Karma and Meg: Used karma

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Graphic illustration by Marcus Jones

Graphic illustration by Marcus Jones

Remember how much we all loved the ABC situational comedy Dharma and Greg? Remember how there was a void left in our hearts after the cancellation of said show? Well, now you can finally fill that void with the weekly column Karma and Meg. It has nothing to do with Dharma and Greg, nor does it have anything to do with the actors Jenna Elfman or Thomas Gibson (yet), but the title of the much beloved show sounds kinda sorta like the name of this soon-to-be beloved column. That’s good enough, right? Wrong. It’s BETTER.  What do I mean by that? Who knows. Anyway, here goes.

On October 30, 2001, an episode of Dharma and Greg aired called “Used Karma.” In just 22 minutes, Dharma worries that Greg is possessed by the spirit of a used car’s previous owner. It’s a Halloween episode. I think there’s a B-story in this episode about a kid egging a house or something. Anyway, for this installment of Karma and Meg, I could write about being possessed by the former owner of a Geo Metro, but perhaps that titillating topic will have to wait. Today I want to talk about Karma.

The word “Karma” gets thrown around a lot. Thom Yorke sings to the Karma police, asking them to arrest a man that talks in math and buzzes like a fridge; Boy George crones about a Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma chameleon coming and going; and then there was that one time Sharon Stone made the cringe worthy (which means terrible and uniformed) comment that the 2008 earthquake in China was a result of Karma. But what exactly IS Karma? Is it simply the idea of cause and effect? Is it some weird Eastern mumbo jumbo that has nothing to do with us Westerners? Let’s clear up some misconceptions.

Involuntary or unconscious actions do not constitute Karma. Karma is the Sanskrit word for “action.” The root kri means “to do, to plan, to execute,” so any intentional action is regarded as Karma. The action can be verbal, physical, or mental. Ultimately, Karma means all moral and immoral volition. Since volition is missing in involuntary or unconscious actions, it does not bring about Karma.

Karma is not punishment. It is the consequence of actions. The effects of these actions are not necessarily fated. A particular action now does not determine a future experience. Which leads me to the next misconception…

Karma is not fate. According to the Vedas, “if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil.” Basically, people have free will.

They create their own destiny. Karma refers to the culmination of one’s actions and the consequences of those actions. Karma does not mean predestination; we determine our future by our choices right now.

Lastly, Karma was not married to Greg. That was Dharma.

Basically, Karma is action. Be mindful of your actions because they can determine your future. So the next time you are about to cut off that Geo Metro on the freeway or steal someone’s parking space, don’t. Karma (and the ghost that resides in the Geo) may come back to haunt you.