It has probably always been in human nature to find strategies to prevent bad things from happening to us. Our brains seem wired for superstition. It can quickly become wired to connect two unrelated things like winning a baseball game with wearing certain socks. Those things can’t be connected and yet the brain can form a connection as part of this instinct to shield us from anything bad.
I think it’s easy to fall into that trap when thinking about karma and how it works. I think our brains want to turn karma into a personal shield much like our superstitions. I’ve written before about the law of karma and how making good choices in the present moment can bring us better things in the future.
So that raises this question: can our good actions/good karma protect us from tragedy?
And I think that there are two things that stand in the way of that being true. While good actions can bring us a lot of good things into our life, it won’t prevent everything that we perceive as bad.
1) We don’t know what we’ve done before
There are consequences playing out in our lives from choices and actions we made before and that can also be from previous lifetimes. Sometimes people ask why we don’t remember our previous lives. I think it would be crushingly difficult to live with all those memories. It’s hard enough to remember what I did last week! Let alone 600 years ago. Plus the point is not to ruminate in the past but to work on our present. We need to be here now and let the past be the past since there is no way to change it.
2) We don’t know what we need to learnI’ve often said that the reason for the existence of karma has nothing to do with punishment. I believe that we go through these lives in order to purify our soul and get closer and closer to unity with universal consciousness (God). There are things that we need to go through to help our soul learn and grow as it should. So some of the things we experience seem sucky at the time but are helping us. I remember a story and I can’t remember who the guru was, but it was a holy man who got cancer and his followers said, “You could just cure yourself. You are enlightened. Why don’t you do that?” He told them that yes he could cure himself but then he would have to be reborn to experience it again. It was the last thing that he needed to go through and if he lived with it in this life he would achieve moksha and never be reborn again.
It’s certainly hard to have that kind of perspective but it’s what I aim for. As much as I want to be able to control my life and the circumstances I find myself in, it is never completely controlable. Good deeds are good for their own sake but won’t take all the pain out of my life.