Like most people, I often use the word karma all wrong. We tend to think of karma as some magical external justice system: people who do good things, get good things coming to them eventually. People who do bad things, well ... you all know the saying about the bitch.
And I confess, I've always liked the idea of karmic justice, the "you'll get yours some day" approach to people who create misery and suffering in other people's lives. It's comforting, especially when there doesn't seem to be any hope for justice in the current situation.
But recently, I've been mulling over a terrifying thought: what if karmic justice doesn't happen? What if, sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to people who behave in truly morally reprehensible ways? It's not that I haven't always known this might be possible, but maybe I chose to ignore it. Because, you know, that just doesn't fit with my perception of the universe.
Karma, the way the Buddhists mean it, anyway, isn't about predestination. It's about intention. Which sort of turns the common perception of karma on its head. Instead of things happening to you, it's about the way you do things, and the way you are more likely to do things because of the way you've done them. It's about the development of habit.
A long time ago, when the Tibetan Buddhist monks came to visit us, they talked about how people can only give what they have. People who have no joy can't give it. And too bad for you if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, and have to endure these people. The practice of karma demonstrates how this works. You practice ill will and greed, and that's pretty much what you end up with. You practice good will and generosity, and you will become more good-willed and generous. We're planting behavioral seeds. Of course this makes sense. Not in the "fake it 'til you make it" way, but in the mindful, cognitive behavioral therapy way.
We don't experience karma; we do it.
I have been struggling with karma for a long, long time. With the concepts of punishment and justice. Torturing myself with the possibility that maybe, if deeds went unpunished, they were warranted. That I could have acted differently. But really? Sometimes people act in really awful ways, and get away with it. And there's not a thing we can do about their behaviors. They will never be brought to justice ... at least, not for our charges against them.
So maybe karmic justice isn't about people getting their just desserts. Maybe it's about choosing to live in a way that creates the kind of heart we want to live with, and the world we want to live in, even if it's not the world where we live right now.
How do you respond to/deal with the injustices you see or experience in the world, the ones that are perpetrated by human beings?
Ginger Chocolate Kisses
These are Heidi's, of course. I tweaked few things, but she is the goddess of just desserts. And many, many other things.
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate2 c. spelt flour
1 t. baking soda
4 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
2/3 c. fine grain natural cane sugar
1 T. grated fresh ginger, peeled
2 t. candied ginger, minced
1 large egg, well beaten
Preheat the oven to 350F and place the racks in the top and bottom
third of the oven. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
Finely chop the chocolate and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt into a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; remove
from heat and stir in the molasses, sugar, and fresh ginger. Let this mixture cool before proceeding; you don't want to cook the egg or melt the chocolate!
When the pot is cool to the touch, whisk in the egg and add this mixture to the the flour
mixture. Stir until just combined and fold in the chocolate.
Roll dough into 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls. (Heidi suggests rolling them in sugar, but I preferred the ones I didn't roll in sugar. Use your judgment, of course.) Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies are dark brown and puffy (they will likely deflate just a bit after you remove them from the oven). Let cool on the sheets for a minute or two before removing them to cool completely. Store in an airtight container not more than a few days, or freeze.