I’ve been thinking a lot about karma recently. Do people who do bad things eventually get punished for their misdeeds?

I had a boss once. This guy was a Class One, arrogant, &^%$#@. He worked just within the boundaries of what was right and what was wrong. He treated women like crap. He wasn’t great with other people either. To be fair, he was a loving and devoted Father. He was a loving and devoted Husband after he cheated on his wife and she told him exactly what he needed to do to make amends.

But anyway.

This guy had it all. Made a lot of money. Had all the physical possessions any man can want. Had a really top job at a really top firm…

But he was still an a**^%$e.

I eventually quit and went on to greener pastures.

I later found out that he got cancer. Pretty bad. I haven’t heard about him in twenty years, so I can’t say that I know what happened to him. I’ve never goggled him, because he was part of my past, and I don’t need to relive things like horrible bosses.

But I can’t help but wonder if the cancer was a sort of karmic payback for all the aggravation and grief that he caused a whole lot of people.

So, was it karma that he got really sick?

But, when I think about the what goes around comes around sort of philosophy, I can’t help but wonder:

What about the people who didn’t do anything wrong, but still get hurt?

I think about this guy, and I think how his wife and daughters suffered watching him go through his cancer and treatement. Am I to assume that they were bad in some way and watching their father/husband suffer is their karmic payback?

Why do good people often have tragedy befall them? Are we to think that they did something bad in a past life?

In my post yesterday, I spoke of someone trying to stop a fare evader, someone trying to be a responsible citizen, and his reward was stitches and a trip to the ER during the pandemic.

What was his payback for?

I want to believe that all bad people get punished eventually, and that all good people have good things happen to them. But I don’t think it works like that.

Is there some spiritual judge and jury out there, doling out punishments and rewards?

Or it it just life, sometimes good and sometimes bad?

Is belief in karma just a way to get us through the bad times, something we can wrap ourselves up in when we need a little push to get through the day, the week or the year? The placebo we need when life keeps breaking us down? The thought that who ever or whatever wronged us will eventually get what they deserve?

Or is there something more to it?

65 thoughts on “Karma

  1. I don’t believe in karma. I think there are many things outside of our control. We hope those who have annoyed us get payback and sometimes they are stupid enough to make a bad choice which will allow us karma. With cancer, sometimes we can’t control…the places we have been, the food choices, etc…random…I did google a female boss recently and I thought to myself after putting a few random information together about her choice of husband- (google and gossip)I think she is in for a “wild ride” and I smiled. Who knows, maybe that is exactly what she needed! Is that karma?

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  2. She was a pain to deal with and I was a little happy to recognize that she has married a man with a challenging past and another culture to relate to. Why did this beautiful and talented woman make that choice and more importantly, why did I care? I don’t know but once I found this out, I moved on. Sometimes it is about us.

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  3. I’m mostly a believer in what you put out in the world eventually comes back around. Mostly in the sense that when you focus on the bad or the good, it kind of amplifies that focus, but it does mostly tie into actions as well. I also don’t think it is ever 100% and it certainly is blind. Too many times you see horrible people continuing to be able to be horrible with no adverse results and good people having horrible things happen to them. So while I do think that something like karma plays a part, it is as imperfect as every other system out there and it isn’t the end all be all either.

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  4. I’ve often wondered why bad things happen to good people. Some will say it’s a test. Well, isn’t everything in life some sort of test? I do believe in cause and effect. We become what we do and what we think. It follows then, if you make others miserable, you will become miserable yourself. That seems like retribution. I’ve seen it in action.

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    1. Ok. You ve made me think. I’ve tried to respond about three time’s and I can’t get the right words out. The cause and effect part is good. If we keep doing bad things, unless you’re a socio or psycho path, it will eventually wear you down. Good comments.

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  5. I do believe in karma but we may never see it. It could come in many forms that we don’t even know about. I try not to think about it anymore with the people who have done me wrong but just try to live a good life. Hopefully they realize their mistakes and if not – maybe in another lifetime they will reap what they sowed you know.

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    1. Ok. I get that. These people may suffer in ways that we don’t know, they might be suffering at the same time they’re hurting us. That’s a good way to think about it

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  6. I think there’s a lot more to it. I think life is a learning experience nd we all have certain things to learn before we die. I think we learn different things in each lifetime. Does God judge and decide what is bad and how people get punished if there is karma? I believe God is loving. That said how can someone who is loving give can cancer to.someone? To right a wrong? I’m not sure.i believe in karma. I believe we.are on earth to learn love. Lastly, maybe he was divorced and his wife and daughter are thinking he finally got what he deserved.

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  7. I think karma exists, but it doesn’t always come at a time when we want it. I once quit a job I loved over a bad boss, and five years later he was run out of town for his evil ways, and never got another big-paying job. He did damage to a lot of good people, many colleagues of mine, so I felt there was some justice in the end. But the bad things happening to good people, I don’t know – life is just unfair sometimes. I read in the paper recently about a young single 35 yr old mother with 3 kids who had already lost her 10 year old daughter last year to cancer, and now she’s been diagnosed with stage 4 incurable cancer – why do some people have such bad luck, and who is going to look after those kids. There was a picture of them, such a nice family – it was a fundraiser. You’re heart just breaks and you wonder why?

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    1. Exactly! I have a friend who just seems to get hit with the worst things imaginable. And she’s the best person ever. That’s what I don’t understand. It’s fine when bad people get what’s coming to them, but the good people? I don’t get it

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  8. I agree with your placebo theory. I think we like to, or maybe even *need* to believe in karma and that good and bad deeds will be rewarded and punished because we crave approval and we despair to think that bad behaviour in others has no consequence. We really want the bad actors to get their comeuppance.

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  9. No way to know about the cancer. It could have been a genetic flaw or the toxicity he caused in his body due to his critical nature. If Karma comes into play we would all be suffering some sort of retribution because none of us are living perfect lives with only perfect and kind thoughts and actions.

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  10. As a Christian, I don’t think karma (with or without reincarnation) adequately addresses the problem of evil, that is, “good” people suffer while bad people don’t. You would need an infinite number of reincarnations to get over that on your own. Going through an infinite number of reincarnations sounds like hell. If one did, the end result sounds like mindless annihilation. There’s also no forgiveness (no supernatural help). You have to redeem yourself (somehow).

    The Christian explanation says that human beings (that is us, even the “good” guys among us) are responsible for the evil in the world (started by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden). We need forgiveness, but we cannot get this on our own. Jesus is the new Adam as well as God. He brought us salvation through His sacrifice on the cross. Each of us only has one life to make our choices for God or not for God. We don’t need more than these few years to decide. In the end (addressed in Revelation) Jesus builds a new heaven and a new earth. Based on our choices we either go with Jesus as his “bride” or we follow Satan. It’s our choice. There is a hell in this explanation, but it is the only explanation that offers the hope of a meaningful heaven.

    There is also the atheist explanation. Here there is no God. There is no karma. Grab what you can while you can. It will over shortly anyway. That doesn’t ring true. And again, it sounds like hell even for the fortunate.

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    1. Good comment. I think there are times when life is difficult to get through. We need to grab onto something to get us through the day, and this is where faith comes into play. Some of us need to believe in something to make sense of all we don’t understand

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  11. I use karma in the positive sense only. It helps me make better choices. Almost like ‘do as you would be done by,’ only with the expectation that good will come back to you, even if at another time and/or from another source…

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  12. I think karma can be any type of energy returning to you, kind of like what you put out there, you’ll get back, but it doesn’t have to be in the same form. Louise Hay also has a book called The Body Keeps Score, which is basically about how we hold on to energy and it manifests as ailments, which I see as just a type of karma.

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  13. I’m more of a cause and effect kind of person, our actions have consequences, as do our intentions, I believe if you practice love and kindness there’s a good chance it will be returned. If you’re angry and spiteful to others chances are that will be your experience. It does get mixed up, life is not fair, in that case do your best to create space and move on. C

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  14. I’ve known too many wonderful people who’ve had terrible things happen to them to believe people are punished or rewarded for their behavior. You’d think it would work that way, but it doesn’t and it seems so unfair. So the best I can do is try to live as good a life as possible and hope and pray for the best. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you and your family have a wonderful day.

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  15. I think it’s a jagged little sugar pill we swallow in order to believe the universe is paying attention to us. I don’t really think there is such a thing as karma, but since I don’t know? I will continue to swallow that pill.

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  16. A deep question today, LA. I believe that Karma is simply action; not right or wrong. Just action. I also believe that things just happen, yet I do believe they are guided by a higher power, which means we are merely actors in a very large and elaborate play. A play called life. Have a great holiday. 🙂

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  17. I believe there is a huge balance in the universe. That each of our actions good or bad must have a balance somewhere now or in the future. Really, thinking about the results of each action we take could immobilize most people. This is maybe why we use religion and karma to explain how we each deal with the outcomes of our decisions. If karma really worked that the thoughts/actions we wish for ourselves or others have or will come back on us I think the entire human race would have disappeared centuries ago!

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  18. I don’t believe in karma, but I do believe that people who do mostly good things often have a better life because of it. Not because of some kind of cosmic judgment ( and I say that as a Christian), but because if you are kind to others and help whenever you can, often people pay that back and remember it. Whereas if you are selfish and hurtful to others, you don’t have many people willing to reach out to you when you are in trouble. But as for disease and accidents, those are random. The God I believe in doesn’t send those to anyone’s life, but he is very much there to help us cope when they happen.

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  19. I think the concept of karma makes people feel good/right about the bad and good things that happen to people. As a Christian I believe that God judges the evil that is done, and he work all things together for good. He is omniscient and sees the big picture. He is God and I am not.

    As to bad things like cancer, you only have to look at the pictures of the kids at St. Jude’s to say, “Karma has nothing to do with their illness.”

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    1. I saw two people yesterday who were totally obnoxious. I can’t help but hope they treated as they treat others. Karma or not, I just don’t want to see nasty people win

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  20. I superstitiously believe in a cosmic or spiritual justice enough that I won’t do things. 🙂 Besides that, no. I see plenty of times where jerks never get their comeuppance.

    I do think we tend to meet people again, later in life -or their cousins or a boss they used to work with or whatever- so it’s best to behave honorably because people remember.

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  21. Karma is something we all would love to believe happens so less-than-stellar human beings get what’s coming to them. But, it doesn’t happen that way because bad things happen to good people as well. Our experiences in life (good and bad) all work together to shape who we are. How we respond to adversity defines us. As a Christian, I understand there will be both good and bad things in my life and I will need to choose how to respond to them in keeping with my beliefs that all things happen for a reason. I learn from both…maybe more so with the bad experiences. Plus, we simply don’t know how our reaction to adversity is affecting those who watch to see if how we respond is in keeping with what we profess to be important in life.

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  22. As I said, I see things in shades of gray. Guess that’s why I’m often confused and consider my life to be a roller coaster of emotions.

    That being said, I was raised in a liberal Jewish tradition. My about-to-be ex-husband is a very lapsed Mormon. I spent a good part of the last 15 years living in “the Bible Belt.” For the last 10 years or so I lived among many brainiacs from different parts of the world, many of whom were raised in and/or practiced a range of Eastern religions. All of this led me to give a presentation on Eastern religions in a recent adult ed class while simultaneously considering things like karma and reincarnation and heaven and hell and the possibility of any kind of afterlife at all and how or if anything we do the life we have now may or may not be controlled by any of this or may or may not be related to any of it at all in any way. Do I have you thoroughly confused now, too?

    Anyway, what I learned about karma, in kind of a nutshell,
    Karma and Castes
    Hindus believe(d) one will move through the caste system through reincarnation based on karma
    4 main castes based on occupations and heredity
    Everyone must be a part of the lowest caste in at least 1 life but to reach enlightenment (moksha) one must be at the highest caste (Brahmin)
    Caste system has unknown origin, boundaries were less rigid until Brits used it to streamline governance
    Buddhists take more nuanced view of karma
    Identify various types, forms and qualities
    One’s present caste is a product of person’s past karma, not status at birth
    Enlightenment/Liberation – to achieve this both require adherents to live life according to the Dharma, meditate, pray and not do bad things (though Hinduism allows them if not done on purpose)
    Hindus call this liberated state “samadhi” which means union with the divine
    Achieved by living an exemplary life
    “One (or other #) and done” and one does not come back for another life
    One atones for sins in this life and in the next for really bad sins
    Buddhists call this liberated state “nirvana,” Sanskrit word meaning extinguished
    Achieved through understanding that life is suffering, mind must tear itself away from all worldly cravings
    It is a personal and internalized state
    There is no sin in Buddhism

    I know it’s a lot but…

    I also learned, surprisingly, The Jewish understanding of reincarnation is different from Buddhist doctrines. It in no way leads to fatalism. At every point of moral decision in his life, a Jew has complete free choice. If not for freedom of choice, how unfair it would be of G‑d to make demands of us – especially when reward and punishment is involved! Reincarnation does not imply pre-determination. It is, rather, an opportunity for rectification and soul-perfection.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but here are my main points on the subject of karma in my personal belief system. Like many of your followers, and you yourself I guess, I’d like to believe that what goes around comes around, though also that what we do in this life may or may not be reflected in what happens to us in it. That’s why I really want/need to read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People which was written by a rabbi. I personally think that Christians get off easy in this whole scheme because I feel, and I know that this is simplistic, they get off the hook on the way to heaven by just accepting Jesus as their lord and savior before taking their last earthly breath. On the other hand, I also don’t waste my time or energy plotting or even thinking about bad things that may happen to people who have done me wrong. This is what drove my sister’s thinking, and sometimes her actions too, way too many times in the past and sometimes even ended up doing her more harm than good.

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    1. Thank you for the excellent comments! I, like you, don’t sit and plot the sufferings of those around me. But I do want life to be fair, even though I know there’s no shot of that….that’s my inner idealist speaking….

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  23. I have come to believe in two concepts Karma and Inner Light. I feel that our actions result in both good and bad consequences for us and others. I used to tell my children that what you put out into the world comes back to you are Karmic response. The concept of Inner Light is more internal than Karma. Our actions control our luminance … bright or dull. We control our own lamps and other are attracted to the warmth or repelled cold of our light.

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