Pandemics and Karma

So the comments on the most recent blog were rather quick in coming, but really people you can post these comment on the comment board rather than emailing me personally.
Anyway, so this is a summary of my end of a discussion, half of it being about economics, sociology, and history–the other half on the spiritual implications of my statements.

Primarily this started over my comment that only a pandemic can quickly solve our economic problems. Now maybe it’s just the Malthus economist in me, but I have noticed a strange pattern in history. WWII followed by a major economic boom. Spanish Flu followed by the Roaring 20’s (and notice the economic boom started after the flu, not WWI). Civil War followed by the Industrial Revolution, and of course, the piece de resistance of my argument, Black Death followed by the Renaissance. Now one can easily argue that many factors went into all of these economic booms, but it seems that the massive drop in life seemed to be a catalyst for allowing those other factor to take full effect. Why is this? I’m not a trained economist but I figure some of the factors for this are I. these massive drops in life were not accompanied by massive destruction in the infrastructure (with WWI and WWII the economic boom primarily occurred first and foremost in countries not directly devastated by the fighting, the same with the post Civil War boom, where the biggest jumps were made in the North and West where the least damage was done) II. Under a true Malthusian prospect the death left a surplus of food production, but also of capital that could now be distributed through a much smaller populace, making it more likely for even the poorest person to own capital and have an opportunity to better themselves III. The human psyche’s desire to return to a mythic pre-destruction golden age coupled with human determination to make things happen (and the likelihood that government bureaucracy is usually one of the first things to be destabilized in such situations leaving less impediments to that determination).

Does that mean I want a pandemic to wipe out a lot of people? No, I would rather people start using their brains and pull ourselves out of this current economic crisis through intelligence, will, and common sense…but honestly that’s never happened in history and while I’m hopeful about humanity’s capacity for good, I’m not naive. Further the Malthus in me worries that if things aren’t fixed soon you will see more dire situations occur: like war and famine due to continued economic problems (again based on my study of history, when people feel they don’t have enough they soon become very open to taking it by force from others…which in turn destroys the infrastructure that allow for those goods to be actually provided). And given that war and famine tend to historically lead to that third horseman of pandemic…well if I have to choose between bad situations, could we just skip to the option that leaves infrastructure relatively safe and has a significantly shorter span of suffering (a bad flu will kill you in a week–war and famine on the other hand, as many a Holocaust survivor might be willing to testify to, will only make you wish it killed you in a week). I would love it if we could just evolve as a species and get our collective heads out of our collective you know what orifice–but I have yet to see proof of that, so yes I want the option with the less suffering involved.

At this point in my conversation with my friend, they claimed it was still terrible I could wish that kind of suffering on innocent people (Note this is where the spiritual discussion begins). I responded from my New Age perspective, with an understanding of Karma and intention, they had all in one way or another asked for it. This of course caused shock in my friend, but let me explain, because most people don’t understand how Karma works and why bad things actually do happen to good people.

There are three things that cause events to happen in our life: Intention, Karma, and Dharma (and while I am going to deal with them separately, they are probably best represented by a very tightly wound Venn Diagram).

1. Intention: From a New Age Perspective our thoughts create reality. What we focus on creates the reality around us (see “The Secret” and “A Course in Miracles”). When you do nothing about getting a dent on your brand new car, you worry about nothing else, until you bring that into your life, your car gets dented. When you focus on your career being nothing but one success after another, it is…why because this world is an illusion and only a reflection of our thoughts. Most people do not know how to consciously control these thoughts into series of desired outcome, which leaves their consistent subconscious beliefs to take over. These thought are often self-recriminating, self-loathing, and self-hating which most often manifests in the form of disease. Unhappy people don’t just have disease more often, but are often more accident prone, more disastrous and have more failures in life–they’re not unhappy because of this bad luck, they have bad fortune because that is how they see the world. Pain is life’s way of telling you’re not getting the message. Why do people’s cancer’s go into remission after they embrace life? Because the shock of the disease made them realize they were operating under a faulty belief system, change their beliefs, and the happier more productive belief manifested into a disease free body. So from the point of view of the Law of Intention, people often get sick because their negative and false beliefs created that in their life and they refused to correct their belief system–therefore they brought it on themselves.

2. The Law of Karma…which is really just a long-term view of the Law of Intention. If we believe we have done something good and should be rewarded for it, we manifest that into our lives–or Karma pays off. Now Karma often works at a subconscious level of intention, and the way most people think of it is as paying off for acts in a past life is correct. If we have done something in a past life that we have yet to forgive ourselves for, we will manifest a punishment of some kind in this life. However, Karma is a creation of our making, not God’s. God is a forgiving sort of fellow, and forgave you before you even did anything you thought might offend him, he’s really quite incapable of hating you. So Karma, in terms of punishment is only brought on us by ourselves…if you slaughter a million people in a past life, but in this life came to the realization that while it was terrible what is past is past and you have already been forgiven by God, and thus forgive yourself, there would be no Karmic punishment. Karmic punishment is only the universe’s way of trying to force you to a point where you can forgive yourself. So again, by failing to forgive themselves, if people died in a pandemic, it’s their own fault.

On a related note to both of these two points. Death in this case is not necessarily a bad thing. Often from a larger karmic perspective it take suffering and death to wake people up. People’s souls often feel they must pay some kind of “Karmic” debt for their past misdeed and can only move on until they have done so. Granted while this is a false belief, getting over their past misdeeds is still a step forward, just not as much of a step as fully forgiving themselves, but it is a step in the right direction. Further, many people sadly need a violent and often painful slap in the metaphysical face to realize how stupid their beliefs are. Someone I know thinks that people will only wake up if we have an all out WWIII between the forces of liberalism and conservatism before people realize that liberalism is, at its heart, evil–this is a foolish and reckless belief because even if you did have everyone who believed in liberty and free will stand up, draw a line in the sand and say “no more” the following battle would most likely only entrench the negative and hateful beliefs of liberalism into the souls of their opponents (fighting always makes you think you’re right, just having to suffer the effects of you beliefs leaves no one to blame but yourself). Granted we do need to stand up and kill some people (Al-Qaida, the Taliban, producers who green light reality TV) because these people are out to kill us, but liberals, while holding to a vile and hateful philosophy, aren’t directly out to kill us (yes their beliefs will result in suffering, but they need to learn that themselves).

3. The Law of Dharma: Dharma, roughly translated as purpose or meaning of our lives, holds that we come to Earth through each reincarnation with a purpose. Sometime we succeed, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes that purpose is quite pleasant. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Often many of the more advanced souls will come back into lives with great hardships, not because they need to suffer or their mind is focused on false beliefs, but to bring out the humanity in others. Think of it this way, the Holocaust while an unspeakable evil that we would all love to see never repeated, did bring out numerous acts of absolute goodness from those who helped the Jews. The fact that more than 20,000 are honored as Righteous Among the Nations for helping Jews during the Holocaust by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem does show that the adage that the light of humanity burns brightest when things are darkest, is true. Sometimes, perhaps too often, the suffering of another is often the very thing needed to teach us something about the power of love and hope. The point being that just because someone seems to be suffering from the bitch that is karma, don’t necessarily assume that they deserve it as punishment and move on; they may be an opportunity for you to help and learn. And this may be another reason why there is economic and cultural boom after periods of high death…after seeing the suffering of others and striving to reduce that suffering bring out the best in us, the right way of thinking, which in turn manifests itself into a better world.

So any way you want to look at it, people’s suffering is always brought on themselves. From the perspective of you the observer you should always assume it is a chance for you to practice compassion, because either it’s because they are intentionally giving you the opportunity to help or because they are suffering from false beliefs which should at least inspire pity in you and a desire to help replace that with a better belief system…but you shouldn’t feel guilty that others are suffering and you’re not.

So that is certainly the long way around of describing why I feel a pandemic would solve most of our problems. But I would be more than happy to find that we as a species just grew up, gave up faulty beliefs, and recovered quickly because we have the potential in ourselves to find opportunity and prosperity in any situation.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Death, Karma, Law of Intention, New Age, The Secret

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