Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Divine Justice?

I've had many thoughts about karma over the years, most of them misguided and a perception that really became little more than quid pro quo, a balancing of scales and visible retribution for wrongs I'd experienced.

In the eastern sense, karma is very different.

The karmic system of justice always moves in the direction of healing and redemption for those whose hearts have hardened toward others. Its purpose is always benevolent - to bring consciousness back to a path of truth. The means by which it does this is to create new experiences for a soul in need of healing that are specific and direct though often painful, so that the embodied soul can make new decisions concerning what is right and what is true. Coming to a new source of motivation may take many lifetimes and a lot of suffering, but each soul is purified of the darkness they have carried and can be guided slowly from cycling, to begin a new construction of personal values. There are souls who still refuse to change, even after experiencing so much pain and suffering, but even those people are offered the possibility of healing and redemption over and over again.

Regarding forgiveness of a soul including those who cause a lot of suffering for many, there is the human perspective which observes behavior. There is also the spiritual perspective that sees what happens to the inner being. From this perspective it's possible to see the degree of separation the inner being has from the role that is being played before others.

For example, on some levels, I am a very angry person. I would never consider using it as a battering ram against others but that doesn't fix it on the soulic level. Because I choose to behave in any given way doesn't imply healing. Anger is a sign that we feel violated and it can be anger at external events or anger at internal things, the things we perceive as missing. In my case, I am angry at a lifetime of seeming rejection by the people who surrounded me, particularly the ones who were supposed to love and protect me. I am angry about having been raised in a culture that diminished and commodified me. I am angry about those long years in the desert. I wondered what I could have done to deserve being so utterly and completely alone, so completely unloved. I am angry about external events such as war and violence in the name of consumer culture and capitalism. I am angry at the way women are treated by men. I have a whole list! Anger is a way to protect the soul in some respects. It keeps us separated from despair. It can be used to ward off feelings of humiliation and failure. It all depends on how much we identify with the outer self.

Most of the time we can not be aware of what is going on with another person on the soul level. It's not necessary to know specifics to know that something is always going on at this level. Forgiveness can be offered to other souls because there is this level - because we are all in this together. Forgiveness isn't offered to the outer self on a path of darkness, but to the higher self. Forgiveness allows us to believe that anyone can find the path of return. No matter what actions a person has committed, it allows us to believe their healing is possible and their openness to Divine justice and Divine redemption.

It is easy to apply all of this in the theoretical when we're not confronted with real violation. Under those circumstances, it's difficult to find the way to compassion. What we want is an easing of the pain and a way to symbolically undo the harm that has been done. Retribution can be comforting because it creates a soothing in relation to pain through the institution of ‘balance’ - through doing to the perpetrator what he or she has done to others. When we're in pain, the comfort of retribution is that it creates a sense of justice It balances the scales of ‘cause and effect’ so that the action that is the source of pain is met with an equal reaction. Dialectics. The comfort is often small and fleeting, but without it, suffering people are left with the feeling that their insides are screaming for a way to relieve the hurt. It feels like there is no remedy or action at all that can make anything better. Retribution may feel like the only way. I've been there. Sometimes in my darkest times, I still go there.

The need for retribution is understandable from a human perspective - from the perspective of a wounded heart - but it is not the response of a heart that is deeply in tune with the principle that no soul is exempt from redemption. Personally, I don't believe we will ever know peace, not individually and not as a human society, until we can perceive The Other as a soul – not condoning the actions that were wrong, but acknowledging the Divine essence with which each soul was created and the Divine justice with which each action will be met. These are the facts which make the possibility for healing and redemption an eternal reality.




Julie Pippert said...

Very powerful...I nearly wept with the truth, understanding and insight you offered in what you wrote.

This is one of the most beautiful explanations of karma, "Its purpose is always benevolent - to bring consciousness back to a path of truth. The means by which it does this is to create new experiences for a soul in need of healing that are specific and direct though often painful, so that the embodied soul can make new decisions concerning what is right and what is true."

And the part about anger and how we behave may not reflect what is in our soul and how anger can be a deflection.

And the part about needing to know we are each made from the Divine, and perceiving and knowing that there is the Soul, and more goes on in it that we know.


This post is the first time I will use some of my new upgraded Firefox tools. I have a little "note tag" feature.

meno said...

We all toss the word karma around pretty easily. It's nice to take a moment and read about the true meaning. Nice.

jen said...

this is beautiful, friend. and so true, if we were actually able to elevate our consciousness to shift how we perceive Other - and realize it's not our cross to bear, the world would be a remarkable place.

Christine said...

"The need for retribution is understandable from a human perspective - from the perspective of a wounded heart - but it is not the response of a heart that is deeply in tune with the principle that no soul is exempt from redemption."

This is so true--we try so hard to achieve what we perceive as justice in order to feel some sort of healing, but retribution rarely brings the true peace we seek.

Mary-LUE said...

I agree that retribution will not bring peace. I want it sometimes, want it badly, but I think--I hope--that I "get" that it isn't for me to choose the hows and whys of consequences.

Hel said...

I will have to think about this one.

I will be back...

Hel said...

A very powerful message and one that I too am trying to work for. Every time I think I'm closer to feeling compassion someone makes me feel less and compassion is replaced with rage.

However I try to use the rage, to follow it to what it is trying to protect so that I can forgive myself and heal.

Without this healing I suspect compassion will always remain a mental process.

Peace to you.

And a hug.

Lawyer Mama said...

Wonderful post about the true meaning of karma. And I agree that anger can be a deflection. And that there won't be peace until we can all perceive The Other as a soul, as you so elequently write. But that requires all of us to reach a form of enlightenment that will never come for most.

What I have a hard time with (not in your post, but just in general) is the idea that anger is always bad or a deflection. Sometimes anger, not necessarily retribution, itself can be part of that healing process. It can force people to act against injustice or drive people to stop being themselves victimized. Sometimes anger can be cleansing and a necessary step on the path.

Great post, Chani. I'll be thinking about your words for a long time.

Cecilieaux said...

I am most pleased with your sense that the pleasure of retribution is fleeting. In my experience retribution is rare and what you get is close to one of those T-shirts that say: "I did X and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Energy is better applied to overcoming the wrong done and to letting go.

kaliroz said...

I agree with Julie that this is one of the most beautiful explanations of karma.

As always, your writing is so lovely and so thoughtful. Mindful.

And you're absolutely right about needing to see The Other as a little piece of the divine ... as we all are.

QT said...

Very lovely post, Chani. I can't stand here and say it is easy for me to forgive, because it is not. But thank you for the wonderful explanations.

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