Karma and vindication
When we are faced with troubles, when people are being mean to us, we do one of two things, we strike right back or we stew about it, the inner critic sometimes telling us that we deserve it or sometimes digging our heels in trying to take on as much as possible all the while blaming the other person or wishing they would change, sometimes working even harder to please. At some point however bitterness takes over and we realise that we are suffering while the other person is enjoying their life. That is when we entertain revenge fantasies and one of the things that prevents us then is probably the old theory of Karma – like begets like and that one has to pay for one’s sins.
All religions talk of this in one way or the other, if not on earth, then punishment in the fires of hell. Now we have two ways of processing this. The first way is of reacting to every situation with the other person, with a sense of moral superiority. We are nice to them, we do everything the same way, we smile, take care of their kids, pick up slack for them, everything just like before. But now, we are secretly smiling. We are trying to prove ourselves as the better person. Its like revenge by proxy. We know someone up there is keeping count of all the bad things the other person is doing, just like we are. And we also mistakenly think that for every good deed of ours, the other person is getting a negative marking. We enter into a phase of spiritual pride and pride, even if spiritual can make one a hideous person. One of the best examples of this is in one of Agatha Christie’s short story The Edge. It is about this plain woman who secretly loves a gentleman, but he goes and gets married to much younger pretty girl. The woman later finds the pretty girl having an affair with someone. The rest of the story is about the woman’s feeling of vindication and how it plays out between the two women. Read it to know how the woman’s superior sense of self righteousness brings a gruesome end. The point being that one cant live a life being self righteous about everything, thinking we are better than someone else just because we follow all the rules.
But what if we dont get self righteous while banking on Karma? Then we could fall in to the next trap. We do live our life, but we keep waiting and waiting to see the other person suffer as we have. We could be the most successful person in the world, but we are not happy, because till the other person is miserable we think we are a failure, that God has been unkind. We get many gifts from the universe, we could be content with our lives, but instead we choose to look at how the other person is still standing. We want to see them get the fruits of Karma, just the way we have imagined it should be. Many times, we dont even have any contact with that person anymore, our lives have taken us to far better places, we dont even hear much of them, yet we are waiting for that one off-chance remark by someone we know about how they are suffering and are now regretting what they did to us.
My problem with this second approach is that it does nothing for us. Say the jerk who robbed you of all your money or the one that broke your heart does come back and beg, full of regrets, how will it help you? Yes, you might feel vindicated, you might feel that satisfaction for a day or two, but what after that? Are you going to get back those days you spent feeling miserable? Is this person’s apology going to have make any lasting difference to you? And now that this person has apologised, are you sure, you will now be happy always? Most of you would have answered no to these. And yet, our ego tells us to look for that vindication that we were the ones in the right. Think again, does it really matter?
I wouldnt say that we need to forgive the ones that have hurt us. That is a little too high and mighty. What I do mean is that we need to build our own life, move on from all of that and focus on us. By focussing on the karma payback what we are doing is still focussing on their life. We are still comparing our lives with theirs and finding ours lacking and even if its not lacking we would swear it is till they get their Karma.
Also there is a high possibility that we really dont know if the so-called cake walk life they have is just our perception and not the truth. Maybe they are getting the Karma paycheques every other day, but its just not made of the same stuff that we imagined it should be made of. We dont know what their conscience, if they have any tells them. And if they havent got any, that is actually the fun part. I do believe that what goes around comes around. But if a person doesnt have the conscience or the empathy to know themselves or others, when karma hits them, how would they even know why something happened. And when you dont know what the cause is, you probably cant take any remedial measures can you? How is that for Sweet Karma, you dont know what hit you, so you dont know how to proceed further too.