Sadghuru: What Is Karma and How Does It Work?

Sadghuru: What Is Karma and How Does It Work?


What is karma and how is it relevant in your life? An Indian guru and mystic Sadhguru explains what karma is and how you can make use of it to find joy and freedom.

“This is my bad/good karma!”
“I am punished/rewarded) by my karma!”

We hear about karma here and there, and often mention it when things don’t work in our favor. Call it karma, fate, or destiny, the truth is we get it all wrong. 

So what is karma and how does it really work in your life?

Sadhguru, a profound mystic of our times and author of Mindvalley’s A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, unveils the most common perception of karma and explains what karma originally means.

What Is Karma?

It means ‘action.’ It’s the residual impact of all the actions you perform. So when you say, “my life is my karma,” it essentially means “my life is my making.”

There are four dimensions of action happening within you that translate into your human experience — body, mind, emotion, and energy. In other words, everything you’re experiencing is caused by your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions — pain or pleasure, joy or misery. 

While what’s around you isn’t all yours, it will never be 100% the way you want it to be for any human in the world. If karma is how you make your life from within, then your karma is your responsibility.

So is karma good or bad? Is life good or bad? 

Life is life, so is karma.

If you don’t transcend your karma, the past will repeat itself.

— Sadhguru, yogi, humanitarian, and author of Mindvalley’s A Yogi’s Guide to Joy

Is Karma Fate?

Karma isn’t the same as fate. According to the dictionary, essentially fate means a power that is believed to control what happens in the future.

When you let things happen to you, that’s fate. In other words, you give control over your life to something outside of you — call it fate, God, or genes.


The latter though is closer to the truth.

Sadhguru explains that everything that’s happening with you and what makes you who you are is a bank of memory — evolutionary, genetic, karmic.

He says that you don’t know how your great grandfather looked, but his nose can be sitting on your face right now. In other words, the dead are living through you.

So are you fated to look the way you do? To a certain extent. 

But you can still live life on your own if you understand what karma is and how it applies to your life.

Is Karma Destiny?

Karma means:

  • You can only remember your past and learn from it
  • You can only experience your present.
  • You can craft your future.

In other words, your life is your karma, whatever word you’re using to describe the idea.


The moment you see that your life is your karma — your failures and achievements are all yours, you will stop blaming someone else. Instead, you will do the best you can.

While karma depends on you, destiny depends on the time we live in. What we do in the world is the consequence of the time that exists at the moment. Essentially, our destiny is how we live in the given conditions.

It is only possible to craft your tomorrow when you understand that your life is your karma.

— Sadhguru, yogi, humanitarian, and author of Mindvalley’s A Yogi’s Guide to Joy

Often we put so much emphasis on what we do in life as social beings. But from your pure existential experience, what you do doesn’t determine the quality of your life.

The richness and depth of your life come from within — from the way you experience it. 

This is the destiny you’re choosing to experience at every given moment, and you are 100% in charge of your destiny.


Transcend Your Karma

Sadghury explains that the idea of individuality is separateness, and that’s the basis for all suffering.

If karma is the residual impact of all the actions you perform, the way to transcend it is to let go of your individuality by taking everything as part of yourself.

The idea of you being individual is a matter of your psychological perception. It has no existential reality.

— Sadhguru, yogi, humanitarian, and author of Mindvalley’s A Yogi’s Guide to Joy

So what is left?

It is your unique individual experience of existence that you can either enjoy and make use of it, or let it become your bad karma.


Help Your Karma

We all have our differences. And sometimes we cannot develop a certain talent because there are no auspicious conditions for it. 

So if you don’t have some advantage, don’t blame it on your karma. You can still master any skill you want. Moreover, having a little advantage doesn’t mean you’re going to be the best either.

The truth is that our culture of individuality has created a learning process that lacks collective learning.

What it means is that you can help yourself by learning together with others through collective learning.

In other words, you can capitalize on your karma by engaging in a learning process with those who have accumulated the knowledge you need.

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Written by
Irina Yugay