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karma, a thing of splendid beauty

Oct 28, 1993 09:30 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker

The simplest way to describe karma is in terms of retribution. As a form
of spiritual crime and punishment, it sees that the evil people about us
meet their just reward for their wrong doing! We see people going
unpunished and tell ourselves, and *hope*, perhaps, that they will not
really get away with it, they will someday meet their reward.

This can be expanded to include rewards, where the merit for our good
deeds is accumulated and we are someday able to cash it in, that even if
there are no signs that we are appreciated for the good that we do in
life, we will still receive some special reward for it. We'll have
something nice come to us in some heaven world or future life that we
would not have otherwise been given.

Both rewards and punishments are surely aspects of karma, but a banker's
model of karma, where we incur debts and set aside savings for future
pleasures, a quantitative model, where it's us as apart from the rest of
the world, is bit a small aspect of the reality of karma. According to
this model, if we kill 50 men and women, each of them will have their
turn to kill us, there's precise quantities involved, and the affected
other individuals are specifically bound to return to us!

Another model is that of learning in school. We are faced with certain
lessons, we are working in life according to a predetermined lesson
plan. When we make mistakes, we are repeated brought back to those
lessons that we are having trouble learning, and do them again and again
until we have mastered the experiences and are ready to go on. It is our
lack of learning that is holding us back, and there are not precise
quanitites of experiences or interactions with specific other people or
places that must be revisited.

I would say that karma is not mechanical, not based upon fixed
quantities, not something outside of ourselves that we must face and
deal with according to some external judge, banker, or educator. Karma
is the very fabric of our being, and as it is active in this lifetime,
it is the living links with others, which comprises who and what we our.

Karma is the contents and action of the buddhic principle, the
principle by which we co-create the manifest universe with everyone
else in life, the principle by which we first acquire an awareness of
ourselves as distinct from others, one removed from the universality of
atman. And the effects of karma, as seen as a form of interplay between
us and others, as cause and effect, appear at the third principle,
manas, where the distinct consciousness of *me*, as apart from *others*,

It has been said that "you are your karma", and it is true. You cannot
escape nor be forgiven your karma anymore that you can escape or be
forgiven being who and what you are. By your very nature, you draw to
yourself those people and circumstances that help make you what you are,
and that you have an active participation with in the creating of
manifest life. And this coming together is *chosen*; both parties must
choose, in a sense, to get together in a life to live out some of the
karma between them. So the karma of a particular lifetime is negotiated
between you and the rest of life.

Karma is not "worked off" like a mortgage is paid off over time, slowly
and painfully, as a heavy burden. It is the collection of living links
between you and others that creates you, that defines what you are and
can be in life. These links are strengthened or weakened over time,
perhaps changed from one form to another, but not entire done away with.

Upon reaching the threshhold of nirvana itself, it is karma, the living
bonds between you and the humanity trailing behind, that holds you back,
that keeps you from stepping out of this world, that lets you stay
behind as a Bodhisattva. This karma is refined, spiritual, based upon
the highest of compassion, but it is still karma, it is still a living
link between you and others, and it still defines what you are as you
come into being. It is lofty karma, though, and makes of you a saintly
being, a nirmanakaya, someone of the noblest nature.

There is a process to life, one of gradual growth. The flower bud ripens
over time, then reaches the point where it is ready to open its petals
in the bright sunlight. The same is true of our spiritual nature, which
is made of the highest karma within us. We ripen over time as well, and
someday will open to the world as a thing of splendid beauty.

                                  Eldon Tucker (

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