In this post, discover the true meaning of karma, plus learn what the 12 Laws of Karma are and how you can use them to create a life of genuine joy, purpose, passion, and fulfillment.
What is Karma?
What do you think of when you heard the word karma?
The saying “what goes around comes around” may come to mind. Often, this is said with a negative connotation. When you see or hear about somebody who lies, steals, or treats another with unkindness, you may say, “Karma will come back around and catch up with them.”
While this is one aspect of karma, and the central idea in the First Law of Karma (The Great Law), there is more to the concept of karma than most believe.
In Sanskrit, the word karma means “action.” When I have a good thought or do a good deed, this goodness has positive effects and ultimately comes back to me. When I have a bad thought or do something that I know is harmful, the negative effects will ultimately come back to me as well. Good actions beget more goodness; bad actions beget more badness.
But it’s not just about good and bad. It’s about every action having meaning; everything we do and say contributes to the overall whole. Everything is connected. Every action matters.
And often, it’s about not labeling actions and consequences as good or bad at all. When you believe something bad is happening to you, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate your life with gentle and non-judgmental awareness. What lessons might the universe be trying to teach you? Are you blaming others for what happens in your life, or are you able to take personal responsibility?
Rather than saying, “This bad thing is always happening to me,” you have the opportunity to turn it around and ask, “What can I learn from this experience?”
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How to Use the 12 Laws of Karma
You get to decide your personal relationship with these laws and how they may play a role in your life.
But I do want to offer this advice:
Don’t view these laws as rules that are meant to tie you down or fit you into a box. The word “law” may have a negative connotation for some, as you may view it as an unbending rule that prevents you from experiencing true freedom.
But the opposite is true here.
The 12 Laws of Karma are not meant to limit or constrict you; through their very nature, they’re meant to lead you to a life of joy, freedom, passion, purpose, and love. These laws are not the rules you were forced to memorize and obey in school, leaving you to free trapped or even chained to a set of laws you never even agreed to.
These laws are designed to show you the road map to a beautiful and fulfilling life. They help you to live in the present moment and find joy in this moment right now, no matter what your external world may look like. And they show you the way to creating meaningful change and living the life you’ve always desired: the beautiful and abundant life of your dreams.
So as you read through the 12 Laws of Karma, allow yourself to gently explore them with an open heart, receiving them as a loving gift from the universe. These laws are not meant to hinder you but rather to show you the path to true freedom and to a life filled with love, fulfillment, and abundance.
The 12 Laws of Karma
The Great Law
The Great Law, also known as The Law of Cause and Effect, fits what most of us traditionally think of when we hear the word karma. Anyone familiar with manifestation and the Law of Attraction will also be familiar with the concepts presented in this law. The foundation of this law is the idea that whatever we put out into the world is what we get back. While you may think of this in terms of actions (i.e. if you see someone drop their wallet and pick it up to give back to them, this kindness will come back to you), it’s also important to view it in terms of energy.
The energy you put out into the world is what comes back to you, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Say you wake up every morning feeling frustrated and annoyed that you have to go to work again today. The shower water is never hot enough, the other cars on your commute are always driving too slow, and everyone else seems to be getting raises and promotions but not you. You have a scarcity mindset; no matter how much you have, it’ll never be enough. Because of this, you emit negative energy into the universe. And even though you don’t want to receive more negativity, that’s what you keep getting: more scarcity, more lacking, more lukewarm showers and slow commutes.
But what if you changed your perspective? What if you stepped into the shower feeling grateful for the running water that keeps you clean? What if you focus on the fact that you have reliable transportation to get you to work? What if every time one of your coworkers got a raise or promotion, you cheered them on? Things change once you start viewing your world from the perspective of gratitude and appreciation; you emit positivity into the world, and thus, you receive more positive energy in return.
Do you want abundance in your life? Become the embodiment of abundance. Do you want love? Start with showing yourself unconditional love, then share that love with the world around you. If you want something, become the embodiment of that thing, then watch as more of it flows into your life in beautiful and miraculous ways.
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The Law of Creation
The first law flows effortlessly into this second law, and it’s likely you’ll quickly see how all of these laws are intertwined. The Law of Creation states that you must take action to create the life you desire. You are a powerful creator, and you have the power to co-create your life along with the universe. But too often, we sit back, hoping things will work out but not actively doing anything about it. You must become an active participant in your story. This doesn’t mean trying to control outcomes, forcing things to happen, or stubbornly staying on a path that doesn’t truly feel right for you.
Rather, it goes back to the idea of putting out the energy you want to receive. And it also means taking inspired action when your inner knowing leads you in a certain direction. If you want to create abundance, first become abundance. Then, when you feel that nudge to take action, do so in a state of effortless flow. This is what co-creating is: setting an intention, telling the universe what you want, become the embodiment of what you want, and trusting the universe to lead you where you’re meant to go.
The Law of Humility
Are you able to accept responsibility for your past and current reality? For instance, let’s go back to the “hate your job” scenario. Let’s say that you’re in a position you don’t enjoy, and you haven’t received the promotion or raise you think you deserve. You enter the office with a bad attitude and leave with an even worse one. Do you blame your boss or your coworkers for your unhappiness? Is there someone else a few cubicles away who seems to be getting all of the rewards you want, and you blame his or her success for your failure?
The Law of Humility is all about accepting that you have created your current reality through actions, choices, and the energy you’ve emitted. It’s about not blaming others for everything that’s seemingly going wrong in your life but taking responsibility for your current place in life. In order to change something, you must first accept it. So in order to change the circumstances of the job you don’t like, you must accept the role you’ve played in creating your current experience; through acceptance, you remove your blinders, embrace the truth, and are able to see what must change in order to create a life that you love.
The Law of Growth
Do you consider yourself a fixer? Do you good-intentionally try to change the people in your life in order to help them? When things are going badly, do you first try to change your external world (places, people, things) before looking internally?
The Law of Growth says that there is only one thing you truly have control over: yourself. If you want to make a positive mark on the world, don’t start with what you can do externally; start with what you can do internally. To change the world, start with changing yourself. Not “becoming a different person” type of change. Rather, seek the kind of change that comes from true growth.
This also means that you may have to accept that you can’t change everything or everyone, even if you believe it would be in their highest good. Trust that if you focus on your own growth and your own path, you’ll illuminate the way for others. But it has to be their choice.
The Law of Responsibility
The Law of Responsibility links closely to the Law of Humility (and, in fact, all the laws I’ve discussed above).
Can you take responsibility for your current life circumstances, good and bad?
The Law of Responsibility states that rather than looking for external reasons and excuses for why something might be wrong in your life, you must look internally. Because it doesn’t start out there; it starts in here. In me. In you. In all of us.
It’s important to truly evaluate your life from a place of non-judgmental, conscious awareness. What’s going right? What’s going wrong? Now, instead of looking outward for reasons why something might be going right or wrong, look inward. Know that this isn’t about judging or criticizing yourself. (In fact, I encourage you not to judge, berate, or criticize yourself.) It’s about taking responsibility for the choices you make, whether that be an action you’ve chosen to take or an energy you’ve chosen to emit.
The Law of Connection
The Law of Connection states that everything in the universe, and everything in your life, is connected; your past, present, and future are all connected. No action or decision is insignificant because every action effects who you become. Your actions yesterday affect the person you are today, and your actions today affect the person you are tomorrow.
When I think of the Law of Connection, I like to think of the affirmation, “Every small step I take makes a big difference.”
I can use this website itself as an example. There are a lot of daily actions I take to maintain this website. There are also certain things I had to do only once or twice, like installing a certain plugin or uploading a picture for my author bio. I write and edit multiple blog posts a week and create dozens of Pinterest pins for my blog posts. I’ve changed the overall layout of the site several times, which is a task that can take a lot of time depending on the extent of my changes.
So is writing a blog post more important than installing a plugin? Is changing the layout more important than uploading an author bio picture?
According to the Law of Connection, no. Each step leads to the next step, and no step is more important than the other because they’re all connected. This is true for everything in our lives.
And this is true in terms of yourself, as well. You may think of some of your past days as being more important and consequential than others, but every single day you’ve experienced has created the person you are today. Everything is connected. Everything is important. Your past, present, and future are all intertwined and deeply connected to one another.
The Law of Focus
The Law of Focus states that you should focus on one thing at a time, and if your focus is on spiritual values, you will not have space in your life to focus on lesser feelings such as greed, jealousy, and anger.
What are spiritual values? They’re feelings and beliefs stemmed in love, peace, compassion, trust, and kindness: positive thoughts and emotions that welcome more of these positive feelings into your world. Ultimately, you decide your highest spiritual values and what feels true and right for you.
When you focus on feelings that allow you to be spiritually aligned, you have no room in your mind or heart for negative energy that doesn’t serve your mind, body, or spirit.
The Law of Giving & Hospitality
What do you believe in? What do you want most for the world? Do you have a vision of a world that is filled with peace and love? Do you believe in selfless kindness and generosity? Do you believe in connection over division and compassion over judgment?
This law is essentially the practice what you preach law. The Law of Giving & Hospitality calls on you to demonstrate what you believe in and become the embodiment of your genuine desires for this world.
If you envision a world filled with peace and love, give peace and love to yourself and others.
If you believe in selfless kindness and generosity, be selflessly kind and generous to all.
If you want to see a world connected in compassion and love, give this love and compassion and become connected to all.
Let your actions reflect your deepest and truest beliefs. If you want to see change in the world, become the change by giving what you seek.
The Law of Here and Now
The only thing that truly exists is this moment right now. The past is gone, and the future is not here. True inner peace comes from embracing the present moment.
The Law of Here and Now states that true peace of mind comes from living in the present moment, and you cannot embrace the present moment if you’re always looking back into the past or ahead into the future. Reliving the past prevents you from engaging with your life just as it is right now. And when you’re constantly focusing on the old, you’re unable to create the new.
When you find yourself replaying events of the past or worrying about the future, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Use all of your senses to discover the world that exists right now. You might have a grounding mantra that helps, such as “In this moment, I have everything I need.”
The Law of Change
Have you ever heard the phrase “history repeats itself”? That concept is at the core of the Law of Change, which states that history will continue to repeat itself until you’ve learned the lessons you’re meant to learn and have taken actionable steps to change the pattern.
You might see this play out in all different parts of your life: relationships, career, and your own personal relationship with yourself. As an example, after I graduated college, I immediately took an office job at a local clinic because it felt like the responsible thing to do. It didn’t take long for me to realize I felt unhappy and unfulfilled in that position, so I took a new office job. Not long after, I experienced these same feelings, so I found a new office job. And for the next few years, I hopped from one office job to the next, always believing that maybe the next one would be the right fit. I kept repeating the pattern until I finally accepted that I wasn’t following my true calling. The next step was hard, because it required me to take a leap of faith with no assurances that anything would work out.
But you know what happened?
I found true joy, purpose, and fulfillment when I finally followed my purpose and passion. I grew, and I’m still growing every single day.
Change can be scary sometimes, but when you embrace change and start on a new path, you open yourself to experiencing genuine joy, fulfillment, and growth.
The Law of Patience and Reward
The Law of Patience and Reward is rooted in the belief that consistency, patience, and continuing to show up day after day, even when you don’t see the rewards today, will bring true joy, peace, and fulfillment.
I think of this as the law of no overnight successes.
To help myself in moments when I begin to feel impatient, I think back to my marathon training program. When I signed up for my first marathon, I knew I wouldn’t be able to suddenly run 26.2 miles overnight. So I created a training program in which I ran 4 days a week with 3 rest days. Each week, over the course of 14 weeks, I slightly increased my long runs and overall mileage by a mile or two. On the day of the marathon, I trusted that my consistency, effort, and patience in the process would pay off. And you know what? It did. Four hours and thirty-two minutes later, I crossed the finish line, my first full marathon complete.
Now, this can be a little different from other scenarios that require consistency and patience. While I had an exact date to work toward for my marathon, you might be working on a goal in which you have no idea when you’ll see the rewards of your effort. And that’s okay. Just know that showing up for yourself day after day and being consistent in your efforts is always worth it.
Meanwhile, don’t wait for all of your dreams to manifest in your reality before you allow yourself to experience true joy. Feel joyful now knowing that you are on the path, aligned with your purpose and passion, and exactly where you’re meant to be in this moment.
The Law of Significance and Inspiration
You matter. Your voice matters. Your presence matters. You were born with specific goals and talents that only you possess. Only you have lived your unique experiences. And that dream that’s in your heart? It’s there for a reason.
The Law of Significance and Inspiration states that every single one of us contributes to the greater whole. We all play a part in contributing to the highest good of the world.
And what you’re doing? It matters. When you put your whole heart into something and contribute your gifts and talents with wholehearted love, you are creating a ripple effect that you probably can’t even see. You’re lifting up others and inspiring the whole. And the more positive energy and loving intentions you put into your contribution, the more you’re not only contributing to the highest good for all, but to yourself as well. You will get back all of this positive energy in ways you can’t even imagine.
So know that everything you do matters. Your purpose and your gift matter.
You matter. More than you know.