Sunday, January 18, 2015

Epiphany About Evolving Nature of Karma

This photograph and a version of the following essay 
was published in the Concord Monitor on 1/31/15
Twisted White Birch: Pierce Island, Portsmouth NH
–growing according to certain causes and conditions–
CC Jean Stimmell: 10/25/14
I had an epiphany late last night, bringing the notion of karma alive for me, while reading Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. In this novel, the author is writing  about various alternative worlds Einstein might have dreamed about:

In one scenario, a person is thrust back in time, without warning, to a particular event in his past. However, because he is coming back from the future, he is aware not only of his future story but thousands of alternative stories which could now be poised to unfold, the exact one depending on initial conditions: “the births of children, the movement of people on the streets, the songs of birds at certain moments, the precise positions of chairs, the wind…”⁠1

Lightman writes that this “time traveler from the future…is agonized. For if he makes the slightest alteration in anything, he may destroy the future…He envies the people who live in their own time, who can act at will, oblivious of the future, ignorant of the effects of their actions.” ⁠2

That’s when my epiphany struck! What if those of us living in our own times were not ignorant of the effects of our actions? What if rather than being oblivious to our future, we could foresee it.

If we could truly comprehend that each action we take has repercussions for the future, either negative or positive, we would realize that we are already, moment by moment, creating our future.

Yes, we give lip service to this idea in our everyday lives: positive actions beget positive actions while negative acts spawn further negativity. But, for most of us, that is about it.

Other cultures have taken karma more seriously. Native Americans really understood this concept, teaching that every decision, be it personal or tribal, must be made in light of how it will affect their descendants seven generations into the future. Perhaps that is why they were able to live in harmony with nature and not despoil the environment.

Buddhists celebrate karma as a first principle, believing that the law of moral causation is based on it. As I understand Buddhism, this is a revolutionary statement: Rather than moral laws being eternal and universal, decreed by an all-knowing power at the beginning of time, Buddhists view morality, like they do everything in human life, as arising from certain causes and conditions, evolving over time.

This notion of evolving laws of the universe coincides with recent theoretical breakthroughs in science: Emergent behavior⁠3 and Morphic Resonance⁠4 come to mind as examples of this.

According to these newer theories, universal, unchanging  laws of the universe don’t exist and never did; they are not static and eternal. According to Rupert Sheldrake and others, everything began with the big bang 15 billion years ago, creating conditions and laws that, like us, are constantly evolving over time.

“All atoms, molecules, stars, galaxies, crystals, planets, and forms of life have come into being. They have evolutionary histories. The universe now looks like a vast developing organism, not like an eternal machine slowly running out of steam.”⁠5

If that is the case, the future of our world is indeed in our hands. Each of us are helping to create our common future with each action we take, no matter how small. The truth of this statement is easiest to see in regard to climate change.

But it applies to every arena of life. If we could become totally sensitized to the karmic consequences of our actions, the whole world would be transformed.

Starting with each of us in our daily life, treating our family and  friends with kindness and compassion – in the same manner we would like to be treated – would result in a positive glow that would naturally radiate outward into our civic lives and government.

Slowly such actions, repeated daily around the world would make the world a more harmonious, peaceful and compassionate place.

Pie in the Sky? Not if we think of the Seventh Generation first – rather than ourselves.

XXX

1 Einstein’s Dreams, a novel by Alan Lightman, Warner books, pp. 15-16.
2 Ibid. p 16
3 Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe by Dr. Joseph Cambray PhD.
4 Morphic Resonance: The nature of formative causation by Rupert Sheldrake

5 Ibid. p xii
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