Archive for the ‘Karma’ Category

Karma and forgiveness

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

An interesting thought about karma and the need for this idea in Christianity. Kenny, in his book Christ outside Christianity* says that one of the drawbacks with this idea is that it does away with the idea and sin and forgiveness. But I think this is to misunderstand both karma and forgiveness. I don’t think there can be any doubt that what we do has an effect on us. Good actions have a good effect, bad actions a bad effect. There is no escape from the consequences of our actions. This idea, according to Kenny, deprives us of forgiveness – one of the most beautiful concepts in Christianity. If there is a law of karma, he says, there can be no forgiveness.

I think karma and forgiveness operate in two different dimensions. Karma has to do with our becoming, with our making of ourselves. Karma is the effect of my actions on me. Forgiveness has to do with relationships. Forgiveness can set right my broken relationships, between me and others, between me and God. Once the relationship has been healed, my healing can begin. But forgiveness does not wipe out the effect of my sin on me. It does not immediately make me a non-sinner. This was one of Luther’s insights and perhaps a knowledge of karma might have helped him to find a solution to his problem earlier. I may be forgiven, but the ‘I’ that has been forgiven is the ‘I’ that I have had a hand in making and the only thing better about the forgiven ‘I’ is that now ‘I’ relates and before ‘I’ did not. The relating is all important because in this new relationship a new ‘I’  begins to emerge.
* Kenny, J.P.,Christ Outside Christianity, Spectrum, Melburn, 1971