The idea of 'karma' is often understood rather differently in the West than it is in traditional Eastern religions. The way it is commonly understood in the West can be summed up by the common phrase 'what goes around comes around'. The notion is that if you do 'bad' things, then sooner or later, some time in the future, 'bad things' are going to happen to you. Or conversely, if we continue to be a 'good person' now, even if it seems like a harsh struggle, sooner or later all will be right with the world. We will be rewarded for our 'goodness' at some unknown time in the future. This is not too far removed from the traditional Christian idea that if you live a 'bad' or 'sinful' life, you will be going to hell after your time runs out here on the Pale Blue Dot, and if you live a 'virtuous' life, you will be going to heaven. No doubt this Christian notion has greatly influenced the West's understanding of the concept of karma.
Both the heaven and hell concept and the Western understanding of the karma concept involve a postponement of judgement until some unknown future date. I would like to suggest in this article that what some like to call 'karma' is in fact instant, as John Lennon once suggested. Any consequence of one's actions is always immediate, never in the future.
Each of us is born with an impeccable emotional guidance system. It is very simple and beautiful. If a person engages in behaviour that is at odds with their Being (which I like to call Love), then they will 'feel bad' RIGHT NOW. Karma is instant. Hell is here on Earth, right now. The further out of touch with Love a person is, the more they will feel what we commonly refer to as 'negative' emotions.
I have put the word 'negative' in inverted commas because once one realises that the emotions are there to act as a fantastic guidance system, there is absolutely no need to see them as 'negative'. In fact, those emotions are extremely useful. They tell us instantly that we have lost touch with Love, that we are some how resisting the natural flow of Life.
But what do we do with this impeccable guidance system? We deny and suppress. We escape using alcohol, drugs, shopping, TV, sex or many other potentially addictive pleasures that help us to temporarily forget about the 'negative' emotions. We go to the doctor and are prescribed anti-depressants to get rid of these unwelcome feelings.
"If we use drugs to suppress this natural signal, we are like the captain of a ship that is heading towards the rocks who has put on a blindfold so that he cannot see the lighthouse. " Happy Cow
This is often the approach of modern medicine. We want a 'quick fix'. We do something to mask symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. In the case of our emotions, we are turning our backs on the wonderful natural guidance system that we were all born with. We are taking steps to shut it down, to ignore the signals which if listened to and heeded, could guide us to a more naturally happy and loving life.
The guidance is very simple. If you are in touch with Love (or what some like to call your True Being), then you will feel happy unconditionally, for no reason. If you lose touch with Love, you will begin to feel what are commonly referred to as 'negative' emotions - fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, depression, despair, boredom etc.
Wonderful! Straight away you get a warning signal. Instantly there it is nudging you back in the direction of Love. Listen carefully to the signals. Don't run away from them. Don't pretend they are not there. Do not anaesthetise yourself so that you cannot feel them.
"But what do we have to do to get back in touch with Love?" I hear some of you asking.
You do not have to do anything. Thinking and doing and striving and trying to answer questions and to solve life's 'problems' are the reason you have moved away from Love in the first place. Trying to 'become someone' or 'prove yourself' instead of accepting who you are and what is unconditionally take you immediately away from Love. You will get back in touch with Love by giving up all the struggle and the strife.
"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." Chinese Proverb
Do not 'do' anything. Relax. Let go. Accept. Allow. Trust. Go with the flow.
Stop trying to control things. Stop regretting the past or worrying about the future. Relax and allow Life to happen, then watch as your emotional guidance system once again tells you instantly that you are getting back on track.
There is no need to worry about judgement in the future, either through eternal damnation or karma 'coming around' to get you. Whatever you have done in the past can be completely forgotten. Every moment is a new beginning, a new chance to be aware and alert to the signals. Karma happens right now. Karma is instant. It is a truly marvellous, yet incredibly simple guidance system, if only we would listen.
"Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us." Bodhidharma
Forget about the future. Forget about all the 'good person' / 'bad person' nonsense. Forget about heaven and hell. Forget about punishment and reward. Forget about judgement and guilt. Life is and always will be RIGHT NOW. 'Problems' only arise because you are neither present nor aware.
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