As a child and even now one of my favorite songs is “Instant Karma” by John Lennon, and as far as the Beatles were concerned I didn’t/don’t care for anything pre “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” but that’s a different blog all together. When I first heard the song ‘Instant Karma’ I knew very little about karma, but the word and it’s meaning had been thrown around by the poets, artists, and self-proclaimed mystics in my mother’s crew. I tended to be the only child in her group and from what I could deduce about Karma, I wanted to believe that there was such a thing as “Karma”. That the bad people in the world would get what they deserved for doing bad things. I was a child in New York City visiting my mom when John Lennon was killed and to tell you the truth I really didn’t start listening to him or the Beatles until after he was killed. I mean of course I heard of the Beatles and John Lennon on the radio but I didn’t start listening until after he was shot. And he did something incredible he put the word Instant in front of Karma and I was hooked. Now to this day I have a hard time defining Karma, even after the extensive readings I’ve done on Taoism, Buddhism, and Zen.
Karma in the Western sense, if it was reduced to a tag line I guess could possibly be “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them do Unto You.” The so called ‘Golden Rule,’ which when looked at historically and presently, has always had some lead in it. The ‘Golden Rule,’ much like karma I’m sure, has across the world enticed many people. And many people believe they are following the ‘Golden Rule’ and that others should as well. It sounds like a very simple rule, “Do Unto Others, as You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” We could unpack this golden rule and ask ourselves what Jesus meant and to whom he was referring , the Jews, the Romans or both. Who were the others? That’s for another Blog, yes I know I do that a lot. However when Black people in America read that quote, or were told that quote, for the first time I can only imagine the look on an enslaved persons face. Why in the fuck is master not following the golden rule, well because you are a Black person and you are not thought of as an “other, or others” you were thought of as property. Therefore one can do unto one’s property whatever the F*CK one wants. Still historically and presently Black people held/hold onto the Golden Rule. To this day my Aunt has a prominent picture by Norman Rockwell of said Golden Rule, hanging right by her front door, you may not see it coming in but you will see it going out. However what Jesus learned when he died on the cross and what Black America has learned, known, and been reminded of is “he who has the gold makes the rules.”
Now the earliest evidence of this quote, “He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules,” appeared in an American comic strip, “The Wizard of Id #4” by Brant Parker and John Hart. However it may not have been in print or sung in a jazz song. But it was in the minds of Black People since they were kidnapped and brought here, they knew it during slavery and the aboriginals in America knew it when the first White man landed on American shores. If you have the gold you make the rules. This rule is being shoved down our throats by the Republican party and owners of companies like Jeff Bezos. Yes, but what about karma, trust me I’m getting there. Karma is implicit in the Golden Rule, well as far as the Western mind can comprehend it, “if you do good to others, then others will do good to you.” Subconscious or conscious many of us still believe that, or want it to be true. Just as much as we, and I’m speaking for some Black people, not all, want Karma to be true. When the Black body, mind, soul, and sprit have been wading if not drowned in the endless pools of American hypocrisy, Karma may seem like a life line, the only life line. Especially in comparison to a God that seems to have no lifeline for the people of Haiti. Again another Blog please forgive me. Yes, some Black folks want Karma to be real and instant, because Jesus’ ‘Golden Rule’ is a great and wonderful ‘poster’ in America, but that’s all it seems to be in this moment, at this time.
Now you may think me cynical, I’m a Black poor starving artist/writer living in America, I eat cynicism for breakfast if I want to or not. Still I want America to live up to her ideals, and I believe her great karmic moment is coming I just don’t know if it’s good or bad or both. “The word Karma literally means action, and Karma is both the power latent with in actions and the results our actions bring.” So whatever we do with our minds, bodies, or whatever we say will have a corresponding result. Again this isn’t new to the western mind Newton said it, and I’m paraphrasing….”that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” Sounds like Karma doesn’t it. So if it is “The Golden Rule” or “Newton’s” law neither have been true for the Black experience in America. Racist and dare I say Republican America hasn’t fully lived up to the Golden Rule, because if America had I somewhat believe that my Aunt wouldn’t still have that Norman Rockwell print on her wall. I take that back she would still have it hanging on her wall but for different reasons. Still if Newton was correct, that for every action there was an equal reaction, then for all the progress that progressives make we should always expect the backlash, especially when it comes to progress that helps Black people. However we tend to let our guard down, therefore the backlash has always been greater than the initial push from progressives. Just look at the voter suppression laws that are going into effect, they make it harder for Black people to vote, so no matter what the greater population wants, the minty opinion can always win. So if the pendulum does swing one way it has to swing back. Then the progressives will come up with a counter, again and then again. Sure, that’s possible but what if there was an equalizer something to hold the pendulum from swinging back and forth karmically or otherwise. What if there was a great equalizer that told us, “Every one is on the ball of the pendulum.” And before it’s moved to the left or the right, you all have to get your sh*t together. What if the pendulum holder had two hands, the hands of Karma, one hand would be Global Warming, and the other hand would be the Corona Virus. And these are not the hand of some deity or God. These are actually our hands, our actions that have created the circumstances of which we are under, this is our Karma.
That sounds absurd but every subway or break room mystic that I came across at the beginning of the Corona Virus and up until now attributed the virus as some sort of “Karma” against Trump, The World, the rise of fascism, ignorance, etc. Yes, I may need to expand my circles, they are all a little left leaning, but when you’re reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying in the break room or on the train you open yourself to some very unique and unsolicited opinions. I highly recommend that book, especially now, especially at this time.
Now whether the Corona Virus was made in a lab or came from a bat in a cave, the actions of human beings unleashed a latent power that has now affected every human being on this planet. Is it Karma, I believe it is and just maybe the subway and break room mystics, that give me unsolicited theories aren’t just codependent, but they may be on to something. (I truly believe that anyone who give unsolicited advice is codependent.)
As said in “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”, there are many types of Karma, community Karma, family karma, national Karma, world karma, etc. However what I believe Karma says to the individual and then to the collective in all other states of existence, is that you are responsible for your actions. The Western mind often scapegoats Karma as it has God, if you are born into, live in, or die from poverty, “it’s your Karma”. Or the God scapegoating, “God works in mysterious ways.” Whenever something bad or terrible happens in the world, that seems to be the common refrain. ( Please see what I said about Haiti earlier.) Now we are seeing with Covid and Climate change that human beings are completely responsible for what is happening to them at this moment. To deny this isn’t only ridiculous, it’s dangerous. However it is the disconnect that we are seeing in the Republican party and amongst the evangelical communities who refuse to take the vaccine. God will protect me, Jesus is my savior, I don’t need the vaccine. Jesus is my vaccine. Stop it. If you shit in your pool regardless if you can afford a pool boy or not, if you are waiting for God to clean it up you’ll be waiting for a very long time. Climate change is a result of “us” collectively sh*ting in the pool and expecting God to clean it up. Covid is the result of humans believing that they can go anywhere they want to in the world to eat or sh*t whatever and wherever they want and expect no repercussions. The “sacred” spaces around the world are few and far between these days. Humans will exploit and have exploited most of them, and “Earth” has responded. Karma, you God dam right it is.
However some of us need to take a pause, I know that when Trump got Covid, so many of you said, “Karma!” still he didn’t die nor did he apparently learn anything from it. And now there are those being consumed by the ravages of Covid and the new variants. Those who were once denialist, or conspiracy theorists are dying from the reality of Covid. And to some of us it may feel good to watch them die or fall on their own sword of ignorance and resistance to reality. But we have to be careful with Karma as I said there are many kinds of Karma and if we want this biblical quote to come true, “And The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth.” Then maybe we shouldn’t be so excited about the deaths of the virus/vaccine denialist or should we. (to be continued)