Jesus and Karma

Jesus taught Karma. For those of you who don’t know what karma is, it is essentially the law of cause and effect. In its simplest form, it states that if you do good things, good things will happen to you and if you do negative things, then negative things will happen to you. Karma is most definitely not the prosperity gospel, and our actions both good and bad cause us to accumulate or lose merit. So, if I cheat someone out of five dollars this morning, it doesn’t mean that someone is going to cheat me out of five dollars this afternoon, but it does mean that there will be negative consequences down the road.

If you are wondering where Jesus taught the Law of Karma, I would refer you first to the Beatitudes. Found in their fullest form in Matthew chapter five verses one through twelve, they are also found in Luke chapter six verses twenty through twenty-six. Since I am going to delve deeply into the Beatitudes in a future blog, I will not explore them very deeply now except to refer you to them. If you will read them I believe their karmic implications are clear.

I would also like to refer you to Luke six beginning at verse thirty-seven where Jesus says, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Clearly, this is a teaching about the Law of Karma.

Continuing now at verse forty-one, Jesus continues, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” And perhaps the crowning moment of this teaching, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”

This is far from an exhaustive list of Jesus’ teachings about karma, but I believe it is enough to illustrate my point. The institutional church has been reluctant to admit to these karmic teachings because it has been lost in the perspective of a wrathful, vengeful God – a perspective that is replete in the Hebrew scriptures but a perspective, interestingly and significantly, that Jesus did not share. The institution needs you to believe that you need the institution to improve your lot, and so they have historically distorted this and many other teachings of Jesus so that they might retain their power.

The truth is that you do need spirituality and you do need community – these are basic human needs. You do not, however, need to subject yourself to the power and control games of institutional religion. The Law of Karma pretty much spells out what you need to do to improve your lot in life: Start treating other people better than you do now, act with compassion and mercy, and love without exception.

And the choir sang, AMEN!

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