I’ve often defined karma as action. And it is sort of an action. But karma as a “negative” process might be more accurately defined as the inability to act. Often it is your karma that is upon you when you don’t know which way to turn or where to go. – John-Roger
This article by John-Roger was first published in the Movement Newspaper, May 1977.
I’ve often defined karma as action. And it is sort of an action. But karma as a “negative” process might be more accurately defined as the inability to act. Often it is your karma that is upon you when you don’t know which way to turn or where to go. You say, “Which way do I go? Do I go here or do I go there? Do I choose this or do I choose that? I don’t know what to do!” That’s your karma. You feel like you should move one way, but something inside says, “Don’t” or “I can’t.” And you don’t know what to do, which direction to take. You can’t even “cop out” and make a decision by default; your karma has completely bound you. You’re caught. And sometimes you don’t even know it – and that’s when ignorance may seem like a blessing.
Sometimes you have karma and don’t know it, so you go trudging right along, encountering one karmic thing after another until you feel like a big wheel going in circles. You may be. That feeling may be accurate. Sometimes you keep circling over and over the same karmic situation until one day you “wake up” and say, “Haven’t I done this before? I remember the last time. I didn’t like it much and now it seems like it’s happening again.” Pay attention this time. Focus on what is going on. Discipline yourself into action. If you can focus and become aware, then you can act. “I don’t have to do that anymore. I’ll do this instead.” And in that moment of action, your karma has been confronted and dissolved by your intellect – by seeing what it is and making the choice.
Your habits, your greed, your lust, etc. will attempt to pull you back into the old patterns because they are familiar. And that’s spelled S.T.U.P.I.D. But those negative aspects are so strong within you that, when the intellect says, “Watch it!” they say, “But I got through this before. It’s okay.” Some of these karmic things are like arsenic. You can drink a little bit and it won’t kill you, and you can drink a little bit more and it won’t kill you. But one day you drink a little more, and you’re dead. It accumulates in the system, and you can’t get rid of it. You don’t even have to drink it on consecutive days. You can space it out over a long period of time, and it still accumulates and eventually it will kill you.
Ignorance and the inability to act kills also. But it tortures first. Stupidity tortures, too. You get into the same “mess” over and over. Maybe it’s the same scene with your parents. Maybe it’s the same affair with different women. Maybe it’s the same surrender to alcohol. And you say, “I just keep doing it to myself. I don’t know why. I can’t seem to get out of it. It hurts.” You’re hitting yourself in the head; of course it hurts. Stop that and maybe your headache will clear up. And if you can’t stop yourself, find somebody who can help you stop. Have somebody sit on your hand. Or cut it off. Sure, that’s a ridiculous point of view, but sometimes it takes a drastic change to force you into a new direction, a positive action.
One night I heard a comedian do his routine, and he was talking about people in Las Vegas who are really into gambling. The way he related it, it was extremely appropriate to the idea of karmic indebtedness. He was commenting on how gamblers keep putting their money out and keep losing. He said, “The guy’s sitting there gambling, and it’s like some other guy comes along with a baseball bat and clips him on the side of the head. The gambler says, ‘Wow! Some guy hit me on the side of the head with a baseball bat.’ And he goes on gambling. Pretty soon, the guy with the bat comes back, and the gambler says, ‘Look at that guy with the baseball bat; he’s going to hit me on the side of the head again.’ And he does, and the gambler says, ‘Did you see what he did? He hit me on the side of the head with a baseball bat.’ And he goes back to gambling. And the guy comes and hits him again, and the gambler says, ‘Can you believe that? He hit me again.’ And he goes back to gambling. And the next time the guy comes around and hits him in the side of the head, he says, ‘I think I’ll get out of here!’ and he leaves.”
Seeing it coming isn’t enough. Sure you’re a good prophet; your prophecies are accurate. Here it comes! Whack! Right in the head! Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any nicer. And it doesn’t make the hurt any less painful because you’re aware it’s coming. After the first hit, you should be getting up and vacating the chair or getting prepared to duck or negotiating a bit. When a karmic field comes your way, get up and move. Often that karmic field comes to you to get you to move, to get you up off that chair and moving into new things that will be to your advantage. Change is a necessary part of life. Resisting change often brings pain.
Some people are terrific at resisting change. They say, “Not me. I’ve been sitting in this spot for 20 years. And I’m not moving for any old karmic thing that hits me in the head.” All right, get hit in the head. “No, I don’t want to get hit in the head.” Then move! “I ain’t movin’.” Here it comes! “Darn, right in the head. That hurt! But I won’t let it get to me. I ain’t movin’.” Why? “Cause I’m proud!” Your head is starting to look like a sack of doorknobs. You’d better get rid of that pride in a hurry! “No, sir, I’m going to sit here in this spot until kingdom come.” Here it comes again! “Ouch! Right in the head!”
How often do you have to get hit in the head and knocked down before you say, “This isn’t working!”? Sometimes, before you reach this point, you start getting numb. You get hit in the head, and you think, “That didn’t hurt so much.” Maybe your scalp is black and blue and crusted over and numb. Maybe you get so used to it that you think it’s getting better. Here it comes again! “That didn’t hurt too bad.” Maybe not, but that time your jaw was knocked out of place. It’s starting to affect all sorts of things. The repercussions of one karmic action do go through the body and through the consciousness and affect many areas. A couple of brief examples: the pattern of stubbornness and resistance (to any action) in a woman can cause disease in the reproductive system and necessitate a hysterectomy. That karmic baseball bat comes around. You get hit. You resist the pain. You clamp down and push down on the energy, and you push that negative energy down into the reproductive area of the body. You do this enough and that energy blocks the flow there and will eventually manifest as disease. It’s a blockage of energy.
The same pattern in men may cause them to be constipated or may eventually cause a hernia. True, the immediate cause may be that they picked up something too heavy, but that pattern of resistance and stubbornness was in there creating a weakness that made the injury possible.
If you’re really honest with yourself and living in truth, you can write on a piece of paper everything that’s happened to you and how you caused it. And it really gets interesting to find out that you not only created it, but allowed it, and sometimes even promoted it. Then you want to blame somebody else for your creation – “Darn! Here it comes again. He hit me on the head again! When is that going to stop?” Get out of the way. Sitting there promotes it. “No, it doesn’t. I’m just sitting here minding my own business.” Okay, but the guy with the bat runs on a track, and he runs through here every two hours. Why are you sitting on the track? “I didn’t know; it was dark when I sat down.” It’s light now, and in a few minutes, he’s coming around again. Get up! Move! “No, sir, I’m not moving.” They’re building another track. There’s going to be two guys with bats, one on each side. “I don’t think I can take that. I’ll move. But it isn’t my fault. I shouldn’t have to move.” Yes, you do; it is your head.
The first time you get hit with that bat, the first time you see it coming, the first time you hear its approach – that’s the time to move. Don’t wait for it to hit you 15 plus times. Don’t hang on to the old patterns. Let them go. Just drop them and move on to what’s next. It’s called intelligence.