These are hard times for a lot of people. The economy is still on shaky ground. Credit card debt, bankruptcy, and foreclosures are skyrocketing. In addition, it’s no secret that Americans are suffering from health problems. Type 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, and other diseases are epidemic. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. You may feel so hopeless that you believe that the dead battery in your car is a sign screaming, It’s your karma!
Conventional wisdom tells us that karma is cause and effect. Something you’ve done has caused all of your problems. You do something bad and something bad happens to you. But that’s not the true meaning of karma. And this is a very healing revelation.
Karma isn’t isolated to you as an individual. Think of the world as a karmic stew, with all the actions and reactions of every individual continually rebounding. Bad things happen because life is harsh, but we can only control our own actions and reactions. Here are some examples.
Let’s say that a corporate CEO understands that his company’s factory is spewing toxic mercury into the atmosphere, but he does everything he can to shirk making environmental changes. The result is that innumerable people are harmed. Is the CEO going to suffer a horrible fate because of his greed? Not necessarily, because karma doesn’t work like that. His bad actions only lent bad karma to the karmic world.
On the other hand, if the CEO cleaned up his factory, it would lend good karma to the karmic world. It’s not necessarily going to mean that he will be rewarded. And his good deeds aren’t going to prevent tragedy from happening in the world. Why? Because illness, aging, and death are inevitable.
On a more personal level, let’s say that someone hurts you. You have a karmic choice to lash out in anger or to keep your cool, smile, and react with kindness. Not reacting with anger will diffuse whatever ill will the other person had in the first place. So you’ve done your karmic duty. You’ve put a little niceness into the karmic world.
This all sounds good on paper, you’re probably thinking, but in real life you’ve had more than your fair share of bad luck. And what’s really irksome is that others around you are flourishing. Maybe you find out that your unemployment is running out at the same time a friend calls to gush about her glamorous new job, great salary, and flexible hours. Or maybe you’re not sleeping well and another friend responds by telling you that she’s out the moment her head hits the pillow. Or no matter what you do, the pounds keep creeping on. Another friend eats whatever she wants and stays bone thin. Why me? It has to be my karma!
Again, no. Other people’s good fortune is not an indication of your “bad karma,” but merely provides an opportunity for you to add a little more joy into the karmic world. How is that possible? With “sympathetic joy.” When someone else enjoys good fortune, it’s your choice to be bitter and envious—or to share in the person’s bliss. Call the person or send an email offering your congratulations. And don’t embellish it with your woes. Be happy in their joy and mean it.
What about those who are worse off than you? The homeless guy with the paper cup and cardboard sign. The welfare mom with three kids. The single mother whose son was just diagnosed with autism. The family whose car was just repossessed. You may not even know these people, but you see the desperation written on their faces. What can you do when you’ve got your own problems? Share the love. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk by a downtrodden person and think compassionate phrases, May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful. Sharing compassionate intent is just another way to lend joy to the karmic world.
But maybe you are that unfortunate person. You could be suffering a truly terrible tragedy right now. You’re exhausted with worry and stress. This is not the time for self-blame (It’s my karma). Rather this is the time to give yourself compassion, to share the love with yourself.
Find a quiet time every day to sit with your eyes closed repeating the compassionate phrases, May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful. If you don’t have time to formally sit, then you can repeat the phrases at a stoplight, in line at the grocery store, in a waiting room, or any other waiting time.
As 2013 spreads out before us, we can shed our misconceptions and embrace a new way of thinking about karma as something good, joyful, and powerful.
How to Lend Good Karma to the World
• Choose to react in a positive way in the face of negativity, hardship, and adversity
• Share sympathetic joy with those who are experiencing good fortune.
• Offer compassionate phrases to those who are more unfortunate than you: May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful.
• Offer compassionate phrases to yourself when you are in pain: May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.
Reacting to life’s challenges in a positive way takes presence of mind. It may take practice to replace knee jerk reactions with mindful compassion, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how happy sharing in good karma can make you feel — no matter what your circumstances.
Nancy Deville drew from the experiences of her unconventional life to craft her powerful first novel, Karma, based on two decades of research into the global sex trade that enslaves more than 2.5 million women and children. It is a story of courage, hope, and spirituality that will enlighten readers on this global problem and inspire them with what Nancy calls the true meaning of karma. To learn more, visit www.nancydeville.com