Karma means ‘action’ (verb).
Samskhara means ‘imprint/engram’ (noun).
In colloquial usage though, karma and samskharas are used interchangeably.
The mind in its clear pure state is like a clear mirror,
Where it simply reflects reality exactly the way it is.
Now, imagine a mirror that holds memory.
Suppose you go on a trip and carry the mirror to various places.
On returning home, you would be seeing colorings/ghosts of the past all over the mirror image, right?
This is the nature of a mind loaded with samskharas (impressions/imprints from the past).
The completion process (samskhara dahana kriya) is about thinning out these imprints, so that you can eventually see clearly through them.
One good visualization to imagine this is:
Imagine you are holding a ‘color checker board’ in front of you.
If the color slots on the checker board are totally opaque, then, you can only see the color and nothing through it.
If the color in the piece is made more and more transparent (decreasing opacity), you would gradually start to see what is behind the color piece more and more.
After reducing the opacity i.e. thinning the color to a certain point, you would be able to easily see through it even if there is a bit of coloring still present, right?
This is what is done in the completion process.
Generally in psychology, when the light of your consciousness shines through the color pieces in the checkerboard, it is known as ‘projection’.
# If the color piece is totally opaque, then there is ‘total projection’.
That is, you are entirely seeing your past imprint and nothing of the actual reality in front of you. Total projection completely obscures reality.
# If the color checker board has no colors and if all the colors are replaced with clear glass pieces, then there is no projection at all, and you are directly seeing what is in front of you with no coloring. There is then 0 projection.
So essentially, the spectrum is like this:
Projection(0% transparency) ——- (50% transparency)——- Reality(100% transparency)
For most of us, there is a wide spectrum of opacity variation for these color pieces.
It is neither 0% nor 100% transparent but somewhere in the middle.
Positive colored pieces make us see life through positive colorings (seeing through rose tinted glasses). This is commonly referred to as good karma.
Negative colored pieces make us see life through negative colorings/lenses (seeing through a hell bent mind). This is commonly referred to as bad karma.
The very process of living exhausts karma (colloquial usage).
The main difference between a regular person and spiritual seeker is that the spiritual seeker exhausts the karma at a much higher intensity.
Exhausting karma here means thinning the colors out.
All samskharas in a way are partially unlived or undigested experiences.
That is why they continue to color our present experience.
To digest all these imprints is therefore the goal of the completion process.
In a way, these positive coloring and negative coloring set of lenses are what you call your identity (that is, the combination of our specific likes-dislikes).
So in the completion process, you are also thinning your identity out and eventually merging with the actual reality.
Consider the experience of eating physical food from a plate.
At first we have a more intense experience of it in our tongue,
And then we experience the more subtle experience of the consumed food getting digested, right?
Then what follows is, the nutrients are extracted and the remaining food is sent out.
Karma is food for the gods/soul.
Digestion of karma (the completion process), enriches the soul with wisdom which are the nutrients in this case.