What’s most important about karma is what I call our emotional karma. What does it feel like when you make amends? If you work the 12 Steps, it’s a really precious thing to do. Not because it fixes anything, but because it changes you. It actually gives you a feeling of strength because the burden of the past, of guilt and regret, keeps us hiding, keeps us fearful, keeps us trying not to look, not to feel. But when we can stand up, and say “Yes, this is true,” then there’s a freedom that comes with that. What “making amends” does is that it finally convinces us of the value of honesty, and of the freedom that comes when we stop protecting the ego.
Kevin Griffin is a Buddhist teacher and author of several books, including One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. A longtime Buddhist practitioner and 12 Step participant he is one of the founders of the Buddhist Recovery Network.