‘Acts of commission and omission' is a phrase commonly used in the legal lexicon. A driver failing to apply brakes at the appropriate moment has committed an act of omission resulting in an accident. This act of 'omission' or akarma (inaction), leads to karma (action) of accident.
Similarly, while performing any action, we choose from many different options available to us. When we exercise one of these options and act, all other options become akarma for us, leading to the conclusion that every karma has akarma hidden in it.
These examples help us to understand Krishna’s profound statement that the one who beholds karma in akarma and akarma in karma has attained the goal of all karmas (4.18).
Krishna himself says that this issue is an intricate one and even the wise are confounded about the subtleties of karma and akarma (4.16). He further says that the nature of karma is very difficult to know. Certainly, in order to fully understand the nature of right and prescribed action, one has to also understand the nature of vikarma (forbidden action) and of akarma (4.17).
A contemplative person once observed an animal escaping into a forest. Moments later, a butcher comes by and asks him if he had seen the animal. The person is on the horns of a dilemma, as the truth would result in the death of the animal while uttering a lie is immoral. If we sum up all forbidden actions of all cultures and religions, living would be impossible. Hence, Krishna indicates that these issues are intricate and even the wise get confused.
Life presents us with many catch-22 situations with no easy answers in the material plane in which all of us live. Only when we transcend from karta to sakshi and live with choiceless awareness does clarity descend.
Source - Daily World