For the Love of All that is Holy, STOP CALLING POETIC JUSTICE KARMA


No. Seriously, no. Karma is just a bitch. Period.

It’s nice to believe that what you put into the world influences what you get out, that if we just keep our heads down and are good little children, God/Goddess/The Universe/Nature will shower us with blessings. It’s nice to believe that people who are jerks to you will get what’s coming to them. But….life just doesn’t work like that. Karma doesn’t work like that.

Karma isn’t when a thief is himself robbed trying to sell stolen goods. That’s poetic justice. Karma is more like when that thief is caught stealing from his employer, and then isn’t able to find a good job ever again. Sure, the first scenario is much more appealing, but “cosmic payback” just isn’t a real thing.

And you know, normally I wouldn’t care. Cultures borrow from one another and then adapt those borrowings into their existing frameworks. It’s just that the “if you do good, good will come to you” line of thinking passed as karma is actually really ugly when you  think about its implications.

I was bullied as a child because I was (and still am) autistic, and my social awkwardness made me an obvious and easy target. Yet following the logic above, if I had just been nice to all the other kids, they would have become my friends. If that sounds like blaming the victim, that’s because it is.

In Buddhism, karma is the omnipresent web of interrelated causes and effects that tie all beings together in samsara. It is not a cosmic payback system. You don’t want good karma. You want no karma. Why? Because today’s good luck can lead directly to tomorrow’s misfortune. Ever have something wonderful happen to you, and then have it suddenly turn into something awful? That is karma.

Poetic Justice may be really satisfying, but it isn’t karma.

Inigo Montoya

One thought on “For the Love of All that is Holy, STOP CALLING POETIC JUSTICE KARMA

  1. Yes! I blame Theosophy and its various derivatives. I often see people compare things like the 3 fold Law/Law of Return or Wyrd to karma, but the problem is people are most familiar with Newage (rhymes with sewage) version of karma. People also tend to mentally turn “similar to, comparable to” into “the same as”. So I think it’s better to just describe a concept within its own cultural context- and if someone wants to make a comparison to another culture, they need to study it instead of channeling their inner Shirley MacLaine.

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