Everyone says, “Karma’s a bitch.” This is way more indicative of the person saying it than it is actually of karma herself.
The best and I were chatting recently about karma. He seemed to not understand why his life goes (has gone) as it does (has). He admitted that he’s done a “fair amount” of not-so-good things, but also is certain that he’s done a “fair amount” of pretty good things, too. The thought process is that he thinks his life should be better than it currently is (or has been up till this point in his existence). My response is that one of two things can be true, based solely on the assumed verity of his own claims.
One: If he’s done “a fair amount” of both good and bad, he should reasonably expect to be sliding by on the skin of his teeth. Certainly, if karma works on a tit-for-tat basis, you don’t get ahead by doing just enough to get by. That literally doesn’t even make sense. Otherwise, “getting by” would be synonymous with “going above and beyond.” In this context any “bad” that you do will effectively cancel out any “good” done by yourself – assuming “fair amount” is equal on both sides (and it clearly isn’t or this post would be about moksha and not karma).
Two: If you’re anything like most of the human population, it’s quite possible that you may have “bad” deeds in your past that you aren’t even aware of – in addition to ones you are aware of. In this case, assuming you are actively and accurately measuring out your deeds, your “fair amount” of “good” wouldn’t theoretically be enough for you to even balance, let alone get ahead, because you would only be manually cancelling the “bad” that you’re aware of, which wouldn’t at all account for the “bad” you’re not aware of. In this context, even assuming full awareness of every “bad” deed done, one should expect to experience more suffering than joy.
Of course, the working of karma is far more complex than the eye-for-an-eye or tit-for-tat explanation implies. One would be foolish to believe that the two possibilities listed above are conclusive, but for most people these two will be pretty comprehensive on some level or another.
Many times, what it comes down to is that the modern human often expects to get something for nothing, and also expects to get nothing for something. Too often we expect or ignorantly hope that we’ll magically escape the consequences of our thoughts, words, and deeds – ultimately our choices. This is the view when we hope to get nothing for something (aka we hope not to get what we should get, considering what we’ve given / done). And probably about as often we hope we’ll get what we desire (peace, contentment, ease of life), despite having not done much to deserve or otherwise warrant it. This is getting something for nothing. Neither work very well, you see, because both possess an inherent imbalance – something nature will always work to correct.
And so you get only that which you give – like it or not. Growing up I often heard people tell each other, or say of others, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” This is karma, through and through. The only bed you’ll ever sleep in is the one you make for yourself.
We’re getting deep into the Western world’s season of giving. Dollars are being spent everywhere to buy things for our loved ones. Naturally, and inversely, many of us are hoping to have very full stockings at the fireplace and tons of presents crammed under the tree. As this season of giving is also a season of “hopeful acquisition,” we would all do well to keep in mind that we never get without giving first. We would likely all benefit from understanding that this applies to the other eleven months of the calendar year.
Another element at play in the concept of karma that is often overlooked has to do with the interconnectedness of all of everything. Sometimes – I dare say many times – the best gift you can give to others is to make sure you’re mature enough, responsible enough, mindful enough of your own actions and their results to govern your own self in a way that expresses the care you have for others – even a life lived only a little wrecklessly still impacts all else you’re connected to.
In this season of giving and getting, of plenty and of debts, I encourage you also to think of what you give to yourself. If you’re not satisfied with the “bad” that seems to always come your way – give more “good.”
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha