A few days ago I wrote about Karma…
Questions ensued and it became apparent that there are different understandings of Karma. So I’d like to share mine; the purpose of this blog is dialogue, primarily my internal dialogue. The purpose of dialogue, internal or otherwise, is understanding. If it serves another purpose, or serves another person, that’s a fringe benefit and I’m humbled.
<The (over)used term has been generalized to mean “what goes around comes around,” but that is an incomplete definition.
Karma, a Hindu concept of cause and effect, that takes place over LIFETIMES.
“fun” fact: Hindu marriages are a seven lifetime commitment,
in fact, the Hindi language doesn’t even have a word for divorce).
Hindus are in it for the long haul…
As per this understanding of karma, the karma I live now is a collaboration of actions from this AND past lives. That is the purpose of reincarnation, there is no savior who died for my sins; this soul has sinned, this soul shall repent, no matter how many ‘bodies,’ shapes and forms it will take. Life IS the penance and good deeds performed now, if not making this life better, will make the next one better, and eventually good enough to attain liberation from this circle of life and death. Herein is where detachment becomes pivotal; we (those who adopt this belief) should not and realistically cannot become emotionally entangled in the ups and downs of life, realizing that these ups and downs are irrelevant to us, personally, they are a continuum over lifetimes, the soul that inhibits our bodies. So, doing good and getting bad, is karma — maybe just not one that you’re aware of from this lifetime.
Life is suffering, life is adversity, life is beautiful and life is temporary. Life is everything and nothing.
Again, the purpose of dialogue is understanding, not agreement.
“Who do You think You are?” The voice echoes in my head, enraged, accusing, condescending. As I close my eyes and swallow hard, I know the Pandora’s box has been opened and what will ensue within the walls of my now cold, numb flesh. Who do I think I am? Words rush in floods, overwhelmingly, alarmingly. I listen..
reactive. emotional. intense. overwhelming. elusive. sarcastic. dramatic. naive. immature. codependent. independent. petty. evil. hurt. jaded. jealous. small. cocky. tenacious. persistent. annoyingly persistent. adamant. stubborn. a believer. reluctant to believe. conflicted. honest. hesitant. hidden. analytical. observant. selective. boundless. guarded. unwanted. desired. a try-hard. a tries-too-hard. determined. disciplined. self-doubtful. angry. enraged. resilient. inadequate. a overthinker. passionate. eager. anxious. misguided. misinterpreted. compassionate. argumentative. irrational. ignorant. educated. wise. oblivious. strong. straightforward. verbose. performer. powerful. hungry. lustful. aggressive. insatiable. competitive. arrogant. guilty. remorseful. sorry. condemned. romantic. hopeful.
But I am more than words, actions, and feelings in conflict with one another.
I am human, but I aspire to be more than that. Sometimes I delude myself into believing I am.
I struggle every day (for a better tomorrow).
I fight without fear of pain, without fear of death, without fear of failure.
Sometimes I win.
Who do I think I am?
you have NO idea.
Expecting life to treat you well just because you’re a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian.
7 months ago I gave up vegetarianism after having been a vegetarian for over several years. A bull charged at me. Let’s call that ‘bull, ‘life… no pun intended 😉
I grew up with the belief that observing vegetarianism was part of a long list of things one did to ensure their status as “being a good person” a step on the path one would take to “live a life of righteousness” and I wanted to be a good person, heck, I wanted to be a great person, I wanted to live a life of righteousness. So, the logic that was engrained was …
Premise: Good people are those who do good things
Premise: A belief in karma entails what goes around comes around
Conclusion: good things happen to people who do good things
Premise: Being vegetarian is a good thing
Conclusion: Good things happen to vegetarians.
The logic, in and of itself, is sound. The conclusions are drawn accurately from the premises. The premises however… not so sound, or accurate. There is too much ambiguity, room for (mis)interpretation; what is good? What defines a good deed? Who defines good?
In my case, I had a list. A religiously, culturally and socially defined doctrine. There were certain things that were good and would pave my road to salvation (and success) and others that would deter or hinder that journey. As I grew older, more things were added to the list. Don’t cheat. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink, abstain from this, abstain from that, don’t have sex until you’re married, children who listen to their parents are blessed with good fortune, and the driving force behind it all, this idea that “good things happen to good people!” I consoled myself saying, I was paying it forward, and that my good deeds would be rewarded “one day…” not considering that maybe, maybe I don’t get “one day”…
It took a series, or charge if you will, of unexpected, unfortuante and uncontrollable events (the ‘bull’ called life) that made me really question this way of living, I was growing tired, worn out, underappreciated, insufficient and the list went on. I was beginning to understand why this was the ‘road less travelled.’ The gremlins in my head sent me to a dark place, a place of shame and guilt, made me believe I just wasn’t good enough. That’s why this was happening! If I was good enough, this wouldn’t be happening; after all, good things happen to good people and these aren’t good things (faulty logic!!) As these events occured, as I kept trying to put my best foot forward, do the “right thing” and *expecting* good things in return, it was not only leaving me with a chipped spirit, but a chipped shoulder as well.
“I’m doing the good things…” lead to, “But, I’m a good person…” which lead to, “I don’t deserve this…” which lead to, “I deserve BETTER than this…” which inevitably lead to, “Screw this.. ”
Guilt slowly turned into rage, frustration and discontent, all of which became fuel for an ego; an ego which I had previously surrendered in my spiritual pursuits. In darkness this ego grew and bred resent, “but I did this for… and I didn’t get that from…” Insidious. There quickly became two versions of me, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dark and light. Righteous and vicious. You get the point…
All the things I was doing to be good, to do good, to have good, were making me feel really bad inside. I was trying to exert so much control in a life that really, we have no control over, and the less control I felt I had, the more I tried to control. The more pressure I felt, the more condemnation ensued and the polarization of me continued. I was sowing in one field, and trying to reap in another. Listening to everyone but myself. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, I was doing what I thought I had to do, to get what I wanted. I decided I needed to do what I wanted to do, to get what I wanted.
And on thanksgiving day, I did it. I started eating meat again and man, I was a happy little lady! It was one unnecessary pressure off my shoulder and it helped my fitness goals and wallet exponentially. Closer to my goals, spending less money, life wasn’t so inconvenient anymore, what did I have to be mad about? I was seeing results, the skies didn’t fall above me and my conscience was okay, too. This wasn’t a bad thing, it was a really really good thing. Finally, I was sowing where I wanted to reap; I was getting what I wanted, doing what I wanted and I was happy. Such a simple concept.
And that’s just it –it doesn’t have to be complicated: do what makes you happy. I can’t live paying it forward all the time, I need to get mine in the present, and that’s my responsibility –not through obeying mom and dad, or pleading with a higher power, not from passed on karma from a previous lifeime, the responsibility is MINE. If I want to be happy, I have to do things that make me happy and as long as it’s not harming anyone else… you can bet that’s what I’ll be doing.
There’s a difference between discipline and deprivation — discipline cultivates, deprivation condemns and I want to cultivate a good life, not grieve over a deprived one.
Our understanding of the world is built upon a foundation that elicits reactions and reaction seekers. We are surrounded and bombarded with stimuli, new information, advancing technologies; the faster, the better, the brighter, the better; we are conditioned to think fast or, ideally, to not have to think at all.
See –>;;; Buy
Want –>;;; Have
We are creatures of habit (adapted habits for Darwinian fans), but underlying all of that is our basal or primal instincts. Marketing companies take pride in their ability to manipulate those primal instincts; sex, hunger, thirst and other attributes we’ve grown to believe are necessary to human life; the desire to be needed, the need to be desired, and so on.
Humans are complex, amazing and beautifully chaotic creatures with the unique capability to rationalize and reason.
This means that between the cause and the effect, between the response and the stimuli, there is an opportunity for humans to THINK. Some of us capitalize on this opportunity more than others. Sometimes this opportunity is compromised because of feelings and emotions – the other things that make us humans so unique. So what are we to do?
Reflect. Take a minute. Take an hour. Take 24 hours…
Take however long you need to cool and/or calm down. Recognize when you’re in a state of emotion and not reason.
For me, this is when I can think about the topic, person, situation, etc. and make conscious observation of my facial expression and physiological state. My brows aren’t furrowed, my forehead not scrunched, my hands aren’t quivering, my chest doesn’t feel tight, the blood running through my veins doesn’t feel coagulated and laden with little caffeinated critters. It happens! Until this keeps happening, I’ve learnt (the hard way) that I’m not ready to rationalize or see reason. Emotions are running too high and there is emotional attachment. Clarity is compromised.
Don’t have that kind of time? Acknowledge that. If you have to get back to someone & don’t feel like you’re in the right headspace to do so, just say so. Tell your employer you need some time to think about the position, tell the realtor you would like to reflect in the offer/weigh pros and cons, tell your significant other, friend, that you need time to process, etc. ignoring them isn’t polite, it’s rude, disrespectful and will compel others to leave. Time cannot be returned, its a limited resource, once people think this resource is being drained, they’ll cut off. Just because we need more time doesn’t mean we can keep them hanging and waste theirs, people will lose interest. Employers will find someone new, realtors will find another buyer, more convenient others will come into picture and you’ll lose your significance. “No one wants difficult, no one wants drama, and no one wants to wait. No one has time to wait. Life has conditioned us otherwise, so RECONDITION your REACTIONS with conscious, purposeful REFLECTION, RECOGNIZE the perspective that is otherwise impaired and be REASONABLE.
Control your emotions. Cultivate your capacity. Take time to reflect, but be considerate and take your own time to do so. Reactions will lead to remorse. Reflections will lead to realizations.
Recognize. Reflect. Realize. Reason.
Resent runs deep.
Love runs deeper.