Back in ancient times, more than 2000 years ago, the concept of karma was clearly defined in Buddhist teachings and Hindu texts such as the Mahabharata: Karma is inextricably linked to reincarnation and a person's actions dictate the circumstances in his future lives. The concept is straightforward without much ambiguity.

Think of karma as stuff (challenging and rewarding) in life you can't change, such as when and how your honesty is tested, the choices and actions of others that affect your life, criticism and rejection from others, the family and circumstances you are born into, the level of unique and unavoidable strife or harmony between you and another person, and those occasional insurmountable brick walls of failure that everyone goes through in life, leading to a new beginning.

We're sure you can think of things in your life that fall under the "tough karma" category. How about that annoying boss? Or the relative that just won't quit? Or, think of a time in your past when things didn't go as you planned, but you ended up on what you now consider to be the right path anyway.

The definition of karma certainly has been warped in modern times. Many throw the word around, using it incorrectly, yet mock the concept of reincarnation. Work your way through the New Age best-seller list today and you'll find dramatically different takes on the ancient and original definition of karma, and creative (yet misleading) advice like the following:

1. Karma is simply a matter of your perspective. If you believe it you can achieve it and clear away any challenges.

2. Karma isn't real--it's only your imagination. Just act as if you are above it and it will disappear, leading to a higher form of living.

3. It's easy to erase your karma so you don't have to suffer.

4. Transform your bad karma into rewards--it's simply a matter of your spiritual awareness.

5. Karma is only about how you react to things in your life, not what happens to you. As long as you are “present” you can transmute bad karma so you don’t have to work your way through it.

6. Finally, once and for all, go back and erase all the karma in this life, your past lives, and any future lives--wipe it clean by the power of ascension. You'll then be able to create the life you deserve.

7. Facing challenges in your life isn’t a matter of learning fated (Bad word! Bad word!), drawn out lessons. Facing an impossible spouse and have no way out? You don't have to go through that. Snap your fingers ten times while saying the secret mantra in my new book and your spouse will go from zero to hero in no time!

We're supportive of new and exciting concepts, and we're certainly advocates of meditation and being in the present. However, do any of the above notions, relative to the cold, hard realities of everyone's life, make any sense to you? Or, are you like us and don't appreciate escapist spiritual poetry that only serves to cloud the issue and generate profits?

Let's put this into perspective with a straightforward example of challenging karma: An honorable Special Forces soldier is abruptly forced out of the service by a conniving superior, ending his career. His intent since he was a child was to be a career military man, but that dream is over. Now, taking the modern advice about karma, does anyone in his or her right mind believe that a life-changing, difficult circumstance like this can be dodged with meditation and by being present?

The truth is that everyone has his or her own unique form of karma--the stuff you can't change--to deal with in this life. Nothing will alter that, but you can change your perspective and avoid creating any additional negative karma. How you react to circumstances beyond your control makes all the difference.

Copyright © Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo

Author's Bio: 

Scott Petullo and Stephen Petullo offer vital, 
yet sensible and practical
 spiritual guidance and tools, including their Spiritual Detox and Let Go MP3 meditation audios. Get their free report: 13 Spiritual and New Age Myths and 13 Other Spiritual Laws Besides the Law of Attraction