Karma and the Search for Learning Experiences

At its worst, pain is a nuisance; it’s an annoying bother. Or maybe that’s the best pain can be. Perhaps, at its worst, pain is a depressing numbness, it’s a debilitating injury. It is dull or sharp, numbered one through ten, temporary or lethal.

But pain is an experience, and often a learning experience. If you burn your hand, you learn to respect fire. If you sit on a tack, you will move to avoid sharp objects.

The more serious types of physical or chronic pain can teach us compassion. Thus, we can offer hope and help to those in pain. If we have been emotionally or psychologically hurt, we can offer advice, we can offer a listening ear. With compassion, we can offer a shoulder to lean on, a helping hand, or a pat on the back.

If we learn nothing from pain, it is a lesson wasted. Pain can help us learn the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke recorded as much in the New Testament.

If one applies this lesson because of a commandment, that is all right. If one practices this maxim because it makes sense or because it works, that is fine too.

Karma is the spiritual principle of cause and effect. The intent and actions of a person (the cause) influence the future of that person (the effect).

One could do no better.

The Golden Rule – from Compassionate San Antonio

The Golden Rule is the foundation of the Charter for Compassion. Every faith tradition has its own version. Here are some of them:

Bahá’í – “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

Buddhism – “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana Varga 5:18

Christianity – “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

Confucianism – “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” Analects 15:23

Ancient Egyptian – “Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.” Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 – 110

Hinduism – “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam – “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.”

Jainism – “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

Judaism – “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Leviticus 19:18  “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Native American Spirituality – “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.” Pima proverb

Sikhism – “Don’t create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone.” Guru Arjan Devji 259

Taoism – “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien.

Yoruba – “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” Nigerian proverb

Photo: IStock