Friday, November 10, 2006

Karma: Who's Keeping Score?

Is there a great scorekeeper out there keeping track of all the good and bad that we do?

If we kick a dog today, will a dog one day bite us 20 years later?

How many karma points does it take to go to heaven? And is there special dispensation for those on the borderline?

Is there someone out there really "keeping a list, checking it twice, (and) gonna find out who's naughty and nice?"

The concept of karma may be summed up in the everyday phrase, "What goes around, comes around."

There are many similarities to karma in the Bible, Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Ecclesiastes 11:1 "Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again." Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Practisioners of karma I would say are invoking one of God's laws. The law of the harvest. They are mindful of not mocking God, even though they may not know who He is fully.

I should say even that we should be mindful not just of not doing evil, but of sowing goodness around us. I think humans (including this author) aren't sowing enough goodness in our words and deeds.

Step number 8 of the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all." (Which Zacchaeus in the Bible did by repaying back all those he cheated 4 times. Luke 19:8. Which leads me think: If we are truly transformed by an encounter with Jesus we will sow good deeds and make amends.)

However, karma breaks down in the face of grace and mercy. What happens when we have really committed a grievous sin, like murder? Being nice to everyone around you cannot bring back the dead. Blood is on the muderer's hands. How much time do you have left on death row to accumulate enough good karma to balance the bad karma you have accumulated?

This is where grace and mercy come in. The "good" thief besides Jesus' cross knew the many sins he had committed, and knew the earthly punishment he was receiving was his just desserts. The only thing he realized in his dying moments was that Jesus was the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. And he made only one request, that Jesus remember him.

And this is where the story gets juicy. With that one request he is "rewarded" with paradise. No good deeds needed. No penance to pay. Just one simple humble request to Jesus to remember him. Sins and bad karma all wiped out.

Karma is like Newtonian Laws versus Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In everyday life the law of harvest works. But when it comes to reaching the ends of the universe, it breaks down miserably. Noone can totally wipe out his list of bad things, though some people like Earl (from the TV show "My Name is Earl" tries to do so). And that's where the source of grace, love and peace comes in.

"through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

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