January 19, 2009

In a nutshell Karma is the Buddhist belief that your current actions will be the cause for future events. We are the result of what we were, we will be the result of what we are. Generally speaking this sounds like a good idea.   It’s empowering, the individual has direct control of the quality of their life to come by acting either good or bad.

No scientific evidence exists on the existence of Karma.  It would be completely impossible to measure.  People only know about Karma by searching for the reasons for life events.  If people understand why things happen, they then can control them, feeling in control is a comforting feeling.   So very quickly Karma changes from a method of understanding the world, to a tool of trying to control the world.  Often people fall victim to confirmation bias and assuming that correlation equals causation.  Confirmation bias is drawing attention to the hits, and ignoring all the misses.

Confirmation Bias:
HIT: “I was a nice person, and then someone acted nice to me.”
MISS: “I was a nice person, and nothing happened.”

Correlation does necessarily equal causation:
“I took headache medicine and my headache went away.”
EFFECT: Headache went away
CAUSE: Medicine worked or headache simply wore off

The idea of Karma is very similar to The Law of Attraction or more popularly known as The Secret.  Karma states that your actions dictate your future, The Law of Attraction states that your thoughts dictate your future.  The problem with both is that once someone takes on all responsibility for things that happen upon them, they then take responsibility for their own health.  It’s not fair to assume that your health is strong or weak due to your moral actions. It leads to guilt and even more dangerous, non-medical treatments.

Instead of either of believing in Karma: Just be a lawful person so you don’t get thrown in jail and be nice to people so you have friends.

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