I tuned into a radio show this week on my drive in to work, one that I sometimes listen to for its mindless drama and petty “issues” that create what I would consider a “reality tv” effect over the airwaves. It’s fairly entertaining at times. Other times it’s vulgar, and I’m out.
On this particular day of the show, one of the DJ’s was discussing how he had a friend who was sorely lamenting his lack of dating success. His friend was a man well into his 30′s, established in a career, and ready to settle down. As he described it, the dating websites, bar scene, et cetera, of his world had not yet linked him to his “match.” The friend was hypothesizing that his lack of dating success was due mostly (if not, entirely) to his years spent living what he termed a “player” lifestyle in his 20′s, when he had treated women like commodities instead of, well, women. According to him, karma had caught up to him. This individual then surmised that the only way to find success in the dating world was to call these women from his past and apologize to them, with the hopes of restoring balance to the universe so that karma would release him and he could meet “the one.” The purpose of the show was for people to call in and agree or disagree with his plan.
I warned you this was reality radio. Anyway, it took all I had on my way to work not to call in to the producers and get on the air to explain, not that he should or shouldn’t call these girls, but that he did NOT, along with most Americans, properly understand the concept of karma.
People are grossly misinformed by the media and our “I saw a minute clip on YouTube so now I know all about it” culture when it comes to karma.
Karma is part of the Hindu doctrine that has to do with the way you live one lifetime impacting your existence in the next life. ”Next life” doesn’t mean heaven; it means your next life on earth, as Hindus believe in reincarnation. So, if you are suffering now, it’s because you behaved poorly in your last life. There is impetus to behave rightly now, so as to improve your quality of life the next time. Karma is what determines the state in which you come back in the next life. Interestingly enough, there is no one in charge of karma (a deity or otherwise). This cycle of lives continues until a stage of enlightenment is reached, which propels you out of the cycle and into a state of nothingness.
So that candy bar you stole in third grade? It’s not affecting your meager salary as an adult. The time you lied to your parents about the car? That’s not why your engine broke down last week. Correlation does not equal causation, folks. And karma, by religious definition, does not play out with immediacy. So let’s not misuse terms.
Jesus talks about the measure you use toward others being measured back to you. The principle of “you reap what you sow” is seen throughout scripture and is obvious in the world. We call it “what goes around comes around.” Perhaps this is what people are referring at times when they blame karma.
If you want to quote a religious principle for why things happen the way they do, by all means, go for it. But please make the effort to understand the principle first. This will not only respect a religion and show you to be educated in terminology, but you’ll be able to use words to really mean what it is that you want to say.
And who doesn’t love great communication? Maybe reality radio guy could start there.