Interpretations of Karma

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Interpretations of Karma

Part 1 of 2

The concept of Karma seems to come in infinite forms and interpretations. Most commonly, though, I’ve encountered Karma (through various readings and conversations) as a baggage one carries life to life. For me, this interpretation has often triggered feelings of hopelessness, a lack of control, and, ultimately, stagnation. It makes me feel a variety of things:

  1. I, in the immediate, may have no control over what has occurred in a previous life and therefore feel blindly victimized by my hypothetical-bad-Karma.
  2. What I do in this life might be tainted by the Karma of a previous life, so how can I properly overcome the bad Karma to generate good Karma?
  3. What does bad and good Karma look like life-to-life? For instance is my bad Karma my inclination towards impatience? Or is the bad Karma my environment? Is Karma internal or external or both?
  4. Is Karma divided into good or bad? Or are some things simply more inclined to generate positivity while other things are more inclined to generate negativity?
  5. How can I even rely on this interpretation without valid or indisputable evidence?

These questions seemed to dissipate after having the privilege to hear and see the Dalai Lama speak on June 21st at the University of Utah. Bare with me while I attempt to squeeze a universe of relayed wisdom through the small keyhole that is my limited understanding and language. I think it’s important to firstly talk about what His Holiness referred to as “unbiasedness” and “skepticism,” which he considered vital in cultivating knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. “Progress stops when we believe we know everything,” he said. I often find myself too certain too often. Most of my arguments or misunderstandings have stemmed from a stubbornness within me, a certainty that hinders me from listening, learning, and evolving, an ego-driven feeling that says, “They are wrong and they don’t understand you.” Why do my family and friends have so many hardships and quarrels and judgments? Maybe because we’ve found ourselves fighting for an imaginary truth made convincing by our habits, our circumstances, and our pride. We must acknowledge our limited understanding, for only this will allow us to be students of life forever, as His Holiness said. Acknowledging this should not be an object of shame. This should be an object of celebration- what’s more exciting than knowing that until the moment we die we will have an opportunity to understand more deeply, to evolve more miraculously, at every moment? What’s more intoxicating than the infinite vastness of knowledge to be learned? Stay mindful. Be kindful.

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