When I began and carried on my travels throughout Asia, I had the opportunity to learn about Buddhism and Buddhist philosophies. One of the most interesting concepts I came upon was that of karma. Growing up in Western society as an impressionable young woman, I had always imagined karma to be some revengeful spirit that righted the wrong-doings of backstabbing friends and cheating boyfriends. After all, karma is a bitch, right?
The ever so reliable Wikipedia page specific to karma claims fairly accurately how Westerners have come to interpret and understand this idea. It gives examples of comparing karma to sayings such as, “what goes around comes around,” “reap what one sows,” and “an eye for an eye.” All of these words of wisdom, in my opinion, have a distinct negative undertone. I was always reminded of these proverbs when I was in the midst of wrong-doing. If I continued to act out, I would pay for my actions. Just as what I would reap I would sow, karma is surely a bitch.
But looking at it from a completely different perspective, these sayings can also represent good. If you do good, you will be rewarded. As a Westerner, this belief was instilled in me as well. Perhaps that is what drives many of us to do good and be good; the promise that it will be of some benefit to us in the future. So just as we can reap good to sow good, karma is surely not a bitch.
As I traveled throughout Asia and learned more of these philosophies, I was surprised to learn of the Eastern interpretations of karma. The concept of karma is deep-rooted and complicated; I could never explain, nor fully understand, the intricacies without long hours of studying and analysis. To put it simply, other cultures and religions believe karma “is the law of moral causation. In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve.” Essentially, you reap what you sow.
The difference, however, is that karma is used for good-doing. From a Buddhist point of view, “our present mental, moral intellectual and temperamental differences are, for the most part, due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.”
So think about it. If you had the power to control your future by performing good deeds, or karma, for the promise of a satisfying, more fulfilling life, wouldn’t you take advantage? Wouldn’t you seize each opportunity to help someone else in need, to choose not to speak ill of someone else, to love complete strangers, to refrain from judging others due to lifestyle choices? Wouldn’t you make each decision based on living well and doing well by others?
To me, karma is not a bitch. Karma should not be used as an excuse to let the laws of nature pay revenge on those that have wronged you. Karma isn’t spiteful. Karma should be performed not out of hate, envy, or retribution, but rather out of caring, empathy, and benevolence. Remember that love and good deeds are universal, no matter the color of your skin, the religion you practice, or the language you speak.