Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book IV - 08. Karma and Past Lives
Type of Spiritual Experience
Because past lives are accessible to us via our perceptions, our acts in the past may be unconsciously affecting our current life - this is effectively karma - the influence that past perceptions have on us in our subconscious.
The Sutra is shown as a heading, the comment underneath is by the translator, in this case, Charles Johnston, . I have included the comment simply because it provides an interesting perspective on the sutra.
A description of the experience
8. From the force inherent in works comes the manifestation of those dynamic mind images which are conformable to the ripening out of each of these works.
We are now to consider the general mechanism of Karma, in order that we may pass on to the consideration of him who is free from Karma. Karma, indeed, is the concern of the personal man, of his bondage or freedom. It is the succession of the forces which built up the personal man, reproducing themselves in one personality after another.
Now let us take an imaginary case, to see how these forces may work out.
Let us think of a man, with murderous intent in his heart, striking with a dagger at his enemy. He makes a red wound in his victim's breast; at the same instant he paints, in his own mind, a picture of that wound: a picture dynamic with all the fierce will-power he has put into his murderous blow. In other words he has made a deep wound in his own psychic body; and, when he comes to be born again, that body will become his outermost vesture, upon which, with its wound still there, bodily tissue will be built up.
So the man will be born maimed, or with the predisposition to some mortal injury; he is unguarded at that point, and any trifling accidental blow will pierce the broken joints of his psychic armour. Thus do the dynamic mind-images manifest themselves, coming to the surface, so that works done in the past may ripen and come to fruition.