Karma. Kamma. Yesterday, I thought about karma--it'd been brought up in conversation. Later, Shawn and I went to our favorite Thai restaurant, and while waiting for a seat (it was a very busy night, for our little Thai eatery) we noticed a stand of pamphlets on the bar. Free. Take One. Leave a Donation. These little books are messages by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. Once again, I thought about Karma. And guess what, amid the 4 or 5 booklets was "Kamma in Buddhism". My donation made, I took the book and we perused it while we waited for our dinner. Ask and the universe will provide, huh?
So, prior to looking at this message from Mr. Bhikkhu, here were my preconceived ideas about Karma (or Kamma) culled from pop culture, yoga classes, other people, reading other people's versions of, and random definitions that somehow made it into my head without my notice.
1. Karma is what you get when you do something bad.
2. Karma's a "bitch"
3. Karma is the great leveler
4. Some people will go through life never having to answer for their mis-deeds
5. Who am I to judge who should have their comeuppance and who shouldn't?
6. George Bush will have to come to terms with himself, someday, whether the world sees it or not
7. It's probably not a good idea to wish bad on those that have made you mad or hurt you, because isn't that the same thing?
Why do we need to know the essence of Kamma? Because our lives are inseparable from it and happen according to it. To be more precise, we can say that life is actually a stream of kamma. Wanting to do something (kamma, action) causes one to perform actions and receive the results of those actions; then, desires to do other actions arise again and again incessantly. Therefore, life is merely patterns of kamma.
The clearly defining words of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
Looks to me like Karma's job isn't to judge our actions. This probably means that it's not my job to judge whether or not someone else ought to get a bit of their own karmic comeuppance. A frustrating thought, since there are plenty of powerful people in this world who continue to get away with, quite literally, murder and do so without any seeming consequences. One wise soul mentioned to me that such people have to live with themselves and we have no idea what that may be like for them. Ahhhh...if only I could take comfort in that thought. Well, maybe I can. Ultimately, I am responsible for me. I can make choices in my life and my behavior towards others that can reverberate through the universe. Wishing ill on others, even people that haven't done much to earn any kind of respect from me, is just another way of making "bad" karma. Wishing that they find peace in their own souls and can rise above their selfish, harmful acts might be a better road to take. I don't know, yet. I'm not enlightened enough to let go, so easily. I think that I want to be. It's a lot of work to hold a grudge; takes a lot of energy that is best served elsewhere. And yet--this is a whole 'nother can of worms--holding onto anger and hate and fear is how some people feel alive. If you're so used to that kind of drama in your life, and you constantly seek it out, I'm sure it can feel empty when you don't have it. It's not really emptiness, it's just different than what you are used to. To a degree, I am sure that most of us have that tendency. Is this related to karma? I think it is, and I haven't gotten all the connections just yet. I am typing out loud, here. On a discovery of unformed ideas that haven't had a chance to percolate in my brain...still grinding the coffee, so to speak.
But this blog is done, for the day. The topic isn't, and who knows when or if it will be revisited for my few readers...funny side note, at the end of the "Sopranos" episode that we watched, last night, a Mafia killing occurs. Surprise, surprise, I know. Anyway, the guy comes up to a man and a woman in a car--which, by the way, was just starting to pull out of a parking spot--shoots the man and the woman which causes the now dead man to take his foot off of the brake and the car roles over the shooter's foot before banging into the car parked in front of it. We looked at each other and laughed, "Now that's karma," says Shawn.