AN: Doesn’t the fact that with Karma you get moral people and with Christianity you get guilty people seeking forgiveness suggest to you that one is a positive belief and the other negative? How do you suggest we view this otherwise?
MH: I guess I’m not convinced that Karma is really about morality. It’s about functionality – what works. And yes, most religions include some tenet compatible with the ancient Hindu concept of Karma.
By that definition Karma represents the accumulation of all the effects of all the actions of my body, mind, and intuition. As ocean waves rolling toward the shore build up sandbars beneath the surface, so my actions and their results accumulate and build up tendencies that determine the course of my future. Karma is also more than personal… It encompasses the action-energy of everything that has ever occurred past or present, connecting every event back to the influences causing that event, and forward to all results triggered by it. The universe enforces this responsibility one way or the other.
The piper has to be paid. The chickens always come home to roost. Meaning… If I tell a lie, a lie will be told to me. If I give, something will be given to me. When someone slaps me on the cheek they deliver payback, not offense. I am at fault. I bring my own reward. I hold power. I bear responsibility. When I make a mess, I have to dispose of it… somewhere. I own my own garbage.
But… Here’s the crunch: Karma creates problems as well as explains them. If I reap what I have sown, I’m accountable for every consequence – even an unintentional one. How can I escape living with and paying for mistakes I’ve made? What escape do I have when Karma exacts payback for the smallest white lie? What pardon can I gain when even when my best efforts to do good generate more trouble?
Karma brings bad news. The problem is real. My garbage has to go somewhere. I cannot wish it away. Is there any way to remedy the curse of Karma? Eastern religions offer the solution of reincarnation: We return to try again, and eventually – hopefully – escape the cycle of perpetual action that perpetuates Karma. But even the wisest teachers of this philosophy doubt if salvation is assured.