I immensely respect Connie. She is an author, social justice crusader and passionate about removing poverty. In short: she is an amazing woman, a loving wife (her husband is a good friend too) and a great mother.
The headline got me interested (good work Connie!), so I went to her site to read the post.
After finishing, I let out a sigh! I agree with every word Connie has written on the karmic principle, but here is the problem: the karma she talks about doesn’t exist as a principle in the Indian karmic philosophy.
Connie has written about karma based on the way the word and the karmic concept have evolved in the West (not her personal doing), in a very linear pattern:
– You don’t recycle, karma will come kick you in the butt
– You lie, you will get punished
– You work hard, you will become rich
– You lazy around, you won’t have enough for retirement, and so on…
Connie is correct when she says:
“What if I do good and horrible things happen to me? What if a dear one dies? I get fired because of a misunderstanding that wasn’t my fault? I get dumped by my significant other? I get in a car accident?”
Her questions are those of a logical mind. The principle of karma doesn’t make sense in this context and kudos to Connie for standing up for logic.
Now here is the real deal: Karma is not what the West has made it out to be. There is no classification called good karma and bad karma! As I wrote in my last blog piece there is an inherent danger in culturally appropriating a concept, a ritual and a philosophy.
The philosophy of Karma is integral to the philosophy of Yoga, but the way Yoga and its philosophy are evolving in the West, such confusions and rejections are bound to happen.
If you have been following my blog, I wrote in my very first post on Yoga:
The way Yoga has evolved in the west, it has come to be associated with only one aspect – the physical body poses, called the asanas. The word Yoga is interchangeably used for asanas, which is not correct. Though very important to the discipline of Yoga, the asanas themselves don’t define Yoga; they find their meaning within the complete philosophy of Yoga.
So, when you take a slice of the holistic Yoga philosophy, and work on that one aspect, the contradictions are sure to arise.
And that was the reason I wrote my last blog post: Stop cultural appropriation of Yoga: Yoga is all about Hinduism, albeit without the ism. The post invited over 100 comments and a spirited debate about Yoga ownership and Yoga appropriation. But my principal argument was to point out that such appropriation has inherent dangers, where people armed with half-baked knowledge and practice of a vast philosophy can end up confused or even harmed – philosophically and emotionally. (Even though I got Yoga philosophy in cultural heritage and I’ve consciously applied it in my life, I still claim no perfect mastery.)
What Connie has written is absolutely correct. I congratulate her for pointing out the anomalies in the Karmic philosophy as seen from a western perspective. And by western perspective, I just don’t mean the perspective of a White person who practices a non-Eastern faith. I am referring to any person from any faith, including those from Eastern religions, who don’t practice, believe or understand Yoga philosophy in its entirety.
Connie hasn’t rejected karma; she has rejected the concept as propagated in the West. I stand with her. I reject it too. Because the way karma has evolved in the West, as a cool, exotic thing to say and blame things on, doesn’t make any sense.
Karmic philosophy is like a well-composed beautiful song. When you read, understand, apply and live the karmic philosophy, it is music to the soul. When you take the lyrics, the tune, the voice, the music all-apart, the philosophy falls apart too. You can’t have just one component of a good song and desire the same effect.
So, what is Karma?
Wait for part two of this post. I promise I’ll post soon.