By Mark Bennett,
The concept of karma is becoming more and more mainstream – but remains very misunderstood.
Popular explanations of karma include:
What goes around, comes around.
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Action and reaction are opposite and equal.
These are all true – and all good. But they are often misinterpreted.
The basic idea of karma is – if you do good, good will come back to you, and the reverse.
This raises the question – what is “good”? What does doing “good” really mean? And what “good”, if any, can we expect as our reward?
Life is complex, and categorising human behaviour into strictly delineated sets and subsets can be limiting and even counterproductive to true understanding. However, bearing this in mind, sometimes there is something to be gained from looking at the differences between behaviour which could all be put under the umbrella of “good”. The boundaries between these categories is of course blurry – as ever in the continuums of the human psyche.
- So-called “good” that is actually bad
Many people who do harm believe they are doing good – be it on a small scale or a big scale – from baking a cake for someone who is morbidly obese – to killing innocent people in the name of religion. This will obviously not yield good karma.
You might say: “What if they meant well and didn’t mean to do any harm?”
Karma is exact – and is about result.
If harm is the result of a deliberate act, the karma is bad – and directly in proportion to the scale of the harm.
However, if an individual truly wants to do good, they will find that opportunity sooner or later. Their motive will guide them.
- So-called “good” that is actually neutral
Many people who regard themselves as good overestimate themselves. An ordinary businessman, for example, may be a nice guy, and law-abiding, but his life is essentially one of self-interest. He is not interested in the meaning of life, or in helping anyone else, unless that help will directly benefit himself. If no – or very little – good is being done, there will be no – or very little – good karma.
- Small-scale good
Helping a neighbour mow the lawn; house-sitting for your sister; buying your friend who is upset a nice gift to help cheer them up… etc.
These are examples of good things – acts of kindness that help make the world a nicer place. If we were all a little kinder, we would probably be happier, and so would those around us.
The karma of this virtually speaks for itself.
- Evolutionary good
There is a kind of good, however, that is altogether different.
This is when people really make a difference – not just to those around them because they like them – but irrespective of their own personal feelings.
Someone, for example, who dedicates their lives to running a homeless shelter does not only help homeless people they like – they help everyone they can who is in need. Likewise people who run animal shelters. Likewise people who save children’s lives by running orphanages in the developing world. And so on…
This kind of work is not only an act of mercy, but gives people – or whatever lifeform it is – an opportunity for personal growth. If someone, for example, saves your life, it means you have longer in your current body to gain experience. All experience is an opportunity to learn – and become wise.
Another subset of this category of “good” is not just saving lives – but changing lives. Music, literature, spiritual teaching etc, if of the right kind, can inspire people so that they use the opportunity of experience to its fullest advantage.
In short, this kind of good helps us to evolve – not physically, but spiritually. Evolve into what? Evolve into more enlightened beings – beings who know the Divine Spark within them, and live and act in this light.
Karmically, if you are helping others to evolve, you yourself can evolve as never before.
How does this take place?
In whatever way your own personal karma and destiny require – sometimes this process of evolution is pleasant, sometimes not.
Those who are more spiritually advanced often have much more difficult lives than those who are not. This is because the more advanced person is racing through evolution – facing challenges, and overcoming them, to become stronger. This will make them more able to do even greater good in the future.
And this is what karma is really all about – the opportunity to serve others.
If, for example, you devote this life to charitable giving, and your karmic pattern is such that in your next incarnation you are born very rich – what should you do? What is really going on?
This is not a materialistic reward, that we should just sit back and enjoy – ignoring the suffering in the world around us. This is an opportunity to do even more good.
On a subtler level, such a person would also be being given the opportunity to detach from materialism. It is easy when you are not rich to claim not to be materialistic. But when someone has a lot of money – they have a lot of temptation. If they can rise above this, they have a tremendous opportunity to do good, and they can advance a great deal.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make about karma is to think that it’s all about materialistic pleasures – money, looks, ease etc.
But it is not – it’s about how much we help raise humanity to a higher state of consciousness. If we do this, karma will give us the opportunity to raise our own consciousness. Then, in turn, we will be better able to help raise the consciousness of humanity – and so on.
This is real “good” in its truest sense.
There is nothing more important than enlightenment – and good karma will do whatever it takes to guide us there.
I would like to conclude with these simple, yet wise, words, of my own spiritual guru Dr. George King (1919-1997) – founder of The Aetherius Society – from a booklet he wrote entitled Karma and Reincarnation:
“If a person shows great Service to others in this life, the next life will give him an even better position to be of even greater Service…”
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Truth Theory
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