My friend Maureen in Key West is a wonderful correspondent: writes long letters, sharing what’s up, her take on my take. We’ve sorta gotten into shorthand, no expectations about when you write back. Which is good because I often can’t respond right away… Fortunately, my friends are used to it! It’s very nice to keep in touch this way, a rolling conversation…
She wrote to me today about karma. Karma is a fascinating subject. Not that I don’t believe it exists, that energy, but to think that it’s waiting in the wings to pounce or reward, that it would be immediate or even a certainty is too ludicrous, too Uh-mare-kan.
U.S. citizens REALLY like believing things come full circle. But maybe they don’t. Not all bad guys go to jail. Bad things happen to good people. Good die young. If there is karma, the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t understand it. Kinda like God.
IN RE KARMA: What did Jesus Christ do in his own or any former life to deserve what he got, i.e., scourging, crowning with thorns, dragging his own cross up the hill, crucifixion/suffocation, pain. And, if that was to payoff my bad karma, and your bad karma, why the hell do we have pain and suffering?
What did my three and two-year old granddaughters do to earn repeated molestation at the hands of a cult devil worshipper?
I don’t buy it – karma that is. I think it’s a misperception of earlier, simpler human minds. I guess it’s natural, if you do bad, to think that when bad happens, you’re being punished for your bad. Not only did they do nothing, I am 100% positive that I never did anything to earn the pain and suffering I felt when my grandchildren were molested.
And, if I’m being punished for some former life, what good does it do if I never experience that former life, don’t know what I did, and therefore don’t "learn my lesson"?
Talk of karma reminds me of Laurie Johnson, who suffered a terrible loss. During an Oprah interview, she said she always thought, as a young girl,
that "as long as I obeyed the rules and obeyed God, I would be rewarded
with a happy
life and a happy ending." If you rely on karma, you think this is true. She lived that life, but she did not get that happy ending.
Later in the interview, she said:
"Instead of living this life of expectation and rules and formulas, I feel like I live this life of curiosity. I have no clue what’s going to happen tomorrow, so I just take this moment to be here."
Powerful stuff. The notion of karmic retribution and reward traps us into behavior based on fear and lust; behavior based on expectations, rules and formulas. I’d rather live a life of curiosity, if I can break out of the box. My karma’s just going to have to get along without my attention.
Always something interesting when I log in…I think that the term karma is thrown around with a bit to much ease. And I agree with Maureen if you just take it as “do bad get bad do good etc…” it seems quite simplistic. But also we get very attached to the concept of “I” but who is that I? At death the brain stops and that body you thought was you simply turns to dust. Is there a life force that moves on, separate from who you think you are subject to the “laws of karma” perhaps? I guess most religions seem primitive when you break them down, hey most were written down at a time when life was quite primitive? Although certainly there is wisdom that we can all take to heart, certainly living in the moment (not just for the moment) is one of them as the now is all that is real. But if you want a clearer deeper explanation of karma you may want to read some Tibetan Buddhist literature on the subject as it gets a little deeper than good/bad etc..Ultimately though when bad things (or good) things appear in our lives all we can do is accept them and work through them. There is no point in dwelling on whether this is my karma? Or why could God be so cruel as that then becomes resistance and when ever we resit life it becomes harder. In a book I read called The Peaceful Warrior there was a line “let it flow; then let it go” I really liked this, take time to grieve, get the emotions out, but when they are out let it go, don’t carry it around your whole life. Certainly having your Grandchildren molested is beyond most of our comprehension and I hope these young ones can get through this experience and continue with there lives it will certainly take a lot of strength and work for all those involved. Perhaps even compassion for the molester, what made this person turn to to such a life, he to was once bounced on someones knee as a child. Compassion for someone like this will take a lot of soul searching, not an easy task. But carrying around hate and anger can eat you up from the inside out, you have already suffered enough.
Beautifully put. And very thought provoking. Apparently, Bill W. (founder of the 12-steps) followed some of the Buddhist teachings – those 12 steps and the slogans are chock full: Let go and let God. Letting go is BIG. Forgiveness is big. Not forgiving, not moving on is the “drinking poison expecting it to kill the other person.” You said “There is no point in dwelling on whether this is my karma?” Perfect. Thank you.
I don’t buy the concept of karma, and I was raised in a (lax) Hindu household. I believe it was used to bolster the caste system and make the downtrodden accept their lot in life. It’s as bad as the mega-guilt trip of Jesus dying for you.
However, I do believe that ideas like ‘you reap what you sow’ or ‘sending out vibes’ have some merit from a practical, emotional perspective. If you respond in kind to an angry person, they feel justified, while being pleasant or caring can bring them down a notch. I imagine that the next interaction they have with someone is influenced by this, and my hope is that if I’m nice then maybe the next time they interact with someone that they’re less abrasive.
A few months back I was concerned enough about the environment to see what impact reducing my driving speed had on gas consumption. So instead of commuting at 65-75mph, I dropped to 55-60mph. While the difference in time was minimal, it felt drastic because I was the slowest person on the highway. However, the mental benefit was fascinating as the ride felt more like a stroll than a run. Since I wasn’t fixated on maintaining a higher speed and, really, focusing on getting somewhere on time, I was relaxed. I wasn’t being impeded by anyone because it was rare for me to find anyone to pass. In the previous three years, I learned to avoid road rage by just letting go, but now it was complete. If someone cut me off, so be it. If someone flipped me off, so be it. They went on their way, needlessly stressed or irritated and I went on blissfully.
Now I could respond in kind, but I lost the urge to expend the effort required. And frankly, it’s just plain irrelevant. 2 hours ago I walked into a store and was about to ask a question when someone burst in behind me, talked over me and took the attention of the salesperson. They seemed completely oblivious to me as I looked at them, and I considered confronting them to defend my rightful place in line or some other crap like that. But I didn’t, and they went on and I went on. I know that had I gotten into it that the anger would’ve just stayed with me as a needless, gnawing stress. I barely remember what they looked like, so I’m quite certain that getting into it would not have been worth it.
Living consciously. Beautiful. Karma just seems to fall under the “you’ll burn in hell if you aren’t good” way of thinking. NOT interested. In Costa Rica, you are forced to slow down or you will go nuts. And if you don’t slow down driving, you will die. It may not be living consciously, but if you are paying attention at all, it has the same effect… pura vida, Arp!