by Ross Bishop
As a child you may have been told about God or St. Peter keeping a big book in which sins and good deeds were recorded. That’s how many people view karma, as a consequence for bad decisions. Sometimes too, people are taught that karma is like a cosmic boomerang that punishes people for bad behavior – from this life or a previous one. Although these are quaint explanations, neither explanation is true. This is not how The Creator operates.
There is also confusion in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim world because the Old and New Testament Gods are so different. One punishes, the other forgives. Jews, Muslims and some Christian faiths hold to the Old Testament view of God or Allah sitting in judgment over mankind, meting out punishment as appropriate. Muslims take the concept even further, viewing life as a process through which God tests us. How can these conflicting views be explained? And, what is the truth?
Let’s look first at the world of the Old Testament. Life in those days was run by superstition. It was a world of demons and gods. Everything in nature, especially life, was a great mystery. It is easy, under those conditions, to ascribe an angry God to a storm or an earthquake. It is easy to see a difficult life or disease as a curse from the gods.
There is also a tricky piece of logic here. Everything is under the rubric of God’s control – otherwise, He’s not God! If you hold the human perspective, life can seem terribly cruel, with devastation, famine, disease, etc. Leading to an attribution of anger or displeasure from God. Science can describe life or an earthquake in great detail, but it does not even attempt essential questions such as why we live or why we love. When however, you shift your perspective away form the strictly human point of view and begin to look at the world from God’s viewpoint, things on earth start to make a great deal more sense. I do not think that pre-Christian writers had the freedom to take that perspective. And, as I said, when all you can hold is the human point of view, it’s fairly easy to perceive difficult events as God’s punishment. I suspect that there is a great deal in the Old Testament that falls into the category of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
It is not my place to say whether God visited Abraham or Moses, but even in the best of conditions, it is frightfully easy to misinterpret channeled information, especially in the context of a culture heaped in superstition. We also know that people in positions of unquestionable power (and the Middle East was full of kings), are easily corrupted by that power. Their discernment becomes seriously distorted. Even the Great kings David and Solomon were not free from these influences. I look at Moses’ forty years of wandering, and have to wonder if he really was being led by God, as Golda Meir said, “To the only land in the Middle East without any oil.”
Christ brought a significantly different perspective of the Creator. In fact, He said that one of the reasons He had come was to clear up our misunderstandings about who God was. Christ did not seek to criticize the Old Testament stories; instead, he gave us a new way to view life. He told us of a loving and compassionate father who had infinite love for his children and did not judge or punish them.
This more enlightened view of the Creator sheds a very different light on karma. If the Creator is not an “eye for an eye” kind of guy, then the idea of karma as punishment or retribution is no longer appropriate. If however, we accept Christ’s teaching that God is a loving and compassionate teacher we can look at karma differently, and when we do, the pieces start to fall into place.
Let us begin with the premise that The Universe’s sole purpose is to encourage you to learn to love yourself. Everything you experience will be based on that premise. If you love yourself you will experience inner peace. But if you do not, you will face inner turmoil. When it manifests outward, your inner turmoil will create conflict with others. The pain from both the inner and outer conflicts is the energy of karma.
The intensity of an experience is determined by the degree to which you separate from the state of compassion. The farther “out” you are, the more intense and challenging your experience will be – not as punishment mind you, but as a wake-up call, asking you to look at the beliefs that are driving your behavior. In that sense, karma is more like a force of nature – say, gravity – than punishment or retribution.
If you hold a lifetime of rage for example, you will likely act with dysfunctional aggression toward the world. And as a result, you are going to be met with a host of resistance – from lovers, friends, maybe even the police. Your life (internal and external) will be hell. This is karma – the dissonance you create asking you to look at the beliefs that drive it.
It is easy to get caught up in the drama, to be angry at life for being difficult or unfair, and get lost in self-pity and shame. Most people do. These are just some of the things we do to avoid looking at what we have created. The Universe, operating like a great balancing wheel, is obliged to call your beliefs to your attention. This is the Law of Karma in operation. It is not punishment or payback, it is “encouragement” for you to look at your beliefs and bring them into harmony. Refuse this request and the process becomes a cattle prod. This is not done out of cruelty or unkindness, but in measured response to the resistance you present. Resist further and you will be brought to your knees. We call it a crisis – a healing crisis. Perhaps it will be a disease or personal turmoil, but something will present you with the challenge to, “Change or die.”
“But what of the innocents?” you might ask. “How do you explain children being harmed or getting diseases?” The principles are the same; it is an issue once again, of perspective. You need to remember that we carry the unresolved energies of each lifetime into the future. That endangered child, just like you, is engaged in a process to complete what was not finished in their previous lives. What is happening is not punishment, but rather a continuation of a vital learning process. If you were to look back at the unresolved issues of your past, you would find that they have been perfectly crafted to create your present life experience. That seeming innocent, and children have souls too, is completing a powerful process that needs resolution. After all, painful though they are, disease and affliction are some of our most powerful teachers.
“Should I intervene then?” The answer is a profound, “Yes, (unless the other is not open to your efforts).” Your intervention is also a part of the Creator’s plan for both of you. It is an expression of your natural compassion. You may not be able to effect much change, but making the effort is important.
Copyright©2008 Blue Lotus Press