Thursday, July 16, 2020

Karma, But Not How You Think

Well, maybe not "you" personally. But definitely a lot of people.

The New Age version of karma comes from Theosophy, in which the real Eastern idea of karma got combined with the idea of "sin" from Christianity. In the United States, this is where the "pop culture" idea of karma comes from. Basically, you have a list of good actions (virtues) and bad actions (sins), just like in Christianity. But instead of being rewarded or punished in the afterlife, these actions are rewarded and punished right away. So if you do a bad thing one day, the next day something unpleasant will happen to you.

In Buddhism, karma doesn't work anything like that. It simply describes the law of cause and effect - stuff like I decide to put off going to the gas station longer than I should, and the karma of that is the risk of running out of gas. Or in social situations, if I treat someone badly they will eventually catch on and start treating me badly. The point is that in the original version of karma the outcomes are directly related to the actions taken in entirely mundane ways, whereas in the pop culture version they are mysteriously coupled by "goodness" and "badness" as defined according to an external ethical schema.

Now here's the story. Folks online are sharing this as "karma in action." I agree, but not the way they are thinking. This has nothing to do with the universe sending a fire truck to kill this person because racism is bad. I mean, racism is bad, but that has nothing to do with this accident.

A North Carolina woman who became infamous for multiple racist incidents caught on video has died after being struck by a fire truck. Rachel Dawn Ruit suffered fatal injuries after she was struck Monday by an emergency vehicle, just days after her arrest for a racist attack on a teenage girl and Muslim woman, reported WLOS-TV.

The 41-year-old Ruit was arrested July 4 after allegedly ripping off a woman’s hijab during a Black Lives Matter demonstration and grabbing a teenager in the groin, telling her she needed to be “put down.” She also was accused of threatening to rape the teen. A man who witnessed Ruit being struck by the fire truck recognized her from videos of previous racial harassment.

“I just witnessed the same lady from that video accidentally step out into traffic on Patton Avenue, going towards downtown Asheville, as she was walking with traffic coming from behind her,” said witness Jonathan Rowell. “The Asheville Fire Department truck that you see in the background is the vehicle that she stepped out in front of.”

Here's how I think real karma may have played a role. Ruit was filmed going off on racist tirades multiple times, even after receiving a significant backlash from the public. She just kept doing it. Above and beyond being racist, too me that shows very poor impulse control. That same sort of poor impulse control could easily result in her behaving recklessly and stepping out into traffic, which is how she was killed.

So there's a karmic relationship there, but it's nothing like the New Age idea. We certainly can't expect the universe to be sending fire trucks to kill all the racist assholes out there. Not only are there too many of them, the universe just doesn't work that way and no amount of wishful thinking will make it so. The Theosophical idea of karma is a sort of mash-up that combines the worst traits of Western sin and Eastern karma.

The idea that the universe punishes injustice can be comforting, but it just isn't true. If we want something to happen to those who deserve consequences, we have to do it ourselves because "the universe" just doesn't care, full stop. To be clear, I'm not advocating running people down with fire trucks. I'm just saying that if we do nothing, nothing is going to magically happen on its own and to believe otherwise is not helpful.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble


Charles R said...

If karma worked like that, how did Hitler survive so many assassination attempts? Case proven!

Scott Stenwick said...

That is a very good point!

Alex Scaraoschi said...

Apparently he was protected by magical forces too, besides his mundane staff.

Scott Stenwick said...

It actually is not clear what magical forces might have protected Hitler. A while ago, I put up this post on an article questioning how "occult" the Nazi regime really was.

The biggest proponent of the occult in the Third Reich was probably Heinrich Himmler, and by many accounts Hitler basically thought he was a crank.

Alex Scaraoschi said...

From what I've heard there were people within the Thule society (or other, more obscure groups) who cast spells on Hitler. Himmler was an idiot and a show-off imo (like most nazi lackeys), playing around with all sorts of hilarious ideas trying to infuse the nazis with some kind of mystical aura and so on.

Scott Stenwick said...

But the thing is, he was pretty much the closest thing they had to a real occultist. Read the article - it sounds like a lot of the claims about Nazi occultism come from a single source that isn't considered very credible in this day and age.

I wonder if the appeal of this idea is that the Third Reich did so much evil stuff that it had to be actively evil on a metaphysical level as well. But as a number of researchers have pointed out, the evil of the Third Reich was pretty banal - a bunch of bureaucrats who just happened to be processing forms related to murdering millions of people.

It's kind of like the David Icke idiots who think billionaires have to be alien reptiles, instead of just people with so much money they don't ever have to worry about having empathy for anybody besides themselves and their bank accounts.

Alex Scaraoschi said...

I'm not saying the nazis were evil because of their involvement in the occult. As you stated already, they were bureaucrats and they sought to carry out their agenda.

You'd have to take my word for the following because I don't think there's any material evidence on this, as it was passed through word of mouth by... certain people - I don't want to get into the subject related to these people because I have no evidence to back my words. Yes, politicians like rich people may not have time to perform daily magical practice in order to improve their magical skills. But they can have one or more individuals who perform such actions to their benefits. And the former don't even need to be aware of this, especially in the case of politicians.

From what I've been told by a certain individual who has been trained into the paranormal in the former USSR, Hitler also benefited from occult services along the way. His image was shaped in such a way to have an impact on the masses through both mundane and magical means even if he wasn't aware of it, and those magical means also extended to protection.

As an example, could you imagine Hitler, a short, ugly, dark haired person to embody the "tall, blonde and beautiful" Aryan archetype? But he had quite the charisma when he delivered his simplistic speeches, even though he had trained for that extensively. And then some otherworldly touch was added into the mix :)

Another example is the attempt on his life in 1944 when the officer (von Stauffenberg I believe) placed the briefcase containing the time bomb at just the right spot so that the blast would be absorbed by the heavy oak table in the direction of Hitler.

And as an example of occult powers being used on a large scale by politicians and in war times, Stalin brought Siberian shamans to Moscow and had them stop the German advance until such time he could bring reinforcements from the far east. Not only that, but he had the icon of a saint that was known to be a miracle maker flown in circles around Moscow so that the Germans would not be able to enter the city. Moreover, witches gathered from villages around Moscow and cast spells to stop the German advance. And we all know how the weather ground down the wehrmacht until they literally froze still.

My point is the nazis as a whole did not engage into occultism, except maybe for Himmler's fantasies, but some people around them were. And those people were indeed making use of their skills for different puposes in regards to Hitler at least.

Scott Stenwick said...

I know that is not what you are saying. And I have heard some of the same rumors, I just find myself wondering how true they are given the latest research.

I also know there are magicians out there working on behalf of politicians, like the One True Magician casting spells for Trump. But I will also say that such folks are being taken for suckers. There aren't a bunch of rich people or rich political campaigns out there hiring magicians, for example, at least not in the United States.

The Soviet psychic research program was a whole other thing - it's very well-documented that they attempted to make extensive use of psychic and paranormal abilities, and they made pretty good progress at it. Some of their successes were likely exaggerated, but even so they did a lot of useful research on the subject. We had psychic spies too, up until around 1995.