Good Karma, Please

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Vetle
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Good Karma, Please

Post by Vetle » Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:46 pm

I'm just now remembering a conversation I once had with my ex-girlfriend. I was discussing how I was going to donate blood and she liked the idea. She said she'd do the same as she turned 17. Anyway, I told her that donating blood is about the only nice thing I do for others so I felt compelled to do it. However, I mentioned that the first time I donated blood, I was really desperate for some good karma and saw that as a way of getting karma, especially since I'm mortally fearful of needles.

So her theory is that, if you do something for the purpose of good karma, it won't give you good karma. In her opinion, your intentions cannot be to gain good karma in order to gain good karma. I have to disagree. I see karma as being a bit cut and dry in the sense that your actions can be good, bad, or neutral, with varying degrees of each. Yes, some actions can do both good and bad but I think that some good cancels out some bad, and vise-versa.

So I really don't see how karma would not come just because you want it to, in spite of the fact that you've done something to deserve it. In fact, part of the reason we do things is because of our belief in a certain repercussion, as dictated by our particular belief system, whether we intend to or not. Our belief systems are sort of the basis of our morality so it would be natural that it dictates what is right and what is wrong. These concepts are reinforced with hope of reward and fear of punishment, which is the first psychological stage of maturity. However, this stage influences our development in further stages and dictates our morality in general. What we learn dictates what we develop and practise later in life.

So, once again, I don't see how it's possible that karma wouldn't come simply because you want it to. We had this discussion about half a year ago but it has not stopped bothering me since. I was curious to hear everyone else's opinions on this.

(edit: woohoo! post number 100! :drink: )
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Post by Luciferish » Fri Mar 25, 2005 11:06 pm

Well there is a premis amongst the Karmic Theories that if you do a good deed for the purpose of getting "good karma" for it, it will diminish the potential of it. The idea is that you should do it for the right reason. With Karma the intent is 80% of the effect. So if your intent is actually a selfish gain, then what comes back?

You should do things for your own reasons, the karmic effect of it should not be the primary reason for doing it. You do good things to do them and recieve the benefit of having done something good for your fellow man. This will as an effect allow the return to be positive. If you do something for your own good, then it does not have the same effect.
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Post by Raven » Sat Mar 26, 2005 7:03 am

I have to agree with Luciferish here, it seems like doing something good just for the Karma is selfish in nature. Its like being nice to people just so you can have more friends, not just getting friends because your naturally nice to people (if you see a difference). I for one, don't really think about Karma, or any kind of reward for my good action. I choose to be moral and good-hearted just because they seem like the right thing to be... unless the greedy selfish nature of it is buried deep in my heart, i really dont think about it too much.
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Post by Vetle » Sat Mar 26, 2005 10:28 am

Interesting points made here.

I should clarify that, in her opinion, karma cannot be on your mind at all. You see, I was telling her about an acquaintance of mine. We were out one day and a guy came up to us asking us if he could use a mobile. The reason I didn't say yes is because he was kind of dodgy-looking and the area wasn't the best. We were actually just there to get some good Mexican food and, as everyone in Los Angeles knows, you have to go to really bad areas to get some good Mexican food. Anyway, I didn't say anything but my acquaintance said yes right away. When I later asked her how she could trust a complete stranger, she said, "good karma."

I told that story to my ex and she said that she would not get good karma for that because it was on her mind.

So what I'm thinking is that our belief in karma is a reflection of our first level of maturity. At any rate, this first level must be lived through before progressing to a higher level. So I think that, what may start as doing something nice for karma, may progress to doing something nice out of habit. If you let your moral code guide you during the first steps on the path, you should be able to walk on your own.

I'm not going to lie and say I don't think about karma every once in a while but it's very rarely the reason I do something. However, I used to use karma as a point of analysis when I first became pagan. I would analyse a potential action and consider what kind of karma it would bring me. Nowadays, I don't do that anymore because I've already accustomed myself to doing the actions that would bring me good karma without thinking about the karmaic repercussions. I already have my criteria formed (I get the feeling that doesn't make sense in English...I'm trying to say that I have my ideas formed and I know right and wrong and all that) so I naturally do these things out of habit and as a part of my personality and default behaviour.

In a way, it's sort of like training yourself to be a good person. But hey, trainee employees make a little money too.
"I just hope angels in the forest
Saw me praying in my own soul
Death is unfair - That's real pain
Remoun you...Am I almost dead?
I miss my hope; My will to live
My last farewell forever, all alone"

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Post by Stormy » Sat Mar 26, 2005 10:41 am

I too agree - to do something good, purely with the intent of getting yourself some brownie points is selfish, and therefore, not exactly the way to go about getting good karma. It's a fine line, true, but it is inked in very black marker on a white surface, at least IMHO.

Look at it this way, if the only reason you give blood is because you think "hey, I'm going to get double karma here because not only is it helping someone, but since I'm afraid of needles and doing it anyway, that counts for even more "goodness" so I'm going to really build up my karma this way" you've missed the point - you're not doing it because it's "good" or "right" or because you genuinely feel love in your heart towards your fellow humans and genuinely want to help them - you're doing it because you expect to get something out of it - and that means you're doing it for selfish reasons.

Anything that one does that is truely good, IMO, is done without the expectation of a return. People give the girl at the checkout $10 for a $5 purchase because they expect to get $5 back. I go out of my way to help the old lady with her groceries because I feel sorry for her that she has no one to help her and I want to make at least a little bit of something easier for her - not because I expect to get good karma in return - although (and here is that very fine line) I am aware - not necessarily when I do a thing, but often afterwards - that I HAVE done something good, and can likely expect good to return to me because of it - BUT, it was not my intention to do the good thing in order to ensure a good return.

And here is an even finer line (to muddle things up even more LOL) - I am a nice person and I do good things because it makes me feel good to be that way - I feel horrible when I am nasty, so I don't like to be like that. So in a twisted sort of way, even I am being nice because of the benefit to myself (it makes me feel good), but I don't think that it is the same as doing something good only because you want good karma. In other words, if you don't have genuine feelings of caring that go along with the good deed, it may still be "good" but I don't believe it counts for karma.

I hope that made sense, it's a convoluted and difficult concept to express.

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Post by Willow » Sat Mar 26, 2005 6:28 pm

The idea of Karme depends on your definition, the western definition of Karma is significantly different than the original Hindu version.
In Hinduism, Karma is soemthing that accumulates, like oil on a lightbulb, and the goal is to do things (fulfill your duties, be a good person etc.) to burn off that Karma. Thus, knowing that you are ridding yourself of Karma by doing an action will still get rid of some karma, but it is believed that as you get rid of the Karma the lightbulb underneath the oil will shine through brighter, thus you will not do things any more for your Karma, instead you will be doing them for "higher purposes." Which may still be self serving as you are still aiming for your own personal salvation. Just food for thought from the religious studies major.
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Post by Raven » Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:04 pm

I agree that it can be used quite effectively as a training wheel so to speak, help to teach the young whats good and whats bad. Because really, when you think about it, the only reason a little kid is nice to you is because he knows he might get something from you later. Its only after a while that they realize that you actually enjoy them being nice to you, and that makes them feel good so they keep doing it. Finally after a long time they are simply nice out of habit, not because they want anything in return but simply because it is the right thing to do. I think this stage of things is the final, and hardest to reach stage of maturity. I'm definitly not there yet, but i'm getting closer every day.
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Post by morgana » Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:21 pm

This is an interesting topic and I'd like to tie it into something I learned in one of my Psych classes. There is a debate out about if "total altruism" really exists. That is, if someone can do a good deed purely for the good of another person, with absolutely NO payoff for the person doing the good deed. The argument is that there is no such thing as total altruism as there is always some sort of payoff, even if it is just a thankyou or a smile. The thankyou or smile makes you feel good, so in future decisions of whether to do or not do another good deed, the idea that you will be rewarded is still there, even if only subconsciously.

Where this is tied into the idea of recieving good karma for a good deed is that though you may not consciously think "Hey, I'm gonna get good karma for this" it is a subconscious motivator as much as recieving kind words, a smile, or even a monetary reward. Yes, it does seem a bit self centered when you think that you may not be doing good deeds simply because it is the "right thing to do"and that you do it for some sort of reward (no matter how small), but hey, the way I see it a good deed is a good deed no matter the reason why you do it. Just my 2 cents. :-D
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Post by Stormy » Sun Mar 27, 2005 8:39 am

morgana, that's sort of what I was getting at - even though I may not think about getting "good karma" at the time or as the motivation, or sometimes at all, in relation to something "good" that I do, I AM nice and "good" because it makes me feel good to be that way, so, yes, I am getting something out of it and therefore, could be said to be a nice person because it does something for me (makes me feel good) and I'm not a "bad" person because it makes me feel bad (not necessarily because I know a thing is "wrong"). It's a really fine, fine line, but definitely an interesting one to look at.

And here's another part of that fine line to take a look at and try to figure out - quite often I simply feel "compelled" to do something that is "nice" or "good" - it isn't even as if it is something that I thought to do on my own - it's just that suddenly, the thought is there in my head saying "Hey, you should call Ruthanne (my neighbor and good friend) and see if she needs anything from the grocery store before you leave." and then I call her and 99.9% of the time she'll say, "I can't believe you called, I actually do need..." (or something similar to that). And here's the odd thing about it, even though she is my neighbor and friend, I am, as I've mentioned before, pretty much a "gregarious loner" - I don't actually "like" to run errands for people and there is absolutely no reason in the world why I should call her and put myself in the position of doing said errand for her - yet something always tells me when it is that she needs something and I can't help but call and offer to get it for her. When I do that, there is no thought about getting "good karma" or even about feeling good about it, because it really can be a pain in the butt at times (so it definately doesn't make me feel good lol), but I do it anyway. And this happens with other things and other people too - even as "one shot deals", so to speak - like the time I felt compelled to call the local non-denominational church and ask if they had a use for my old electronic keyboard - turned out there was an old fellow who went to the church who needed a replacement and couldn't afford it... So, what exactly is THAT sort of thing about? Is it the "learned behavior" of being "good"? Is it the universe using me as a means to accomplish something? Just more food for thought...

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Post by FyreGarnet » Mon Mar 28, 2005 12:37 pm

Stormy, that might be the universe, or it might be some form of empathy that you are getting. Nonetheless, you are helping others.

That's what I've always wanted to do, so I decided on forensic science. I figured that way I can try to help people. But lately, I've been wondering about being a psychologist or councilor. Online, I end up going to a pagan chat room often. And people are always finding me, and asking me questions. So I wonder if maybe I should be doing something like that. I always feel good about helping people. But I try my best to help no matter how I feel. I just want to help people.

I don't think about karma anymore. I just do my thing, hoping my best to help people, never hurt them.

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Post by Debbrah » Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:03 pm

Reminds me of a priest of mine. He's a masochist you see, being an empath who is also a sadist.... ;)


I think it is being both too simplistic and too complex an understanding of karma. Karma doesn't care. It is just the reflected energies you sent out coming back to you. If you are sending something with a focus on self, you are going to get that reflected back..... but you aren't "self". The more "pure" the intent, the more clearly it bounces back.
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my karma ran over my dogma...

Post by dragonflydrummer » Fri Apr 15, 2005 12:35 pm

I tend to agree with you Debbrah. I don't really think that there is some kind of disembodied Karmic Dispatcher in the sky weighing whether you intended to get karma or not -- and then weighing out the proper allotment (although in a way that is the iconic figure of Blind Justice). I think it's more of a "what goes around comes around" kind of thing (sort of like Sartre's praectico-inert). What that amounts to is -- everyone's input goes into forming a physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc. environment. Whether that environment is a clear bubbling spring or a puddle of poop is pretty much up to it's denizens.

What still gets me though is when I see people do intentionally evil stuff and reap rewards for it, or really do good and get screwed. The answer that they'll get their due in another lifetime just doesn't cut it, if you know what I mean...

:angryfire: :angryfire: :angryfire:

But then what do I know about universal karmic trooths?
The spirit abides immovable; it beholds the infernal monsters swarm down upon it, and does not fear. (Eliphas Levi -- The Sixth Hour)

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Post by Debbrah » Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:25 am

I know. I try to comfort myself with a variation of one of my favorite curses... There is some justice in that they are who they are, in being the person who is capeable of being as they are.... THAT is a punishment (or reward) all its own....
"There's not much that's contrary to nature if you just know how to coax her along a little."- Mad Amos Malone (A. D. Foster)

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