hope for humanity and our planet!
The Opportunities Inherent in Small Actions
The authors’ advice is clear about how a big difference is made with small changes. The description of the seven foundations is the smallest part of this book. In just a few pages, it outlines many actions we can take, starting today. We can make the world better by how we use our money, what we eat, and how we spend time with family and friends. Reading this book is like opening the door to a world of good karmic opportunities. Each of the seven foundations lists a rich selection of references, some of them familiar and others new.
We can draw inspiration from this book for every area of our lives. The Better World Handbook convinced me of the power inherent in each dollar that I spend. I began by reading product labels with a new awareness. I learned to look for the company responsible for manufacturing each product, and then I asked myself whether I wanted to support that company. Sometimes, the answer was no, and I’d look for another option. When I make conscious decisions about my purchases I am already making the world a better place. This is true whenever I use products created by companies with a conscience. This is exciting—it’s so easy! And if it’s this easy, then I’m sure I can do even better. Maybe with a little more effort and by joining others of a same mind, I can leave this world in better shape than I found it.
That’s the real value of this book. It helps us understand the power and influence of our everyday actions. And it gives guidance, showing us which actions are most effective.
Instant Karma and A Better World
We don’t stand apart from our global communities or environments. Everything affects everything else. No matter who you are, where you live, your age, or life circumstances, you can make a difference. The Better World Handbook (aff link) tells you how. When you make small changes to your actions and thoughts, you begin to feel a change within yourself. There’s a sense of satisfaction and gladness that affects every bit of your body and soul. You will smile more often and feel lighter knowing that the planet is just a little bit healthier—and so are you. It’s instant karma.
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.