Is Karma Real? part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Is Karma Real? part 2

Last week, I discussed the notion of karma. I suggested that when we harm other individuals we separate ourselves from the natural world, and this can be a source of karmic suffering. We are physical bodies living in a physical world, and indeed even our minds (which are linked to what most people regard as the soul) have a physical component. People with brain injuries can lose their sense of self, which people often identify as the soul.
I think many people want to think that, because they are humans, they are above nature. Yet experience keeps telling us otherwise. We grow, live, age, and die like other animals. I think that, to the degree that we attempt to deny our animal nature, we generate two problems. First, we become much more inclined to harm innocent creatures, because their “inferior” status can be used to justify exploitation and abuse. Second, there is a part of our mind that recognizes self-deception. If our worldview, which includes our notion of where we came from, what we are supposed to do with our lives, and what happens to us when we die, is built on very dubious foundations, we risk feeling a sense of despair if the house of cards collapses.
I think there is a solution – one that can give us a sense of meaning, inner peace, and well-being. It is one that helps us meet the great questions of human life and that also accords with Christian teachings. The only drawback of this solution is that it impels us to adapt our lifestyles to its moral imperatives. This might be inconvenient, but it isn’t onerous or terribly unpleasant, and many people find it enriching and liberating.

The solution is to recognize that God cares about all of Creation. I see no good reason to believe that God cares only about humans, and the prevalence of so much nastiness and selfishness among humans makes me wonder whether a just God would prefer humans over other creatures. Indeed, why should God not care for the world’s many wonderful nonhuman beings, whose bodies are as remarkable as our own and whose minds are free of evil thoughts or intent? If we hold that God cares about all of Creation, then God cares about us, despite our imperfections and shortcomings.

Then, we may reasonably conclude, whatever we do to help protect and preserve God’s Creation accords with God’s divine will, and this can give our lives meaning. Further, whatever happens to us when we die won’t be bad. As I argue in my book Guided by the Faith of Christ, I think this encapsulates the “faith of Christ,” which the Apostle Paul encouraged followers to adopt.

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