Universal Principles of Yoga: The Law of Karma Explained

Universal Principles of Yoga: The Law of Karma

Law of KarmaBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

The Law of Karma and Karma Yoga have many principles, which are interchangeable with any religion or code of ethics. Many people think of karma as fate; but karma is action, not fate. Karma is also known as, “The law of cause and effect.”  We are responsible for our actions and inactions in this life and beyond. In contemporary terms we say, “What goes around; comes around.”  Does this seem like a law that is specific to a certain religion?


Some would say, “Yes,” but this is a universal Yogic principle within all religions. My grandfather was a practicing Roman Catholic, knew very little about Yoga, but lived according to the law of cause and effect.  There is no religion which has exclusive rights to the Law of Karma, but all religions address karma, in principle, even though the word, “karma,” may not be mentioned.

Giving to those in need, without seeking any kind of reward, creates good karma and is practiced worldwide. Karma Yogis exist in all cultures, religions, and races. In the twentieth century, we had Mohandas Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as famous examples of Karma Yogis. Each man practiced a different religion.


In the words of Mohandas Ghandi: “Gentleness, self-sacrifice, and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.” Throughout time, inspirational religious leaders have referred to self-sacrifice, charity, and generosity, which create good karma. The following are a few timeless quotes to ponder:

Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand, know what your right hand is doing. So that you’re giving, may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”


Mohammed said, “God does not judge you according to your bodies and appearances, but He looks into your hearts and observes your deeds.” He also said, “Charity does not diminish wealth.” 

Buddha said, “If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”

Selfless Service, which we know as Karma Yoga can be practiced by anyone. It does not matter, which religion you practice; that is entirely your own prerogative.


You do not have to be materially rich in order to help people. You do not have to be a religious leader, famous person, politician, messiah, prophet, or Yoga teacher to practice Karma Yoga, but each of us can easily start by practicing acts of kindness toward everyone. Let go of demands, anger, swearing, intolerance, and road rage.

How can we observe the Law of Karma? Help your family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who is in need. It is as simple as listening, helping, giving a card, showing a gesture, or telling your family that you love them. Karma Yoga is about helping others and forgetting about our own desires. A Karma Yogi will find peace of mind by abandoning anger, jealousy, envy, and hate. Regardless of our religious beliefs, if all of us practiced Karma Yoga, we would finally attain world peace.

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