I have little to say about the truth value of anything but the most basic of propositions, ideas and philosophies. It seems that there is very little certainty beyond the most banal and self evident of statements. And yet, like anyone else, I have to believe in more than self evident logical or mathematical truths in order to ascribe meaning to my life.
So I tend more to question whether a particular theory is useful rather than whether it is true. I think that the concept of Karma is useful when it comes to directing my own behavior in an ethical direction – but either useless or even harmful when used to explain the state of the world.
I came across an extreme example of this recently in an article about Karma and inequality.
Apologies for the lengthy quote but I do feel it bears repeating.
“I vividly recall a conversation with a senior Thai monk during the 2001 conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Bangkok. I asked the Venerable, “Why don’t Thai Buddhist leaders speak out against the rampant sexual slavery imposed on children in Bangkok and other Thai cities?” He replied, “You must understand that these girls did something evil in their past lives, perhaps committing adultery. That is why they ended up as prostitutes in this life. Of course, there is hope for them in their future lives.”
The use of religious ideology in order to justify politically maintained inequality is not something peculiar to Eastern religion and philosophy. The Dutch Reformed Church and Christian National Education were key ideological pillars of the apartheid regime. Not to mention – no seriously I’m not going to mention – Zionism and Israel.
My general point is, I hope, not too controversial. Any attempt to justify injustice (l love oxymorons) on the basis of the supernatural should be greeted with a healthy dose of scepticism.
But – if, to the contrary, a belief in the laws of Karma leads to an increase in ethical and just behavior I say well why the fuck not. (-10 Karma points for profanity).
And then I do also sense or feel rather than believe that we are all connected. So hurting others is also hurting ourselves and helping others is helping ourselves.
I think it’s far better to do right for the wrong reasons than it is to do wrong for the right reasons. I’ve also managed to reduce the biblical 10 commandments to only one – “Don’t be a doos!” (Asshole)