by: Johanna Courtleigh
We tend to think of Karma as some kind of luck. You’ve either got it bad, or you’ve got it good. If you’ve got it good, the gods are smiling on you. If you’ve got it bad, you’re at least a little bit cursed, and have to somehow pay or make up for the months or years or lifetimes of having ‘blown it’. However unknown your infractions may be to you now.
I’d like to propose that Karma is not about what Happens to you. But that Karma is about how you Handle it. Karma is a state of mind. Therein lies our power to ‘create our own reality’, and meet what life hands us in a powerful stance of co-creation. By our actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to imagine oneself a victim when things aren’t going the way we’d wish. “Bad karma!” we might mutter. Another versions of, “Bummer, man!” But, as they say, ‘shit happens’. To all of us! And I believe karma is about how we perspective and meet and handle said ‘shit’. If something happens that I don’t like, I can label it (or me) bad, and bring the accompanying complaint and victimization to it. If something happens that I do like, I can think I’ve got it good.
But perhaps I can begin to step out of my thoughts about good and bad, right and wrong, and look at the potential learning in the situation. And imagine myself meeting that perceptually less-than-ideal human experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness and perhaps even gratitude as to what it’s here to teach. Every moment is a potential turning point. What happens guides and shapes us. We cannot see the steps ahead. The ego’s tendency–brilliantly named the ‘Pain Body’ by Eckhart Tolle–is to see what it doesn’t want as wrong, and to inflict more suffering on itself. We’re all very good at that: suffering over our suffering. Perhaps Karma is about alleviating our own suffering when ‘shit happens’. And finding the potential goodness. Looking for the lesson. Putting it in perspective.
Opening our arms to the universe and saying, “I don’t know why this is occurring, but okay, thank you.” I remember, many years ago now, thinking I was going to be moving into a certain place. I had made a special trip to see it again, and to meet with the property manager to sign the papers. When I arrived, he flippantly told me the place wasn’t going to be ready on time for me to move in. No big deal to him . . . But I had movers coming. I had someone moving into the place I was vacating. I thought he and I had a deal. I thought I had a plan. I was basically being blown off, and found myself desperate, in a swirl of stress and angst and upset. I couldn’t see myself as anything other than a victim. Now, with nowhere now to go . . . Bad karma, some would say. But that was just a moment in time. Fraught. But a moment, nonetheless.
What I didn’t know, and couldn’t see, was that something even better was waiting for me. And that that ‘glitch’, that moment of apparent bad karma, was guiding me toward the life and home I’m in now. A place of goodness and beauty I couldn’t have imagined. Had that other place come through, every single detail in my life would be different today. The people I know. The clients I see. Everything. In Chinese, the symbol for ‘crisis’ is made up of two other symbols: “danger” and “opportunity.”
Under stress, it’s hard to see the opportunity in the crisis. To trust that there is an unfoldment that wants something even better than the ego can conceive of in the moment. That to me is about Karma. About meeting life from a place of openness, curiosity and neutrality, so that when things don’t go the way we think we want them to, we can be receptive, and create Good Karma for ourselves by how we are meeting life, and treating ourselves and others in the process. This is an act of faith, surrender. Trusting in the unfoldment of our lives, however vague and disappointing that may seem at the time. Opening our arms to life and saying, “I don’t know why this is occurring, but okay, thank you.” Creating our own good Karma, by trusting the flow of our own evolution, and letting go, and going with it.
Johanna Courtleigh, MA, LPC, CHT