Trust in karma may be seen as contradictory when expressed by an areligious person like myself (which isn’t the same as an atheist, all though I suppose I am that as well).
This blog took me a couple of days to write because I couldn’t even really explain it to myself in the beginning. As a matter of fact, I am just winging it here, because I still don’t really know what I am going to say. Sometimes it helps to just open up a draft document and start to put thoughts into words and words into sentences.
What I can tell you is that I do not believe that there is some divine power that actively rewards or punishes me for my actions (now or in the afterlife). Nor do I believe in a cosmic law of justice that keeps tabs on me, making any bad situation I face some sort of retribution for a bad thing I caused earlier.
An additional fact is that there is no way to define “bad” behavior, in my opinion.
Obviously there is a clear line when it comes to what is legal and what is illegal. Also there are some guidelines you can follow if you are religious. Your upbringing will have shaped your concepts of right and wrong further.
However, your “bad” may not necessarily be equal to someone else’s. That means that someone else may not feel guilty at all about a certain action that you may consider reprehensible, wrong or sinful.
Take murder, for example. Even though murder is illegal all around the world, it can be justified in certain circumstances, can’t it? At the same time, I think such an action will ALWAYS damage you, even if you had good reasons for it. It is an unnatural thing to do.
And that is what I think that karma is about. It is about coming to terms with your actions. Not for the law. Not for your family. Not for the victim or its family. For you. Nothing more, nothing less.
I guess I believe in karma in the sense that I believe that you make your own reality. I don’t think it has to do with right and wrong or fair and unfair. The truth is that life is not always fair (and neither is karma).
I’m thinking the distinction is one between healthy and unhealthy actions, more than anything else.
Stealing is an example of an unhealthy choice. A less extreme example would be lying. Unhealthy behavior will eat at your soul (Yes yes, I know I said I was areligious and atheist it’s just that language is a difficult thing and “soul” is a shortcut way of saying a lot of things at once. Let’s just agree that when I use the world “soul” I mean a combination of your being, your identity, you conscience your most personal self).
Unhealthy actions damage you on the inside, even if you don’t get caught. And as I said earlier, the line that defines what is healthy and what isn’t, differs from person to person.
For example, ignoring someone that wants to ask me something on the street, is unhealthy for me. However, in no way do I feel that a person who chooses to avoid eye contact with a street vendor, beggar or evangelist is “bad”. I get it, I really do. The fact that I can not do it doesn’t put me higher up on the morality scale. Also, it’s just highly unpractical sometimes…
I have learned that I can deal with it by cutting the conversation short with a quick “Sorry dude, not today”. Saying nothing or even worse, lying (“I don’t have anything on me” -when I really do-; or “I’m in a hurry” – when I’m really not) will keep me awake at night. It’s bad karma, for me.
So I don’t think it is true that I “believe in karma”. I think it is more accurate to say I “like the idea of karma”.
It keeps me on my toes. It makes me want to the best version of myself I can be. It keeps me optimistic, playing with the idea of earning karma-points as I go and being grateful for the little gifts life gives me in return.
There it is; my blog on what karma means to me. I apologize to any true believers that may feel offended by my haphazard definition of it. Feel free to let me know what I may have missed in the comments.