What is Karma? Many people would quickly define it as what goes around comes around. That is the most simplistic way of looking at it. I see panhandlers on the side of the road with signs that say “Need Cash for Good Karma” or at coffee shops, tip jars that say “Tip for Good Karma”. I have to admit that I have a negative reaction to signs like these and I find that it is a direct misrepresentation or what Karma truly is.
I don’t necessarily believe that using a sign like that would “undo” the good of what Karma is, but at the same time, begging is not good Karma in my opinion. Based on the teachings I’ve had during my training to this point, Karma is the result of any action, good or not. So, based on these teachings, choosing to give or not give in ways of tips of cash to the panhandler, I can either have good or bad results of that action. I don’t disagree with that theory, because I believe that every decision we have is going to result in something different down the road. But, how do we really know what is the right decision and what is not. Perhaps Karma can be the direct result of how you as the person feels? Perhaps Karma is what you can live with rather than what someone will dictate will be your punishment down the road?
To play these theories out further, I will go back to the panhandler example. I live off of a very busy freeway exit and entrance and there are several regular panhandlers in the area. Because of their regularity at the area, I wonder if these people have chosen to make their career out of panhandling instead of choosing a more forthright way of earning income. I don’t make it a habit of giving money to panhandlers because of the unknown aspect of what is truly driving their decision to beg on the street. I also don’t want to judge their decision to beg either. I don’t want to contribute to laziness or addiction, but I also don’t want to stand in the way of someone getting back on their feet.
Will I experience bad Karma because I don’t give to these beggars? Will I experience good Karma because I don’t give to them? As I said above, I don’t want to contribute to addiction or laziness, but I don’t also want to contribute to them not getting back on their feet. Where does Karma come into play in this situation?
In this situation, I choose to act with what I can live with. Since I see the same beggars on the same streets daily, I believe it’s not because they can’t get back on their feet. It seems very apparent to me that it’s a choice they’ve made and I’m choosing to not contribute to that.
On to the other question of what Karma is. Is it true that neither God nor anyone else creates your suffering, only you? I believe that many of us, most of us, don’t want to admit that they are the ones to blame for their own suffering. It’s so much easier to blame someone else for being miserable. I’m miserable because my boss sucks. I’m unhappy because my parents made the wrong decisions when I was a child. I’m sad because I don’t live in a fulfilling relationship.
What is wrong with those statements? What I see wrong in them is that they are all from a victims mindset. What would happen if the first thing that followed a victim statement was an affirmation of how we will change it? Could it be instant Karma? I’m miserable because my boss sucks, so I’m going to find a position with much more fulfillment and a boss that better aligns with me as a person. I’m unhappy because made the wrong decisions when I was a child, so I am going to proactively work on working through those issues so I don’t recreate them for my children. I’m sad because I don’t live in a fulfilling relationship, so I’m going to be honest and communicate and look for a more fulfilling relationship with myself and someone else.
There is so much power in changing the language of those statements. Of course making those changes can be easier said that done, but I truly believe that changing the language and verbalizing it can change the energy surrounding it, and it can karmicly change the direction of your situation.
Karma is a term that many define differently, but I ultimately believe that what it means can bring out the best in us all. Even if the action is selfishly based, it still brings out good in us. Giving to the beggar may be contributing to addiction, but if the person giving feels that they are doing good, more power to them.