The word karma has a dual meaning. It means “action” and it also means “ destiny”. The two are inseparably linked together because our own actions fashion our destiny. This may not be obvious because in daily life we see many hard working honest persons without money and support. At the same time, we also observe, very often, corrupt men enjoying comforts and leading prosperous lives. One important vision of life that Vedanta gives us is that, what comes to me, is on account of the actions I have performed before. Results are always in keeping with the actions we perform and we must know how to corelate the cause and effect. Most people are familiar with the saying " what you sow is what you reap." Obviously, if we want to create happiness in our lives, we must learn to sow seeds of happiness. Therefore karma implies the action of conscious choice making. Let us take a simple example. In villages huge storage bins are used for preserving the grains for the whole year. They are added from an opening at the top and taken out from another opening at the bottom. Seasonal grains that come are stacked one over the other in different layers, like rice, wheat, barley etc. If we fill barley at the top, still when we open at the bottom, only the rice will come because that was stored first at the bottom ! This only proves that cause and effect do not happen in sequence and we cannot corelate two events. The same way, a man who leads a life of Dharma, a life of values, is certainly going to get appropriate result in due course. What he seems to be getting now is due to what he has done earlier in the past. This requires a courage of conviction and that is why the total vision is necessary. I must have the conviction in justice and impartiality. If I do something good, bad cannot come to me in future. This is the simple law of cause and effect or the law of karma. I must do good actions today in order that in future I get good results. Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success. Those who are dishonest and corrupt and are still powerful, they probably have done something good in the past for which they are reaping the results today! And what they are sowing today, they will have to reap in the future. Actually it is no concern of ours whether they suffer or not or get bad or good results. But we should know for sure, for our own sake, that the good, the happiness comes only from good actions, from a life of Dharma. Happiness comes only from righteousness. Hence Vedanta gives a great importance to these values. They help me develop an inner strength and conviction that nothing wrong will happen. Man is blessed with an intellect, with an ability to implement this vision in life. Thus the foundational element of using this law of Karma is, becoming consciously aware that the future is generated by the choices we make in every moment of our lives. The more frequently and more closely that our choices can be brought to the level of conscious awareness, the more we will make choices that are spontaneously correct. Part 2 will be posted next week. Love, Chithra.