The idea that you benefit from being good and suffer for being bad doesn’t seem to apply to world leaders like Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, writes Jim Duffy.
Someone asked me a question this week that really stopped me in my tracks. It made me think about my life and how we live our lives. And I am struggling to find the answer to it.
Despite several long walks with the dog to examine my thoughts and try to open up a debate inside my head, I failed. I spent hours online interrogating websites, chatrooms, thought pieces and social media in my quest to get some clarity and hopefully adopt a meaningful position on the subject. But, here I am still cogitating and arguing with myself. So, I thought I’d ask you the question to see where it leads. Put simply, do you believe in karma?
If you have a really good think about it, it can actually throw up more questions than a simple yes or no. Karma means the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, which can decide their fate in future existences. Boiling it down further, we have a more simplistic and useable definition – good or bad luck resulting from one’s own actions in life. Let’s explore it a bit further to help you have a more purposeful weekend.
Firstly, let me put my cards on the table. I do not believe that there is an afterlife or a prequel for that matter. It is okay for George Lucas to do the first three Star Wars movies then come up with the prequels, then conclude with another Jedi-lives-forever finisher. Of course running through all of this is ‘the Force’. For some of the characters, the Force is strong in them while others are less fortunate. But, unlike the movies, I cannot accept that there is the opportunity to exist over different times as a different person or persona. So, therefore, the karma-through-the-ages bit doesn’t work for me. In short, we get one shot at ‘life’ and that is that. Of course, you may think and hope I am wrong.
But, the second definition of karma as the consequences that arise from one’s own actions in this life is where it gets a little tricky. For some context, many of the world’s religions teach, guide, indoctrinate or preach that being ‘good’ is a good thing. If one is good, then whichever God is up there will take note and class you as a good egg. You will not be banished into hell when you leave this Earth and, in essence, you should feel good about being good, knowing that all that will happen is good. Does that makes sense? It’s a code for living a life that could be termed as wholesome, decent and kind – in short being, as they say in Spain, a “beunas persona”.
This is what I believe karma is but also where it is completely wrong.
Stemming for Hinduism and Buddhism, karma is a term describing a cycle of cause and effect of one’s actions. Whatever happens to a person – you or me – has been caused by their own actions. So if I do something bad to you, then it will come back on me, either from you or via another entity. Conversely, if you do something good for me, then it will be “repaid” to you by me or from the universe.
It seems that your good energy travels around the ether somewhere and gets channeled back to you at some point. Put in simple terms, it can seem fair and reasonable. As human beings with unsophisticated minds, we like A equals B terminology and theory. But, I’m afraid that while karma doesn’t feel like a religion, it has all the hallmarks of social control.
Karma is for the masses
I’m afraid that as you read this, it will make you feel a bit down and depressed as I simply cannot agree that karma is real or in any way logical. In short, karma is for the masses with no real control of ‘higher level’ stuff. It feels a bit like the Karl Marx quote on religion which I have no doubt you are all aware of, but for the purposes of this piece we shall mention again. Marx wrote that “religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with the occurrences it cannot understand”.
So, while I was told at school “that God works in mysterious ways”, it seems that karma is also cloaked in such illogical musings. But that is where its power lies.
I know and have known some very bad people. I see and witness almost every week some fairly poor human behaviour. And I don’t even need to pick up the tabloids to experience this. I keep asking myself where the karma is in it all. And it seems to get even more out of kilter the more powerful other human beings are. Trump does what he wants, Putin does what he wants and Johnson has been called out for lying about so many things, yet he was resoundingly voted in as our supreme leader. Do you get where I am going with this?
For many people on the planet, karma is not relevant. They do what they want with impunity. They have a different belief system, while the majority of us try hard to live what can be termed as wholesome lives, with a few clangers along the way. And this why my week has been turned upside down as I try to get my head around karma and its relevance or usefulness to me and you.
You will make your own mind up based on a number of personal factors. I think the answer for me is – no, I don’t believe in karma. I’m more inclined towards values. Have a “good” weekend.