“Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Karma has always been an interestingly inspiring idea to me.  Up there with GOD and LOVE, i knew the spiritual concept was a super special one; even more than a concept, maybe karma could be a guiding star.

The odd thing is, I’ve spoken with a lot of intellectual people who weren’t really ready to recognize this “stellar” concept of karma as a mindset to be built into practice for everyday disciplined life.  And i can understand how in western culture, the word karma, could be a turn off.  After all, Hinduism and Buddhism believe karma to be the effects of a person’s actions that determine his destiny in his next INCARNATION.

Incarnation, really??? How many of us are ready to believe or think about if there will be a NEXT life when some of us aren’t even ready to focus a couple of hours for thinking about THIS life, in the long term. So for now, let’s drop the next life chit-chat, and kick back with some quality questioning of how karma could be applied in this life, right here, right now. Ya’ feel me homey?! I think a more left-brained, logical break-down of the concept could be called for.

So, first up to the stand, i call Dr. Wayne Dyer to testify on kindness:

Our buddy-boy Wayne says: “The positive effect of kindness on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain has been proven in research studies. Serotonin is a naturally occurring substance in the body that makes us feel more comfortable, peaceful, and even blissful. In fact, the role of most anti-depressants is to stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, helping to ease depression. Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the RECIPIENT of the kindness and the PERSON EXTENDING the kindness. Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved!1

Absolutely, ASTOUNDING! So, we don’t need to wait YEARS for an all-mighty mysteriously magical spirit to potentially reincarnate us – we are rewarded the SECOND we perform an act of kindness. ::Funkin’ YES baby!:: AND, to drift on a tangent, if we take into consideration what buddy-boy Wayne says about feeling the effects of being around niceness, we may want to watch who we hang with.

This is a whole ‘nother-other Quality Question in the works, but for now, as Jim Rohn notes: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  You may want to check in and see if the people you are hangin’ out with are averaging you up or down – closer or further to the person you want to become. (I do dare ask if you know who you want to become.)

Dr. Dyer, thank you for the testimony homey, you are dismissed.

Next up to take a stand, Robert Cialdini, author of the national best seller Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion.

In this AMAZING book, Cialdini talks about what he calls “The Rule of Reciprocation“.  He states “The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided for us”  The book says this rule is pervasive in ALL human cultures, and has been in effect for the majority of human existence. The book continues “We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and skills in an honored network of obligation. …A widely shared and strongly held feeling of future obligation made an enormous difference in human social evolution, because it meant that one person could give something (for example, food, energy, care) to another with confidence that is was not being lost.

The book continues “Each of us has been taught to live up to the rule, and each of us knows about the social sanctions and derision applied to anyone who violates it.  The labels we assign to such a person are loaded with negativity – moocher, ingrate, welsher.  Because there is a general distaste for those who take and make no effort to give in return, we will often go to great lengths to avoid being considered one of their number.

Amazing!  This rule has been built into us since civilized culture and society first formulated.  It’s unspoken but well understood power is one of the reasons that we as a species have evolved to where we are today.  Give, and you shall get – how’s that for some left brained karma?

*An interesting side note stemming from studies documented in the book is that it actually makes no difference whether or not one person likes the other person, if they feel they are “indebted” to them, they will go to great lengths to pay them back.  Cialdini points out how the Rule of Reciprocity is evident everywhere from neighbors, to nations, to non-profit organizations, to politics, and even in the power of a “free” sample.  This may be one of my top 5 favorite books to date so if any of this is hittin’ home for you – allow me to  say is bluntly: COP THAT!

Lastly, let’s get the American physicist Frank Oppenheimer to the stand. Our friend Franky says “The best way to learn is to teach.”  Now that makes sense… (ophy!)

Science Magazine says “Oppenheimer had a provocative approach to learning, which can be summarized by saying that the best way to learn is to teach, the best way to teach is to keep learning, and that what counts in the end is having had a shared, reflected experience.2

I love this exemplification of karma in action.  When we take the time to teach someone, we simultaneously ingrain what we are teaching deeper into our brains than if we kept the knowledge solely for ourselves. ‘Nuff said. Thank you Mr. Oppenheimer for your short and substantial input; you can step down.

So i ask you, do you believe in Karma?  You do!?!  Well what are you doing to align yourself with its force and assist it in working for you?  Are you being *extra* kind, giving someone something meaningful, or taking the time to teach someone something that they are passionate about learning?

If you’re interested in learning more about the practicality of karma from a *spiritual* standpoint, i definitely recommend a book i recently read by Deepak Chopra called The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success.  The third law is The Law of Karma (or cause and effect).  Since I’m backpacking and am currently in Greece, I don’t have the book handy, but, I did find an awesome quote online from the book.  I’ll end this quality question with it:

‘”Karma’ is both action and the consequence of that action; it is cause and effect simultaneously, because every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in kind. There is nothing unfamiliar about the Law of Karma. Everyone has heard the expression, ‘What you sow is what you reap.’ Obviously, if we want to create happiness in our lives, we must learn to sow the seeds of happiness. Therefore, karma implies the action of conscious choice-making. Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening at this moment is a result of the choices you’ve made in the past. Unfortunately, a lot of us make choices unconsciously, and therefore we don’t think they are choices–and yet, they are. If you step back for a moment and witness the choices you are making as you make those choices, then in just this act of witnessing, you take the whole process from the unconscious realm into the conscious realm. This procedure of conscious choice-making and witnessing is very empowering. You can use the Law of Karma to create money and affluence, and the flow of all good things to you, any time you want. But first, you must become consciously aware that your future is generated by the choices you are making in every moment of your life. If you do this on a regular basis, then you are making full use of this law. The more you bring your choices into the level of your conscious awareness, the more you will make those choices which are spontaneously correct–both for you and those around you.

1This quote comes from Brian Johnson’s philosopher’s note on The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Thanks Bri!). Much of my work is highly inspired by Brian’s creative content as well as his overall actions.  I highly recommend you check him out at tv.philosophersnotes.com, where you can peep his amazingly practical and simplistic summaries of 100 of some of the most influential books ever written (broken down into 10 minute videos, for free!)

2 You can also check out the entire Science Magazine article pertaining to Frank Oppenheimer here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/280/5372/2054