Friday, March 31, 2017

The science of karma, a case study

Fresco of a young woman, Pompeii

Karma is a concept that recognizes a cause and effect relationship between intent, thoughts and actions of an individual (cause) the future of that individual (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 bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering. Surprisingly, As shown in my earlier post, karma is a scientifically supported principle. This occurs, because actions and even thoughts always have two fold effect. Doing your best is a generosity of effort that tends to earn the respect of colleagues, clients and the social circle of friends. But equally important, diligence and care gives the feeling of satisfaction, contentment that result from a job well done. People who are reliable, good workers are more trusting not only toward themselves, but toward other people also. In contrast, sloppy, careless work degrades trust. People on the receiving side naturally want to keep a distance from those who are not reliable in the quality of their work. But the mind of the careless worker is infected with distrust. 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 the shoes. The distrust spreads in the mind and infects every aspect of judgment. The maker of inferior work will distrust everyone. He who cheats will be afraid of being cheated. This occurs, because the mind operates in unison, everything is connected with everything else. When you are happy, then everything seems easy and carefree; bad news on the other hand overshadows every aspect on 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 do so, because the negative though pattern is primarily automatic. Further, it can be shown that the difficulty to control thoughts is true not only in depressed state, but in any other highly charged emotional state.

Meditation is usually a prime example for controlling one’s thoughts. However, meditation always occurs in a resting mental state, or close to it. Resting state is a neutral state of the mind, which is relatively emotion free, permitting considerable conscious control of thinking. This can be imagined as a ball on a hill. Emotional state represents a tilted ground, where the ball's path is deterministic. On a flat ground (an emotion free mental state) manipulating the ball movement in either direction is easy and requires little energy.  The mind that is emotionally charged (in energy imbalance), cannot be controlled. For example, joyful event, danger, or a sudden significant personal change exerts substantial control over one's thoughts regardless of personal effort. However, gently encouraging your thoughts toward stability and acceptance via meditation does reduce stress, it mitigates sadness, anxiety or other disturbances. Thus, mediation is one possible tool toward emotional stability.

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