My definition of Karma is: A Hindu belief asserting the net outcome of good and bad behavior in a person’s lifetime is applied against a future life. It’s the bottom line net loss (bad) or gain (good) carried forward and accounted for later. It’s the offset of a lifetime of deeds.
Inherent is the concept of reincarnation. Otherwise it doesn’t work. It’s up to each person whether to come back as a lowly cockroach scavenging in the slums, a mere mortal, or an honored cow freely roaming the streets of Calcutta for all to worship.
Somewhere along the line, and contrary to Hindu belief, people began encapsulating karma within a single lifetime. Hell, sometimes even a single day. Instant Karma… just add a deed. Screw-up now and it will bite you in the ass — of equal magnitude — later.
In other words, bad expended equals bad received. The same applies to good, but for whatever reason people seem to believe it is returned to them many times over. For the time being, let’s just stay with the idea that it’s all a wash. In this way of thinking, a person lives a life (or day) that cancels out. It balances at the instant of death (or midnight). No harm, no foul. Equilibrium is obtained. All is right in the universe.
Well, maybe all is right in the universe. Unless, like me, you believe in the multiverse. Think of this as our universe being a single bubble among countless others the next time you take a bubble bath. I first began thinking this way at a fairly young age when I watched Horton Hears a Who! , wondering if we might just be akin to a clover in an expansive clover field.
I hope that makes sense. Anyhow, back to karma.
Whether one believes in karma or not is one thing. What annoys me is people who throw it around like their an authority or true follower. Or when it’s convenient. Hey, if you subscribe to karma (in its pure form) and think Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May will come back as slugs on the end of a bait line, then I hope you’re right. To say it will happen in this lifetime, well, there’s nothing that can make-up for what they did to Ryan with the time they have left. It’s mathematically impossible.
Then there’s opposite side of the coin. What did Ryan do in a past life that brought this upon him? What did I do? I can see how this belief could actually make some people think we had it coming! I can promise you I did nothing in this current life to call for this. Perhaps in a earlier life, I don’t know, because karma doesn’t allow for remembrance. This, my friends, is really why karma’s a bitch.
You know, maybe I am actually “paying it forward” and shelling out now for something I will eventually do. Now, if that’s not ass-backwards then I don’t know what is. What it would be is a reverse principle, call it “effect-and-cause”, and that flies in the face of karma.
Karma goes by many other names, but the definition is always the same. Allow me to explain.
On the cosmic level, isn’t karma really nothing more than the second law of thermodynamics that states “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Then there’s the law of conservation of energy (i.e., first law of thermodynamics) that maintains energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change forms and flow from one place to another. So, it seems no one argues that our energy continues. On one extreme, perhaps, it transfers to a different plane of consciousness. The other extreme is that we return to carbon and are nothing more than fossil fuel.
Given the alternatives, karma is comfortably appealing.
Other references? There are plenty. Just to name a few we have: Cause-and-Effect, “What comes around, goes around”, and “You reap what you sow”. Oh, and then there’s the ever popular “Karma’s a bitch”. Pay it forward, Baby! Or, another way of saying it, Effect-and-Cause, Baby!
I actually don’t have a problem with karma, in its purest sense. That’s not to say I buy into it. Again, my problem is with those who use it willy-nilly. Personally, I think it’s nothing more than a coping mechanism that allows us to believe in fairness and justice. Here’s some other issues that must be overcome:
- Instant/Lifetime Karma. The Hindu’s are clear on this one. Essentially, you’ll just need to wait until another lifetime for Karma to take hold for how you’ve behaved in this life. This life is your reward or punishment for the previous. What you did this morning makes no impact on how you’ll be treated tonight. That candy bar you stole when you were ten is in no way connected to the seventy year old you, so don’t expect someone to take your Snicker’s. Nope. You screwed up at ten years old and that was posted on your cosmic balance sheet. Now, it would seem you might offset this by donating a candy bar. Still, both will appear as a journal entry that other religions call the “Book of Life”.
- Cosmic Darwinism. I think I invented this term and use it in several contexts. In regard to karma, the only way “beings” evolve or devolve is by deed. It like being trapped on the Galápagos Island; the only escape being Nirvana. Until then, we keep doing it over-and-over again. Just a hint, if someone calls you a cow you might want to take that as a compliment and board the next plain to India. Cattle fly free if you book it through their national airline, so I’m told.
- Coincidence is not Karma. There is no connection between helping that little old woman across the street yesterday and you winning a free Filet-o-Fish sandwich today. Realize this, one in four are winners. Nor does flipping-off another driver relate to getting a speeding ticket that night. The speeding ticket is for — wait for it — exceeding the speed limit.
- God-based religions. I was going to say that Christianity rejects karma, but really any God-based religion must. Why? As I see it karma allows the cosmos to handle justice. Karma doesn’t allow for mercy or forgiveness. Karma is, for all intent, akin to a computer program with set algorithms running independently. It’s an infinite nested loop. Only when the code “IF Nirvana=True THEN Stop” occurs will its execution end.
- Good Things Happen to Good People. The counter to this is bad things happen to bad people. I’m here to tell you bad things happen to good people too! The best I can do to agree with this fallacy — and it’s a reach — is to concede that good things tend to happen to good people, and vice-versa. But this has nothing to do with karma. Bad people are more prone to put themselves in (and cause) bad situations. Let’s face it, Mother Teresa didn’t hang out with a bunch of bank robbers (as I like to say). Good people are much less likely to have harm upon them; and often it’s not by their own doing (e.g., breaking down in a bad neighborhood). This is not karma. This is statistical probability. It’s correlation.
- Made-To-Order. I see this, what I call M-T-O karma, as the greatest pitfall because it is so damned convenient. This is where only a certain karmic component(s) is hand-picked for a given situation. Last I checked, karma was not available at Burger King where someone could “have it your way” (remember that slogan?). I guess it’s not unreasonable to like certain parts and not others, but if one buys karma than it’s as-is; no refunds or returns. Otherwise we could just custom fit for personal comfort.
I always consider myself a bit of a deep thinker. With that said, I also tend to think too highly of myself at times. I call it confidence. Sue calls it annoying. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with my sense of self; as long as I can back it up. I honestly believe I can (or do a fine job faking it). Likewise, I hold the same opinion with (most of) the readers of this website. Again… smarty pants are what you are!
Don’t you ever forget it either.
I took a chance today with my writing. Still, it helps me get my thoughts arranged, shared, and open for critique. I’m very curious to hear people respectfully comment. Most know that I have no religion because I lost faith, but that does not mean this discussion should not include a religious element (for the believers and non-believers alike). Beyond this, I view karma as a belief and purposely moved it out of the context of Hinduism. I would do the same with Catholics (and often did when I was practicing the faith) in discussing the infallibility of the Pope. In other words, let’s keep it civil.