Wednesday

Karma vs. Personal Freedom



The generally accepted definition of Karma is (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this (and previous states of) existence, viewed as deciding factors for their fate in future existences, or simply put - good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one's actions.
In other words, careful  what you do, because it will be returned to you later on in some other form. So far, so good. 

Only, some thinkers went even further and merged the karmic principle with physics, more precisely with a perverted Newton's third law of motion, which, in short, states that for every action there's an equal reaction. Now, physics laws apply to (surprise!?) physics, no to fate, no to predicting future and they have nothing to do at all with

human psyche and interactions (where psychology or sociology may come into play).

I beg to differ: Karma, seen as a principle of retribution of one's actions according to their gravity, may be ignored completely. Since we have no idea why we are born at a specific time, in a specific place, to specific environment, we can't conclude whether our previous live was full of good or bad deeds. At the same time, we shouldn't be bothered with the next our actions' effects impacting our next reincarnation, because we'll have no recollection of what we did. That is in case we ignore some irrational fear that actions in this life would affect the other (hypothetical) life.


Next, to rely on the principle of action - reaction as an explanation for 'do good unto others and ye shalt be redeemed in this life or the next one' as well as for 'wrongdoers always get their punishment sooner or later' would be a completely hazardous assumption. Yet the majority do so. Why is that? Fear of punishment? Consciousness? A sense of justice? Self-preservation? 


In this case, a major role is played by coincidence. The human mind is subjected to creating order even where can be no such thing. As a result, whenever one's good or evil doing may sometimes be followed by another happening which can be construed as a reaction to the previous action. Thus, although whatever happened is pure coincidence, it can be interpreted as a consequence of one's previous action. The mind puts to good use its sense of order and constructs the action-reaction principle. Furthermore, based on several coincidences, the mind creates a pattern, completely empirically. (This is why karma is no science, it's a belief). This pattern is not only used to explain actions, but also to force future actions (e.g. I know that if I do something evil, I shall be punished by the Universe). In this case, regardless of the moral polarity of one's actions, the mind will seek to discover or even create the desired pattern, mostly unconsciously. We become trapped within our own minds.


No matter which principle one adheres to, both Karma and the action/reaction simply take away free will and personal freedom. Actually, they don't. We do that. We choose to do things and believe in theories. Even this script here is no more than a theory. Plausible? Maybe. Applicable with some success? Perhaps. 


Most importantly, wrongdoers do not get punished by some third party force. Other individuals simply act as agents of vengeance against the aforementioned wrongdoers.

However, the punishment itself means not some sort of retribution for the deed itself. 

Punishment acts as a preventive agent, for the person in case, as well as for other. Do this (again) and you will receive this. The same goes for the good deeds. However, there is no evidence of direct connections between a bad deed and retribution, neither for a good thing being rewarded by means of fate or action of the universe.

On the other hand, they say good deeds do attract rewards or other good deeds in return. It's merely the coincidence and one's inclination to find order in some random line of acts what causes people to believe such a thing. Add some optimism (which is some sort of subjectivity after all) and there you have it: karma at its finest, if you choose to believe in it.



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