Every object in this universe is endowed with four characteristics.

They are: Dharma, Karma, Prema, and Gyana.

Dharma means nature. Everything has a definite nature, whether living or inanimate. Monkeys have their nature. Human beings have their nature. In the same way, metals have their nature, aluminum has its nature, copper has its nature. One’s nature, or an object’s nature, is called dharma.

Along with the characteristics of nature, there is a certain activity that is attributed to, or that comes out of, every object. This activity is called karma.

The third characteristic is prema, which means love. There is love in every particle of this creation. Love is attraction. Love means bringing togetherness. From attraction atoms come together and form molecules from which an object is made. Based on the combination of molecules or atoms we identify a material. There is something that holds the parts together. This force that brings things together and holds them together is called love or prema.

Love is present in the entire creation. There is love and that is why there is reproduction happening. Because of love the planets are moving in their orbits, the sun is shining, and the stars are there. There is love in every atom, and that is why the electron is moving around the charged particle. The charge of attraction, the charge in this entire creation is a power, is love.

The fourth characteristic is gyana. You are reading now, but who is reading? Who is knowing what is being read? There is something in this body that is knowing, but what? It is consciousness. This knowingness is present also in every particle of creation. How do we know? Do we know only through the head or only through the senses? No. Our entire body has the ability to know. The mind is not just in the head, it is all over the body. Even in sleep, we have the ability to know. For example, if a group of people are asleep in a dormitory and someone comes in and calls a name, only that person will wake up. Of course, if they call loudly enough, everyone will wake up, but when called lightly, only the person whose name is called will hear. This ability to know is permeating our entire consciousness and consciousness is present all over the body and beyond the body. This is called gyana, the knowingness of the intelligence or the intelligence in existence.

Of the four characteristics, karma is the most well-known and the most misunderstood.

The literal meaning of karma is action. There are three types of karma - prarabdha, sanchita, and agami. Click To Tweet

Some karma can be changed and some cannot. Prarabdha means begun, the action that is already manifesting. Prarabdhais the karma that is yielding its fruits, its effect, right now. You cannot avoid it, or change it because it is already happening.

Sanchita karma is the “gathered up,” or “piled up,” karma. It is latent or in the form of a tendency. An impression in the mind is a latent action. It is still action, but it is latent. This is just like a memory. A memory can be functional now or latent. Sanchita karma can be burned off, changed, by spiritual practices before it becomes manifest.

Agami literally means “not come.”Agami karma is the karma that has not yet come, that will take effect in the future. If you commit a crime, you may not get caught today, but you will live with the possibility that one day you may get caught. This is agami karma, the future karma of the action.

Every habit is a sort of karma. If you have the habit of drinking coffee every morning, and one day when you don’t drink it and you get a headache, this could be called coffee karma. You can postpone the headache by drinking more coffee or you can take steps to eliminate future coffee karma and stop drinking it and observe what happens to you. Perhaps you will have headaches for some days, so you start some exercise program, or some meditation or breathing practices.