Thursday, January 27, 2011
Karma Is a Chameleon
I get so dad gum tired of people talking about Karma: "Karma is a bitch. At least karma will take care of it. My karma ran over your dogma." Everyone in America seems to parrot some line about karma when someone else does them wrong. Most have no idea what they are professing when they use this term. Rote has made it virtually meaningless to the popular culture of the United States.
Yes, I'm sure when some people refer to karma as punishment for someone's wrong, they mean "that person deserved that." However, what do Christians truly mean when they profess a believe in karma? Aren't they actually saying they believe that "what goes around, comes around"?
Karma (from the Sanskrit word karman, meaning "to act") is defined as "the total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny." Those who believe in karma believe the effect of one's actions brings upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.
Karma is a religious belief system adopted by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies. In Hinduism, maintaining good karma is one means of reaching Brahman -- the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in the Universe. Now that is quite a thorny affirmation.
The theory of karma is all about the cycle of cause and effect. Actually, karma is not about punishment or reward. To believers, an understanding of karma makes a person responsible for his own life and how he treats other people. This belief also dovetails into a person's self-determination and strong will power to abstain from inactivity because his actions, both good and bad, come back to him in the future, helping him to learn from life's lessons and become a better person.
The belief differentiates human beings from other creatures of the world. Karma extends through one's present life and all past and future lives as well. The law of karma also states that the actions performed in previous births play a crucial role in future births. So, karma involves keeping a running tab of accountable actions throughout multiple lives.
According to karma, a person cannot escape from his actions. Good deeds will take a person closer to bliss on earth (Moksha) and bad deeds lead to suffering. Karma thus serves two main functions within Hindu philosophy:
1. It provides the major motivation to live a moral life, and
2. It serves as the primary explanation of the existence of evil.
Many Hindus believe the soul, at death, is carried by a subtle body into a new physical body which can be a human or non-human form (an animal or divine being). The goal of liberation (moksha) is to make people free from this cycle of action and reaction, and from rebirth. (Gavin Flood, "Hindu Concepts," BBC, August 24 2009)
The theory of karma harps on the Newtonian principle that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction: every time people think or do something, they create a cause, which, in time, will bear its corresponding effects. And this cyclical cause and effect generates the concepts of the world (samsaru), birth and reincarnation. It is the personality of a human being (the jivatman),with its positive and negative actions, that causes karma.
In karma, everything affects everything else. In The Secret Doctrine Blavatsky does not see karma as a mechanical "eye for an eye" law at all. She sees karma continuously restoring the harmonious state of the cosmos whenever it is disturbed. She calls it "the source, origin and fount of all the laws which exist throughout Nature".
The theory that humans live in an interconnected, interdependent universe in which all things everywhere exist in a complex and dynamic web of interrelationships, is fast gaining acceptance in philosophical and scientific circles. This is in tune with the underlying essence of the karma doctrine.Its fundamental aspect is its balancing role in nature.
The karmic law is more organic than deterministic.Aldous Huxley reminds us that the karmic equivalence of action and reward is not always obvious and material. "The bad man in prosperity may, unknown to himself, be darkened and corroded with inward rust, while the good man under afflictions may be in the rewarding process of spiritual growth," says Huxley.( P. Prabhath, "Hinduism -- Understanding the Workings of Karma,"www.lifepositive.com)
According to the ways of life chosen by a person, his karma can be classified into three kinds: