Karma with a Vindictive Twist

boomerang 2Karma is not a bitch.

Karma is not a weapon to wield when we’re in the mood to play God.

Karma is not the reason to do a good deed.

Karma is not, according to Wikipedia, “a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment.”

And yet almost daily this word pops up in conversation or in something I’m reading and it is repeatedly used to mean “he got his” or “it’s no surprise that happened to her.” It makes me cringe.

Where in the world did the bastardization of the term karma originate? It’s become this smarmy utterance that can rarely be expressed without sounding like it’s coming from someone atop a throne or wearing a judge’s robe.

Karma has different shades of meaning across various spiritual disciplines. It means “deed” or “act” and it’s about cause and effect.

“Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future,” Wikipedia tells us. “The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.”

Yes, dispassionate response.

So, for example, if we’re having a rough time of it financially and we feel that giving to someone in need would stir our soul, we should do it with no attachment to the result. Giving in order to get that boomerang of goodwill coming back our way is half-hearted. By that logic, what we’ll get back is someone giving to us in a half-hearted way. Is that soul stirring?

It is unquestionable that giving and feeling a sense of gratitude in everyday life will change our energy. It opens us up. It softens us around the edges. It can soothe and relieve stress. And sure, it can attract those same feelings from others. I don’t see it as a calculated ‘cause and effect’ decision; it’s not conscious.

Case in point: Let me open the door for the person behind me. Not because I’m kind but because I want the person in front of me to hold the door for me. I’m soooooooo deeply spiritual.

What???

Hello, ego. Karma’s got my back. How Zen.

I was just reading a friend’s Facebook status about encountering an angry person in a store parking lot who’d left a note on her car. She did the wise and human thing by sending her peaceful thoughts. One commenter, coming from a place of true compassion, noted that we really don’t know what battle another is fighting. It was amazing to see the “That’s no excuse for bad behavior” comments that followed.

There is such a lack of self-awareness in that kind of response. What does acknowledgement that another could be dealing with something emotional have to do with an excuse? It’s apples and oranges. Sure, it’s challenging to walk away and not personalize a disturbing encounter, but can we all honestly say we’ve never lashed out at someone who didn’t deserve it because of something going on in our lives? I’m not sure I’d want to meet the pent-up person who answers no.

This feels like using right action and right thinking as a club. Doesn’t that undo or negate the right action and the right thinking?

I like the idea of treating others well knowing we’ll be treated well in kind. But it shouldn’t be our primary motivator. Spiritual snobbery is so disconcerting. I’m going to paradise; you’re going to burn. I followed the ‘rules’ and you didn’t – nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Karma’s going to get you. Just wait.

Ew.

This is the reason we’re seeing some Catholics uncomfortable with Pope Francis. He refuses to do this. He has a nuanced spirituality. He’s not flouting rules, but he’s not appointing himself judge and jury by obsessing on social issues that divert us from the big and vital picture. Love one another. Help those who need it. No agenda. It’s pretty simple.

If it’s true that what goes around comes around, then does that mean we’re supposed to react with glee at another’s misfortune even if they’ve done something we deem ‘bad?’ As Wayne Dyer says, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

What if my Facebook friend’s encounter with an angry person was because she’d just left the hospital bed of a loved one? Or she’d just been prescribed a new medication that has altered her mood? What is unleashing on her going to accomplish? If we’re concerned about our karma, we must know it is tied up in our reactions to these situations.

Perhaps this holiday season we can take a pause if we’re prone to acting like the person who jostled us with their cart is out to get us. We don’t have to be polyanna about it. We can simply take a deep breath and keep moving. Or we can confront or make a snide comment about how karma is the bitch.

Uh huh.

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