The concept of karma has permeated western society to such an extent that I reckon almost everybody has heard of it. However I strongly suspect that it has lost something in translation, quite possibly to the point that it means something totally different to Buddhists. My general understanding of its Western consensual meaning is that you reap what you sow; be good and you will be rewarded, be bad and you will be punished.
As a new witch, I read as many books as I could to get a foundation for my personal path. Most of the easily accessible books are from a Wiccan perspective, which I suspected wasn't my cup of tea, but through these books I was quickly introduced to the concept of the Rule of Threefold Return. The idea here is that as a witch, when you put your intent behind your actions you will get back that intent three times over; basically you reap three times as much as you sow. I'm not sure if this is a solely Wiccan concept, the nature of Paganism means quite often aspects of one path get amalgamated into another, but it is often quoted in conjunction with the Wiccan Rede. The Rede, if you don't know, is quite a long and beautiful poem that sets out the foundations of Wicca. It covers basic such as working within the law with love and trust, working with the moon and elements, the sacred trees and their uses, and the Sabbats, but it is most often just summarised by the final words "An it harm none, do thy will." Basically, if your actions won't harm anyone or cause them to act against their will, crack on.
Here's the thing; I have a problem with all of that. If karma was true, bad things wouldn't happen to good people, and the bad people wouldn't get away with being bad. I've heard the argument that a child developing cancer is karma from a previous life, but that just pisses me off! What kind of a belief system allows for this kind of fear and suffering? While I do believe our souls come back from the Summerlands, I believe it is to learn another lesson and not be punished for mistakes made last time.
Similarly I fail to see how the Rule of Threefold Return and the Wiccan Rede can be demonstrated in practice. I was brought up to be good, obey the law, and treat everybody as you would want to be treated, yet still bad things happen to me. Even in my magickal workings, I have always preferred to work for good; partly out of my early fear of the threefold return, but also because I knew I had great power inside me and I wasn't sure I wanted to unleash that on anyone. So instead I told myself to rely on karma to balance the books. Did it stop the bad things from happening? Of course not; people still spread lies about me which partially ruined my reputation, or the twenty pound note I was sure I'd put in my pocket would fall out. Sometimes people got caught out, like the time I found out my boyfriend's ex was spreading lies about me because I received a text that was about me and not meant for me to see, but on the whole I just felt I had to lie there and take it.
Well not any more.
I refuse to tiptoe around my own life for fear of upsetting someone or letting them know they've upset me. That's not to say I'm going to start hexing people left right and centre, or shooting my mouth off over every little thing, but I will protect myself and those I love. If I feel someone is sending trouble my way, I will send it back regardless of the consequences, because you should have thought of that in the first place. If someone, in some form or other, tells me to shut up, I will shout back louder than before. Most situations, lets be honest, can be dealt with in very mundane ways. If someone upsets you, they might not have done it on purpose, so have a quiet word and explain how you feel. If they continue then it is bullying, so you will have to deal with that, but don't just keep quiet and hope someone is mean to them on your karmic behalf.
In simple terms, we should all treat others as we ourselves want to be treated, a kind of do-as-you-would-be-done-by way of living; but in the real world we must learn to accept that sometimes we need to find our inner strength and fight back when the proverbial hits the fan, because we can't rely on anyone else to fight our fights for us. With us, yes, but not for us. That is part of what being a witch is about.
Blessed be )0(