(from the Magical Mysteries Collection)
Originally published in the Daily Journal – later published on Associated Content / Yahoo Contributor Network August 15, 2008
Isaac Newton, a 17th Century scientist who defined the laws of motion wrote, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Newton's Third Law of Motion bears a striking resemblance to the law of Karma that states, "What goes around comes around." Reaping what you sow is another form of Karma.
The word Karma has its beginnings in Sanskrit. It means "deed." The Hindu and Buddhist believe a person's actions determine his consequences - cause and effect. But according to the laws of Karma, consequences can occur in this life or in the next incarnation.
Without proof, though, how can we believe in Karma? How do we know that somebody like Hitler will meet the fate we believe he deserves? And what about people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, murderers who were both executed (one by his former prison mates, another by lethal injection)? Do executions prove Karmic justice or do expectations of reward or punishment prove to be one big cosmic joke? Apparently it matters not how many people murderers kill; whether they ended one life or destroyed twenty, the murderer's life ends with one swift death.
Without Karma, according to most religions, we are left with only two ultimate choices, Heaven or Hell. In some religions, if you break one of the Ten Commandments you are forever condemned to Hell. What that means is that a man who robs a bank is just as likely to go to Hell as is a woman who murders her children or a psychotic leader who commits genocide.
But what if the man who robs a bank has a child who will die without expensive drugs? In his lifetime, with the job he has, with insurance that has run out, and with the hospital refusing to treat his child, the father is left with what he perceives to be no other choice. He knows he will never be able to pay his medical bills and he knows he is not eligible for any government aid because he makes five dollars a month more than the minimum allotted allowance. With no relatives to rely on, and no hope for a raise, he feels he must choose between letting his child die and robbing a bank.
Martin Short's character in the movie, "Three Fugitives," was faced with such a problem. The movie, of course, was fictitious, and I'm not advocating robbing banks to solve problems, but we all have to admit that no matter how religious we are, situations arise that challenge our beliefs and determine our choices. Some might say that the man mentioned above should trust that God will take care of the matter, but nobody can truly understand the torment of any human being without experiencing exactly what another person experiences under exactly the same conditions. Maybe, at the end of his life, the man would ask forgiveness for robbing the bank.
How many times must God forgive him? If you believe in the Bible, according to Matthew 18:22, "seventy times seven." So what is to stop somebody from committing a crime, or even several crimes, and deciding to apologize a minimum of 490 times at the end of his life for every wrongdoing?
Perhaps the answer lies in the conscience. Most religions teach us that we are all sinners. Sinners know, because they have a conscience, when they have broken a Commandment. Some sinners care about their behavior and make amends. Others justify their behavior and make excuses. Unless they are completely apathetic about their crimes (antisocial personality disordered individuals, for instance), they carry their guilt with them their entire lives.
If Karma is absolute, why can we not know what it was we did in our past lives so that we can rectify our past misdeeds in this life? Some people attempt to find out by having hypnotists regress them into their past lives. Perhaps, though, if we were aware of the torment we caused others, we might become so focused on the past that we would be unable to change the course of our destiny. Does Karma provide a link to our destiny or do we determine our futures by our actions in the present?
Jesus recommended that we "know" ourselves. If our spirits have inhabited other bodies, might we benefit by knowing what we did in our pasts to effect a change in our futures?
People who believe in Karma feel responsible for their actions. They care about their behavior. Everything they do, every thought they have begins with choice because they know that at some point they either reap rewards or suffer consequences as a result of their actions.
To believe in Karma, in light of the aforementioned scenarios, requires a belief in reincarnation, an opportunity to return to Earth to make amends. To those who believe the life we are currently living is all we have, faith drives them to believe that only God can know the true nature of any deed or action. And if God resides in our consciences perhaps we, along with God, at the moment we depart this life, determine our own rewards and consequences.