Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fate or Karma? Your choice!

This post aims to address an issue that has been tickling my brain cells for quite some time-that of karma versus fatalism. Are people who believe in karma delusional? Are people who believe in fate better able to adjust to the vagaries of life? Is karma just a theory? For that matter, is God just a theory? How do you decide? Does it even matter?

There are a lot of people out there who think that people who believe in karma have no control over their lives and are total wimps. I beg to differ. It takes extraordinary guts to face up to yourself and take responsibility for your life and do something about it, while it is very easy to be a victim and blame everyone and everything else. A person who is afraid of taking responsibility will never be able to digest karma as true!

First off, a definition of both terms.

Karma, according to the tenets of theosophy, is the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation. And fatalism, to take a philosophical definition, is the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination.

Now that we are done with the definition given by experts, let’s go on to a more individual level. I believe the real worthiness of any theory, practice, or belief is the value it adds to one’s life. It doesn’t matter if there is no proof; if it works, that’s enough proof! Does it empower you as an individual? Are you able to face life in a confident, responsible, compassionate way because of it? Which one makes you a better human being?

For the adherents of fatalism, they believe that their lives are controlled and guided by a Higher Power, by whatever name you wish to call it, much like a puppet is controlled by the puppet master. So in effect, you really do not have free will. Everything is pre-determined and whatever happens to you, good or bad, could not have been different or changed in any way. You just learn to accept life as it comes. Does this approach empower the individual? Do you feel you have any power in your life? Many a time, I have seen people caught unawares by a setback or tragedy in their lives, who become so embittered and depressed, that they lose faith in God. They rave and rant at God for letting them down (if you have seen the movie Signs, Mel Gibson’s character of the priest-turned-atheist because of his wife’s untimely death, is a classic example). They feel powerless over their future. In effect, they lose faith in themselves, in life, and in God, because it is God they hold responsible for their destiny.

Now, for those who believe in karma, whatever happens in life, good or bad, is a direct consequence of whatever good or bad deeds they have done, either in this life or the previous one(s). Yes, karma need not be restricted to something you have done in your previous incarnation. It can also be instant, it can catch up with you in a matter of days, months, years, doesn’t necessarily have to take lifetimes to balance out the accounts! What does the belief that one will either enjoy or suffer the consequences of one’s actions do for an individual? What if it’s not something you get to enjoy or suffer in the after-life but in this very lifetime or possibly the next? What if heaven and hell is played out in our lives here on earth itself? Of course you would be extremely careful about what you do to whom and why you do it and how you do it. Of course you wouldn’t blame anyone else, least of all God, for any of the tragedies or setbacks in your life. Of course you would make sure that even if you are suffering something now, you are not going to go through that again! It makes you more responsible and empowered. It doesn’t make you curl up into a ball and live out the rest of your life a victim of unseen forces or very much can-be-seen people.

Awareness leads to empowerment. This by itself leads to a complete change in the way you think about what happened to you and could be very liberating. Here, you are not the victim, but the perpetrator, and as such, the strings of this puppet play is in your hands!

While there may not be any conclusive proof that reincarnation does exist, there are circumstantial proofs. For example, if you believe in a God, how can that God be partial and cause some people to be born in the lap of luxury or perfectly healthy or intelligent while others are born into poverty, handicapped, mentally retarded? How do you explain child geniuses? How do you explain the predilection for some to take up the violin like a maestro at the age of 3, or be a math wizard or virtuoso painter, in circumstances where there is nothing in the child’s immediate environment or family that justifies such exceptional talent?

I believe in God and I do not believe that the God I believe in is partial to anyone. I don’t believe in fate. I believe that although there is a Higher Power, It is far too intelligent and loving to make puppets out of us. It guides us, advises us, if we are willing to go within and hear that still small voice that some call intuition, but it never force-feeds or manipulates us. There is such a thing called free will and it is this free will that creates karma. This Power, while never getting in the way of our decisions, is always there. Even when we don’t take that guidance, it is still there to hold our hands and take us through the hell that we have created for ourselves, through to the other side. Karma teaches us, if we are willing to learn, to become better human beings.

The way I see it, karma is pretty democratic!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Brighter Side

Ever heard of the notion of a third-world country inside a first-world country? For all of you out there who dream The Great American Dream, reality could be very different, as is evident from reports coming in of the people affected by Katrina, in the United States. Is the grass really greener on the other side or should we just try to make our patch of grass as green?

They say there is no better antidote to depression than thinking of someone worse off than you. Well, here I was today, sinking into the pits of despair in all its glory, pondering over my future and assorted items on my list of "Things To Think About", when I decided to take some time out to put things into perspective. First, as usual, I decided to do a little meditation to get in touch with my "inner self", that self which always seems wiser, bolder, and smarter than my "outer self", but unfortunately for me, seems to go into hiding most of the time. The only time I can summon her up is at times like this when I face a dead-end and am forced to send an SOS to her. At the end of my brief tit-a-tat, she told me that I would be doing myself a big favor if, instead of focussing on what was lacking in my life, I focussed instead on all the blessings I have. Simple advice. The plus points rather than the minus points. Well, I started doing that and the lightness I felt in my spirit was as real as the despair I had felt before! Not only was this advice simple, it sure was effective! While it didn't solve my problems, it definitely gave me a different attitude, one that helps me think of my life in a different angle, and hopefully be able to come up with the right solution! If everyone got in touch with their "inner selves", a lot of psychiatrists would be out of business...

As I was saying before, sometimes to put things into perspective, it helps to compare our lot with that of others, and a big believer in synchronicity that I am, I don't think its a coincidence that I came across this post on a website called "Whatever" by writer John Scalzi. The URL is It's food for thought, and coming out of the US, even more to munch upon!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina...the Deadly Lady!

Katrina.. what a pretty name for such a terrible monster! Almost all of you with a TV would no doubt have seen the heart-wrenching pictures of people stranded and dying and suffering and dead and lost and crying in the aftermath of Katrina. There are those who sympathize and there are those who believe America got what she deserved with all her self-righteousness and "I'm a super-power" arrogance. Whatever it maybe, Mother Nature's revenge or the Karma Balancer or just a freak of nature, these people are people like you and me and deserve all our support and help... we may not be able to do much, but we can send a prayer for them. Imagine my shock when I heard the news (NDTV) that Bangladesh (of all countries!) has contributed ONE MILLION US DOLLARS to help Katrina victims! God, I had to hang my head in shame! And I do hope the rulers and movers and shakers of America bow their head in humility...I also heard that the US has said a polite "No, thank you" to aid from other countries. Don't know if this is true, but if it is, just goes to show that a leopard can't change its spots! Well, I'd better end my tirade here before it gets out of hand.

If you'd like to read an alternative view on what could have been done differently in this scenario, read the post titled "When the Levee the blog at: This, although pretty strongly-worded, is very sensible and worth a read.

Have you kissed life lately?

If only...

If only all of us could live with the kind of passion for life that the Sufi mystic poet I've quoted below felt, before it gets too late and we're sailing towards the sunset of our lives...

"One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough." –Hafiz

So? Come on, throw yourself into life headlong!

Don't wait and don't waste!