Paying the Bills

Here we are, the first of the month (April 1st—no fooling) so with a handful of bills in one hand and my checkbook in the other, I give a long sigh saying, “Goodbye money—hope to see more of you again soon.”

That’s the contract we make with those who provide us goods and services: we promise to pay up when the bill arrives.

In a sense, that was also the contract we made before coming into this life experience: For whatever we did during our time here, we knew that there would be a reciprocating result—a payback in some way for any good or harm done to others.

But instead of signing the check for our “bills owed,” we usually pay in direct experience—the “you get what you give” payback. We just refer to it by a different name.

We often call it Karma.

In physics, it’s like Newton’s 3rd law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is the supposed payback for all human thought and behavior—both good and bad.

In spiritual terms, karma is thought to operate on the principal of causality, where a person’s intentions and deeds determine a future of blessings (good karma) or suffering (bad karma). Although I’m not certain that this is the true model for karma in its purest intent.

A softer, more lenient view of karma is that of lessons mastered (free of paybacks and life dramas) and lessons still yet to master (still on that life/death samsaric wheel of continued learning).

Most of us are in the latter category. That’s why we are still plugging away here on Earth. We are still writing those monthly checks because we have all those bills yet to pay; and sometimes those bills are holdovers from other lives.

ImageWhen we acknowledge that we have made past mistakes, ask for forgiveness from those we have harmed—even if it was by harming ourselves, and make heart-felt restitution to be better people for those previous transgressions, then we start paying down the bill’s principal.

If we talk the talk about being a better person, but don’t actually walk it, we only pay the interest, and the bill continues to accrue month to month. No loan company will get you out from under unpaid karma. It’s a debt you simply have to work out on your own.

But how we approach those lessons yet to be learned, such as being kinder to others, or more acceptant of others, or more responsive to others, or more generous with time and treasure, and forgiving of the faults and misdeeds of those who have harmed us; these actions can sway how quickly karma releases us from past transgressions and allows us more freedom from suffering. In other words, when we finally learn how to be more loving people, we are provided the opportunities to demonstrate it.

If we believe that ignorance (yet to be learned) is universal and that we are all learning from each and every interaction with each other; we develop greater compassion for those who strike out and seek to harm us in some way.

When we can see our own actions in the actions of another and say, “Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve done that same thing or thought that same way” then we see how similar we are with others, rather than how different.

But even when the actions of others are beyond the remedial stage, we can wish them well on their continued journey, and provide them seclusion from others until their journey ends when they return to the “Head Teller” to work out their accumulated debt. Sometimes removing a seriously harmful offender from the rest of us is necessary. Those repercussive lessons are the hardest to grasp for the rest of us, and often the hardest to personally forgive.

As for MY own definition of Karma, I’m still processing it, but a gentle friend once said to me, “I believe Karma may simply mean the opportunity to try again—a different setting, a different time, a different life.”

I guess I like her definition best of all; knowing that we all long for the day that we no longer need that checkbook.

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