Friday, March 31, 2006

on karma

When overspread by extreme vice --like a tree by a vine-- you do to yourself what an enemy would wish. -Dhammapada, 12

Don't you understand (man) universal law? What you throw out comes back to you, star. -Lauryn Hill, "Lost Ones"

Flashback. Senior year of undergrad. For the first time in my tenure at Rutgers, I was sharing a classroom with a number of my closest friends. We were all enrolled in a discussion seminar whose the purpose was to provide support for us during every stage of the writing of our honors theses. Generally, the class took a conversational tone, allowing us to converse easily about the progress we'd made in our research and the challenges that we faced.

True to form, I imagined myself to be at the head of the class. I'd already completed a 10-week summer research program at a prestigious university and worked with a faculty member to generate the 20-paged critical essay that was to serve as the first chapter of my thesis. All that to say - I was further along in the process than most of my peers.

So, when presentation day rolled around, I was fairly confident that my research would be more developed and polished than that of my peers. This was a good thing, as presentation day -with its goal of preparing us for the crticisms that might be issued when we actually defended our theses to the public- carried with it fears of embarrasment and public humiliation. Presentation day provided the more sadistic amongst us with a guilty pleasure, allowing us to harp upon the shortcomings or short-sightedness of another's project under the innocuous guise of playing devil's advocate. In no uncertain terms, it was an opportunity to be mean.

I leaned back in my chair to see what my less-studious peers would come up with. Before long, it became clear to me that less-studious was an understatement. "Is she serious? How ridiculously broad is that topic?" "Lord, if another student of color proposes a project about perceptions of race..." Self-satisfied and judgmental, I was less than impressed with the work of my peers. I kept my thoughts to myself, though. They needed the help of professionals, and I had my own presentation to worry about.

As my turn neared, my emotional climate changed dramatically. Though I'd prepared extensively, I was wrought with doubt. "What if they ask me about a text I hadn't read? What if there was some gaping oversight that I couldn't explain? What if I stuttered? My heart raced. Palms sweated. Hands shook.

Though my presentation evinced a polished project, it also showed that I myself was a mess.

Years later, I'd come to realize that this was a lesson in karmic energy. You see, some believe that karma is a force that's "out to get you". "Karma's a bitch" or "karma will get you back tenfold", they say.

Not so.

I've learned that karma is the universe's way of bringing you face to face with the energy you've put out. Karma is not a bitch and karma is not punitive. In this situation, karma saw to it that I should have a fuller understanding of the ramifications of my self-satisfied and mean-spirited regard for the work of my peers.

Although I had every reason to be confident with my presentation, I was terrorized by the thought that someone might critique me in a spirit of cattiness or with an air of superiority. And how did this image of judgement enter into my sphere of possibility? How did it breach the boundaries of my imagination? Why, because I knew that there was at least one person in the room capable of generating that energy! Someone arrogant enough to silently belittle my work while I struggled to communicate my thoughts. That person was me.

Quite simply, my spirit was shaked when it was confronted by the ghost of my own negativity. I simply could not handle the energy that I myself had created.

I am quite confident that had I not created and released into the universe so much spite and dismissal, the preoccupation with being judged too harshly by my peers with would have never entered my mind. On that day, I got the first whiff of my own toxic energy and, reader, believe me when I say it tore me up.

A lesson learned. Since then, I've endeavored to generate only the kind of energy that I wouldn't mind returning to me. Present unto the universe that which I would have the universe present unto me.


Blogger ProfessorGQ said...

very smart, my friend...karma is definitely not a bitch and we all must learned that in life whatever we put out does return to us.

great post.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Leontyne's Child said...

This is exactly what I've been dealing with lately. However, I thought that I did give positive energy to others, but after examining my thoughts I found some toxicity there. My stage-fright and nerves are due to the fact that I judge others harshly thinking they're judging me in the same manner; not necessarily being vicious, but because they should.
This is craziness and is also an issue in other areas of my life. Often times I carry the insecurities I have in life onto the stage which causes terrible nerves.

Another example is my opinion of my looks. I am often pleased when I look in the mirror. However, I am always concerned with how others will view me because I'm not a model beauty or my features are much less Euro than those of the national standard of beauty. I've encountered many who think Alek Wek is only "exotic" whereas I see her as gorgeous. Considering their mentality I figure they must think the same of me. Why should I care?

Could it be Larry that our intentions are usually pure, but we are judging others by the standard we assume they will judge us and due to self depricating thoughts we are always trying to correct that which we think we will be judged upon? We don't allow ourselves to just be and have shortcomings because we're not comfortable with them and we think there's no room for such? Therefore, we don't allow others to be. Am I still on the topic here?lol

5:42 PM  
Blogger Marz said...

I live my life thinking about how I would want to be treated in someone else's shoes, and things like that.

I'm in high school, and there are TOO MANY chances to be that person who is mean, and talk about people. But I'm nice to everyone simple, "hellos" can cheer up peoples day.

My parents are ministers and they instilled a different form of karma in the, you reap what you sow, aspect. SO I try to sow good things,seeds, and when I do sow negatively; I try to weed my inner garden of such things. Because you NEVER know when karma os coming, and it always gets you when you least aspect it. SO think about how GREAT it would be too get something AWESOME when you least expect it. (TOO HOT. LOL)

But I do have to work on sowing internally, and the thoughts I allow myself to think about myself, life condtions, and things of that nature. Even the energy I express in my blog, because it's been kind of crazy lately. (LOL)

Karma is only a bitch when you treat her wrong.


3:35 PM  
Blogger Lene said...

that post was deep. i can totally share those feelings, and i won't be screaming out, "karma is a bitch" anymore either... hahaha

10:05 PM  
Blogger Trent Jackson said...

As usual you only deliver the best! This is why you will be the original, marquee, favorite blogger.

If you didn't get me and so many other people together with this post...

5:24 AM  
Blogger taylorSiluw├ę ..... said...

i agree with Trent. you made us all sit back and think with this post.

now i havta think about the negative aspects of my life, and how i've been complicit in bringing it all about.

i've been going through some domestic un-bliss lately ... and now i realize that i haven't been exactly blissful myself in my thoughts or my actions.

i have to chew on this one. and damn, i was SO ready to be the innocent victim.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Reg said...

nice assessment of karma. se say that he period just at the end of your life is karmic. not necesarily a punishment for wrong things done, but an opportunity to feel the feelings you have caused others to feel.


12:52 PM  
Blogger Charles X said...

i was on the edge of my seat reading this post. suspenseful! i too believe in karma and have witnessed its working.

something about this post disturbed me... i think i need to evaluate myself!

2:32 AM  
Blogger ShawnQt said...

I don't know what else to say, your a blessing!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Quaheem said...

makes sense to me...

You can only get back what you've generated...nothing more and nothing less.

Ironically you never hear anyone mention Karma when talking about POSITIVE energy that they've or others have put out...I have always found that to be interesting.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was a good post. indeed. you know someone i met recently told me the following, god puts in front of you the things you got to deal with. your post interfaces with that insight in deep ways for me. you know what interests me more these days, at least academically, are the conventions and practices of tyranny enacted by different disciplines and by their so called practicioners. You know as I grow older what is more evident to me is the problem of hate and greed in everyone; institutional forms of racism, sexism, and homophia provide performative space for these twin evils to presence. when all is said and done, hate and greed. perhaps karma and god regulate these two. who knows. if theology has told us anything, it's that there is room for exception to the rule. thanks, a good way to begin my morning.

6:52 AM  

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