Hello Karma, I See You and Will Raise You One Bear Paw

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Karma Chameleon.”

I hosted the dinners because I had the space. And I was good friends with the organizer. It was my way of giving, of being involved with something good. I would make some hefty salad and supply coffee, tea, and a space for meeting.Maybe the reward was a delicious bowl of curry, and some new connections.

The group started out as a handful of students, and a professor from India eager to share his cultural beliefs with us. I sat on the sidelines, curious and enjoying being involved in something so ‘university’.  I have never claimed to be altruistic. Some part of me wondered if there might be an answer to some of my life and death questions, or a call to spirituality. Maybe there was, but maybe there wasn’t. Either way, I enjoyed being so open. And I really, really, enjoyed the potlucks!

This group met a few times a month, over the span of maybe 3 semesters. It went well at first. Some people came and went, didn’t come for a second sitting. Some people came and latched on to the positive and gracious lessons. Some people I think are still in contact with the leader. But about the time my house sitting job was over, and the space was no longer available, the group that I was a part of disbanded.

I don’t know if she really understood why things went the way they did. I really do believe she was trying to do something good as well. It was her way of giving, bringing these people together. She is a natural born good soul. One week she decided to invite some of the people from her Native Studies class to a session on reincarnation. I had trepidations before it even happened, although I was worried that somehow I was being discriminatory just through my hesitance. I knew both groups of people from hanging out with her in the various lounges on campus. Once I got into a 2 hour discussion with a guy at least 2 feet taller than me with gorgeous black braids, who wanted to know what I wanted in the Aboriginal Lounge. (I wanted to try the moose chilli, to be honest…  And while I had happily sat on the sidelines of the Krishna meetings, and humbly accepted the offerings of curry, I hadn’t yet found my comfort with the chanting circles. So I was an outsider, hosting these meetings. A happy welcoming outsider.

That last meeting may have been the most educational for me. It reminded me that there are different perspectives, beliefs. And it was an eye opener into how righteously men will defend their truths. After the atmosphere of the last session, the group thinned out. I stopped hosting, as I was suddenly a room mate again, and not a house sitter. And I drifted from the group.

That night I sat at one end of the table, my friend, the organizer at the other. We both shuttled back and forth from the kitchen to the table, fed by nervous energy. Grandsons and Students sat across from each other, while Elder and Professor stared each other down. Both were gentle men, but earnest.

To paraphrase from memories now 10 years old; one believed that cosmic justice would be served through karma. That we would return to earth in new life as lowly beings, depending on how we had lived in our previous go round, or how close we were to absolution from our past mistakes, and how close our spirits were to returning to an original state of spiritual existence. If we had much yet to atone for, we might be taught a lesson and find ourselves living out a life as a lowly Bear or a Groundhog. The Elder patiently but heatedly reminded his grandsons that these animals were sacred symbols of clans and families and that for their people, to be a Bear or a Groundhog was an honour to be respected. He asked us to be careful what we believed, that our karma was here in the now.

I wonder sometimes, what defines right over wrong. I can find a way to respect both ideas, just as I respect people’s rights to their own cultures and religions. But I think the lesson is that there are too many different cultures and ideas in this world to simply say that one is right and the rest are just fables. Too many foundations rocked to the core. And if one is proved scientifically right, that doesn’t mean that all others are wrong, does it? Which I think is in itself a reason not to believe one thing whole heartedly!

Personally I do believe in consequence. I call that karma. I am not so far reaching as to imagine I have any life other than this one. I am here now. And so I try to let this be a guide to how I live my life today. I wonder, if karma were actually proven (and our friend the Professor did believe it was already a scientific truth), would this life I am living now be a punishment, a reward or a small step in a long path to ultimate release from human follies! Whatever the outcome, I know I can do better in the now, and it does me well to have these reminders.