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Thursday, January 28, 2016

‘Karma’ or no ‘karma’, simply take Life as it comes!

Your being good or having integrity does not necessarily mean you will not have to face Life’s upheavals.

I am often asked if karma has a role to play in our lives. Honestly I don’t know if karma works the way people believe it does. Karma is best understood as the law of action – of what goes around coming around. But I am not sure if the law works the way Hinduism and Buddhism profess it works – that it is “the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences”. Since no one I know, who has died, has ever come back to tell their tale, I prefer only taking this lifetime into view. From what I have seen, experienced and learnt, yes, what goes around often – may not always – comes  around. So, if this is karma, then it works. But if you ask me if we carry over credit and debit balances from previous births, and into future births, or states of existence, well, I have no first- hand experience. Nor do I know anyone who has one!

Then how does one explain “goodness” in Life being met with or “rewarded” with pain or tragedy? Or simply, why do “good” people have to go through Life’s trials and tribulations?

My answer to both these questions is that there’s nothing called “good” or “bad”. Who says anyone, or anything, is good or bad? It is a human point of view – this good or bad argument. It is society that sticks the label on an event or a person. Or it is a person who does it to himself or herself. If things go your way, you call the going good. If they don’t you say things are bad. But look at Life from Life’s from point view. There’s a design and the design is playing out. All the problem is arising only because we humans don’t have access to Life’s design – to the Master Plan. So, we analyze and theorize and come up with karma and such related arguments. None of this, in the larger scheme and design of your Life, or mine, really matters. Consider it objectively. Of what use is it knowing if you are paying for actions of a previous birth or existence? Or what use is it to be forewarned that you may pay for your actions in a future existence? Seriously, such awareness and information is purposeless. What matters is, are you present in the now, in this lifetime of yours, are you living in the moment, fully?

Mohammed Thahir with his parents
Picture Courtesy: The Hindu/Internet/M.Vedhan
Here’s an interesting case in point. This morning I saw a story in The Hindu of a 33-year-old man, Mohammed Thahir, who had given up his seat to an elderly couple in an unreserved compartment on a train two years ago; within minutes of his “good deed” he was pushed out of the overcrowded coach and the train ran over his legs. The doctors had to amputate both his legs. For the last two years, the man and his parents have been running from pillar to post to file an FIR and claim a compensation from the Indian Railways. To no avail. Leave alone the apathetic system we all have to fight from time to time, even if you ask a simple question – did a genuine good Samaritan gesture by Thahir deserve such a heartless treatment at Life’s hands? – there is, and can be, no rational, logical answer. The two events, in Life’s scheme of things, are unrelated: Thahir’s show of respect to an elderly couple; and Thahir being involved in a freak accident. If you leave the two instances unconnected, there will be no problem. But how can you suppress the human urge to analyze, to theorize, to bring in God, to bring in karma? Simply, isn’t it only because we connect the dots and try to over-analyze that we complicate our lives, right?. So, who’s to blame for all the confusion – us humans or Life?

I think whether there is karma or there isn’t karma, you must take Life as it comes. Let your response to what happens to you not depend on how you believe Life’s treating you. Do your bit. Face your bit. And just keep moving on.

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