We throw the words ‘kismet’ and ‘karma’ around quite casually to explain events in our lives because doing so takes the burden of the incident away from us and our actions placing it quite firmly on the broad shoulders of ‘fate’. Its so easy, and rather lazy, to blame destiny. We think, Destiny found me my life partner and I’m not going to work hard to choose because it was all decided anyway. its also fate that got me a job that makes me happy and pays my bills, and again its destiny that broke up my marriage. I have no hand in it. We blame destiny if we’re feeling kindly towards our ex ( because its easier to blame an abstract entity) and we blame him (or her) if we’re irritated with them.
Let’s plunge a little deeper into what karma really means because its harder to escape into a world where everything is predestined with us as pawns on a chess board with no say in what happens to us if we remember that Karma means ‘action’ or ‘deed’. Not predestination.
The Buddhist view of karma that every event in our lives is a result of our actions is called the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect quite simply means that the effects that we see in our lives now have been caused by our earlier behaviour. Not behaviour from an earlier life (as in Hindu thinking) which makes it easier to dismiss because who knows if its even true that there is an after life or a before life or a dozen lives. Buddhism believes we’ll see the fruit of our actions in this life. That’s more believable. If the teacher is going to check your homework tomorrow, you’ll do it properly. If you know that next year’s teacher will check the homework you think you have a good deal of time to finish the homework, or the teacher could forget and you have plenty of time to come up with original excuses about the Homework turning into the dog’s dinner. Immediate results keep us on our toes. I’m really taken with the idea that we can ensure beneficial effects in our lives by making good causes because it means I’m in charge of my life. I’m not a puppet on a string dancing to the tune of a capricious white bearded man.
When I was a child my parents became proud owners of this vinyl and my 8 year old self spent a great deal of time studying the image and asking my mother for explanations.
“The bearded man is meant to be God” she said. I probed further. “ Why is the man making the woman a puppet?” She grimaced ruefully, “ Because that’s how it is.” Then consoled me, saying its just a cartoon, someone sees life and the film this way. But there is some truth in it.
You can imagine how long I thought about it. I must have resolved never to become a puppet to God or Man. I’m sure of it.
Back to Buddhism and Karma – the minute we take responsibility for our actions we can actively change our karma and our present and future circumstances.
How does that apply to divorce? The simplified thought is that you’re doing a ‘bad’ thing, creating negative karma. Lets credit karma with a little more complexity.
Firstly no Buddhist will jump at a divorce without much deep prayer to understand the situation and the action that needs to be taken.
If you’re still certain of your decision after praying for many hours your prayer moves to praying extensively for all those involved. Yes, we pray for the happiness of our ex. That’s the way to generate good karma.
If you pray that they should suffer or even if you wish it or enjoy anything detrimental to their happiness the effects will show up in your life too. Remember the law of cause and effect.
“If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow.”
Intent is everything, our intentions behind the action are what make the karma. Instead of worrying about the bad karma caused by divorce, I focussed on my thoughts and the feelings surrounding the divorce ensuring that I ironed out all (or most) of my resentment.
There’s a lovely book out there that I recommend – it’s called The Good Karma Divorce – I wish I’d found it while I was struggling. Prayer helped of course and a book like this would have been an additional friend.
The blurb reads, “Separate with a handshake, not a hatchet.”
Couldn’t resist adding this other quote by Kant – just because he’s a K and I love his quotes
He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
This is my K post for the Lexicon of Leaving for the A to Z Challenge. Click the badge above to read other participants.