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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Question Of Karma

Fish Good/Evil
Cartoon lifted from Truthdig.com
I was having an e-discussion with a very good friend of mine over what constitutes "right action," and she rolled it up with this poignant question:
Do you think there is any hope (or truth) in balancing [bad] karmic points through other activities?
I responded:
This is a delicate matter you have raised with me. Before I go on, I want to stress that I have no right to arbitrate what is right or wrong. Life is difficult and complicated for people, especially today, and, regardless of what one does to make ends meet, it is a far greater evil to pass judgement and force people into waters deeper and more turbulent than they are prepared to navigate. It is instead more proper to wade in for oneself if one is so inclined. Those that can see and can follow will, the others are understandably entwined in challenges more immediate....

[The] question is illustrative of my point. When one begins to bargain, then one is wading into waters too deep. Only perception answers this question, and then the question of (right) action becomes moot. We are essentially trapped in our circumstances and, while so circumscribed, it matters not whether we are co-conspirators in that imprisonment. If we *reason* that we are responsible, then we are inclined to begin rearranging the deck chairs inside the prison, which serves to make one feel that one is perhaps evolving. But the doors remain locked.

To answer the question directly: No. Truth has no relationship with the particulars. Ideas of "good" or "bad" are particulars. The law of unintended consequences haunts efforts to do "good," with results which sometimes rival overt "bad" behaviours. For example, this very discussion is fraught with horror and danger. For, after *reasoning* that whatever one is doing is harmful, one might be inclined to change this. Well and good, but reactive behaviour is tainted with the thing one is reacting against.

It would be well to do away with any ideas of "karma." It is only a way of talking about things, but unfortunately it has acquired the sheen of some sort of Cosmic Truth - alas, we do that with all of our insights. The biggest problem with "karma" is that it is inevitably tied to the dualistic illusion, reduced to inventorying the content of action and experience as "good" or "bad." These classifications are only useful if one has a goal in mind, and inevitably what is "good" and "bad" is not weighed against Truth, but against the goal. Truth has no goal - it's outside of the wheel. While being willfully "bad" is obviously not desirable, it is equally nefarious to set about doing "good." History illustrates this folly.

So, when one is confronted with "evil," what is the right action? If I have an obsessive aspect of my personality that is compelled to create suffering in some fashion, shall I shun and alienate that part of myself, or am I better served to acknowledge that it is indeed me, and all should be held close, psychologically, so that a more holistic being may emerge?

By the same token, when I encounter an enemy of peace, shall I label him, shun him, alienate him, drive him further from the pack of humanity? Or are we better served to fold him into the tapestry of humanity, so that a more holistic world may manifest?

It is true that all questions contain the answer within itself. In deconstructing your question, one sees that "balancing... points" is a de facto rejection of holism in and of itself. One would simply get caught "in the weeds," as there are just too many "points" out there to react to. One cannot evolve out of this - there is no time, death comes too soon to all.

It is perception, not action (which is really reaction under these circumstances), that must be sought out first. With perception comes an action that is not borne of calculation. It is immediate, and one has no choice.

Only the confused mind encounters choice.

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