"Karma karma karma karma, karma chameleon
You come and go, you come and go."
--Culture Club (yes, I am a child of the 80s as well as a yoga practitioner)
Karma is a rather popular subject these days, as it's made its way to bumper stickers and inspirational photo posts on Facebook. What is Karma? Is it cause and effect? Or, in regards to yoga, is it selfless service (which is puzzling if Karma implies cause and effect because the action wouldn't quite be selfless, as a certain outcome -- good Karma or getting what you give -- would be desired)? Many say that Karma is a bitch. I prefer to think of Karma as a teacher.
Recently I was participating in a discussion in which the person speaking gave Karma a more punitive spin. He had done something "bad," therefore what came back to him was "bad." It's the ole payback scenario. Which takes us back to Karma being a "bitch." I disagree. Perhaps it's the same outlook that makes me a bad Catholic -- I'm not a fan of original sin -- but I look at Karma as a teacher that offers us an opportunity to be a better person.
This has shown up for me in many ways over the past few months. It's true confession time: In the past, I've blamed others in relationship rather than see it for what it is -- a mirror for my actions. It's easy to point the finger at someone else rather than shine the light on yourself and actually see what you do/how you are being in relationship. These days I'm endeavoring to take more responsibility, which has required a heavy does of honesty on my part. This has become my yoga pratice -- tell the truth, admit to the fact that what's showing up is a direct reflection of how I'm showing up, take responsibility for my life and relationships.
Lucky for me, I've been staring at a mirror for the past few months (figuratively). I've been on the receiving end of what I would consider less than stellar treatment in a relationship, which not only hurt me, but left me frustrated and angry. A person who I had considered trustworthy proved to be anything but. There was a big contradiction between words and action, and rather than meet things head-on and talk things out to clear up any misconceptions, the other person shut down and went into avoidance mode. In what felt like a blinding flash of clarity I really saw this person -- and I understood why his life had unfolded the way it had.
And I got a huge lesson myself, for I've operated in the exact same way. Yes, I'm still hurt by this person's actions, but more importantly, I realized that it's all too easy to point the self-righteous finger and say, "You're the bad one here." Blame -- oooohhh, that's a big one. Placing the blame on the other person gives you the excuse to come out looking squeaky clean in the situation. Unfortunately, while it may get you off the hook temporarily, it actually causes future suffering beacause you repeat the behavior and relive the same situation over and over again. Ironically, while part of me was pointing my figure indignantly at the other person, my ego resisted judging this person because if I allowed myself to deem this person "bad" then what does that say about me, for I picked someone who mirrors me? Judging person as bad=I'm bad too. Ouch.
Eek. Not a pretty situation. It sure was an enlightening one, though. With a little help from Karma, I got to shine a light on how I am in relationship (which was scarier than my skydive last week, for it can be harder to admit to one's murky dark side than it is to jump out of a plane at 13,500 feet). Rather than keep denying it and continuing to choose relationships (and I'm not just talking about romantic ones) from this place, I'm now free to have relationships that are deeper and more fulfilling -- and feel a heck of a lot better to be in (for both myself and the other person).
So for me, Karma has been a journey to knowing better/awareness leading to doing better/acting more consciously, which ultimately leads to being better/being more conscious. Bitch doesn't enter the equation.
Granted, this doesn't get the other person off the hook -- his actions were hurtful at best and deceitful at worst -- but it does make me more compassionate (been there, done that, not doing it anymore) and it's not my place to teach someone else a lesson. It would seem that Karma takes care of that all by itself.
When I find myself wanting to oh-so-helpfully point out the fact that this behavior has gotten this person bad results in the past and has resulted in many relationships gone sour, I smile at the deflection tactic, for I know that it's a sign for me to take a look at how MY behavior has resulted in poor relationships in my past.
In the past few months, I've been accused -- by two different people -- of behavior that I didn't engage in. I got all indignant about it, blaming the ones accusing me of the behavior ("They're just insecure." "They don't trust me and that's their problem." blah, blah, blah) before I stopped and wondered why they would accuse me of something that I didn't do? Did my current behavior imply that I was being dishonest or sneaky? Have I been dishonest or sneaky in the past? Asking those questions of myself got me some hard answers and has made me more cognizant about how my behavior could be miscontrued.
Yes, when the student is ready, the teacher does appear. For that I am grateful. Now I have a clearer vision not just of what I want in relationship, but more importantly, who I want to be in relationship. That's not a bitch -- it's a boon.
Here's to Karmic gifts, valuable lessons, and a whole lotta truth-telling!