Here is what we know: karma is very difficult to understand. We all have experience of this fact. Krishna even advises in Bhagavad-gita that karma is so intricate that it’s better not to become too convinced that we will even understand it, better to just find our way out of the world of karma. But still, for purposes of helping others, we Hare Krishna devotees try to inform people of the correct understanding of karma.
According to Random House Dictionary, although karma has been part of English diction since the 1820 to 1830 period, the term has enjoyed popular use only since the 1960’s. This coincides quite interestingly with when the Hare Krishna movement started talking about karma.
So, here is what we don’t know: how are we, the Hare Krishna devotees, doing in getting this part of our message, a good understanding of karma, out there in the public’s mind?
I have provided some recent news articles that use the term karma. You be the judge.
Karma is a boat
The Miami Herald, Hollywood, FL 7/6/09
“Law enforcement agencies continued their hunt Monday for the operator of a 26-foot boat called Karma after it struck a father and son diving about 200 yards off Hollywood beach.
The snorkelers hit by the boat Sunday morning — Rudy Perez, 43, and his son, Christian Waters-Perez, 15, of Pembroke Pines — are fine, but officials want to speak to the boater who fled, ”to get his side of the story,” said Jorge Pino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Also, officials are searching vessel registry records for boats named Karma.
”It’s pretty interesting that the boat is named Karma,” said Pino, alluding to the belief in Hinduism and Buddhism that a person’s actions and conduct can determine destiny. “I’m pretty sure that the boat operator might be facing his karma very soon.”
Pino said there was no indication that Perez and his son were at fault.”
Karma is an application for your cell phone
“DOVER, Del., May 15 /PRNewswire/ — Three mini applications in one, new ‘Touch Karma’ for Apple iPod Touch and iPhone tracks friends’ good deeds as well as bad ones, records kids’ naughty and nice behavior, and acts as a virtual piggy bank.
‘Karma for Kids’ helps parents track their children’s good and not-so-good deeds by accumulating positive or negative karma points. A simple and easy-to-use interface allows parents to record pre-set points awarded based on good behavior. When the qualifying amount of points is reached, kids win a prize pre-chosen by parents.
Calculate who your best friends are with ‘Karma for Friends’. This mini-app helps keep tabs on friends’ actions by assigning positive or negative karma points, from -5 to +5. By the end of the week/month/year, users are able to determine who their best friends are.
Fill up a cute, virtual piggy bank with the exact coinage needed to reach a savings goal. Parents can encourage saving habits in their children with ‘Piggy Bank’ while teaching them the value of saving. For each good deed or bad deed performed, parents can add or deduct a dollar amount until the tally reaches a pre-set monetary goal.”
Karma is an automobile
Fisker Karma To Challenge Tesla Model S, www.arcticstartup.com, 07/03/09
“The Karma is, as Fisker puts it, “a beautiful and environmentally friendly car for people who do not want to compromise luxury”. The car uses a small gasoline engine which turns the generator that charges the lithium ion battery pack, which powers the car in normal use. You can configure the car so that it comes with a solar roof which helps to charge the car. The car drives 80 km before it starts to run on gasoline, and it seats four plus sufficient place for luggage. Finally, the design is beautiful, and conveys the image of speed and luxury.
The first Karmas will be shipped to the USA in the end of 2009. If you’re interested in getting a Karma, you now have the time to start saving the 79.000â‚¬ plus VAT before the car is available. However, because you will save on gasoline in the long-term its an investment that can repay itself quickly. Now the question is if the Karma will be successful.”
Karma is an interesting name and hobby
Speed eaters gain weight, clog arteries but have few regrets, cnnhealth.com, 07/03/09
“Any way you look at it, it’s not healthy,” Dave “Coondog” O’Karma, a retired competitive eater, said of his former hobby. “You do it once in a while, and it’s fun. I don’t think loading your body with fat and salt is healthy.”
After 35 years of gobbling hamburger, oysters, eggs, corn on the cob and even bull testicles, O’Karma listened to his family and retired from the competition.
Despite having quit for health reasons, ex-speed eaters fondly recall the thrill of competing, cramming food down their throats and basking in the cheers.
“I’m probably a hypocrite,” said O’Karma, who directs the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. “There’s a sixth-grader in me who loves a good hot dog contest.”
During 35 years of competitive eating, O’Karma disregarded the medical advice.
“When I was having fun, I didn’t care,” he said. “It was worth that discomfort to get what I wanted. It was fun — not the eating so much, but the trips, getting to see all kinds of places and different people. I’m a house painter in real life. How else could I ever get the opportunity like that? For an average dopey guy, I kind of went a long way with something stupid.”
Karma is a restaurant
July special at exotic, delicious Karma restaurant, examiner.com, 07/01/09
“Your karma will be just fine when you get in on the $20 prix-fixe dinner for the month of July at Karma. The weekend special runs every Friday through Sunday during July, and is available in addition to the regular menu. Choose an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for an easy $20.
Appetizers include miso soup rich with tofu, sautéed shiitake mushroom, roasted nori, and scallions; or the Karma House Salad, crisp lettuce, napa cabbage, cucumber, daikon and carrot ginger dressing.
Select either the orange peel tempura chicken served with sesame jasmine rice, ginger chili cucumber salad and yuzu orange glaze; Asian BBQ salmon accompanied by forbidden rice, sweet potato crisps, wok tossed spinach, napa cabbage and shiitake mushroom; or the yellow mango vegetable curry – fresh vegetables tossed with coconut yellow curry, jasmine rice and kimchi. Dessert consists of a trio of sorbet or ice cream, served with fresh berries.”
Karma is a political liability
Karma has come back to bite Sanford ‘on the behind’, Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel, 07/02/09
“Gov. Mark Sanford is reaping what he has sown in years past.
His moral outrage over the sexual antics of former President Bill Clinton certainly take on a different light now, and I can only see this as cosmic justice, a little karma come back to bite him on the behind.”
My take is that we aren’t doing that bad. We can always do more, but considering that the English language has been in usage since at least the 5th century, and karma in popular use for only about 50 years, we aren’t doing that bad.
There is an old proverb that seems appropriate here. It says, “Out of the mouth of babes,” and is used to express amazement at the insightful wisdom occasionally spoken by a small child. Of course, even when children speak truths, they are often quite unaware of the repercussions of that truth. These recent news pieces show some true insight into how karma works, but exactly what they should expect remains an unfortunate mystery.
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium