“Karma’s a bitch.” –?
Karma. You can’t pray to her. You can’t beseech her. You can’t make deals with her. You can’t seek her forgiveness. You can’t have a “personal relationship” with her. And you can’t expect her to suspend the laws of nature so that you don’t have to pay for the evil you’ve wrought. Oh, wait a minute! I already mentioned prayer, didn’t I?
The term ‘karma,’ literally means ‘action,’ but it is widely and generally interpreted to mean “the result of an action, or actions,” which is incorrect. When our actions, i.e., karma, result in some type of payday, pleasant or unpleasant, there’s another term for that. It’s ‘vipaka.’ Vipaka means “fruit,” i.e., “the fruit of,” as in when our ‘actions’ (karma[s]) bear fruit (come to fruition), or when the seed(s) we’ve planted sprout, take root, grow, and multiply. So, when someone finally “gets what’s coming to them,” it’s not their ‘karma’ that finally caught up with them; it’s their ‘vipaka.’ The existence of the little-discussed (in the general public, anyway) term (vipaka) does not necessarily discredit other discussions, questions, or theories about karma. [And to emphasize this point, I have included, in my Related Reading section below, other discussions of karma that truly moved me].
Every action we express, whether physical, verbal, or even mental, is [a] ‘karma.’ An action as mundane as flossing one’s teeth is karma. The vipaka, or fruit, of flossing (particularly if that flossing is done regularly and well) is that of avoiding gingivitis. Better yet, commit the karma of regularly visiting your dentist. This type of karma is far-reaching and the results (vipaka), i.e., not losing all one’s teeth, are not necessarily immediate. This touches on the matter of different types of vipaka.
Sometimes, the results (vipaka) are immediate, and sometimes we don’t see those results (vipaka) for a very long time. Other types of karma bear almost instantaneous vipaka, whether good or bad. For example, when NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo bought a pair of leather boots for a man, and literally helped the man put them on his feet, he became, for a short while, the soul of the NYPD and the American public. He had no idea that his actions (karma) would be photographed and published all over the world. And then there are those individuals who commit murder (karma!) and never get caught (in this life, that is).
Consequently,the concept of karma begs the question of rebirth, even though one’s karma can manifest within just one lifetime, or even within five minutes of the karma committed. This seriously complicates the concept of rebirth, which is often viewed as mumbo-jumbo of the most primitive, pantheistic, and puerile kind. So, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider that the law of karma is more akin to a law of nature, like gravity, or even more specifically, the law of conservation of energy. This law states:
“…energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another or transferred from one object to another. This law is taught in physical science and physics classes in middle schools and high schools, and is used in those classes as well as in chemistry classes” (Your Dictionary.com).
And speaking of physics, interestingly enough, the differences between ‘energy transformation’ and ‘energy transfer’ have been used to describe the subtle differences some people make between rebirth and reincarnation, respectively. Additionally, the indestructible nature of energy, accepted as hard, scientific, even obvious fact, is also applicable to that energy known as “life.” For example, when a body breathes its last breath, where does that animating ‘energy’ “go?” If ‘life,’ itself, is a type of energy, and energy cannot be destroyed, is it so far-fetched to imagine that same energy being either transformed, transferred, redistributed, or redeployed? And even if you don’t believe in ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation,’ does not some type of ‘transfer’ or ‘transformation’ take place when even a squirrel’s remains decay, merge with the soil, thus contributing to both the fertilization process and the growth and nourishment of other organisms? But that’s another post, isn’t it?
Well, we all know ‘Karma’ isn’t the bitch from The brooding architect (blog)
Our Mind Dictates Who We Are from Becoming Buddhist (blog)
Limitations and Expectations of Karma from Ayslyn’s Corner (blog)