On Repeat Forever

I'm a skeptical believer. I listen to what is taught, sift it through the colander of my own discernment, and then either choose to walk down the path of believing a thing or not, based on my research, intuition, and experiences. This is how I approach the concept of karma.

There is a lot of lore, there are many accounts, there are sacred teachings, and there is a tremendous body of belief around karma that suggests we have all been here before and we are all here forever, in many different bodies over time. In the West, we tend to think of karma as reward or punishment. We sometimes even think of it as cause and effect, but it's not really any of these things. Rather, karma is the energetic ripening of every stream of thoughts, word, and action that we have ever launched into being in any of our lifetimes. This ripening over time is not judgmental, not punitive, not rewarding, not discerning, not emotional, though we are all of those things. Rather, this ripening is merely the inevitability of a trajectory of energy and the momentum it gains.

Through this lens, we can see maybe more clearly that karma is neither subject to gods nor humans, but is rather subject to the laws of inevitability. Through this lens, even the gods themselves are subject to karma. They, too, have seemingly irreversible trajectories that appear in their myths...times when we see foreshadowing of what will happen to them in their own stories, when we might be screaming inside and wishing they would use their godly powers to change something that is seemingly so obvious to us and so invisible to them. I think about Hera's marriage to Zeus, fraught with foreshadowing of his many infidelities to come. I think of the fact that Artemis was born feral, initially cast out from the sacred places of gods by dint of her mother's sad story of loss under a patriarchal paradigm. Isn't it then inevitable that she, in a certain way, always wanders at the outskirts of seemingly "acceptable" godly society, wild and alone, or in the company of women who defy the patriarchal paradigm? Also, if you really look deeply into the existing literature, you can sort of see how a great deal of the strife that occurred among many characters in Ancient Hellenic mythology seemed somehow fated. The Fates themselves answered to no one save Hekate, and even she could not change everything. Many other world mythologies are similar. Though Fate and karma are different, rooted in different systems and cultures, they both bear a similar message: there are things that, for whatever reason, cannot be avoided, regardless of how powerful, visionary, or magical you are.

And yet, what is seemingly inevitable CAN sometimes be changed in both mythic and phenomenal reality. Gods can change it. Humans can change it. Nature can change it. Time can change it. Just like all fruits start from a single seed, but then are subject to the vagaries of weather and growing conditions that shape them, or misshape them, so too are all beings in all realms subject to the weather of life, time, personalities, experiences, and other influences. While we may be different in form and capacity from the gods, we are also similar to them in our common plight of watching time, circumstance, and fate (dare I say, karma also?) ripening in our paths.

What is one lesson you have learned in this life due to a seemingly unavoidable, and/or foreshadowed circumstance? To whom, deity or human, did you turn? What is one situation where you managed to turn your own fate around in some way, or avoided something that seemed inevitable? To whom did you turn then?