We make our choices, some of which are good for us, some bad, and then grace shapes the results. To express this another way, each of us does things that have unexpected consequences. Our foresight is limited; therefore our actions are always subject to blindness about what will happen next.
The word karma includes both the action and the unpredictable results. Five people can make a fortune, yet for each one the money creates different consequences, which can range from misery to contentment. The same holds true for any action.
Why isn’t karma mechanical? If karma were mechanical, we would plan out our actions, let them go, and be sure of a certain result. Theoretically nothing prevents this. In actuality we are stymied by the sheer complexity of what needs to be calculated. Everyone performs millions of actions every day – strictly speaking, every thought is a karma, along with every breath, every bite of food, etc. But something unfathomable is at work here: grace.
With his supreme intelligence, God has no trouble calculating an infinite number of karmas. God loves his creation and wants to be joined with it as intimately as possible, so he throws into his calculation the following special instructions: Let all of a person’s actions bounce and collide any way they have to, but leave a clue that spirit is watching.
When you feel you have been touched by grace, that is your clue that God exists and cares about what happens to you. Whether operating on the level of a saint or a criminal, grace is the ingredient that saves karma from being heartlessly mechanical. Grace is thus linked to free will. Grace can take the form of a simple thought, “Maybe I should quit,” or it can be an overwhelming transformation. In either case, the impulse to move forward is the result of grace.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).