Sunday, April 17, 2011

Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma Chameleon

In recent months I've seen several Facebook posts and comments about karma and the universal truth.  When I hear the word "karma", I think about a trip we took to St. Simons Island, Georgia.  Traffic was heavy in the little village when a girl whipped her car from the line of traffic to cut through a restaurant's parking lot and beat the rest of us who were waiting for a light to change.  She found that the traffic in the parking lot was just as bad as the traffic on the street.  She had to wait, creep forward, and finagle her way through the cars in the parking lot, so when she was at the street ready to pull out, there we sat.  In one of my meaner moments, I just kept my car close to the bumper of the car ahead of me.  As we inched right on by her car, she called through her open window to us that karma was an evil-spirited woman of ill repute.  Yes, indeed, honey, it sure is.  When you're not willing to wait your turn at the light, you get caught and have to wait.

Karma is one of those concepts that has grown away from its original meaning.  The term is thrown about commonly in American culture, but karma is a concept from the Buddhist religion.  Let me be clear about one thing:  I am a child of the sixties.  I am quite accustomed to vegetarians with peaceful intent, practicing various poses during meditation while burning incense.  In the sixties my generation thought they had personally discovered something new.  We weren't nearly as creative or intelligent as we thought we were.  I suppose people my age have dragged our non-traditional, homemade religions along into the 21st century.

Basically karma  means you reap what you sow, and according to Boy George, "You come and go."  The other lyrics in Mr. George's song are rather indecipherable to me, but I got that much out of it.  The ideas of karma, reincarnation, and emptying of your mind through mediation are part of a complex system of belief that is so convoluted it takes a lifetime of studying to know how to become one with the universal truth.  You see, in Buddhism there is no God.  There is no way to "redeem" yourself except through doing good works (good karma).  I'm doomed right there.

I'm doomed because I can't resist messing with some dippy girl in St. Simons who's trying to beat the traffic light and come out ahead of everybody else.  And that's a mild reaction compared to some more intense temptations I've not been able to resist.

As a Christian, I find that Buddhism is the opposite of what I believe.  My redemption was paid for 2000 years ago, because there aren't enough good works that I can do to pay for my sins.  I'm not trying to go through multiple lives until I've earned enough karma points to become part of the divine universal truth, because my God is omniscient, omnipresent, and a personal entity that I worship, not something of which I will become a part.

When mention is made of the universal truth by someone who claims Christ, I'm surprised.  I once had a pastor who conducted a study of world religions, cults, and various belief systems so that his congregation would better understand how Christianity is different from them.  In a multicultural society it's important to know who we are so that we don't get muddled up with something we don't really believe.  I don't want to be a karma chameleon who changes colors to match whatever happens to be beside them at the time.

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