Karma encourages people to do good, what’s wrong with that?

“Karma has no problem getting back in touch with you when need be.” – Author Unknown

What is karma?

The internet is littered with definitions, which seemingly contradict each other, so it’s almost impossible to discern what the actual definition is.

After going through page after page, I finally found one which supports the teachings I learned during previous yoga classes.

“(In Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”

Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of karma, its potential for the future ultimately inspires human beings from around the world to change their current behaviors.

Suddenly kindness and compassion have become a daily practice in the hopes of securing better days ahead.

So, I ask you – what’s wrong with that?

If karma causes society to start acting with more civility towards humanity, isn’t that a good thing?

The older I get, the more I’m starting to believe in the realities of karma. Stephen Richards defines it simply as, “An action for an action, good or bad.” Rashida Rowe likens karma to a boomerang – “whatever you give out…will come back to you.”

And while I may be starting to believe in the realities of karma, I feel as though I’m lacking in applying it. Here’s an example of someone who definitely gets it.

A lesson in karma

On my way home from work the other day, I witnessed something quite amazing.

In Denver, Colorado, it’s not uncommon to find people standing on street corners begging commuters for handouts (surprising given the fact that Colorado has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country).

This has become a regular occurrence in Denver, and therefore it’s easy to grow numb to it – especially at the end of a busy day with nothing but traffic ahead of you.

As we approached a red light, I noticed a middle-aged man holding up a cardboard sign asking for help for him and his family.

It’s impossible to know the specifics of his situation with only a few scribbled lines on a piece of cardboard. And while I’m sure there are some unscrupulous individuals trying to milk the system, taking to the streets to beg for money is extreme.

Few commuters ever acknowledge the individuals standing on the side of the road. But on this particular day one did.

A few cars ahead of me, the driver handed the man a full-sized pizza box.

At first, I assumed they were giving him his leftovers from lunch. But then I saw the man open the box, somewhat overcome by the generosity of that individual. The box contained a full, untouched pizza, no doubt just purchased for that commuter’s dinner table.

Almost immediately I felt the pains of guilt creep into my body. How fortunate I am NOT to be a beggar on the street, and yet how selfish that I would never think to offer such a random act of kindness to another human being.

Over the years I’ve allowed myself to believe that I’ve extended more kindness to family, friends and strangers than I probably have. As Jodi Picoult points out, “You can fool yourself, you know. You’d think it’s impossible, but it turns out it’s the easiest thing of all.”

In the past, I’ve laughed in the face of karma, yet now am starting to believe there just might be something to the notion of it.

If nothing else, maybe adopting such a practice in my daily life will allow me to feel a positive fulfillment that’s not easy to find in a self-serving society.

When I look at my life, however blind at times, I’m incredibly fortunate. The sad reality is that hoarding that good fortune, doesn’t help anyone.