Do you remember the children's rhyme, "I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you"? In a simple way this is an example of the way karma works. Every time we say something hurtful, or even think hurtful thoughts about another, we are adding to our burden of negative karma. The Law of Cause and Effect kicks in, things don't go the way we desire and we wonder why. Some blame their bad situations on others and form resentments, compounding their mistake. Others write it off to bad luck and are doomed to repeat whatever they did to cause their misfortune.
I'm sure you've seen these situations unfold in the lives of others. When the karmic debt comes due, it's like watching a slow-motion car wreck.
Even before I heard about karma or the Law of Cause and Effect, I remember hearing the phrase, "What goes around, comes around." This was usually said after someone had harmed another in some way, seemingly getting away without any immediate consequences. But the consequences always come. If not in this lifetime, then in the next.
You see, as Soul, we are continually learning from our human mistakes. The whole point of our lives here on earth is to evolve as Soul. This physical experience is one big classroom, so Soul can gain experience and burn off all Its negative karma. Once this is accomplished and the human body returns to the earth, we as Soul have the choice to stay in the heavenly worlds of God or come back to help others.
One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through love.
I know this sounds easy enough, but it's not. What makes it tough is attachment. As nations, as societies, as communities, as families and as individuals we are caught up in layers upon layers of attachment. The Uncle Remus fable of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby is an example of how being attached can keep us stuck in our spiritual growth. Brer Rabbit starts out with love, offering the Tar Baby a fine good morning, but things quickly run downhill because his love is not returned. Not only does he not get any love back, he gets nothing back. Now he's so mad he pushes the Tar Baby and gets his paw stuck. Pretty soon he's so stuck he can barely move. This is how we are led astray by our emotions. Greed, anger, vanity, lust or attachment can thwart the best of intentions.
How do we stop this constant cycle of creating negative karma? Like the rhyme says, we have to be like rubber. We have to be detached. Being detached doesn't mean not caring who wins the World Series; it just means shifting your perspective. Are you a human having a spiritual experience or are you Soul having a human experience? If you can keep coming back to this perspective you can stop the adding on of negative daily karma. The best way to get out of the quagmire of cause and effect caused by attachment is to give detached love. I know, that seems like an oxymoron. There aren't too many love songs out there about detached love, are there? It's hard to do. Giving without any thought of getting something in return is foreign to most of us. But give it a shot. There are a lot of opportunities out there. Start in your own family. Send flowers to someone who's having a bad day - with an unsigned note letting them know they are loved. Here's a tough assignment: Next time someone begins telling you about a problem they're having, just listen. Giving your unconditional attention to another person without giving your advice or insight into their problem is a rare gift indeed.
Steve Hamilton is a cleric in Eckankar.