Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Confusing Thing About Karma: Why Does Difficult Stuff Happen To Good People?

The Confusing Thing About Karma:
Why Does Difficult Stuff Happen To Good People?

Karma is difficult to understand. Some believe that perhaps it is beyond our understanding. It is especially challenging to understand Karma when you see difficult things happen to really good people. This is true for Zuri.

Zuri’s Story

It has been two months since Aunt Jasmine took in Zuri and Rashan (her little brother). Eric, Zuri’s older brother, is still attending school….just enough to be on track for graduating. Still, he won’t come stay with Jasmine. Zuri knows Eric. She also knows when he is using. He is like their mom when she uses—broken promises and all that. He is definitely using.

It is March and the weather won’t break.

Zuri feels like there is a crust of snow over everything, a cover over it all. When Aunt Jasmine drops her off at school, Zuri notices the crunch of the snow under her feet, the dusting of the new snow on top of the old, and the frozen ice on the sidewalk that doesn’t melt because it is so cold the salt won’t work. Even though she knows that spring follows winter, when it is cold like this……when the cold holds like this……. when your mom won’t stop drinking like this……. it feels like winter will never end.

Zuri loves school, her friends especially Emily and Jayla, and—of course—she lives for yoga in afterschool. Miss Amanda, Zuri’s afterschool yoga teacher, has been talking to them about Karma. Karma is complicated for Zuri.

You see, Zuri is, and has been, a good kid. Some would argue she is, perhaps, a great kid. Through all of her struggles, Zuri has worked really hard to find the good in things, look for safe people, and stay steady.

What Zuri doesn’t understand is why?….WHY?

Why is it that if she does all of these good things, NOTHING EVER GETS BETTER FOR HER. Her mom is still drinking. Her Aunt Jasmine has breast cancer. Eric seems to be drinking (or worse) and Zuri and Rashan are so lost.

Zuri feels like Karma can’t be a real thing. If it were, good things would be happening for her.

When Zuri has these big questions, the afterschool yoga program is grounding. Miss Amanda is a big part of that. Today, Miss Amanda explained to the young yogis all about doing the right thing. She explained that we should do the good thing, the right thing, no matter the expected outcomes. Miss Amanda said that Karma is about a focus on the here and now. You do things now because you just do. Your good actions are not for the reward, the positive outcomes, the payback, or to earn lots of credit so that the universe helps you. Your good actions are not for the fruits.

Miss Amanda shared a quote from Rumi, “Wherever you stand be the soul of that place.”

“You see,” she explained, “it is not about whether or not the place, or the people in the place, acknowledge you. It is simply what you do and what you do creates you.” explains Karma like this:
“According to Buddhism, this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, ‘nature and nurture,’ but also to Karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.”
Miss Amanda explained that Karma is like planting seeds. She said that, “When you plant a garden you see the spring’s possibilities, you hope for summer’s blossoms, and dream of fall’s bounty. Still, there are no promises. Karma is like that. You plant the seeds that create growth in your heart and in the world.” She added, “That is all that matters.”
After a short pause, Miss Amanda added, “Oh, and you should be present and content in the planting of your seeds. The planting of the seeds is the thing itself.”
Zuri repeated what Miss Amanda told them in her mind as she was lying in savasana, “You plant the seeds. That is……what is. You see spring’s possibilities, summer’s blossoms, and fall’s bounty. Still there are no promises.”
Zuri walked out of yoga to wait for Jasmine. She watched her feet as they crunched on the snow. She sat down on the bench, waiting, cold. She looked over at the crunchy snow and thought about something she heard in church, something that Mother Teresa said:
“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway. 
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
Do good anyway.
 If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
 Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.
Be honest and transparent anyway. 
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
 People who really want help may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt.
Give the world your best anyway.” 

“So,” Zuri thought, “Karma means doing the right thing, the kind thing, the loving thing because it is right, kind, and loving and that is that.” She thought more, “Maybe things will keep being hard and maybe they will get better. But in all that, I will be in my actions of love and that will make the hard stuff better. Maybe that is Karma, my Karma.”
She sat there on the bench thinking. She thought about what might be under the snow. She thought about spring and the tiny little seedlings that will be struggling through the soil to peak out and start their leafy lives. She thought that they were probably already there, waiting, waiting for a bit of sun, a drop of rain, and the snow to melt just a bit.
She wondered if that was happening in her life to.

Sure, it is all snow covered and hard right now. But maybe, under it all, there was a bit of hope waiting, just waiting…. Zuri smiled. 
Zuri thought, “And really that doesn’t matter, cause I am going to keep doing the right thing and showing people love and kindness because it feels really good to do that. It is what Miss Amanda does and she seems pretty happy.”
Aunt Jasmine pulled up. Zuri dove into the car and hugged Rashan, “Hey Buddy!” Then, she leaned over the back seat and gave Jasmine a kiss on the cheek, “I Love you Aunt Jasmine.”
“I love you too baby. Let’s go get some dinner. I am starving.” And they headed home. Ah, Karma.
References Buddhist Education Web Resources
If you want read about Karma, there is a beautiful story of Karma in the book, “How Yoga Works.”  Buy How Yoga Works Here:

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