"The Law of Reciprocity" better known as Karma

“Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse who ran away. All the neighbors came around and said well that’s too bad.  He said maybe. The next day the horse came back with seven wild horses.  The neighbors all came around and said, well that’s good.  He said maybe. The next day his son who was riding a wild horse trying to tame it, was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors all came around and said, well that’s too bad.  He said maybe. The next day the conscription people came around looking for people for the army.  They couldn’t take his son because of his broken leg.  The neighbors came around that evening and said, well isn’t that wonderful. He said maybe.

-Alan Watts, The Farmer Story

“This in a way represents a fundamentally Taoist attitude. Which is that the whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity and it is impossible to tell if anything in it is good or bad.   Because you never know what will be the consequences of the misfortune. Or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”

-Alan Watts

KARMA.  What instantly comes to mind when I hear the word Karma is—you can run but you cannot hide, you can change your name, you can dye your hair but you will never be free from me.  (Karma). EEK!

In reading and learning more about Karma I have a slightly different perspective now.  The word comes from Sanskrit and is Hindu in origin.   The Law of Reciprocity or better known as the Law of Karma, is You reap what you sow.

Karma is real. Karma is your bond to the past. Karma is a universal law. It cannot be broken. Karma teaches you and makes your knowledge of the world more complete.

The universe wants you to understand the suffering of others. To do this you must experience life from many different perspectives. It is essential to understand why you did something and what the consequences were. A karmic experience allows you to reflect and correct your mistakes.

It is only when you step into someone else’s shoes that you begin to really understand how they feel. You will continue to have the same experiences until you learn what others have felt and experienced because of you.”

-The Tree of Awakening Forum

What I have deduced about Karma is you must own your lessons.  It is really about intent.  For example:  say you were mistreated in a work situation.  You got screwed out of money.  You suffered because of it. You attempted to figure out what you are to learn from the experience.  Instead of focusing on the lesson you focused on the other party.  I am not saying they are innocent, I am saying focus on what you can learn.  How to set the boundary so that it doesn’t happen again.  Instead we think-Yeah, wouldn’t they just suffer if I didn’t make that sale, if I bad mouthed them in the industry.   Maybe a little pain would do them some good?  Serve up a little payback.  Ever feel this way?  I have. 

Well, then I just created bad karma for myself. My intention was to see them in my mind as hurt, uncomfortable, getting theirs because they deserve to suffer as I have.  Maybe they do deserve to suffer. But that doesn’t serve me. What serves me is to forgive and move on.  Figure out how to prevent it in the future. Keep my thoughts focused on what I need to learn from the experience, understand my role and my lessons.  It is their responsibility to learn whatever they need to learn.  Or else keep repeating the pattern.  It’s a choice. 

 “Karma does not suggest we live under a cloud of guilt or are victims of fate.  The genuine meaning of this term is that one can be confident that their destiny, both present and future, rest largely in their own hands.  We have the power and free will, through our chosen actions, to transform our own lives for the better.”

-Al Maxey, Reflections

Thanks Al, it’s hard to hear.  Even harder at times to buy into.  Say you are struck down with illness, your family suffers a great debilitating loss, your house burns down in a wildfire- is that payback for past choices?  Did you have the power to control your destiny, to transform your life?  Did you reap what you sowed?  The age-old question why do bad things happen to good people?  I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. Sometimes bad things just happen. Could it be Karma from a different life?  Like the Chinese Farmer wisely says, Maybe. Our universe and our role in it is complex.

I do know in many cases your choices matter.  What drives us to madness it seems is that we struggle with taking responsibility for our choices.   Taking responsibility for our choices provides the symmetry of reciprocal exchange and the basis for trust. Let’s start there.   Responsibility for the actions we choose and our values.  Do we suffer due to our choices? Is that Karma? Maybe.

For example—these are choices we have:

“Facts, realism, reality, and learning what is. Inquiring, investigating, seeking, and embracing facts and truth. Reason and Sanity.  Versus- Fantasy, avoiding reality, embracing fantasy or magical thinking.  Denying or escaping reality.  Rumors. Rejecting facts. Insanity.”


Honesty versus Dishonesty.


Self-discipline. Impulse control. Behaving true to your values. Saying YES to your values and NO to the rest.  Versus acting on impulse, Going along with whatever. Situational ethics.


Autonomy versus Dependence.


Participant versus bystander.


Seeking Solutions versus Assigning Blame.


I choose to, I decided to versus I had to, I had no choice.


Ideas, choices and actions do matter and do have consequences.  Believing that effects and outcomes have causes versus It’s all up to fate, destiny, and chance. Attributing results to chance or destiny. There is nothing I can do; I am helpless.

I picked these from a very long list of choices I found in an article about Emotional Competency by Leland Beaumont.  I wonder if bad things happen to us when we make bad choices. Like drinking and driving, possibly wrecking your car, causing life threatening damage to others.  Lying, stealing, taking advantage of others resulting in bad circumstances. 

Then again sometimes things do seem “Random.”  Without cause.  

I concluded for myself the Law of reciprocity is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  You get what you give. It’s a safe way to proceed.  This is good to remember as we enter a new year. An opportunity for increased awareness.

You reap what you sow.  This embodies reciprocity.  The pebble in the pond causes ever expanding ripples.

Until next time.

Sat Nam.