I’ve been thinking about karma and what its function is and how it works. I think the purpose of karma is to bring us closer to our true and highest state of being. So, if we do something and it brings us pain then we know it is the wrong track, and if we do something and it brings us joy then we know it is the right track. The amount of karma we experience is the amount needed to learn the lesson and regain balance.
So, if I steal something and then feel great regret and commit to never doing it again then that is enough. But, if I steal something and don’t regret doing it, then I might need to experience having something stolen from me in order to understand why stealing is not a good thing.
I don’t think karma is ruled by anyone, like God, for example. If I punch someone in the face then the reason why they might punch me back is not because God has judged my punch as bad and is punishing me by having them punch back. Them punching me back is just a natural consequence.
What I also understand is that the more spiritually developed we are then the quicker our karma returns. This is because we have less accumulated karma to get through and it’s better for us to get the karma out of the way and learn the lesson.
For example, a little while ago our pet dog got under my feet at the table and I kicked out at her a little, hitting her head and making her yelp. A few minutes later she was tossing her toy around and it flew up in the air and landed square on my head, and I connected the two events straight away and just had to laugh.
However, some people are less spiritually advanced, and have caused so much pain that it’s not possible for them to experience all their karma in one life. For example, Hitler. So, he will have to learn the lessons of his life over – probably – many, many, many lifetimes, OR – and this is an interesting thing – he might have to go to a hell realm where he can burn off a lot of karma in one go. In Buddhism, hell is a temporary place, just like every other realm, good or bad, although you can be in hell for a long time.
Again, the Buddha didn’t make this up and he didn’t create the way things are, he just reported what he saw as a scientist would do. We might not like it. We might not want to believe it. And we are free to ignore it if we want. But if that is how it is then we deserve to at least know. And, to be honest, if some people need fear to make them behave better then so be it. I wish Hitler had been scared of going to hell, it would have saved many lives. But I think the more you spiritually develop then the less you need fear as a motivator and a teacher. You and I don’t behave well because we fear going to hell, we do it for other reasons now.