There are those who think karma is about blame and punishment. This sounds like old-time religion to me -- the methods and fear-based strategies designed to control simple minds and simple hearts. Karma is not like that.
I do not believe in a vindictive karma, universe, God, or any higher power. It doesn't make sense to me and it doesn't follow anything I've learned about the nature of reality.
For one thing, I've never met a vindictive person who had wisdom and compassion or was deeply happy. The bad things people do can be traced back to aberrations in their physiology from trauma, negative imprinting, and patterns from other times.
If the universe or God is our parent, why in the world would he or she blame me for a mistake or misunderstanding? When my son was three years old and broke something or called me a boo-boo head, I didn't denounce him as evil. I simply remembered that he was only three and hadn't figured it all out yet, noticed if he was tired or hungry or didn't understand something, and did my best to love him.
We aren't any different than my three-year-old. We are always doing our best at each moment, even when that is very hard to believe.
Punished by Karma for Making a Mistake?
Why would we be punished by karma or any other force in the universe for making a mistake? The whole of creation would have vanished long ago if that were the case.
I think the best way to talk about karma is to talk about love. In this regard, I don't mean the love of things or the love that can be more or less love. I'm speaking of infinite love — love in the sense of non-duality, well beyond the confines of description, although I guess that's what we are trying to do here. In this sense, it is love as the field of pure awareness; it is life itself in everything.
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It may be that we are doing the word "love" a disservice. After all it is a word that has been so used and misused for every imaginable thing or occasion. But that's the thing about love — there's no place it can't go and there's nothing that it isn't. No matter how much we use it, it's still love.
Love is certainly not vindictive, nor is it jealous, or vain, or unwilling. It is only the illusion of the absence of love that holds these attitudes of separation.
How Does Love (Karma) Work?
So how does love (karma) work? It only seeks union and balance. There is nothing that could ever be in its way. Since it is the pervasive connection among all things beyond time and space, it senses tension and disconnection and can always tell when we, as a resolving point of awareness, are on the wrong track.
Its only purpose is to awaken us back — first into the perception of union, then to the direct experience beyond union. It nudges us in the gentlest of ways. If we miss that first look love gives us, we can count on it to persevere.
Rest assured that love/karma will keep at it until it finally gets our attention. Sometimes this is stubbing our toe because we are angry or upset and not paying attention and sometimes this means getting cancer or being hit by a semi while trying to change a tire along Highway 101.
Again, this force could not be here to punish us for not knowing. It is just love, caring so much that the thought of temporary discomfort or even losing our body is nothing compared to separation from our connection to the timeless everything. Punishment only creates separation, not the clarity needed to change or heal. In this way love/karma is neutral — it only seeks balance.
I have always understood karma to be like a guitar string, gradually letting go of its twang, slowly settling, seeking a renewed balance in stillness, yet always ready to play along with Coltrane or to hum the tune of a comet all of its own accord.
How Could There Be "Bad Karma"?
In the huge scale of things, there is only the karma that awakens. It works its way in somewhere between the gentlest and toughest love. Whatever we need, whatever we can handle. Not too shabby!
Karma is the love of creation tending its flock.
Oh, and one more thing: What about building up a reservoir of good karma through service or spiritual practice? Read this story, make up your own mind.
Positive Actions Increase Good Karma, Even for E. Coli.
Recently I heard about research being done in Japan by Hiroshi Motoyama, the world famous Shinto mystic and scientist. He was researching the effects of distant healing in his laboratory on E. coli bacteria that had been deliberately injured by heat. There was one strain that was just not responding to the healings.
Somewhere in the middle of the experiments, one of his lab assistants got an idea. They called a local charity and donated money in the name of that bacteria strain. From that moment on, the calculated results of the research showed very specific improvements in the healing of the E. coli. The explanation from his lab was that adding positive actions in the name of the bacteria increased its good karma.
Writing this, it occurred to me that it might have instead added positive energy to the karmic stream of the researchers. No matter which version you choose, good actions and intent = good!
Deep Happy Inner Practice: Opening to Karma
Whenever you are confronted with a difficult situation, a recurring troubling theme in your life, or a sudden shift in your plans, ask yourself this question:
If this is about being loved and awakened by the universe, which I am intimately a part of, then what is the meaning of what is happening to me?
What am I missing?
What do I need to learn?
What is the blessing?
Drop into the stillness,
let the answer come
let it dissolve . . .
again and again and again . . .
©2012 by Peter Fairfield. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Weiser Books,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Deep Happy: How to Get There and Always Find Your Way Back
by Peter Fairfield.
Spiritual and transformational healer Peter Fairfield offers tools and practices to achieve everyday happiness. He distills more than 40 years of healing, research, and personal experience into this profound and practical volume. This is a fascinating and provocative look at the deepest workings of the biological, quantum, and sacred reality of who we are. Peter shows how anyone can drop beneath the normal noise of everyday life to experience deep and profound happiness.
About the Author
Peter Fairfield has taught Meditation, Qigong, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, East/West Neuroenergetic physiology, German homeopathy, and other transformational systems. He has studied spiritual and healing systems in Nepal, Tibet, India, Thailand, and China, and worked with many great Tibetan Lamas and yogis in Nepal and Asia. He has been the acupuncturist at the Esalen Institute, founded an acupuncture school, taught acupuncture to the doctor of the king of Bhutan, and toured with Pink Floyd and other celebrities. At one time he was also a bio-feedback therapist at UCLA. Visit him online at www.peterfairfield.com