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Monday, April 30, 2012

Karma isn’t always a bitch - Thoughts and ponderings on the meaning behind the popular expression

It all started out, innocently enough, as a joke.

Recently, I posted something flippant and, I thought, humorous on my facebook page about karma. I hadn’t meant it to be any kind of deep or profound statement; I just thought it was funny. A few people took it more seriously than it was meant, and I felt uncomfortable and a little defensive.
                                                       This is the postcard I posted

They say “Karma is a bitch
Everyone loves to say it when something bad happens. “Well, that just goes to show, ‘Karma is a bitch’. “
What does it mean, and is it accurate?
Some of the questions posed:
  Friend #1: What about babies with cancer? Or abused babies? Were they bitches first?
  Friend #2: And karma never seems to catch up with some sociopaths that glide through life as if Teflon-coated. I gave up with any sense of fairness about life and what happens to whom a very long time ago.
Friend #3: Karma is not a Judeo-Christian belief you may not witness the justice because in Hinduism it may not occur in this life. It happens throughout a soul's reincarnated lives.
Wow! It seems karma packs a punch; and there are some differences in opinion on what it is, and the context in which many people use the phrase. Sometimes what is said, is not exactly what is meant. It’s all about personal interpretation and understanding.
Let me explain how I understand it. I don’t think a sentence as crudely worded and simple as “Karma is a Bitch”, is meant to be a discussion of the spiritual/religious concept of karma.
My interpretation, and I believe what most others people think, is more in line with another oft used phrase, “You Reap What You Sow”.

You Reap What You Sow – from The Urban Dictonary
The basic nature of God's Justice:
7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.


1. Everything that you do has repercussions. It comes back to you one way or another.
2. You cannot escape the consequences of your actions. What you do comes back to you.
3. You will see the long-term effects of your actions.
4. KARMA - The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny, especially, in his next incarnation.
5. What goes around comes around.
6. Your actions all have consequences. Don't ever be fooled into thinking that your actions don't have consequences. Don't think you can get away with bad choices even if you don't seem to get caught. Remember verse seven tells us that God cannot be mocked. He sees it all. You reap what you sow.
Watch the way you live your life because you reap what you sow.
We sow in one season, we reap in another.

Sow a thought you reap an act. Sow an act, you reap a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a consequence.
- Quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The Cause of Karma

The main cause of karma is ignorance (not knowing things as they truly are). It is believed that those who are ignorant are dependent on actions, therefore their actions will always come back to them.
Ignorance is also associated with craving, which is another cause of karma. Karma believes that all inherently evil actions and deeds come from the craving that each person has inside of them. Not everyone’s craving is the same, but we all greatly desire things. This is believed to be the root of why men do evil things, but karma teaches that these actions will have a reaction.

Cause and Effect

Karma is the law of cause and effect, or what comes around goes around. This does not mean that it only focuses on past actions. In fact, karma focuses on both past and present deeds. While it is true that the present has been influenced by the past, it is also influencing the future. The doctrine of karma states; “we are a result of what we were, we will be the result of what we are”. If you choose to do good deeds than that good will come back to you in some way, shape, or form. If you choose to be selfish, greedy, or just plain evil, then that type of behavior will come back to haunt you.
Karma can serve as an incentive to do good, or at the very lease an incentive not to do bad. However, we do not full control our karma. While our own volition causes karma, other outside factors have a hand in shaping its response. Things like personality, surroundings, and individual circumstance are known as supportive factors and they have a say in how karma comes to fruition.
-     From the Love Horoscope Site
Karma is the belief that your actions affect your future lives. Good deeds will have a positive effect while bad deeds bring negative consequences. The concept of Karma is popular in the Hindu and Buddhist religions. John Lennon's idea of "Instant Karma" refers to a more immediate concept of accountability for your actions. Basically, what comes around, goes around.

So by these definitions and context, I would agree that “Karma is a bitch and ...”
From Wikipedia- "It is a cause and effect- what goes around comes around. Cause and effect (also written as cause-effect or cause/effect) refers to the philosophical concept of causality, in which an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event. "
From my own personal observations, I have seen how very unfair the world can be; and how every day bad things do indeed happen to good and innocent people, and how good things happen to some terrible ones. But, I also do believe that many people reap what they sow, that is, they bring about their own misfortune and misery by the choices they make and the paths they choose. I believe that personal responsibility and owning the part one’s choices have is a productive and positive step towards repairing damage in life.
How many times do you see a person who bemoans their lot in life, and all they can do is find reasons why they are the victim of other people and circumstances, and that is why their life is a mess? I don’t think much of that attitude.
Situations involving extreme poverty, physical illness, systematic mental, physical or parental abuse, or violent physical force aside; I believe most people have a part or hand in the lot life has dealt them. This is not a dispassionate statement. It is an EMPOWERING one.
We are all responsible for the choices and decisions we make- for better or worse. If we consistently make poor or destructive choices, who is to “blame”? By passing the responsibility to other people or things, what good does that do in our life? Being a perpetual victim of people or circumstances is no way to walk through life.
A great example is Elie Wiesel, who is a famous concentration camp survivor. Do I believe Elie’s karma was for him to be in a concentration camp? Of course not! That would be madness. Elie didn’t bring that terrible situation upon himself. He was an innocent victim, if ever there was one. He was caught up in a political disaster and happened to be born at the wrong time, in the wrong place.
How many people can say the same thing about the misfortune that befalls them? In the grand scheme, not many.
Cause and effect can seem unjust. If a person doesn’t work hard or educate themselves, they will be stuck in a dead-end job. That stinks, but it is how it is in the workplace. Nothing personal, it’s business.
Marry someone after only knowing them for 2 weeks? If you end up getting divorced, whose fault is it? No one forced you to marry that person. (AND If they actually DID force you, that’s another story).
Pathologically lie all the time and get a reputation as a liar, and come to find no one wants to hire you?  You have reaped what you’ve sown. 
Refuse treatment for an addiction and lose all your friends and family? While this may seem terribly unfair because addictions are a form of illness, ultimately a person DOES have choices and options for seeking help and treatment.
You see where I am going with this train of thought. I don’t believe most people are referring to the spiritual or religious tenet of karma when they talk about it in conversation. Most westerners don’t follow the idea of reincarnation, and the context in which we throw the word around is less about “fate” and more about actions as a result of choices.

I have learned MANY important lessons from the “karma” I have received in my life. Situations that I brought upon myself because I was either:  a) misguided; b) ignorant; c) stubborn; or d) emotionally immature; or e) a combination of all aforementioned. There was no malice in most of the situations, but my actions had consequences; some of those consequences were “a bitch” to deal with and took many years to fix. I own my part in them.
I LEARNED the lesson and I grew as a person. I won’t even get into the “did I deserve it?” or not. That doesn’t really matter, because as we all know, we don’t always get exactly what we deserve, for better or for worse.
In summation, I am not the knower of all things or the final say on what is just and what is unjust in many situations. Most things and situations in life aren’t as complicated as we try to make them. They simply are what they are. But to ignore the circumstances where actions are the cause of consequences, and situations are the result of choices doesn't make any sense or do any good if you don't learn from it.

"I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there was an impersonal karma within a family which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished." - Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

As always, if you have comments or thoughts, please feel free and welcome to post them.


  1. Really a great post. I have thought a lot about karma lately, I don't believe she is a bitch. I believe she is a great balancer of life. A tool to help us grow, learn and take full ownership of ourselves and choices. A lot of food for thought here. Thanks.

  2. It is often a Question that certainly poses the foundation for Reincarnation. It is truly a higher minded conundrum... ❤