Karma to the Rescue

March 7th, 2020

What if karma is real? What if there’s nothing magical or unusual about it: we’ve just misunderstood it, all this time? Karma is actually quite straightforward, and it’s nothing like most people think. If true karma were widely understood and accepted, it could save the world.

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Humankind’s most pressing problems all stem from the same cause. Their common root is rampant individualism: everyone being out for themselves.

If we are just individuals living out a single lifetime, or even a series of lifetimes, then karma can certainly seem like a childish, outdated notion. The opposite is true.

Here is a simple way of understanding karma, one that makes it much easier to embrace and our problems infinitely easier to solve.

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Almost everyone has some idea of karma. We say, “what goes around comes around,” “you reap what you sow,” or “whatever you do comes back to you.” How many of us believe it?

Our competitive culture teaches us to always be looking out for #1. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where it’s kill or be killed, so you might as well get it while you can. So goes the common wisdom.

This idea, that I can hurt you without hurting myself, leads to the disintegration of society. It destroys civilization. And it’s simply not true. Individualism is based on a simple fallacy. When we understand karma, that fallacy is revealed.

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Karma doesn’t mean what you do comes back to you; you come back to it. Your awareness, and with it, your identity, shifts between those involved, like a flashlight illuminating different parts of a scene.

Imagine playing a video game, then playing the same game over again as the “bad guy.” Who is the bad guy now? Karma describes this role reversal. To borrow a phrase, karma’s a switch. Of course, these two perspectives don’t happen sequentially but rather, simultaneously. That’s where karma can get confusing. Still, it’s not hard to explain.

If I’m slicing vegetables and I cut my finger, the whole body suffers. If someone shoots  a bunch of school kids, the whole student body suffers. What if your two arms forgot they were part of the same body and instead, thought they were mortal enemies? The whole point of karma is to realize that you aren’t just someone living a lifetime. You are The One living every lifetime.

Let’s say you go into a house of mirrors, gun drawn, looking for a killer. You shoot at anything that moves. Pretty soon the house comes crashing down. What if we are all just mirrors, all parts of the same body?

Karma says that if I shoot someone, I will experience being shot: as the other person. If I give you a present, I experience receiving the gift: as you. This is what it means to say that you experience the effects of your actions in “another lifetime.” Like I said, that other lifetime is not subsequent, it’s simultaneous. Both lives are part of one Being’s experience, the one universe we call “God.”

The word person, as in persona, means “mask.” There are innumerable masks in the world, across all space and time, and one Being wearing them all. We forget this when we “overspecialize.” Consider The Manhattan Project.

In the covert operation to create the first atomic bomb, each worker’s task was so compartmentalized that very few people involved had any idea what they were working on. Not seeing the big picture, the truth remained a secret — with devastating results. This “advance” merely escalated our ability and motivation to kill each other.

When we don’t see the big picture, we attack each other, and history lays out the results. So does the nightly news. “The ego has become overspecialized,” says psychology professor Darcia Narvaez, “and like all overspecialized species, it will go extinct barring transformation.” But the big picture is easy to see. Consider the near death experience.

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People who have a near death experience often say that their whole life flashed before them. This phenomenon has been dubbed a “life review.” In a life review, not only do you experience your entire life, but also the effect your life had on others. Furthermore, you experience this effect as them: as if you were in their shoes. People come back saying, “I was the very people that I hurt. I was the very people I helped.”

The idea of seeing your whole life — and even that of others – “in a flash” is not hard to understand. Think of the birds-eye view you get from a great height. You gain this view when you move from the basically two-dimensional surface of the earth into three dimensions. In a life review, you do the same thing. You simply move up a dimension, gaining a birds-eye view of your life — and those around you — in the process.

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A birds-eye view shows us that our lives are like dreams. You have a dream one night and another the next. You rarely remember one during the other or even in between.

The same is true for the soul. For the soul, each lifetime is a dream. The time in between dreams is when we wake up. We wake up into a higher dimension, enabling a life review. What karma tells us is that each soul is just one strand in a universal tapestry,  the one Life we call God.

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To understand karma is to simply recognize our essential unity. Then we no longer cut our nose to spite our face. Then we just might solve our problems — “for ones and for all.”