When asked about the definition of “Karma,” most people would say it means “You get what you give,” or “You get what you deserve.” And, of course, the ever-popular “Karma’s only a bitch if you are.”
The idea of getting back what you give is a familiar theme, but covers only the first of the 12 Laws of Karma. Newton said, “For every action, there is a reaction.” That’s Karma. Every thought, word, or action we send out into the Universe reflects back onto us in like fashion.
Some people say that the Laws of Karma are a bit mystifying. All that talk about higher consciousness, positive intentions, and Universal connections. Great for philosophical debate, but not readily translatable into our daily lives. Zen guides offer gentle, “Let’s all play nice and learn to love each other” explanations, but I prefer the grass-roots “Knock that crap off and be a decent person” approach.
- The Great Law (aka The Law of Cause and Effect). If you’re a douche husband who cheats on his wife, if you take credit for the good things someone else did, or if you don’t sign up for a annual membership to the ASPCA after watching their TV commercial with Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” playing in the background, you’re going to come back as a mushroom in somebody’s back yard. And they’ll own a tractor mower.
- The Law of Creation. If you can’t figure out why you’re always surrounded by drama, stress, and idiots, it’s more likely created by something you are doing that needs to be addressed before you start working on the apparent stupidity of mankind. We call this “Pick the weeds out of your own garden before you start tending to mine.”
- The Law of Humility. If you’re repeatedly accused of being condescending, entitled, self-absorbed, judgmental, or selfish (or just a total tool when you’re drunk, which is, unfortunately, not an infrequent occurrence), spend your energies working on that. It’ll keep you busy for years.
- The Law of Growth. If you believe that the purpose of life is to have lots of money, fame, or power, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, you might get it, but Karma will come to the party (usually when you least expect it) and bite you on your narcissistic ass.
- The Law of Responsibility. Our parents used to say, “You made your bed. Now lie in it.” Boom. Your four divorces are not entirely the fault of your money-grubbing ex-wives. Your bankruptcy wasn’t caused by someone hacking into your checking account. If you never had time for your children while they were growing up, don’t get pissy when they don’t have time for you when you’re old and lonely.
- The Law of Connection. Karma has a long memory. If you think Karma “forgot” that you’ve been a horrible husband, a disloyal friend, or a stingy employer in the past and that your future is guaranteed to be all unicorns and glitter because you’re just, well, so awesome, take time in the present to watch A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge thought he was all that, too.
- The Law of Focus. You hear that an office co-worker recently bought a expensive house by the lake. Your sister has a designer wardrobe that you covet bad. Your BFF was able to quit her day job and start a mink farm because she’s married to a neurosurgeon who makes a gazillion dollars a year. Your hubs is a plumber, so no mink farm for you. Everyone seems to have more than you, and that’s all you think about. But if you’re busy focusing on what you lack, supply has no room in your life.
- The Law of Abundance. Whether your abundance comes from love, friendship, talents, or money, if you’re unwilling to give back to the Universe or to the people that helped you get there (you didn’t really think you achieved this all by yourself, did you?), the only people at your funeral will be six homeless guys trolling for the free buffet.
- The Law of Here and Now. If you’re spending all your days in the past, reliving your glory days when you were young, hot, and didn’t have a mortgage, a struggling career, or a boomerang kid who’s moved back home “just until he can save some money” (that was four years ago), you’re missing the present moment. If you’re constantly worried about your future (Will I be healthy? Will I be happy? Will I still be married to this jackass?), you’re missing the present moment. Carpe diem, people.
- The Law of Change. If you’re can’t find a “good man” because you keep dating losers with gambling or substance addictions, it’s not what they’re doing that isn’t working for you. It’s what you’re doing. Raise your bar and date the kind of man you want to be with. Your experiences will only change if you do.
- The Law of Patience. You see a luxury car you love but can’t afford. You buy it anyway. Six months later, the thrill has worn off and you still have 54 payments to make. You want to lose 10 pounds, but eating better and exercising take too long, so you hit the drugstore for some “natural” speed that promises to “reduce your appetite and give you lots of energy.” You lose the weight, but haven’t slept for a week and you’re bitchy all the time. This morning, your family left for Hawaii without you. You want to be married, but you’re not in love with the guy you’re dating. He’s persistent, and you don’t want to wait any longer, so you give in. But while you were planning your wedding to a guy you don’t love, your cosmic soul mate began frequenting your favorite Starbucks. He’s now engaged to the barista.
- The Law of Gratitude. If you have a car to drive, a job, food to eat, family and friends who love you, and you aren’t living in a shelter, schlepping all your worldly goods around in a shopping cart you boosted from Safeway, stop whining. Many people can’t be happy because they’re not grateful for what’s in front of them. They’re too busy wishing for more. If you’re not grateful for what you’ve been given, Karma has no problem taking it back and giving to someone who will be.