Karma Doesn't Explain Anything


Karma as instruction, however, is a different story. Karma as instruction is very simple: how we experience our world depends on our actions; pay attention to our actions. The couplet I quoted earlier takes on a new meaning:

To see what you’ve done, look at what you are.
To see what you’ll be, look at your actions.

Verifiable through our own experience

When we look at what we are now, how we act, how we react, how we view the world, how we view others, we are, in effect, looking at the results of actions that have been motivated by habituated patterns. When we look at our habituated patterns carefully, we see how they are self-reinforcing and lead to the same circumstances again and again. An American version of this idea is:

If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.

Karma as instruction means to observe our actions and appreciate how consequential each action is in reinforcing or dismantling an habituated pattern.

Evokes reliance on natural intelligence rather than set rules

When we look closely at life, we see that we can’t always rely on a set of rules to determine right and wrong. For every rule we can think of a situation when the appropriate action is contrary to the rule. Instead, we must rely on our natural intelligence. We have to show up in our life, see what is happening, make a decision to serve what is true and accept the results.

Brings us into the mystery

When we bring our attention to bear in a situation and act, we step into the mystery: the point where we are at the limit of our ability in attention and we don’t know whether we are in pattern or presence. We know only from the result whether we acted out of habituated pattern or out of direct awareness. If the situation blows up in our face, we have to pay. We see our part in it if, and only if, we have brought all our attention to our action. We learn where we were weak, blind, stupid or out of touch. There is no easy way to learn and I view any lesson as cheap if it doesn’t cost us our ability to make further efforts in waking up.

Less rigid

As we work with attention, we become less rigid. Each situation has to be taken on its own merits. We become increasingly clearer about the nature and effects of habituated patterns, the differences between habituation and presence and the efforts presence requires. We don’t need beliefs, we don’t need comforting, we don’t need explanations.

Each situation is a mystery. Can we be present in the mystery?

The Karma Series: What Is Karma? | Karma and Growth | Karma Doesn’t Explain Anything


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