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The Chaos of Karma
Rob Schmidt, Ph.D., and Stuart Goodnick, Hosts of The Mystical Positivist Radio Show
Original Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
The concept of "karma" entered the English language chaotically, and today has so many meanings that it can be used to explain and support diametrically opposed interpretations. For example, on the one hand, karma is commonly used to "explain" why one person is born into a family of wealth and privilege, while another is born into poverty and social constraint. This, and the many permutations of this view, might be termed the "black box" version of karma, because the concept obscures the mechanisms by which such outcomes occur, not to mention related agendas to naturalize and thus perpetuate inequality. On the other hand, a radically different understanding of karma can empower spiritual practitioners to substitute responsible conscious actions for unconsciously reproduced habits that generate unnecessary suffering. In this talk, we consider these and other uses and misuses of this formerly foreign word. Not just as remote philosophical concepts, but as tools we can use to change how we show up in the world, a sophisticated understanding of the many aspects of karma offers guidance urgently needed now as ever.
Rob Schmidt, Ph.D., and Stuart Goodnick helped found Many Rivers, as a project of Tayu Meditation Center, which they co-direct. They host and produce The Mystical Positivist Radio Show, which features conversations with noted spiritual teachers, practitioners and authors. They studied and practiced the alchemical transformation of consciousness for decades with Tayu founder Robert Daniel Ennis.