Friday, March 31, 2017

The science of karma, a case study

Fresco of a young woman, Pompeii

Karma recognizes a cause and effect relationship between intent, thoughts, actions (cause), and that individual's future (effect). It is part of major religious beliefs and forms the essence of the just-world hypothesis. Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while an evil plan and bad act contribute to bad karma and future suffering. 

Because actions and even thoughts always have a two-fold effect, karma has psychological support. Doing your best is a generosity of effort that tends to earn the respect of colleagues, clients, and friends. Likewise, diligence and care give satisfaction and contentment of a job well done, but sloppy, careless work degrades trust. Reliable people, good workers are more trusting not only in themselves but also in others. People keep a distance from those who are not reliable. 

The distrust infects the judgment of a careless person. When the carpenter executes inferior, sloppy, negligent work, he will not want to move into the house he built, the tailor will not want to wear the suit, and the shoemaker would not like the shoes. He who cheats will be afraid of being cheated. This occurs because everything is connected to everything else. Happiness makes everything seem easy and carefree; bad news, on the other hand, overshadows every aspect of the mind with an unhappy tint. For this reason, anxiety, regret, and worry are involuntary. For example, individuals with depression may want to stop themselves from ruminating but are often unable to deviate from their negative thoughts. Further, it can be shown that the difficulty of controlling thoughts is true not only in the depressed state but in any other highly charged emotional state.

Meditation is usually a prime example of controlling one’s thoughts. However, meditation always occurs in a resting mental state or close to it. Resting-state is a neutral state of mind, which is relatively emotion-free, permitting considerable conscious control of thinking. This can be imagined as a ball on a hill. The emotional state represents a tilted ground, where the ball's path is deterministic. On the flat ground (an emotion-free mental state), manipulating the ball movement in either direction requires little effort. 

An emotionally charged mind (in energy imbalance) cannot be easily controlled. For example, a joyful event, danger, or a sudden significant personal change exerts substantial control over one's thoughts. However, gently encouraging your thoughts toward stability and acceptance via meditation, prayer does reduce stress; it mitigates sadness, anxiety, or other disturbances.

Related post: Karma, the long-term consequences of behavior

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