Symbols of the world's religions

               

KARMA

Ivy O. Duce

 
A debate has been going on for centuries about whether we have free will, or whether that old bogey predestination actually exists. If it does, what's the use of trying?

God, being perfect, couldn't just fashion the substance and energy in space into millions of stars, planets and constellations and let them whirl just anywhere. So He put the whole system under a set of laws, called "karma" in the East. These laws which govern all are greatly misunderstood. It is the process by which we grow and advance and it was never meant that we should just fold up our map and say, "My karma is so bad, I can't travel any further." There is just as much good karma as bad, and the universes are indeed very well regulated. The system is one of polarities. We learn by action and reaction and the opposites of experience.

We think of Time as a straight line — past, present and future — and we are apt to regard life in the same way, but Meher Baba has explained that our development zigzags like a river, even though it moves forward. If a river had no banks, the water would just spread all over the land and the river would never reach its destination. Our life-force also would dissipate itself if it were not confined between the two poles of opposites. I guess most children have had large plastic dolls or animals with weighted, rounded bases to which they can give a good push and the doll starts swaying back and forth without toppling. After a time the sway gets less and less, until finally the toy is erect and quiet.

Well, the pushes or whacks which we undergo in life are from one side to its opposite. Suppose you have been rich and important; in another life you will be poor and unimportant. Perhaps you have been a good servant — in another life you will be served and waited upon. If you kill somebody you will have to be killed — not because it is always "sinful" to kill (i.e. protecting someone from being murdered), but because of what happens with accumulated impressions. You can learn to like olives, an acquired taste, by eating them several times. You can even acquire a taste for poor music if constantly exposed to it. I have been told by cooks that after you wring the neck of one chicken, you do not mind killing chickens. And you can become so calloused about killing your fellowmen that you might acquire a taste for it, so the chain reaction has to be broken up.

Sometimes it is necessary to kill, to save one's country or for self-protection or the protection of another; but to keep us from wanting to kill, we then go through the opposite experience of being killed. One may be the fellow wandering around in a forest when someone shoots him, thinking he is a deer. Or one may be the innocent bystander walking down the street where a robber is holding up a store; the proprietor shoots and the bullet misses and hits the bystander, a person he never meant to kill — karmic destiny had to be fulfilled.

If one kills out of malice and from some criminal intent, he will be killed in the same manner, so that he will never want to do it again. It does not follow that the person you killed will kill you, for he might not have reincarnated at the same time you did, but it will be someone with similar sanskaras. If we kill a sick animal, knowing inwardly that we would not want this done to us, we might have to spend our next life caring for animals, perhaps as a shepherd or cowherd or veterinarian.

 

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?, pp. 22-23
1966 © Sufism Reoriented, Inc.

               

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