Good karma? bad karma? They are all wrong says Master Paalu!


Karma is the collection of a multitude of action that contribute to a certain pattern.”

These are the key words you need to know:

  • Vasana: impression
  • Samsara: thought
  • Samskara: action
  • Karma: Pattern

1) leads to 2), 2) to 3) and so on in chronological order, and the cycle continues.


This is another theory I came by while researching online: Action (Karma) –> Impression (Samskara) –> Tendency (Vasana) –> Thought Pattern (Vritti) –> Action (Karma).


 “Karma has no duality (dichotomy or polarity of good or bad), it has no connotations.”

Karma, however have consequences and Karma yoga is this practice of breaking the cycle and removing all the patterns that is not contributing to good consequences.


There are four main paths to Yoga:

1) Karma Yoga

The path of action, selfless service, selfless in the sense that there should not be consideration of benefit of the action but also not just doing it for the sake of doing it. The Bhagavad Gita (700 verse Sanskrit scripture part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata) explains, “To work, alone, you are entitled, never to its fruit. Neither let your motive be the fruit of action, nor let your attachment be to non-action.” (II.47). Addressing the law of cause and effect with corresponding reaction, on one’s body, mind and consciousness for each action you take. Not focusing on the action but its intention. Take for example slapping your friend’s face; the action is not ahimsa but it is actually to kill a black widow spider that is going to pinch his cheeks and endanger his life. One important point to note is that the word “action” also encompasses words, thoughts and feelings.


2) Bhakti Yoga

The path of love and devotion for God and all creation – plants, animals and humans, and all of nature. According to the Vishnu Purana / Srimad-Bhagavata (7.5.23-24) (two of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism), there are nine forms of bhakti: sravana (hearing stories of God), kirtan (singing of God’s glories), smarana (remembrance of His name and presence), archana (worship of an image), vandana (prostration to the Lord), atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self), padasevana (service), dasya (servitude), and sakhya (friendship).


3) Raja Yoga (AKA Ashtanga Yoga)

Also known as the “Royal Path of Yoga” as Raja means king. Others know it as ashtanga (ashta=eight, anga=limb) yoga as compiled by Sage Patanjali Maharishi: the “Eight Step Path”, “eightfold path” yoga. It is the path of self-discipline. It contains those familiar Yoga techniques that are taught to us in class in the past week such as Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation and Kriyas.


4) Gyana Yoga

The path of knowledge, wisdom and philosophy. The focus of this path is to gaining the ability to distinguish between reality and the unreal. To attain Self-Knowledge through study, practice and experience of self and God. Which sounds to me like the Niyamas of Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय) and Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान) and the last Ashtanga limb of Samadhi (समाधि).


The four paths of yoga mentioned above are not mutually exclusive, disjointed sets, proper sets or even super subsets but rather intersections and unions of each other.


While listening to master Paalu explaining these theories of Karma, it totally crumbles my preconceived notions of karma based on others’ verbal usage of this word. I come to realise that it is not simply performing an action and receiving a consequence but there are components of the psychological conscious and sub-conscious mind at work, very similar to B.F. Skinner’s theory of Operant Conditioning but also starkly different fundamentally as there isn’t a focus on the result or intent of an action, likewise for Richard Bandler and John Grinder’s theory of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). I could also think of some classical text or theory that touches on Causality but none are as comprehensive as a single word of “karma”.

Lastly, “It takes 48 days to break the pattern. I will teach you guys next week and you will start doing it on 2 June.” I am looking forward to it.



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