I know, I know. But there are some things that really puzzle me, and karma is just such a neat, tidy and convenient explanation (did you notice how nowadays everything’s about convenience? We even have convenience food!). Anyway, let me give you an example:
When I did my teacher training we were asked to step in front of the microphone and say why we were there. It’s an easy enough question one would think. Why are you here? After all you’ve just paid a few thousand dollars for the course, another few thousand for the plane ticket to India, and convinced your boss that it’s absolutely crucial you take this time off, right now.
And because in ashrams it’s not like in the real world, where it’s your last name that counts, but everyone just uses their first name (or their spiritual name, but that’s another topic), with my name I was pretty much right there, at the front line. I felt really stupid, standing there, mumbling something about ‘I felt it was the right time‘ or ‘I just felt that I had to do this‘.
By the time we reached ‘Z’ and even France from France could only tell us a variation of the above, I knew one thing: Believe it or not, no one knew why they crossed the globe, spent all their savings and (many of them) quit their jobs. The atmosphere started being a bit, how can I say – awkward. The thought crossed my mind that maybe we were just a bunch of crazy yoga people crammed into an ashram in a remote corner of India who had no idea why they were there.
However, our teacher knew why (yes, exactly – the one who had asked us in the first place). He said that such a decision is not made in one lifetime. That you’re building up for it. That the seed of something is always planted long time ago and takes several lives to sprout. That every single one of us had some kind of affinity to yoga before even though we might not be able to remember it now.
Right, this sounds a bit crazy, I thought. But then I realised: Not one single person had had a better explanation. Why do we suddenly feel the urge to do something? Where does this come from?
Looking at it from a slightly different angle, let me ask you: Where does talent come from and what makes a genius?
Someone like Mozart, who composed from the age of five, yes five! There’s only so much you can teach a five year old boy. Where does this come from? Of course certain talents run in certain families and I guess part of it is a matter of genes, being in the right environment and having someone who furthers a career and helps exploiting a talent. But instead of just believing that some people are gifted, which implies that they haven’t done much but rather received their talent as a gift – there’s another – call it yogic – way of seeing this.
Nothing is being given to you for free, and nothing is being given to these people for free. The world is not an unfair place, and karma works itself out, no matter what. Whoever you see succeeding now worked their ass off previously. Maybe not in this life, but certainly in others. It’s just one way of seeing it, but one that comforts me. And one that encourages me at the same time.
A while ago I did a trip to Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges, where I had a very embarrassing moment: The priest performing a religious ceremony for us asked what were the names of our families seven generations back because, he explained, this is the number of generations karma needs to work itself out. I couldn’t go more than two generations back, a fact that was only excused by me being a Westerner (I still got a bad look, though).
Bottom line: While believing in karma seems a bit crazy, it explains a lot of the crazy stuff that’s going on around us! 🙂
So what’s your take on things?