It's Just Like Poker!

Poker is like Karma and Candyland is Fatalism. We are all dealt various hands in life but we are able to play them in a variety of ways.

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Which religion is the most misunderstood of all? That’s easy: Yours. Whatever faith you subscribe to chances are you have to deflect a series of false notions, half-truths and plain old mean spirited lies from time to time. Catholics have to constantly reaffirm that they don’t worship Mary (they venerate her). Muslims don’t all look forward to a worldwide jihad. And Hindus? Well, where do we start?

Let’s just focus on one issue for today. That would be the concept of Karma. To many in the west the notion of Karma is virtually the same as Fate. That is, they believe that Karma signifies we are all puppets of Destiny. According to this school of thought you had no choice but to be right where you are, reading these ramblings of a very poor man’s rishi. No matter how much you wanted to avoid this painful situation, here you are. And there you go. So if you decide right now that this article is boring the masala right out of you and you stop reading that was preordained as well.

I give a great deal of lectures to schools, churches & other mostly non-Hindu groups on a regular basis. This warped idea of Karma has reared its head quite a bit. It took me a long time to come up with a way to relate the correct understanding of Karma vs. Fatalism, but one day in meditation Bhagavan blessed me with something that has become a staple in my lectures. Now I don’t wait for questions, I head them off.


I indicate that many westerners have this erroneous view of Karma and I would like to explain how it works. I tell them that I’m going to ask a deeply personal question and would like to see a show of hands in answering. Then I inquire: How many of you have ever played Candyland? Naturally, 95% or more of the hands go up. I then ask what would happen if we had 100 tables set up with 4 people around each and I asked all the people in the north chairs to draw the 1st card and start the game. Unbeknownst to all players I have stacked the deck so that the person in the north chair will draw the best cards to high tail it through the Peppermint Stick Forest and Lollipop Woods without getting stuck in the Molasses Swamp and end up at the delicious Candy House before anyone else.

“Now,” I ask, “What will happen in all 100 cases?” The answer is usually a unanimous agreement that each person in the north chair will win. They are right, of course. Assuming nobody cheats or is color blind there is no chance that anyone in the other 3 chairs will win.

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