Have you ever wondered…
Why are some people born crippled or blind and others are geniuses?
Why do I seem to instantly like or dislike certain people?
Why do I find myself in similar unpleasant situations again and again?
How did I end up with a family I have nothing in common with?
Why do some people die as children and others in old age?
Well, you’re not alone.
The word karma has made it into the mainstream. Just look at bumper stickers like My karma ran over your dogma or It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of karma to burn off. However, not everyone understands what karma really means, why it matters, and how to deal with it.
Think about the talents you were born with and the good things that have happened to you in life. Now think about the so-called limitations and challenges that have come your way. Both have to do with your karma. Karma simply tells us that what happens to us in the present is the result of causes we ourselves have set in motion in the past— whether ten minutes ago or ten lifetimes ago.
We've all grown up learning about karma. We just didn’t call it that. Instead we heard: “What goes around comes around.” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
In essence, karma tells us that whatever we do will come full circle to our doorstep—sometime, somewhere.
Karma and the Golden Rule
Karma picks up where the golden rule leaves off. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—because someday it will be done unto you.
The Sanskrit word karma means “act,” “action,” “word” or “deed.” The law of karma as it is traditionally taught says that our thoughts, words and deeds—positive and negative—create a chain of cause and effect, and that we will personally experience the effect of every cause we have set in motion. Karma, therefore, is our greatest benefactor, returning to us the good we have sent to others.
Karma is also our greatest teacher, allowing us to learn from our mistakes. Because the law of karma gives back to us whatever we have sent forth as thought, word or deed, some think of it as punishment.
Not so. The law of karma is the law of love. There is no greater love than having the opportunity to understand the consequences of our action—or our inaction— so that our soul can grow.
Karma teaches us to love and to love and to love as no other process can. It gives us hope.
Karma and Reincarnation
Karma and reincarnation go hand in hand. While karma means accountability and payback, reincarnation is simply another word for opportunity. Reincarnation gives us another chance to make good on the karmic debts we owe others and to reap the blessings we have sent forth.
Karma and reincarnation also help us make sense out of the question marks in life.
Why me? Why not me?
Why was my niece born with Down's syndrome when her brothers and sisters are healthy and robust?
Why have I been blessed with promotion after promotion while my brother can’t hold down a job—even though we had the same opportunities growing up?
Why do all my relationships become a tug of war?
How come I can't live with him and I can't live without him?
Why, when I just landed the job I've been after for a year, do I have to leave town to care for my ailing parents?
Why did I survive a car accident when all of my friends in the car were killed?
Life is full of paradoxes and questions like these. Like a Zen koan, each paradox is designed to make us dig deeper, connect with our inner soul knowing and solve the karmic conundrum.