1) Someone asking me to become a lecturer on an event asked me about karma:
I hear people saying, about someone else, that their ill health or poverty is ‘bad karma’. Tell that to the starving child in Africa.
She was right of course.
2) I heard a longtime Krishnamurti student saying:
Your whole work is a sign of your conditioning.
Which is not the nicest thing to say.
3) Someone I disagreed with gave me a bucket load of psychoanalysis as an explanation for our disagreement. Thankfully we were able, on practical grounds, to resolve our differences.
These three examples have one thing in common: Knowledge is used as a defense. That is: in order to not have to feel compassion for that child in Africa, their trouble is karma. In order to not have to appreciate someone working on totally different lines than her own, the Krishnamurti inspired spiritual teacher puts their whole work down to ‘conditioning’. The third is perhaps the most common today:
Instead of using psychology to fix ourselves, we take the easy way out and use it to put down those we don’t know how to deal with.
All this doesn’t mean, of course, that the knowledge in question is false. It’s just misapplied.
Karma gave us in the West a lot of wealth (though at present on bond). Wealth is responsibility, and when we collectively give to good causes we implicitly recognize that responsibility. Though we’ll pay the price for collectively living on debt. As for that poor child in Africa – perhaps death (and rebirth) is preferable to living with Aids. Perhaps. These are heartbreaking issues. Let’s not use karma as an excuse to avoid feeling them.
Conditioning is a problem we all have to deal with. I think that teacher has perhaps become conditioned to looking at people through ‘Krishnamurti’-glasses. Despite the words, that’s still conditioning. And like that person I got into a disagreement with, she’s started using his words as a defense, instead of applying them to herself. Which of course is far harder.