Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Christ and Karma

Krister Sairsingh
Trinidadian Krister Sairsingh shares his testimony of coming to Christ from Hinduism. It is exciting and encouraging. Well worth the read. I found his discouragement with karma interesting:
The law of karma — that whatever wrong we do we will have to pay for in some other life — rules out the very idea of forgiveness. According to the law of karma, reincarnation is therefore necessary in order to pay for the sins of a previous life.  One's present life is determined by one's previous existence while one's future existence is shaped by one's present life. Each soul is held to be responsible for its own destiny. The law of karma offered a simple and attractive explanation of the mystery of suffering in the world. People suffer because of their own evil action. But reincarnation as a necessary working out of the law of karma was never good news to me — even though I knew it undergirded the whole fabric of my religious and moral world.
Reading Jesus' words in the gospels caused him more despair:
As I read the Gospels I became much more aware of my human failings, that I was a creature governed by unruly desires rather than the virtues of compassion and generosity. It dawned on me that I was often unkind to the numerous beggars who knocked at our gates. Whatever charity I showed was born not out of compassion and kindness but out of a desire to build up good karma, to secure a better birth in the cosmic wheel of existence. I began to see how hard I had tried to distance myself from the uncultured lower caste Hindus and how much I distrusted and despised Muslims. There was a feeling of desperation because I knew that I would have to suffer the consequences in some other life for all my evil actions. In some ways the teachings of Jesus even compounded the feeling of distress because he taught that we would be judged for our thoughts, attitudes and words, not just our deeds. I knew the depths of my prejudice and bigotry. Spiritual liberation — release from the cycle of birth and death — seemed humanly impossible. I could only conceive of a downward spiral. I felt there was no way out.
He seems aware of the darkness in the cellar of his soul. It is much darker than most people admit. Our good actions are often less good than we think, and our bad ones much worse than we realise. Karma made him aware of the necessity of judgment and the words of Jesus showed him how much worse the situation is. I laughed at the irony as I was reading this paragraph. It is as if he is told: "Karma is not good news because you are judged for your actions; it gets worse, you are judged for your thoughts and attitudes too."

I can smile because I know the solution, but how despairing it was Sairsingh. A good place to be in order to then grasp how good the Good News is. Who can deliver us from this body of death?
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

2 comments:

  1. Spiritual liberation — release from the cycle of birth and death — seemed humanly impossible. I could only conceive of a downward spiral. I felt there was no way out.

    He was a Karmic hamster, doomed to his exercise wheel for eternity, held there by his imperfection and Karma's unforgiving repetition.

    I enjoyed his essay. I've printed a copy for my mother who is entangled in a blend of Hinduism, new-age spirituality and a couple bible proof-texts.

    I was a little dissappointed towards the end with his recitation of academic life. I thought, he needs to return to his first love.

    I was struck, however, by the near simultaneous conversion of his entire family following his, like a dam breaking. My own experience, and awareness, is the opposite - obdurate, ignorant intransigence everywhere I look. The 'thought' occurred to me, that is the difference between "cold" and "lukewarm": "cold" understands its distinction from "hot" whereas "lukewarm" is deceived and indifferent with being better than cold.

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  2. Hi Starwind, sorry your comment got caught in my spam trap, again. I can't turn it off.

    I found the conversion of him family exciting also. I read the book Death of a Guru some years back about a Hindu named Rabindranath Maharaj from the same country who became a Christian. I suspect it is the cousin Rabi mentioned in the article. It is quite easy reading, your mother may enjoy it?

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