The understanding of karma has proved very important in Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and magick. In Wicca and Witchcraft, this has taken the form of the “Law of Return” and the “Three-Fold Law.” The basic idea is that you will receive in some proportion to what you give. In ceremonial magick, this translates as “if you do something that negatively effects another, something negative will happen to you—so don’t do magick that harms others.” In general, then, these names—karma, the law of return, etc.—can be described as the natural law of cause and effect.

This is an important concept to understand. Karma is a natural law. A simple description of the law would be that if you drop a stone into a still pond, waves will come out from where the stone struck the water. Those waves are not positive or negative, they simply are. This means something rather startling:

There is no “good” karma or “bad” karma, there is only…karma.

Karma is not a system of punishments and rewards. For there to be punishments and rewards there needs to be some source—sometimes referred to as the “lords of karma”—to determine whether you should be punished or rewarded, and how much you should be punished or rewarded for any particular action. However, there is no individual, no council, no power source that does this. The idea of such a body, as far as I can tell, was invented for a game originally published three decades ago for use on computers such as the Commodore 64 and the TRS-80.

So why is there karma if not to punish and reward? It is to educate. It it to turn our consciousness to the concept that helping others has the advantage of helping ourselves and that cooperation is better than competition.* It’s to bring into our hearts that living an altruistic life is a good thing, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The purpose of karma is to help you develop spiritually. Theoretically, when you learn to be a completely spiritual person and adopt spirituality to a level where it is virtually a part of your very essence, then you will cease to need to live in the laboratory of life and not need to reincarnate (although you may choose to do so).

Errors, Errors, Errors

So why am I discussing this today? It’s because of a post I read on another site. Normally, I credit other sites when I comment what others have written, but I’m choosing not to do so today because the poster is presenting information that is simply in error.

The poster gets into the idea of “negative” karma which is completely false. As I wrote above, karma is simply karma. It is to educate you on ways to improve your life. And that’s what is heavily missing in this other blog. The writer discusses “fixing” your karma. Sorry, your karma isn’t broken. The fact that you’re interpreting the results as being negative for you shows that, indeed, your karma is working perfectly and as intended.

He writes that you can change your karma rather quickly. However, he is talking about “instant karma” and seems to assume that this is the only type of karma there is. Actually, there are at least two other types of karma (karma from past lives and karma from earlier in this life).

His technique for overcoming negative karma is to do something good for someone else. But note what is happening: you are told to do good not because you have learned that helping people is a good thing, but simply in order to fight your so-called negative karma. Respectfully, this is neither the purpose of karma nor will it really be effective.

Well, it’s a bit more complex than that (isn’t it always?). Karma is about actions, not intentions. So if you start doing good and helping others and continue with these practices, you will have a better life. You may not advance spiritually—the purpose of the learnings you should get from karma—but things will go better for you.

He also suggests that if someone does something to harm another (he calls it “insulting”), you should do nothing. He says you should neither act nor speak out against that harm. On a personal level, I’m not so spiritually advanced that if I witness someone attempting to rape a woman or harm a child that I’m going to ignore it. I’ll act, and act quickly, even if I do have to experience more karma as a result. So be it.

However, I would contend that to not act against something bad is virtually the same as doing it. Helping a person who is doing something harmful to others to realize the impact of what they’re doing is positive. It’s not forcing them to do something against their will.

Finally, he suggests (I’m not kidding) that you can get rid of “negative” karma by crawling on the ground. He claims that it “resets” your brain and your “emotional tone.” Well, it may do that, but that has nothing to do with karma.

Here Come the IROBs

I don’t know how much training this blogger has ever had in the study of karma. The only source he gives in the post is the Course in Miracles. One of the interesting things about the internet is that you can be an IROB (“I Read One Book and now I’m an expert!”) and your blog post, although filled with errors, may seem to have as much authority as someone who has studied a subject for years and is an acknowledge expert.

To readers of this blog, please remember the words of Dion Fortune: There is no room for authority in occultism. Before accepting what some occultist (including myself) writes or says. Check it out for yourself. In this way you can avoid mistakes and being taken in by the IROBs.

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*Saying that “cooperation is better than competition” should not be taken to mean that competition is necessarily bad. Competition to make better products, for example, can result in products that are better in quality, lower in price, better for the user, better for the community, and better for the world. Competition can drive people to exceed the limitations they put upon themselves and become better at school, at work, as parents, at creative projects, etc. It is competition based on the concept of  simply wanting to overcome and destroy your competitors that is the problem. “Friendly competition,” where competitors try to improve what they’re competing over rather than trying to harm the business of their competitors, is actually a form of cooperation.
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Written by Donald Michael Kraig
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such ...