Home » Features » Does Karma Go In Endless Loops?

As realisations can arise
from negative karma’s ripening,
negative karma can condition positive karma.

Stonepeace

When April harms May, can April justify her action by claiming she is simply expressing May’s negative karma, that she as the one doing the damage is really blameless? This is twisted thinking, that unskilfully rationalises personal evils! That May suffers from being harmed is indeed the result of her negative karma ripening. If otherwise, she would never be harmed. However, it is wrong for April to assume she is without fault if she intentionally harmed May out of her own free will. Since whether the karma created is positive or negative depends on the wholesome or unwholesome nature of the intention behind an action, April would have created negative karma for herself when she harmed May with an unwholesome intention. As in human law, someone is guilty when there is an ill action with a corresponding motivation. This is also to say that only if April truly accidentally harmed May, is she actually faultless.

April might argue that someone has to be the means to express May’s negative karma. However, if May indeed has the karma to be harmed, she will receive harm via some way, even without April’s deliberation. It can be via another person, a karmic ‘accident’ or other ways. If another harms May intentionally, that person too creates negative karma. Is it possible for April and May to harm each other in a cyclical manner out of vengeance? Is it such that whatever goes around, comes around… only to go around again, to come around again…. indefinitely, or even forever? If this is so, all of us would be stuck in predestined loops with no hope of liberation. Thank goodness, karmic payback is not a closed loop, but more of a spiral, be it upwards in a virtuous cycle or downwards in a vicious ‘circle’. No one is destined to ‘irresistibly’ harm anyone, including oneself, though there might be habitual tendencies to do so.

We always have free will to do or not do evil. Though there might be retaliation on both sides for some time, the moment one forgives and stops, the cycle of vengeance breaks. As the Buddha taught, ‘hatred cannot be ceased by [more] hatred; hatred can only be ceased by love [loving-kindness and compassion].’ Like us, April and May create a mix of fresh positive and negative karma in their lives, which have the power to dilute or thicken their hatred and love. Thus, their mutual karmic payback will not be one to one direct tit for tat with no change in quality or quantity. In fact, it is constantly changing, for better or worse. Both ought to dissolve their enmity. June, as a mutual friend, should do her best to urge them to do so, and not assume her intervention cannot condition them to change their karmic relationship, for the workings of karma is a vast web of interconnected and interdependent causes and conditions.

Should May simply let April harm her, accepting that it is her karma to be harmed, while gleefully ‘rejoicing’ that April is creating more negative karma to receive harm in future? To ‘rejoice’ in others’ evil or retribution creates negative karma! May should dissuade April from harming her and others out of compassion instead, to express repentance for her own negative karma, by urging others not to create more negative karma which harms all involved. Such help is the direct opposite and remedy of harm. It should be noted too, that May need not suffer when nevertheless harmed, if she changes her attitude from aversion to gracious acceptance. However, if she can, she should walk away from being harmed, and not suffer needlessly. Though it might not be instant, the moment she walks away might be the moment the related negative karma ends, while staying on might create karma for its continuation.

As complacency can arise
from positive karma’s ripening,
positive karma can condition negative karma.

– Stonepeace

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One Response to “Does Karma Go In Endless Loops?”

  1. Alone in a Canyon October 19, 2011

    I believe the answer lies in the last few sentences from the above ~
    It should be noted too, that May need not suffer when nevertheless harmed, if she changes her attitude from aversion to gracious acceptance. However, if she can, she should walk away from being harmed, and not suffer needlessly. Though it might not be instant, the moment she walks away might be the moment the related negative karma ends, while staying on might create karma for its continuation.

    The middle path lies in-between…

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