As most of you probably already know, karma is the notion that you get what you give; that what goes around, comes around. Karma can be either good or bad. What you do in life will determine what happens to you. Karma originated in the Hindu and Buddhist religions but it has become a very popular belief in the Western world as well these days.
The concept of karma is nice – that if I do good, I will receive good and if I do evil then I will pay for it. Justice. Who doesn’t like that idea?
But karma is just a fanciful idea; life really doesn’t work that way. And I believe we should ALL be thankful that it really IS just a fanciful idea and not a reality?
To believe in karma is to believe that the victims of 911 deserved what they got – that they all did something to make those men fly planes into a building. Or that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold only shot students that in some way deserved it. That any victim gets what they had coming to them because of their past actions.
The reality is that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. There is NO correlation. Think Princes Diana got what she deserved? Or Steve Irwin? Mahatma Gandhi – Martin Luther King Jr. – Abraham Lincoln – Cassie Bernall and countless others? I don’t.
So you’re saying there is no correlation — that I can be evil and still have a good life? Yes, it’s possible, but not probable. I believe that we are not punished for our sins, but by our sins. That if you do wrong and still have a soul that it will eat away at you. But, technically speaking, you can do wrong and still not receive what you deserve. I believe this is called Grace.
Grace is an amazing concept — some might even say divine. It is the gift to receive that which we DO NOT deserve. I must admit, that doesn’t sound like anything a human could come up with…
But doesn’t Grace, unlike karma, let people off the hook? Yes it does. And how beautiful is that – there’s an element of Grace that karma lacks; that of love. The pop singer Bono tells it like this, “Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
But then why should we do good if there isn’t any incentive? By incentive you mean like going to heaven or to stop the cyclical reincarnation cycle? I don’t believe that doing good works adds points to an invisible scoreboard where if we obtain enough points it will at some point swing the pendulum in our favor and we will then get into heaven or achieve nirvana. No, I don’t think there’s a scoreboard; and thank goodness for that because if there was, I’m afraid we would ALL fail. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still do good…
I think that ‘most people’ – religious or not – would agree that humans are amazing creatures with exceptionally developed minds giving us an impressive range of intelligence. Because of this we have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. So because we have this ability we should use it.
So you’re saying that I should do what’s right just because I know what’s right? Yes, I am.
Now I would like to address a few more issues that I had after reading a recent blog post by Jonathan Fields. But first let me say that I am not trying to bash Jonathan here – I simply take issue with some of what he said in his post and feel compelled to address some of his comments.
Jonathan tells us that karma is, “Simply put — the energy you put out into the world eventually reflected back onto you.” So really it’s about saving your own ass, is it? It’s not about treating people kindly because it’s the right thing to do? But, because you don’t want bad things to happen to you – or because it really would be nice to stop that never ending reincarnation ferris-wheel and get off, wouldn’t it?
Jonathan also says that one of the benefits of receiving good karma is that it “positions you as a leader, a philanthropist, a visionary, a mentor and massive-success story” Yeah, that’s exactly why you should treat people kindly — so YOU can become a hero…
Jonathan would like us to believe that Buddhist teacher Michael Roach’s philosophy’s about karma are sound because, after all, his New York diamond business makes an impressive 9-figure income. To that I say the thickness of a man’s wallet is no indication of how sound his theology is.
Jonathan then ends his blog post with giving us three case studies. Each of which ends happily ever after with the person becoming a financial success. There’s nothing like treating people kindly and just waiting for financial success to come… But how do you explain all those poor devote Hindus and Buddhists? Are they not being “good enough”?
Look I’m sure that Jonathan Fields is a very nice guy and is compassionate towards others. That’s a wonderful thing and I want to encourage everyone to be compassionate towards others. Ultimately we have to look at the underlying motives behind the idea of karma. Are they only self-serving?
Let me conclude – I believe we should treat people with kindness because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Rich or poor – Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or otherwise – you know how to treat people, so do it.