The Real Reason Karma Sucks

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By Hadrian Mâr Élijah Bar Israël

The word "Karma" has come to be used in English, to refer to the 'merits of an action'. If you trip someone over your shoe, then the universe will see to it that you're tripped over someone elses, et cetera. The word Karma कर्म originally appeared in Buddhist Sanskrit writings, and is supposed to represent the 'eternal balance' of things.

The concept of karma gives us the impression that everyone and everything will revert back to balance, and is therefore necessary to return the spiritual world back to its original condition.In this sense it seems beautiful perfect and fair.

But in practice it doesn't work like that. Karma isn't the happy-go-lucky, be nice to others or you'll be punished game that adults play with kids. It's much more insidious.

For instance, when somebody believes in karma sees that someone in this world who is suffering, they can blame that pain on things that person did in a previous life, which they are no longer aware of, and don't remember doing. Nobody has to feel bad for that person, because the universe is giving them back what they 'deserve'.

This excuse has been used in number of times throughout history, not only as an excuse to not have to help the poor, the sick and the disabled, but also as a means of extending societal controls and repression. After all, it's all for a "higher purpose" or "greater cause", so the suffering of an individual or even a whole population can be seen as something liberating for the larger society.

The Japanese used to believe that people got leprosy by insulting the Lotus Sutra, either in this life or in a past life. The cure for leprosy then, was to empower the Lotus Sutra by reading it in teaching to others. And although nobody was healed in this way, the belief persisted for over 1000 years.

Today, Hindu people who believe in 'karma' don't help the poor, because it's what they get for doing whatever they did in a previous life. They deserve suffering because they don't follow social norms, or (in the case of Indians) because their skin is darker than their neighours, so they must have been 'real bad' in a past life. This is little more than an excuse to support and continue racism and hate in the world.

Want to talk about the difference between universal salvation and karma. Karma is the idea that if somebody is suffering now the reasons for that suffering or not on in our world, but rather in the past actions of the person. Actions taken before they were even born.