Catchup #4: Karma

Karma is something that I am… predominantly ambivalent about. On the one hand, there is an element to it that I appreciate: behave and bad things wont happen to you. On the other hand I feel that it… takes a lot of the responsibility out of the hands of people when it comes to their own actions and such.

Karma, in a broad and somewhat generalised definition, is the Universe balancing out the scales of life, the universe and everything. Someone does something that is ‘bad’ and at some stage karma comes along and punishes them in some way or fashion. Honestly… I find a number of things difficult with this concept. The most troublesome being that I really don’t think that everyone has has the same concept of right and wrong and to assume or claim that the Universe is being balanced out by a system that utilises a very subjective criteria… The universe is many things but I have my doubts that it would ascribe to such a flawed system as this.

Don’t mistake me, I am not saying that I think that Karma is entirely without merit and such. I just don’t think that it can wilfully be claimed as this al powerful Universal catch all. I have often said that I have good or bad Karma or that the same is due for someone else. But often I mean it only half seriously. What I, personally, think that karma is more likely to be is something akin to Luck. A force in the universe that happens when it happens and much like Luck the chances of it happening can be enhanced (for better or worse) by certain actions of mortal person. Obviously, this is all only my opinion, but I feel that there is a greater human element to Karma in the present day than there ever was in its original context.

I have studied, both historically and philosophically, the time period of Ancient India and Karma as a concept had a different meaning back then to what it does today. Then, the idea of Karma was a set of behaviours of reach caste of Indian society that dictated what was right and wrong for the members of that caste. Obviously there was a real spiritual element to it, good behaviour according to your karma would see you rewarded whereas bad behaviour according to your karma would see you punished. However the concept of Karma was rooted in the rules of the society of the time; each caste had its place and the morals of each caste was dictated by the karma of that caste.

Now days, though society has classes, we no longer have true castes. Mortality, ethics and socially correct and incorrect behaviour are no longer determined by the place in society into which you were born. Now days, what is right and what is wrong depends very much on the person of the moment. Naturally, there are things that each nation states law says is wrong and there are behaviours that we are taught are right. On the whole however, karma lacks the clout in todays world that it once had in the past. I neither think this is good or bad, I just feel that there is an excessive amount of surety placed in the idea of Karma that takes away from people’s responsibility to act true to themselves and to act at all. Otherwise we all might as well simply stop doing things for ourselves and wait for Karma to do it for us.

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