Karma vs. Sin: Which is the easier to contend with?

Karma vs. Sin: Which is the easier to contend with?

As I was editing my book on the Beatles, I revisited the chapter in which I talked about my upbringing in the Catholic Church. I attended both Catholic elementary and high school, so that was 12 years with the nuns and priests at St. Anthony De Padua grammar school, and St. Barbara High School, in Chicago. Two memories sprung to mind when I was writing that chapter–each having to do with what constituted a sin “back then.” I say “back then” because the rules of the road for what is or is not a sin have changed over the years. Case in point–eating meat on Friday. When I was around 7 or 8, I remember wondering what would happen to me if I went home for lunch and my mother forgot it was Friday and gave me a ham sandwich. Then when I walked back to school, I was struck and killed by a car. By the rules of the church at that time, I’d go straight to hell. It wouldn’t matter what a great kid I had been up to that point–I was of the “age of reason” by then and should have known better than commit such a heinous sin. This was the start of my questioning my Catholic faith. What kind of a loving God would do that to a little kid?

Then when I was 12, a group of us went to see the movie “Gypsy” starring Natalie Wood. That was listed as a “B” movie by the church, meaning it wasn’t something a 12-year-old should see. The nuns at school got wind of this and ushered us over to the church to confess our sin to the pastor. He asked me if I would willingly run into a burning building. I didn’t get it then, but later realized he was comparing seeing a “B” movie to entering the gates of hell. I was given 15 Our Father’s and 15 Hail Mary’s to say as penance and then walked out of the church, my soul squeaky clean. “B” movie? What “B” movie?

None of this ever made sense to me and only added to my questions, but raising my hand in religion class to ask one of those questions only earned me one demerit after the other. Then one summer I read “The Search for Bridey Murphy” where I was introduced to the concept of reincarnation. It was as if the heavens opened and suddenly, my long thirst for answers started to be quenched. I became an insatiable reader of everything and anything on reincarnation and once I began learning about karma I knew I had found a philosophy that finally made sense.

Karma, the law of cause and effect, states simply that you will reap what you sow. Eventually. Your thoughts, words, and deeds are recorded in the Akashic Records and sooner or later, the karma you create because of your free will and choices you make, will present itself to you for resolution or application. There is no confessional to report how many times you disobeyed your parents. There’s no penance to say at the church altar in order to get a clean slate. No one is there to offer you dispensation. You have to do that yourself by doing the work to resolve the karma. The entire philosophy of karma appealed to me because finally there was a logical answer as to why some people were healthy and others ill; why some were wealthy and others poor; why some were wildly successful and others continued to fail; why some enjoyed love and companionship, while others wallowed in loneliness. There was a reason for everything in one’s life. Nothing was “random” and no one was responsible for what was happening in our lives except us!

I have found it’s much harder to live by the law of karma than it is to live by the law of sin. One keeps you accountable all through your life. The other offers you a quick and easy erase through the confessional. As a believer in karma, I often find I check myself before I speak or take action, mulling the consequences of whatever I put forward. I am mindful that I am working on my soul’s growth and will make mistakes from time to time, but I also know that I have free will and that I am the deciding factor in the way my life goes. If something is off kilter, it’s often because of some action I took in a prior life that created the karma I decided to work on in this life. If something advantageous happens, it’s the reward for having done something worthy of that good fortune. All in all, it just makes sense and I am grateful that spirit led me to that book about Bridey Murphy when I was a young teenager as it has set me on a course that provides hope and encouragement for this and the future lives before me.