>> Saturday, October 27, 2012
I don't often pose questions in my posts. I'm more of a musing on my own sort; however, I'm curious this time as to what people think: do you think people live under some variation of karmic justice (with or without exceptions)?
It may seem an odd question, especially those of you who think I'm vehemently anti-religion. I'm not though. I've always believed in a form of karmic justice, whether I should have or not.
My own beliefs (which I am not trying to push anyone to share) encompass a belief in a benevolent but not omnipotent higher power who would prefer thinking caring independent children to mindless obedient drones and my own general appreciation for the concept of reincarnation. I do believe in karmic justice, both in that one's karma is partially determined on what you learned (and how it shaped you in previous lives) and partially on your behavior in this one.
I don't say it's absolute and don't blame every bad thing that happens on this karmic justice. I think there's a certain element of crap shoot involved and some behavioral aspects as well. Obviously, there are plenty of examples of horrible things happening to people who have never had the chance to be bad, like children, or people who are demonstrably kind and should, in theory, never be on the receiving end of bad karma. Or big natural disasters that wipe out a section of Italy or Pakistan or Japan. I don't put my version of God behind that - this planet is fraught with peril. If you live in places where disasters are just part of life (like, say, natural disaster central aka Japan), you live with the consequences. If you've been kind to children and animals all your life along with smoking three packs a day, lung cancer is not an unlikely result. And sometimes it's just the luck of the draw: a small kid with leukemia or a brain tumor or diabetes or muscular dystrophy. Reality is a harsh place.
But much of that is just reality, I think. Bad things happen that you are powerless to control (or perhaps just powerless now: 40 years of smoking won't go away overnight if you give it up at 65). That's part of life and I don't expect it to be fair.
But I do believe that what you make of the life you've been given, how you respond, what you let it turn you into, is under your control. You can't control what people do around you, but you can determine your own behavior, what you let your life make you. And, in that, I always felt we drove karmic justice.
Now, karmic justice as a notion's pretty prevalent in most religions that I know of. In some places it's the belief of some sort of resort vacation after you die where you're pampered and spoiled to make up for the struggles/temptations you went through without letting it corrupt you with the down side being if you're corrupted (by whatever that religion's definition of corruption might be), you lose it all and go straight to eternal torment. Others are similar in nature to my own (Buddhism/Hinduism, for example) where you get multiple tries make yourself a good/enlightened individual until you've finally figured it out to go to the next level.
Most religions also have elements of the "what goes around comes around" philosophy for the same life, that includes the pagan ones and the ones who can't mention heaven/hell without laughing and wiping their eyes. Reaping what you sow, getting evil you spread threefold back, etc, these are all common notions just like the Golden Rule (which is pretty much the common kernel in every religion I know about).
The problem is, at least for me, I want to believe it, and wanting something to be true does terrible things to your objectivity. I want to believe that people who are ruthless assholes end up being lonely and emotionally bereft even if they are outwardly successful. I want to believe that people who are kind and giving never end up dying alone and forgotten. I want to believe that the caliber, if not quantity of the people who love you are a reflection of your own capacity for love, for giving, for fun, and perhaps intelligence and general interesting,er, -ness.
---------The following section is optional whiny self-pity and skipping it is recommended----------------
But I don't know that it's true and now, as I slide into what is undoubtedly the second half of my life, I find my beliefs challenged: either it's not true (which is certainly possible but very depressing), I have done some pretty horrible things in my past lives that have doomed me to loneliness in this one, or I'm not nearly so nice a person as I want to think I am. I'm not sure which idea is the most tragic.
So, given that most of my trains of thought have been leading me down the spiral to greater misery, and self-pity makes me hate myself passionately which is hardly conducive to breaking out from depression, I thought I might just be spending too much time in my own brain.
Maybe some of you have some insight that might help me see this in a new perspective.
Bear in mind that I do know I have a great deal to be grateful for. From a material standpoint, I'm in far better shape than many (and what challenges I do have make me wonder how single mothers working minimum wage possibly survive raising children alone). I have children with some challenges, but they are sweet, beautiful, unique and healthy. I have friends, mostly at a distance, who are the very finest people, though I wonder if distance actually helps them stay friends with me.
I know that focusing on what one doesn't have is a recipe for disaster, but, when I try to just accept my current situation as my life for my remaining few decades, it's like stepping into the abyss of despair. I'm thinking that can't be good. I had not realized how much of my life I've tolerated and swallowed and accepted the situation because I believed, in the long run, someone someday would be able to love me as myself. I don't know what to do if I have to accept that isn't true.
---------------End (no really) of whiny self-pity section. Hopefully, I'll excise it in a revision----------
So, what do you think? Do you think our fates are predetermined, solely a result of our own actions, or a combination? Do you think that, one way or another, people get what they deserve?
I could use some outside opinions.