When I say I don’t believe in Karma, it’s not that I don’t believe in karma per se, but I don’t believe in karma as reaction to thought and/or deed that one is obliged to accept. I find that sort of understanding fundamentally incompatible with the divinity of the soul in that this idea of karma is simply a thinly disguised version of against-my-will-obliged. Divinity and against-my-will are never happy bedfellows for me. Just as the idea that God could be obliged against his/her will … most believers would accept this is simply not possible. After all what sort of divinity would God possess if he/she were obliged in that way? Likewise, the way I believe in the surviving and substantial divinity of the soul (both conditioned and liberated), I find the karmic-reaction-obliged idea of karma unacceptable.
I favour karma understood as action or work. Part of the divine process of creation/manifestation. Entanglement of karma is therefore never to do with reaction, but comes only from the soul’s attachment to the fruits of such work. To which they are divinely entitled of course. But neither the fruits or the work itself have power over the soul (power to oblige the soul) … regardless how the soul might believe that to be the case from time to time. A friend once illustrated this point by describing a person hugging a tree and at the same time shouting ‘let go, let go!’.
Dig a hole for example (karma/work/action) … the fruits = hole. The hole is not a reaction, but the fruit of the labour. Walk away or stay and enjoy … it’s a lovely hole 🙂 … if someone comes along and spoils my hole, they are my enemy … that is your choice. You have the power to choose always.
To my mind, karma is not an absolute problem in of itself. But for one seeking liberation from material life, attachment to the fruits of karma is probably a problem in the context of their soul-defined chosen personal aspiration. For one NOT seeking mukti, that attachment is not necessarily a problem. It’s subservient to the objective of the soul. This type of thinking of karma fits well with the idea of self-divinity for me.
Same problem with the idea of THE goal of life vs MY goal of life. Where is my divinity if someone else decides my goal of life?
It comes down to my personal convictions about what it means to be divine.
Is self-divinity reduced/suspended by false ego (identification of self with something that one is not), functioning in illusion / under the spell of Mayadevi? I believe not. I find my conviction in this regard informs everything in the way I think of, evaluate, make sense of, and process ideas of spirituality, vedic literature, and relationship with God.
Personal Point of View … that’s okay, but …
Whatever one takes from the story of King Citraketu (for example) … be it the extreme of ‘so many mothers and fathers over so many lifetimes … how can I regard you as my parents? (i.e. dismissive)’ … or something more gentle, along the lines of ‘our role-play and loving relationship was arranged by God to facilitate our deeper soul desires’ … in my opinion that is a personal thing / inspiration. Many points of view may be valid and reasonable, yet perhaps no single one is THE definitive / single purport, and as such personal appreciations might better be presented as ‘This is what I personally take from this story … ‘ … after all if one has a predisposed dismissive negativity toward relationships in the material world they will naturally lean their interpretation in that direction.
Yes, our relationships in this life are temporary role plays, but must that mean they are to be regarded as of no value. I argue that they positively facilitate tangible emotional exchange between souls. Paramahamsa Yogananda suggests that close relationships are perhaps between an inner circle of soul-intimates that life after life assemble in various roles to facilitate each other. Further, I believe that everything is arranged and overseen (even approved and enjoyed?) by Paramātmā. Is it really necessary to be dismissive of material life? Role play to facilitate exchange of varieties of love is after all a divine norm.
Also I think one should (in my opinion) avoid hiding behind scripture … in so doing denying that they present but their personal partial limited point of view simply because they are quoting scripture. At best they are explaining in ways not contrary to scripture. But definitive and complete, that’s another thing. Perhaps best therefore to routinely start with disclaimer ‘I am predisposed to thinking in this way or that, so what I take from this story is naturally prejudiced in that way … as such I accept this is a personal, maybe even skewed, emphasis, and of course others will have different, yet equally valid (perhaps more valid) understandings and inspirations when studying this same passage’. Anyway, I hereby fully admit that this particular essay titled ‘It’s not that I don’t believe in karma per se’ represents my personal point of view only.
Going back to the karma discussion. For me it comes down to one single simple thing. Divinity lost or not? And if diminished, to what extent. I declare my pre-conviction is that it is not lost nor diminished, but divine expression continues, albeit flavoured and facilitated by the material energy. And not only that, it always contributes to the completeness of God, regardless of dark or light. This is my prejudice. Others favour the notion of the fallen soul, where divinity is compromised to a lesser or greater extent. Indeed most religions seem to share this idea. This type of conviction leads to a very different way of understanding karma to the one I am proposing here 😉