Karma is not like a mysterious contagious disease – it is logical, not diabolical

When we understand the principle of karma – of how we are accountable for our actions – we become cautious to avoid wrong actions and choose right actions. However, such caution can have unwanted spinoffs. We may start treating people who do bad karma as untouchables, dreading that contact with them will infect us with their karma. 

However, karma is not a mysterious contagion that may infect by accidental contact. After all, karma is not diabolical, causing misery for no reason. It is logical, giving us the due consequences for our choices. Beyond this central principle of accountability, the workings of karma can be incomprehensible (Bhagavad-gita 04.17). It’s impossible to correlate our innumerable pasts choices with our variegated present situations. 

Rather than becoming paranoid about karma, we can focus on the essential purpose of karmic accountability: to encourage us to do the right thing, thereby furthering our spiritual evolution toward the ultimate reality, Krishna. And integral to doing the right thing is treating everyone with the dignity they are due as our fellow human beings and as parts of Krishna. Such empathy increases as we evolve spiritually. Those who see Krishna everywhere (06.30) also see everyone equally in their pleasure and pain (06.32). 

How does empathy apply with regard to those doing bad karma? Just as we will feel alienated if someone looks down at us because we are doing something that we don’t even know is wrong, others too will feel alienated. If our karma consciousness makes us seem like pompous do-gooders, thereby repelling others from the spiritual wisdom we present and represent, we will end up doing the wrong thing – in the name of karma. 

When we focus on being Krishna conscious, not karma conscious, we do the right thing, in a way that attracts others to do the right thing.


Think it over:

  • How can karma consciousness have unwanted spinoffs?
  • Why is a judgmental attitude arising from karma misinformed?
  • When dealing with those doing bad karma, how can we be empathic? 



04.17 The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is.

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