How to Pay a Karmic Debt

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“Karma” is the Sanskrit word meaning “action,” though the Buddhist concept of karma is much more complicated than that. Translation is difficult, but karma can be roughly interpreted as “you will receive what you give” and is strongly related to your intention while performing an act. Western society often views karma in terms of debt and surplus, but, in actuality, to pay off a karmic debt you must purge yourself of negative intentions--including the desire to pay off your karmic debt.

1 Purge Negative Intentions

2 Avoid negative thoughts

Avoid negative thoughts. When you realize you are thinking negatively, whether it is about a specific person, an event or an object, replace those thoughts with positive ones. For example, if you are not enjoying your sandwich, think about how good it is to have food or how interesting the flavor is.

3 Encourage your positive thoughts

Encourage your positive thoughts. Acknowledge when you appreciate something, whether it is in your own mind or you tell someone about it.

4 Remove your delusions

Remove your delusions. See the world and everything in it for the awe-inspiring creation it is. If you think gloomy days are ugly, take note of the way the gray sky makes other colors appear richer. If you do not like rain, know that it is encouraging the growth of beautiful things, such as flowers.

5 Purify Yourself

6 Feel compassion for all beings

Feel compassion for all beings. Grieve the sadness in others the way you would grieve for yourself. Open your mind to the suffering of others, and feel love for them.

7 Examine your regret

Examine your regret, and learn from it. Understand why you did things that hurt other people, and realize how you have grown and become wiser for it.

8 Make a promise to yourself

Make a promise to yourself to not repeat the negative actions you have performed in the past. If you catch yourself in the act of repeating your negative actions, apologize to the person you were going to hurt, and apologize to yourself for breaking your promise.

9 Practice good actions

Practice good actions. You cannot erase karmic debt by performing an action with the intent of erasing karmic debt--the action must be performed out of a good intention to help someone else. Get into the habit of being generous and reading Buddhist texts to better understand your role in life.

10 Meditate Daily

11 Perform meditation

Perform meditation daily to increase your ability to think positively and purely. See the Resources section for a list of meditations you can try, or follow these steps for a meditation that helps you feel compassion for all people.

12 Sit comfortably somewhere away from distractions

Sit comfortably somewhere away from distractions.

13 Imagine three people

Imagine three people sit across from you. A very good friend sits at your left, a complete stranger is in front of you and someone you do not like is to your right.

14 Think

Think about the feelings you have toward your friend, then the feelings toward the stranger and finally the feelings toward the person you do not like.

15 See that the stranger

See that the stranger has the potential to be your friend and that the stranger could also become your enemy.

16 Look back to your friend

Look back to your friend, seeing that someday your friend could become an enemy. Look to the person you don’t like, seeing that he could one day become an ally.

17 Think of your friend

Think of your friend and feel the love, look to the stranger and feel the same love, then concentrate on feeling love for the person you don’t like.

Heather Finch has been a freelance writer since the turn of the 21st century. Her official career began during her freshman year of college writing editorials about anything from manners to politics. Writings by Finch have appeared in the Western Herald, the Sturgis Journal and She has a bachelor's degree in creative writing and environmental studies.