A lady in New Jersey, a friend of my aunt’s, recently sent me a booklet entitled Living Intelligently: According to Bhagavad Gita. It’s a series of questions posed to, and answered by Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati during a talk series in July 2001. The Swami deals with several subjects with some insight and vision – karma for one.
People who think they know what karma is have a position on it – i.e either they believe in it or don’t. But if people really grasped what karma implies there would a lot less controversy about it. The Swami explains karma in disarming simplicity that cuts deep through the mysticism and mystery.
He says that Karma is “the law of cause and effect”. That’s it. That’s all. Cause and Effect – the everyday phenomenon that we readily acknowledge in our physical world; one thing happens and other things happen as a consequence. The consequence is always in keeping with the action that caused it. We neglect our teeth…they go bad. We neglect or poison our bodies…we get sick and die.
But hang on a minute. Good people get cancer and suffer. Good people get their towns shelled to rubble or get rounded up into gas chambers – where’s the cause and effect there? What bad deeds could they have done to deserve those things? And what about the people who shelled them – they’ll get away with it. How’s that fair? Where’s the karma in that?
The Swami says that Karma often plays itself out over a longer term than individuals can appreciate. The span of our lives don’t amount to a lot in the cosmic scale. He says that the universe is like a painting that looks a blurry up close. But if you step back…way back, its order and purpose comes into full resolution. According to him karma is ultimately fair, particularly if you believe that the soul is indestructable and that karmic consequences will impact the soul beyond individual lifespans.
For the Swami, the ultimate proof that Karma (cause and effect) exists, works, and is fair is the sheer order, equilibrium and symmetrical beauty of the universe that we live in. The universe works…and withou karma it wouldn’t.