If it takes the whole brain to produce one thought, it also takes the whole universe to perform a single action. Like a neuron, electrons and atoms seem to be independent, yet a change of electron spin at one extreme of the universe will be mirrored, instantly and without sending signals, by a paired electron billions of light years away.
So the “binding effect” is cosmic as well as personal; it exists “in here” and “out there.” The net result is that you are an activity of the whole universe, an insight that sounds abstract, but just as a single thought requires your brain to perform a huge number of unseen calculations, so Karma performs unseen calculations to produce you.
As we now can prove, change and stability coexist in the brain; without both it couldn’t operate. When you remember an old birthday, you can call it “my” thought, but you feel no personal connection to synapses and dendrites or the firestorm of signals passing over them.
Brain cells work by totally predictable means involving exchanges of electrical charges between sodium and potassium atoms and simple oscillations between positive and negative electrical impulses. Somehow that mechanical stability produces free, creative, unpredictable thought forms.
The rishis asserted the same about Karma. It is infinitely flexible and infinitely inflexible depending on how you look at it. Unknown forces are free to reshape you without your knowledge. They do it all the time, since none of us has the slightest awareness of how our brains move from thought A to thought B.
This opens the question of how much choice we exercise over our next lifetime. The coexistence of opposites is a paradox, and unless we solve it we have no control over the afterlife; we are just caught in the meshes of a machine that can produce any outcome according to its own whims.
Adapted from Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2006).