Karma. We all use the word easily. We generally use it to mean “what goes around, comes around” but Buddists and Hindus will tell you it is not as simplistic as that. Even the biblical “reap what you sow” gets taken out of context to mean a form of karma.
But if we think about it in the way most people mean, which is – do good, good will come back to you and vice versa, it’s actually quite troubling.
Whenever anything bad happens, there is a tendency for people to console themselves that karma will get the perpetrator. Let’s say, for example, someone is particularly unpleasant to you. You don’t react, you just bide your time, knowing karma will get them. A couple of weeks later, you hear that their car broke down, or their boyfriend broke up with them, or their wallet is stolen. And you think to yourself “Aha!! Karma, baby!”
So, if I’m thinking about this correctly (and feel free to let me know if you don’t think I am in the comments section), then the next time your car breaks down, your dog gets sick, or your phone gets flushed down the toilet that that is karma too.
Because, to my way of thinking, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – we can’t expect karma to only come to others and not to ourselves. So, logically speaking, we have done something that deserves us having our car break down.
Now, of course, we all do things wrong etc but generally we don’t think of ourselves as negative-karma-worthy.
And if we are going to think about positive karma, then does that mean that if someone does something nice for me, it’s because I have somehow earned it? It’s not just that they are simply a nice person? Or are they only being nice to try to earn their own positive karma?
Nope. Karma has far too many holes in it for me.
And you know what? When I let go of thinking that this person or that person needs ‘paying back’ with karma, I can also let go of the belief that anything that happens to me is the direct result of my good or bad deeds. I can accept that sometimes, bad things happen for no reason, just like good things. And I can accept things and people at face value. Some people are nice, some people aren’t. It’s nothing to do with karma, and more to do with their childhood, their current circumstance or any other combination of things.
Karma is the opposite of forgiveness, the opposite of grace.
I know I need much forgiveness and grace extended to me. Don’t you?