Sunday, February 6, 2011

What I Believe

I am not a religious person in any traditional sense of the word (or any non-traditional sense, either), but I do believe in Karma. As I've told you before, I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't understand it at the time.  It is that faith that helps carry me through challenging times, keeping me strong until the good comes through out of the bad.  It is that faith that pushes me to do whatever I have to in order to make that happen.

I don't have anything against religion per se.  Quite the contrary: I know many people who find a sense of inner peace through their relationship with whichever deity they call their own, and I am glad they have that.  At times, I've wished I could have it myself.  I've read books, spoken with people, and even taken classes towards that end, but it just didn't work for me.

Technically I'm Jewish.  My family gets together for Passover and we light candles for Hanukkah.  I put a Jewish star atop my Christmas tree, and have mezuzahs both in my car and my home.  I went to Hebrew School when I was a kid, but stopped going after a year.  (Whenever I say that, I picture Frankie Avalon singing a modified song with the Pink Ladies.)

Hebrew School dropout ... No bat mitzvah day for you

At this point, the "Jewish" in me is more of a cultural thing than a religious one.  We keep certain traditions, but we don't go to shul.  I still fast for Yom Kippur, but it's because I like the idea of atoning for sins and starting anew, not because the Torah mandates it.  

So it's not a particular book or an omnipotent being that guides my everyday actions.  I simply do what I feel is right - not because it will get me into get me into Heaven in the future, but because it might benefit someone today.  And I do whatever I can to avoid hurting anyone - not out of fear of eternal damnation, but because I just don't want to make anyone feel bad.  Even if someone deserves it, it is not my place to inflict harm; after all, that would make me no better than the person who harms me.

Without some kind of faith, that might make for a very unjust world where good people do good things and get hurt by bad people who do bad things.  How many of us often feel that this is the case?  We work so hard but get dismissed and disregarded while others who seem to have a different set of morals gain the accolades that we deserve.  We see "good" people suffering while "bad" people flourish.  

This is where Karma comes in.  

I believe there is some energy in the universe that balances these things out. Variants of this idea are referred to as Karma in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. Wiccans refer to it as the Law of Return or the Rule of Three: "whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times" (Wikipedia).  More simply put, what goes around comes around.

I have seen this happen many times throughout my life, and believe that it will continue to do so. On tv and in movies this is usually very predictable, and the cycle is complete by the end of the show.  In real life it doesn't always happen the way we would imagine, or as quickly as we would like ... but it does happen.  Very recently, I saw this as a culmination of events.  Good opportunities have fallen into the laps of deserving people who work to help others.  Truths have been revealed, exposing the liars to the very people they've tried to deceive.  Individuals have seen through facades, and chosen not to be used or abused.  Learning about each of these moments made me smile.  A lot.  

A friend of mine responded by saying "God don't like ugly."  Another said "Karma is a b**** ... if you are an a******!"  Even as I type this, I just heard Bradley Cooper on television giving an explanation for a friend's bizarre misfortunes: "I have a theory ... your life is fundamentally at odds with the natural world.  Therefore nature rejects you" (Failure to Launch). No matter what we call it or to whom we give credit, most of us believe that on some level, in this life or the next, there are consequences for our actions.  We don't have to do anything to "get back at" those who have wronged us. Karma will take care of that.  So when we're struggling and suffering and feeling that we deserve better, not to worry: karma will take care of that, too.

** If you like what you read, tell a friend!  Actually, tell me too - post a comment below!!  If you don't ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!