Rule # 77: Don’t mess with Karma

Rule # 77: Don’t mess with Karma

In a lot of these postings I address the issue of religion and God in a number of ways. Many of these ideas have been discussed at the dinner table, with generally a heated debate as to if there is evidence of God existence in the world. These issues center around a Matthew’s strong belief that virtually every phenomena in the universe can be explained through science and logic.

One phenomena that I think challenges the thought of a non-God, science driven existence is the concept of Karma. Karma is the Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist philosophy that basically comes down that through our actions we are interconnected with the world.

Although I can not prove the existence of God,  I none the less will make attempts at in in future blog entries, I can see that the intertwining of the universe is real and measurable.

For my more analytical children, and that means you Matthew and Stephen, what I am specifically referencing in science is the concept of chaos theory. The particular segment I am referencing is the “Butterfly Effect” where the action of wind displacement from flapping of Butterfly Wings in Africa interact with millions of other seemly insignificant effects that eventually impact the strength of North American Hurricanes. It is used as a metaphor for the interrelationship of all things, and a statement of the chaos in which the system interacts.

It was early chaos theory that caused Albert Einstein to write in a letter to Max Born,”At any rate,I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.” Within the discussion of Chaos theory it is easy to think the world is a random place with interrelationships between all things but no guidance or order. I along with Dr. Einstein would argue that their is order, even when we can not quantify it because we lack the perception or the tools to measure it. Too many variables, interacting in to many ways to be a mapped as a system.

But we find too much order in the universe to completely dismiss its presence. As we look inward to the charting of the human DNA strain we don’t find more chaos, but instead find more order. There is a eloquence of design that can not be ignored or easily explained away as the outcome of billions of years of trial and error.

When we are very young and we do something good we expect a reward or praise. As we get older that reward and praise disappears and we start to do things because of an inner moral code or for some things a work ethic. The maturity we develop as adults is that actions, rewards and punishments do not need to be  directly linked for you to do the right or healthy thing.

But just because maturity allows us to separate them doesn’t mean that cause and action and not linked in some way.

We have all witness examples of staged Karma when we see shows like Extreme Make Over and Secret Millionaire. But I challenge that this overt examples of orchestrated Karma while uplifting to watch are too simple to really explain the philosophy.

I think Karma is much more complex than do something good, get a cookie.

I think Karma develops over a life time, or perhaps many life times and is like the current of the ocean. When you swim with the current the trip becomes easier and you are helped along the way, when you swim against the current your struggle and feel  overwhelmed.

The best advice I ever received from any therapist is that I should not try doing the right thing but try doing the healthy thing. Concepts of right and wrong are often hard to see when you are close up, and the concept of healthy vs. unhealthy is easier to see when you are close up.

I think Karma is like that, doing the healthy thing for others and yourself encourage more healthy things to happen. Doing unhealthy things attracts other unhealthy things to enter your life. Karma is like the magnet or moral compass that points the way, you can ignore it but it will still exist as a force.

In looking at the disasters that occurred in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami I was offended and shocked by some Internet bloggers who mused aloud about how this could all be Karma from the actions of the country during WWII.  Besides being the spewing of hatred and racism against a people suffering a great loss,  the bloggers themselves are doing unhealthy things against Karma. Attacking a country, and a group of people during a time a distress is just sicking.

Karma can be found in situation like the Japan Earthquake, but not from any implied punishment to its people but from the waves of kindness from relief workers and people wanting to help. Helping others, connecting with other is the key to understanding Karma.’

Sakyong Mipham, the Buddhist leader explains that, “Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don’t even notice it “.

In your lives children you need to choose paths with the current and not against it.  Finding ways to connect with others and change people lives for the better, without thought of return will help the current of positive Karma effect every one’s lives and your own as well.

I like the expression in business of ” doing good, by doing good”.

Its an understanding in business, your personal relationships and even with strangers by seeking a healthy positive Karma direction for your life your actions of good will bring much goodness to you.

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2 Responses to Rule # 77: Don’t mess with Karma

  1. NotMatthew says:

    Ah… the current again. A wonderful tribute to the virtues of intuition, ethical inclination, and experience. Unfortunately, you camp them all in with slight hints of mysticism and a misunderstanding of probability and some scientific disciplines.

    Your main point is well taken. There are forces- naturally occurring or aggregating from collections of individuals- larger than ourselves that we should pay attention to. There is also value in karma, which can easily be understood outside of the realm of eastern spiritualism as the rather obvious fact that selfish people tend to make more enemies and leave themselves more exposed to retribution than polite ones.

    That being conceded, you recognizing the moral order that has time and time again been shown to produce the best results for mankind gives you no leeway in making declarations that this is beyond science or logic. It is secular thought which produces the best results, often at the damage of ugly superstition. Utilitarianism is the closest thing I have to a personal code of conduct, and it matches up fairly well with your thoughts above. I recommend you read Sam Harris’ book, The Moral Landscape, just as I took the time to study my Lewis and Neibuhr and Bonheoffer before I truly felt comfortable condemning the Christian system of ethics in which I was raised.

    As for the larger science, DNA is unquestionably the result of variation, chance, and reproductive selectivity. Finding the double helix beautiful or humbling changes that not a bit. As for chaos theory, I know very little. But assure you that neither I nor Einstein took complicated systems as evidence of a supernatural. His agnosticism is well documented, and while he would take no issue with your beliefs, he would certainly protest the use of his science in their favor.

    A long post over minor quibbles, I challenge karma as a supernatural force but have learned not to challenge its very real function. A great post, missed them during the absence.

    • Dad says:

      Not Matthew, you sound like Matthew more and more in your replies. It isn’t karma but my spidey sense (another powerful force) that tells me that you, young man may be in fact Matthew under a cleaver pen name.
      Regardless of your real idenity I think the acceptance of Karma is all I can hope for at this point. That and a mutual respect that although we differ in views of spiritualism in the world we both have a right to the view and should not be trivialized by the other. At this point in our lives I believe in a higher power and you do not, but neither of us should close off to other view points.
      I read Harris’s book when it came out last Christmas ( oddly timed) and felt that he made some valid points about the impact of science on much of what is called morality in the world. But I do strongly disagree wth his section on the illusion of free will and his characterization of “healthy” not being scientifically substainalable truth. Many religous zelots urged their followers not to read his book, which was of course drove me to read t.
      I didn’t find it to be dangerous, but rather sad. His push to build a new scientific disapline around moral science, which to me sounds like one step removed from Ron Hubbard without the cool celeberty endorsements.
      The only word I truly disagree with your reply is “condeming” the Chirstian system. I urge you, NotMatthew, not to condem or riticule anyone’s path to peace. I’ve seen people find peace through many religions and condemination of their value systems divides us as humans. If the fundemental theme, as I believe, of most religions is the “treat each other well” why condemn them? I have encourage debate in my household, but the line that should not be crosssed is that when one shares a spritual part of their life like a jewish family telling the story of Moses at passover during seder, they should never be mocked or condemned. And I also believe it is the right of parents, as guardians of their childern’s moral code, to choose a religion or lack there of to teach their children they way they feel fit. So debate is healthy, but should be done in a respecful timely way.
      As I have gotten older I have become less certain about what “is” and what “ought” to be and peronal spirituality has given be hope when none existed. You will face many things in your life, some very bad and some very hard. I ask only that you keep open to the other paths and not take a “burn all bridges” approach. God may become part of your life, and he may not. As long as you take care of yourself and others I really can accept any decison. But I think the world will be a better place if we all keep an open mind to each others beliefs.

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