Clearing of Karmic Debt is the freeing of the soul from all its earthly bondages, so that it may soar and merge with the infinite Divine. So long as there is a karmic debt owed by you or owed to you, you are subject to the law of Karma – the law of action and consequence. Every action carries within it the seed of consequence(s). Where you are in life now is the cumulative effect of all your Karmas. While it may appear that one cannot escape the laws of Karma, it is still possible to transcend this seemingly never-ending cycle.
What is Karmic Debt
Karmic Debt is the unrealized Karma, both “good” and “bad,” that you owe to others or that others owe to you.
Runanubandha means relation based on Karmic Debt. Runa means (karmic) debt and Anubandha means relation. Sometimes life presents you with situations and relationships with others which can only be explained as a quirk of fate, or the unfolding of Runanubandha.
Present relationships in your life may be a continuation of relationships between souls in other lifetimes. If you owe someone something, the law of karma ensures that the debt is paid off. It also ensures that others pay what they owe to you. This deficit is called Karmic Debt. Its repayment may happen in this lifetime or other lifetimes.
Karmic debt occurs in various forms. Sometimes it is financial; sometimes it is based on love, other times on anger or revenge, on helping someone, on deceiving someone. In other words, karmic debt encompasses the whole spectrum of human interactions.
Karmic Debt, Reincarnation and Moksha
Just as an accountant opens his books every new year, and carries forward the assets and liabilities of the past year, similarly a soul upon taking birth in this earth plane carries with them the karmas of the past. Karma is recorded as impressions or vasanas on the soul.
So long as there is outstanding Karma, a soul continues to return to the earth plane to reincarnate in a suitable body. One’s soul is not merely subjected to the external forces or laws of karma, it is an active participant, often choosing their life, family, and circumstances with the intention of resolving their karmas and learning profound lessons on a soul-level. It is the intent of the Universe and the soul, in tandem, to experience and exhaust its karmas during its lifetime in the body. But most often, once in the material and physical world, our earth-plane consciousness forgets our soul’s intent. Consequently, the choices made in our physical bodies create more karmas – persisting the never-ending cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Why should one clear Karmic Debt
An essential condition for attaining Moksha or Liberation is that the Karmic Debt be neutralized. There should not be any karmic debt that you owe to others, or that others owe to you.
We may think that “good” karma helps us get closer our ultimate purpose in life. However, from the perspective of attaining Moksha, both good karma and bad karma continue the cycles of life, death, and rebirth.
This concept may sound counter-intuitive. To understand it, we need to appreciate the concept of Moksha. Amongst other things, Moksha or liberation of the soul is a state where one’s Karma is zero. When the Karma comes to an entirely neutral state, with neither good karma nor bad karma outstanding, then the person is said to have obtained Moksha.
Think of Karma as chaining a soul to an earthly body and preventing it from merging with the supreme consciousness to the fullest possible extent. Where bad Karma is akin to iron chains, good Karma is like a golden chain. Regardless of the nature of the binding, your soul is still bound. Good karma may bring happiness and comforts, and bad karma may bring about suffering. But you are in chains either way.
How to clear Karmic Debt
There are three types of Karmas — Sanchita Karma, Prarabdha Karma, and Agami Karma.
Prarabdha Karma is that karma that has already been set in motion, it is ripe and ready to be experienced. Experiencing this karma is inevitable, whether it is good or bad. One cannot choose whether to experience it or not and one does not have the power to defer experiencing it. There is no way around it. Prarabdha Karma is a subset of Sanchita Karma.
If we do not have any control over Prarabdha Karma, does that mean that we should resign to it, and are powerless and that we have no control over it? No! While it is true that we have no control over whether we experience Prarabdha Karma or not, what we do have control over is how we handle and respond to it. It is possible to stand apart from the karma, while still experiencing it. In creating this distance between the experience and identification with the experience, you reach a state of equanimity. In such a state, you can handle both success and failure with the same steady state of mind and not be affected by the outcome. Accepting both positive and negative karma with the same attitude leads to closure of that particular debt. Deal with both with equanimity and take full responsibility for what is happening in your life.
Sanchita Karma is the sum total of all the past karmas. Most likely, it will not be fully experienced in this lifetime of the soul, because of the time, space and physical constraints of human birth. This karma is to be experienced in another incarnation of the soul. However, it is possible for you to gain complete control over Sanchita Karma, and to exhaust it fully, right here, in this lifetime. One can achieve this by doing deep Sadhana, such as various Yogic practices, with devotion in the heart and through the Grace of the Divine Masters. Meditation and Sadhanas erase the karmic impressions on the soul and can nullify the effects of Sanchita Karma.
Agami karma is the karma which we create in this current lifetime. As new karma is created, some of it becomes Sanchita Karma, and some of it becomes Prarabdha Karma. The subset of the newly created karma may be experienced in this lifetime as Prarabdha karma or, alternatively, karma which cannot be experienced in the present may be added to the Sanchita Karma account to be experienced in another lifetime.
The question is, how can we control and prevent Agami karma.
While we are alive, it is essential to perform actions; there is no way around it. And actions do have consequences. Generally, the person doing the action, the doer, accrues the karma of his or her action. But if you perform every action with the intention and disciplined mindset that you are not the doer, and instead the Supreme Universal Consciousness (or God) is the doer, and if you offer the action and the consequence to the Divine or your Higher Self, you do not acquire that Karma. This is the way to be in God-consciousness at all times, despite being in the midst of worldly action.
The Bhagavadgita explains this very clearly. It says that if you detach yourself from the results of your actions, when you do not consider yourself as the doer and instead treat yourself as the instrument of the Supreme Divine which is acting through you, when you have that consciousness in everything that you do, then you are untouched by the karma that is created.
Is our fate pre-determined, if everything is by the law of karma?
Everything in your life is following the law of karma. Every action of the past has already created a result in the form of karma, and it is unfolding in your life right now.
If the result or consequence has already been pre-determined by the causes, does that mean that your life is pre-determined? Is there a role for self-effort or personal will? If it is pre-determined, and if experiencing karma is inevitable, then why do anything? If it is karma that shapes our lives, why even bother with self-effort?
While it is true that Prarabdha Karma has already been set in motion, and there is no escape from experiencing it, self-effort and individual will play a crucial role in shaping our lives.
Cause and effect are two sides of the same coin. If we look linearly, it is easy to understand that the past has resulted in the present and that the present will shape the future.
But when we pierce through the dimensions of space and time, in a paradigm where there is no past, present, and future, where all there is in the now, we can, with equal comfort say this:
The present has shaped the past. The future will shape the present. Envisioning the future and acting in accordance will shape the present.
It is only through awareness, self-effort, and surrendering our actions to the Divine with personal detachment from the results that we can deal with all the three kinds of karma in the most appropriate manner. We can be better prepared to deal with the inevitable karma we are experiencing and are yet to experience. By self-effort, we can create a distance between the experience and the one experiencing, which will reduce its impact. With self-effort and discipline, we can stop creating further karmas. And it is with self-effort of deep Yogic Sadhana practices that we can erase Sanchita Karma.