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There’s one basic truth which, once recognized and used, empowers us to have all the happiness we want, and it is this: we ourselves create the life we have, through the thoughts we maintain and the actions or inactions we choose, either consciously or unconsciously.

This truth has been reflected in spiritual teachings from every culture through thousands of years of humankind’s seeking to understand our life, our world, and our place in all this. Some of these teachings are not well-known, but some are very commonly known, expressed in different ways, worldwide.

One expression of this universal spiritual principle of thought is the concept of Karma. Karma is neither punishment nor reward. It is simply the outcome and natural result of what we ourselves have put forth into the life of the universe.

All of Life is energy, manifested in some way. There is no real difference between physical energy, mental energy, spiritual Energy, or emotional energy, except in form. Energy is constantly in motion and evolving; it is never static. For every move you make, in either thought or action, there is a perfectly matching response from the universe. It usually does not come right back to you like a boomerang; nevertheless, your Karma always returns to you in like kind. It has no place else to go, and no other purpose but to help you learn to master your life.

Karma has been studied and explained by many great teachers, and many spiritual writers such as Depak Chopra. If you search the Internet with the keyword of Karma, you’ll most likely turn up thousands of listings for websites that address the subject in some way, with various ways of describing it. But the simplest way to express the Karmic principle is: “You get what you give.”

Almost any scholar of religious laws will probably know more about Karma than I do, and they would add more details and conditions such as, for example, atonement, and forgiveness. But for the moment, I only want to point you toward the most basic and simple function of the Karmic principle, and so here it is.

Whatever you give forth into the life-stream, or into the very air that surrounds you, or towards any sentient being you encounter in any and every moment of your life, the conscious universe is aware of. And whatever you put forth is returned to you “in like kind.”

People often argue with this, saying as proof: “So-and-so did a terrible thing, and yet s/he is rich and successful. S/He got off Scott free! Where’s the Karma in that?” First. there are a few things that are important to understand. For one - we do not really known how happy or unhappy that person is. If they have been hostile, greedy, cruel, or dishonest - those experiences will bring home the same to them, sooner later.

And second, Life is not a game of cosmic ping-pong where everything you do, good or bad, is returned to you immediately from that same person our situation it was given to. Instead, it is the Energy of your good or bad thoughts and actions that circles out through the Universe of time and space, and sets in motion the manifestation of new energy, forms, and situations that will then come home to you.

No one can escape this cycle of energy; it is the essence of Life. What you give, you will receive. What you have given, you have received. If you find that you don’t like what you have, you can begin to change it immediately, by changing the thoughts and actions you are putting out there. Changing what you give to life will change (and cannot possibly fail to change) what Life gives to you.

To see the proof of this, we only need to practice The Practice, and it will prove itself clearly and amazingly. We only have to practice spending some time and energy on building self-mastery such as the habits of being kind, generous, stopping ourselves when we start to judge someone, and calming our mind each time our anger is raised by some thoughtless meanness we see or experience in our world, and turning to choose a new thought instead. It is this easy? No it’s not, at first.

It gets easier with practice, and when we develop the habits of non-judgment, kindness, patience and forgiveness (even when it’s not easy) these habits protect our lives. Soon we start to notice in amazement, that our life has taken an unexpected upswing. It may be gradual or sudden, but “good fortune” begins to show up for us in big and small ways. It works. As the twelve step program quotations says “It works, if you work it.”

When Jesus said “Do unto others as you would have them do onto you.” this was not just a sweet kindness, or an exercise for being a good person. It was actually a practical system for having a happy life. One that needs no hardware, no software, and no instruction book. Simply choose to do the kinder thing, sincerely, even in small ways, without needing a return on your investment. And then notice how Life steps up to bless you.

Remember that everything on earth and in the universe is God in expression, including you. You have free choice in creating your life, and yet God’s love and law are in control and everywhere present. If you make a mistake, you can change it. God/the universe is both love and law, and all the laws of the universe are have been designed to serve and bless your journey here.