I’ve discussed this before in previous posts because the concept of karma is often perverted by the human ego. Rather than being about energy flow, if you Google ‘karma quotes’ you’re far more likely to see a museum dedicated to anger, bitterness and revenge.
Because people take the world so personally it’s hard finding a karma quote that hasn’t been converted into the Western idea that God’s watching and judging us. The closest thing I got was the Wayne Dyer one that nicely tightropes between the spiritual truth and people’s thought-based desire to have religion secure the concept of fairness for them. But fairness can’t work because in the spiritual world even your wishes count, so negative hopes for another person is still negative karma even if you think they deserve it. You can’t win with karma.
Because each person has an individual identity the concept of karma ends up inadvertently confused with the western concept of what comes around goes around when it’s really more like; we’re all in a pool together, please don’t pee more than necessary or just because the people around you are. In short the lesson is: be conscious about what you put out into this world.
Rather than think of karma as some force that happens to you (a force you can possibly win some favour over), think of it more like a direction. So imagine a pool of water comprised of billions of microscopic H2O molecules all milling together. Can you see that if one molecule leaned in one direction that it would impact the other molecules immediately around it? The force of that lean could be called karma.
This force acts on those closest to you. A decent act in one city will only rarely impact someone else in a city half the planet away. But if you lean in and help someone in your community then that creates a tilt inside the person you’ve been kind to; they’re now more inclined to do something for you or someone else.
Due to that connected, cooperative nature can you see that all large movements of the water in the pool all begin with a single movement that is joined? Can you see that these movements cannot take each other into account and sometimes they will lose their energy and direction by smashing into other people’s opposing energy and direction? And do you see no one did anything wrong in that?
When we smash together as individuals we say we had a fight, or if a few people clash that’s an issue, and when huge groups hit each other we calls those elections. A large wave in the pool would be created by a great deal of cooperation. It’s important to remember that it’s possible to cooperate on creative beautiful expansive things, but it’s also possible to cooperate on ugly, divisive anger and blame. One is confidence and the other is fear.
Stronger flows will create stronger turbulence. Waves of things like mass humanitarian aid can flow in one direction while waves of angry fascism flow in the opposite direction. But it is important to remember that in a wave it is the energy that flows not the water itself. A seagull will go up and down on the waves but unless it paddles it will not come to shore because the water it’s sitting on is usually sitting still even when it’s participating in a wave. So it goes with people. They aren’t this or that. That’s just where they’re currently floating.
Can you perceive the extremely subtle difference? Karma in your life is the energy of the wave and you feel that as your direction as you move either up or down. But these individualised ups and downs combine together and the waves that form are natural. Yes, it’s possible to be calm and have all of your currents flow below the surface but not all of the ocean can do that at once lest we encourage stagnation. No: change is necessary for growth. The movement is integral to life itself.
In the what comes around goes around model of karma you have to wonder what you did that was so terrible that you deserved what’s happening to you. Or, you have to justify what great things you did to deserve your good fortune or you’ll end up experiencing guilt. In reality you are just one leaning force among an infinite number. Yes you do directly impact things, but there are far too many leaning forces in this pond for you to ever say that you truly control your life.
You control your life’s direction and that is worthwhile, but there are many other people who will impact and influence the karma you experience so it’s unwise to take its impacts personally. Stop always framing the world from positions of control. You keep looking for the right things to do; the smart things; the things that will lead to success when those concepts simply do exist in the real world. These are ideas but they are not forces. That is the illusion of thought.
There is no way to guarantee an outcome in life. The closest thing you can get is to be a conscious force as you function within this world. Karma is collective and so you feel its forces, but karma is not something you get, it is something you cooperate with or lean against. Left, right, this way, that way; it’s all part of a larger cosmic movement. It is only the up and down motion that you too often mistake for your own success or failure. Surrender your individualised ideas of this world and be free.
You cannot escape karma but none of this is personal. You can only accept it as the very nature that you are a part of and live within. By accepting that, you too can begin a life of peace within this larger cosmic non-personal flow. May we meet there soon, together.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.