Karma is a powerful concept. Although tied to Eastern religion, we find traces of it throughout most belief systems, and even in the materialist world of science.
- “What goes around, comes around.”
- Yin and Yang
- “For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction”
- “Do unto others as you wish to receive”
- “You reap what you sow.”
All variations on the theme of life being a reflection of what we put into it. I am intrigued by the concept of Karma within the context of selflessness. Many of the quotes above carry at least the implication of an intent matching a return—in other words, giving to get. I do not believe that giving to get is consistent with the underlying harmony, however, that Karma truly represents. To give with an expectation of return is to sully the act of giving—it is no longer pure.
In the Karmic system, much thought is given to how we live in this life v. how we will receive or live in future lives. The belief is that upon death, our souls return to a central soulfulness, before being called forth again. Reincarnation of a sort, although reincarnation implies a kind of common thread—that the “I” continues to exist post death and within rebirth. That shall remain a mystery, as will the more esoteric aspects of this belief system. I am far more concerned with the here and now—how we live this life, for this life, not for some future life, or to “get into Heaven.” After all, there are no velvet ropes, Heaven is not a nightclub.
No, our responsibility is to the present. It is to our fellow travellers, those who share the here and now with us. This in no way diminishes the importance of spirituality. If anything, it does the opposite. The threads which connect us, do not just do so over time, through differing material manifestations of our spirits, they connect us right here, right now. There are patterns all around us, threads, soft like gossamer, but very real, and learning to listen them is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life.
By being open to the mystery of life. We are all connected. Not just as humans, but also with all animals, but also all earthly and heavenly things. If you are able to accept this line of thinking, you can also accept its corollary—to live an unholy life, a harmful life, one in which your impact is negative on those around you, on the environment, on the world, that you are also harming yourself. Most of us accept that self-harm is an unholy thing. Respect the vessel.
But also remember that the vessel is just that, a vessel. Our spirit is far more important. And it is our spirit that moves the people around us. So, what of karma? Does having good karma mean helping the people around us? Yes, it does. But does it mean doing so blindly? No, it does not. Abnegation of the self, or responsibility to oneself is first among them. If you always say “yes”, your ability to give can become diminished. Self-care, building the strongest “you” is, therefore, a platform from which one is able to invest more in others.
We are often told that you must “first love yourself before you can give love to others.” I have always understood this intellectually, and would tell myself that I loved me, but I am not sure that I have always truly understood what that meant. Many people surely have the same struggle. Many people, perhaps even more, struggle with the self-care necessary to build personal strength. Indeed, the modern condition, the demands of professional life, the rat race, and the relentless pressure of social media, materialism, superficial standards of beauty—gosh, it is exhausting to think about. On that basis, you might not be surprised to think that we are suffering from a massive karmic deficit. You can call it whatever you like, but you certainly don’t need to look far to determine the accuracy of the diagnosis.
The whole narcissistic bent of society, me-me-me, perhaps found expression in the US under President Trump, but that was nothing new…it is a tenor that has been running not just in the US, but sounding ever louder over the past decades. And insofar as it is a representation of this karmic deficit, it is also, therefore, a collective absence of self-love. Would you defecate on your living room floor? Would you break your furniture and leave it there, wasted? Would you throw dirty dish water at your walls and leave them streaked and grey? Of course not, that would be to pollute one’s environment. What is the difference then, when we choose to use single-use plastics knowing full well the destruction they wreak? What is the difference of choosing a gas guzzling auto when more efficient alternatives exist? Why choose the products of industrial agriculture, when to do so rewards the system that has done more environmental harm to the planet than perhaps any other thing? We are defiling our own house on a colossal scale. We are not treating our bodies as temples. We are betraying the very precepts of religious thought. It is not possible to be a good Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever, when one is so fundamentally at odds with living in harmony with the world.
And you don’t need to be a hippie to feel this way…indeed, it will take the most selfish and conservative among us, to see that the necessary revolution in thinking comes to pass. One of my new therapists is very far along in this line of thinking—already doing everything she can to live in the new order…she believes that the old world order is going to crumble and decay all around us. I certainly hope she is right in the sense that a new world order is going to come along first, but I fear that the old world order will not die quietly, and will drag much of humanity down with it.
What is the relationship between God and Karma? I like to think of it this way. Many of us accept the existence of God absent direct proof of God’s existence. This is a theoretical construct. God does not intercede directly in the affairs of humanity. If you ask God to do something for you, it will most likely not happen. Karma, on the other hand, is practical. Karma is a reflection of what we do. And how we do. And on a practical level, what we do in turn dictates how we live, and how others around us live with us. The investment we make from a karmic standpoint in the lives and collective being of the world around us is directly corollary to what experience we end up living. As we do, so too, the world does to us. In this sense, Karma is the natural manifestation of Godliness.
Honour, giving, selflessness—these are aspects of life which are deeply enriching. I have found that D/s is proving to be a gateway for me towards what my first therapist [now ex-therapist] referred to as being alchemized—in other words, coming fully into ourselves. It is perhaps ironic that slavery has become a portal to freedom [blogged about here]. It is perhaps also ironic that the language of Eros is the language through which I am able to let go of life trauma [blogged about here]. And as much as Mistress is teaching me these things indirectly through our interactions, she is also consciously showing me the path through her own example, but also through enriching conversation. And yes, this does make her a High Priestess, one who lives an inspiringly karmic existence.
And let me ask you this. How many of you would have thought or known that D/s was a path to spiritual enlightenment and a more righteous way of living? Perhaps this landscape belongs to only a handful of Dommes, but it is surely the dominant (pun intended) flavour of my experience of submission to Mistress Natasya. When I asked her if I might submit to her, I asked that I might find my path to submission on her terms, through her worldview, through her lens, in relation to her desires, her needs, her expectations. The wholesome nature of these characteristics of Her Dominance makes me a most willing and eager acolyte. To reflect in small part the beauty that she seeks to sow, is a great, great honour. I am not at all ashamed to submit to something which will always be greater than myself, and I am more than blessed to have such an enlightened fellow traveller illuminating the way. Yes Mistress, you are the most extraordinary gift.