We just finished a weekend retreat. Everybody immediately headed back to the city. I said, "I don't want to go home yet." Of around a hundred meditation students, I was the only one who decided to stay back for one more day at the retreat center with the residents. As drama would have it, I couldn't go down the next day as it was raining cats and dogs. And, it refused to stop for one whole week. I ended up being stranded approximately 2,000 feet above sea level while the metropolis was wallowing in floodwater for several days.
I thought, "I must have done something right that I was able to inadvertently escape the damp city and be happily secluded in a fortress (I just feel so safe and secure in the center)". After this lightbulb moment, I beamed like a child who was handed an unanticipated present and exclaimed, "Oh, what good karma I have!"
Karma is often used synonymously as punishment. I heard a news anchor chastise an alleged crook on television saying, "Be scared of karma". Common people use it whenever they feel deceived, insulted, or unfairly treated, and often, they would curse their perceived perpetrators with, "Karma will get you!"
Contrary to popular belief, the word karma is actually neutral. It is a Sanskrit word which simply means action. In physics, there is law which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction (The Law of Cause and Effect). Interestingly, the laws of the universe follow certain laws of physics. So, if one does good action or karma, he will accordingly get a good payback. On the other hand, if one does bad action or karma, he will get a just punishment whether others wish for it or not.
Simple isn't it? Good begets good. Bad begets bad. This is one of the internal system by which our world operates. The image for me is that of an automatic accounting program. Each person in the world gets points based on the quality of his action. He get credits or debits because whatever he does may have positive or negative effects on other people and even nature. This automatic accounting has been occurring since the time we played our part in this world drama- that maybe for just one lifetime for some or many births for others.
The thing is, the auditing happens at unexpected times. Sometimes, not even in this lifetime but each one of us definitely has to face the consequences of our actions.
Karma makes life fair. Each one gets what is due him or her at one time or another. What is unfair is when we blame God for our personal demise or for the flood, tsunami, earthquake, or any natural disaster. Insurance companies call these things "act of God" and people think these are punishments from the heavens. But, how can God, the purest energy in this universe, the perfect parent, bring harm to His beloved children?
Truth is, everything that comes to us, both beautiful and ugly, we brought it upon ourselves. When a challenge befalls us, our debts are being collected. When we stumble upon good fortune, we are claiming our rewards. That is the law of karma. Each one of us reaps whatever we sow.