Karma as a concept of delegating personal responsibility to Universal Forces.
March 22, 2014*This was an email response I wrote to someone a couple of days ago after being asked about fairness, karma, and Universal indifference. Shared with permission.
I don't subscribe to the idea that the world is fair. Through my current perspective, I find that humans want to somehow justify their blessings or condemn others' misfortunes based on this idea of karma.
In reality, I don't know what I am. I don't know if I'll ever truly know why I am conscious, if it has any meaning, or if there is any purpose behind it. Perhaps I've always been conscious through different forms, perhaps my existence is just a spark of light that will darken into nothing as soon as my physical body is no more. At best, all I can do is speculate, and come to some ideas/philosophies, which may end up being entirely incorrect altogether, as through my current perspective in this physical form, the access to information I have is rather limited by my senses.
In my current form, I know this much: I was born in a rather comfortable environment. I've had access to clean water and food my entire life. I was born healthy, full of life. I can see, I can hear, I can feel. I was granted some degree of intelligence and I was born with some talents.
I constantly hear the stories that humans tell themselves, "I must have been a great person in my past life, because I'm a good soul, and therefore deserve all my blessings".
In my view: I can speculate and daydream all I want about whatever story I may want to tell myself next, but the reality of it is, that in the end these may all be nothing but stories. I was born under privileged conditions and for this I am GRATEFUL. SO incredibly grateful. Because as far as I can really know, I may not have done a single thing to deserve all the blessings that have been bestowed upon my life.
That newborn in a poverty-stricken area of Africa? What terrible things do you think that baby did to deserve being born in an environment in which it'll be deprived of food, if it ends up surviving to 5 or six years old, it'll end up with a giant belly, not from food but from PARASITES living inside its body, without access to clean water, without a comfortable bed to sleep in, without hope of ever escaping its situation, what on earth could that newborn baby have done to deserve being born into those conditions?
Entitlement. It's easy for humans to desensitize themselves to others' suffering under the guise of "Well, I deserve this because I'm better". When in reality, they may have done absolutely nothing to deserve the privileges they've received in life, their birth conditions may have been purely accidental, and they aren't even grateful for their comforts.
I've seen horrible, horrible turnout of events for incredibly amazing and kind humans. I've seen over and over again how incredibly malicious humans who cause harm upon others, are full of greed and just perform downright terrible actions, get rewarded with more benefits from life, more financial security, more wonderfulness in their lives, while they continue to act terribly towards others in life.
So no. I'm not really sure that the Universe really works under laws of fair, or that there's some manner of karmic law order set in place by the Universe, other than maybe as a human-made/human-influenced construct. The Universe simply works as it does, and it's only our own perspectives that try to give circumstances some manner of judgement on fairness.
Humans tend to think that somehow, the world owes them something. You were already given that something. You have consciousness. Whatever you make of your consciousness and your own perspectives, is pretty much what defines the you that you end up embodying and what you really end up valuing, appreciating, and enjoying in life. Humans don't even know what they really are. They don't know why they even exist. So how can they possibly think that they are owed anything by anything? We can of course speculate, but can we ever really know if we are anything more than accidental byproducts of a system which simply is?
If there was a Big Bang, where did the laws that kept that energy in place reside in the meantime? Were they simply just created out of nothingness? Energy can never really be created nor destroyed, at least according to what we currently believe, right? So everything has always been and will always be. How? Where from? In my current form, I think it may be impossible for me to truly ever know. Therefore I don't know what I am, why am, or that there is anything that I even deserve just for being conscious about being.
But- I do know that as humans, we suffer. I can never actually know the depths of suffering that another human may be experiencing, but I do know what suffering feels like for me. For different reasons, under different circumstances, we all experience some manner of suffering. I may not know why I'm really here, or what the hell I'm actually doing here, but then again, I don't think anyone else truly does either. We are all kind of stuck here together though, and we do all suffer. We can all relate to each other in this one very basic experience.
If you want to take every experience as simply being an experience that you are granted, then okay. You can add suffering to the list of your blessings. Through my current perspective however, I often see us all as equal victims of suffering. And somehow, I see us all as having the potential to be united in this one thing, helping each other to avoid (when possible) cope with, and overcome this suffering. I may not at all times be able to or willing to help others avoid suffering, but at the very least, I in no way wish to intentionally cause others to suffer. Because I personally know what suffering feels like and do not wish to cause this feeling upon others. Not because I am afraid of what karmic repercussions will fall upon me for my actions. If given the circumstances, in which I am able and willing to help another person overcome their own suffering so that at least, they are able to gain some perspective from it, then this tends to be my choice, granted the other person desires to escape their suffering as well (which isn't in any way a perspective you can push on everyone, I've certainly had my share of trying to "help", only to realize that some individuals just WANT to suffer, and for them, well- that's quite okay).
Anyway, I do ramble a lot, no? ;p
Just something that I also realized in the past few days-
Someone mentioned to me the horrible things that had been happening to them. Happening to them. And something just clicked. Nothing is happening to you, things are just happening. It's what existence/life is. Movement, things that happen. But to you. Now that is a very entitled perspective. Your car broke down. How could that happen to you? I mean, you believe yourself to be such a good person, right? And you are so responsible with taking such good care of your car, you do all the tuneups in time, how could this happen to you? In reality the car just broke down. You want to take it personally and blame the entire Universe for hating you and causing your car to break down, well now. Of course it seems silly when put under that example. But I see now how I've also fallen under that perspective time after time again. When kitten died. How could that happen to me? This person I loved so much, whom I wanted to envision my life with, and he died, the Universe took him away from me, and on top of it coincidentally died on Valentine's Day? I mean how could this happen to me?
Things in the Universe just happen. They don't happen as punishments or rewards to you or to me or to anyone. But we want to tell each other these stories, that they are happening to us as punishments or reward from the Universe, to somehow give our own lives some manner of meaning, make sense of how it unfolds, under circumstances in which we may never really actually know what the real meaning of anything is. Here there's this entire Universe creating stars and galaxies, creatures of all kinds, eons and eons of space, and somehow, the Universe also managed to plan that the plumbing in your house would of course end up bursting on the day that you had that incredibly important job interview, right? To punish you. The entire Universe wanted to punish you because you didn't attend Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws. Because somehow the Universe cares about this, and this is the karma that you brought upon yourself. That didn't just happen to you, it just happened. And you chose to turn it into a self-centered excuse for your ego to claim importance in the grander scheme of all things that are, as if that job interview actually had any manner of real significance in the grander scheme of things. The Universe doesn't care about your job interview, or your car, or your lover. Your mind-made ego cares about these things, due to self entitlement. Because somehow you think that you deserve something, that you are owed something, because people want to believe that somehow there needs to be some manner of fairness.
Maybe there is no fairness. Everything simply is, and all we can do is simply choose for ourselves the type of empathy, or lack thereof, which we wish to embody through our presence during the time allocated to our existences. Fairness is a story we tell ourselves. As if somehow, to delegate responsibility to the Universe to make up for our own actions.
"Oh, I don't have to do anything about that, karma will repay him".
We have the power to choose the type of person we wish to be. And that choice- it's your own. It's not something that should be blamed on the Universe: "My actions are terrible because I had a terrible childhood, and that wasn't my fault". Be whomever you want to be, help others if you can and want to, turn your back on whatever you want to turn your back on, but OWN UP to the actions you end up taking and the person whom you end up becoming. You define yourself. Want to show kindness? Show it. You don't want to show kindness because you don't think it ultimately matters? Then don't. But make the choice to do so understanding at the very least your own reasons for your choices, and not simply basing choices out of fear, regardless of whether that fear is based on perception or the idea of karmic consequences"If I show kindness to that person, that person will take advantage of me, or I will end up losing, or I will be perceived as weak". Those are reasons based out of fear. Fear of being left behind, fear of not getting whatever it is you think you want...
Look within and decide whom you wish to be. As in the core of the person you wish to become and out of which place your decisions end up stemming from. Whether it's pre-meditated indifference (which is also okay), or whether your decisions are based out of fear of loss, completely changes what you make of you. Maybe the outcome is still the same, but not the person you end up defining yourself as.
Universal karma? Choose whom you wish to be and what actions you wish to take as a reflection of yourself based on your own concepts of kindness, or lack thereof. Not out fear of karmic repercussions or hopes of karmic rewards. True kindness can never stem out of fear.