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Showing posts from November 16, 2013
Research by psychologist Benjamin Converse at the University of Virginia finds that human beings tend believe in a kind of karma, namely our western skew on the spiritual axiom that good deeds result being treated well by fate; we believe we can influence uncontrollable outcomes by performing good deeds, with the often underlying expectation that the universe will pay us back in kind. Confronted with bad news, we may think "If I can get through this, I'll be a better person from hereon."

Karma is thus a kind of reciprocity: I'll buy this round, you'll buy the next, however the deal is made with the universe itself, rather than specific individuals. It's an attempt to steer life towards expected and advantageous directions. We hope our acts of kindness to pave the way for journeys through life that are safe and not too challenging; we hope our kind words inoculate us from pain and discomfort; alas, life doesn't comply with these demands.

Yet, as the Buddha…