Often I hear people say things like, “What goes around comes around,” or “S/he is happy now, but it’s only a matter of time until karma hits, and then s/he won’t be happy for long,” and once upon a time, I would have agreed with them; however, now, I can’t help thinking just how cold-hearted and insanely obtuse that sounds. Because chances are that such words are usually uttered in the heat of the moment, and 99.9% of the time, these people fail to fathom the true meaning of the word and what it REALLY entails. I, too, was befuddled for a while until I explored the concept and gained a little more knowledge about it. And I’ve come to realize that some simply associate karma with negativity, or misinterpret it as an act of revenge that occurs through the laws of nature, without any human interference. However, they are terribly misinformed, for it is more than just hate and revenge. Much more.
Typically, karma is associated with the notion that people who do bad unto others, will be punished, while those who do good, will be rewarded; of course, if not right away, then definitely later on in their lifetime or perhaps in another lifetime. Karma, as a law in Hinduism, hence maintains the notion that every act done, no matter how significant or insignificant, will eventually return to the doer with equal impact. It is then assumed that karma knows no simple birth/death boundaries. And, so, karma is sometimes referred to as a “moral law of the theory of cause and effect.” Karma is both an encouragement to do good and to avoid evil, as well as an explanation for whatever good or evil that befalls a person. Thus, it is not ONLY limited to evil alone, as some people would often assume.
Nevertheless, I personally believe that karma is a bunch of bull. Why one might ask? Well, simply because on a basic level, karma serves to explain why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. And with the plethora of injustices in the world, the seemingly random distribution of good and evil are only apparent. In reality, everybody, it seems, is getting EXACTLY what s/he deserves. Whether it’s the woman gang-raped by hoodlums in a dark alley or the child brutalized by a drugged adult; karma would suggest that they both equally deserved the horror and brutality, no matter how good or innocent they were. Additionally, whether it is the mentally ill, the intellectually/physically-disabled, the millions of innocent civilians who have suffered or died in wars, etc., they ALL deserve the torture, ridicule, and the pain they endured, simply because of some evil that they must have done in the past. Similarly, the woman raped and the child abused deserved it, too, because of some evil deed that they must have done in their past life. Thus, ALL suffering is deserved, according to the law of karma.
Furthermore, karma is considered to be the complete opposite of free will. While free will maintains the notion that human beings are unregimented and that their lives are not pre-determined; karma on the other hand is rooted in the canon of reincarnation. It is heavily contingent on peoples’ behaviour, whether good or evil, that occurred in the past, as well as the present. So, if someone was evil in their past life, they will feel the impact of their past sins in their next incarnation. So, while the concept of karma negates free will, it is not necessarily about free will per se, but rather about what we sow.
Even so, I have a problem with this concept simply because it is logically flawed. I believe that one shouldn’t be rewarded for being good (or punished for not being good). One should be a good person because it’s the RIGHT thing to do! You shouldn’t be good to avoid punishment of a “bad afterlife” or “bad karma.” And you shouldn’t be enticed or punished to do good things; you should just simply do them. For this reason, it makes it no different than the principles embedded in Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In all three religions, god rewards the good and punishes the wicked. YET, it does not end there, for even the good people suffer, while the bad people prosper on earth. But, it really doesn’t matter for religious folks, for they believe that it’s okay to suffer now, because once they die or come judgement day, they will be rewarded by attaining entrance into a Utopian world called “Paradise,” where they will never have to suffer again; at last gaining eternal happiness. So, they live with the belief that god will sort it all out for them and make sure that everyone gets her/his just desserts in the afterlife.
Therefore, karma, to me, is more like a religion – a cult so to speak. It is a blatant contradiction that is ONLY used when people think it is convenient, just because things are not going the way they want it to, in their lives. It’s more like an excuse that they use to convince themselves that they are not the only ones who will suffer, because karma/god/nature has something in store for those who have hurt them as well. And, like I said earlier, karma is almost always used in the negative sense. What people fail to realize, however, is that bad things happen! It’s a sad fact of life; a reality that happens to everyone, whether or not they’re good or bad. Thus, the concept of karma doesn’t work on a day-to-day basis. Sure one may notice that someone who is negative seems to have “bad” karma, but that’s only because that person’s negativity was directly leading to the negative results in their life. It’s more so the law of attraction rather than karma. Karma is just another form of confirmation bias, in my opinion.
So, although karma, to me, is nothing but crackpot, I am still waiting for someone to prove me otherwise; for I am open-minded enough to learn what other peoples’ perspectives are about this cult-like phenomenon. But until then, if the next time someone comes up to me and tells me that they have bad karma, I will simply tell them that they are not only insulting MY intelligence, but even more so their own. And that instead of bad karma, perhaps they should refrain from spreading their negative energies and their harmful ideas around such a susceptible society that is all too willing to blindly embrace them.