The Cruelty of Karma

“What comes around go’s around, you reap what you sow and you get what’s coming to you” Sound familiar? The White Horse Inn recently put out a podcast called “Karma vs Grace” I found it fascinating and wanted to touch on the subject.

What I found most interesting is learning how such a widely embraced philosophy in the west has been so misunderstood from it’s roots in the east. They touch on this when they say this “One thing the westerner should know is that in the east karma is not a blessing, the goal is to escape the cycle, it’s something you need to conquer, escape or get over or get past.”

Far from how the westerner understands karma. Karma in the west is embraced, not to escape, or judge the sufferer, but rather to simply get along with ease. The mentality is this, “if we are all doing good, we will all get along.” But this is not what Karma is about in the east, in fact it is quite the opposite.  “The logic of karma in the east is this: If you see someone suffering, they are supposed to be suffering” “Helping them is actually going against the laws of the universe” There suffering is the laws of the universe playing out and they deserve it” So to go against the laws of the universe will drive you only further into your own suffering. “So in reality, karma actually undermines the ideas of kindness and love towards those who are suffering. There is an underbelly of cruelty to karma that many people are not aware of”

Essentially there are 4 noble truths in Buddhism 1) Existence is suffering 2) The cause of suffering is our cravings and desires for pleasures of the senses. 3) We can be free of suffering only if we give up and give ourselves up, extinguish all of our cravings. 4) Follow the eight fold path which all include the purging of your cravings and desires.

I sincerely wonder if people would be excited about Karma if they knew what it is all about! An inward fear based philosophy that tells you to avoid suffering by being a good person? If they were to consider the cost of not being a good person, and the overwhelming thoughts that would run through their heads? “I have to hold myself together, do good or suffer.” They may think twice.

Bono once said “Id be in big trouble if karma was to be my judge” Very realistic, he knew how lost he would be if he were in control of his own fate, he knew the reality of his “badness” and that if it were a scale based system his “badness” would far out weigh his “goodness”. How exhausting it is to try and balance out the scale!

Grace tells us a very different story.

The story of grace compels us to help those who are suffering not to balance out the scales, but because we have been given that which we do not deserve. We have been given eternal life through the death of Jesus Christ.

Some have called this “The Great Exchange” The epistle written to Diognetus mid 1st century “So then having already planned everything in His mind together with His Son, He took upon Himself our sins, He Himself gave up His own Son as a ransom for us, the Holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, the just for the unjust, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal, for what else but His righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly to be justified except in the Son of God alone? O sweet exchange! O the incomprehensible work of God! O the unexpected blessings! That the sinfulness of many should be hidden in One righteous person, while the righteousness of one shall justify many sinners.

God is just and justifies those who are in Christ!

In all of us is the sinful desire to save ourselves, often we try and muster up enough good to justify ourselves without thinking about it. Karma exists because of this desire, but as we reflect on the gift of free grace through the blood of Jesus let us repent of our sin and come boldly to His throne of grace. For from Christ flows only grace.


All quotations are taken from “The White Horse Inn” podcast. You can listen to this episode here:


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