Karma Police: Karma as a Mask for Vengeance


No need for revenge.

Just sit back and wait.

Those who hurt you

Will eventually screw up


And if you’re lucky,

God will let you watch.

I first came in contact with these words last week, and the last time I checked on Facebook close to 5,000 people liked it.  I find that disturbing.

First, let me say that this is not an inquiry into Karma, what it is or is not.  Rather, I’m going to focus on the final part of the above statement: “and if you’re lucky, God will let you watch.”

Why would I want to watch?

Creative Commons License photo credit: loumurphy

The above statement brings to mind medieval (way before the age of enlightenment) images of people gathered in the square to watch a man get his head lopped off.   They called this justice.  We still call it justice—only without the “cruel and unusual” part.  Whoever wrote the above statement, unwittingly (perhaps) suggests that watching the misfortune of others is acceptable if the person has grieved us.  The author has confused vengeance with Karma.

The suggestion here is that, if all you do is watch, then it’s not vengeance; it’s just lucky.  This is a misunderstanding of Karma.  Besides the fact that it makes Karma out to be some sort of cosmic Charles Bronson, it also suggests that the action of “just” watching is passive enough to avoid Karmic detection.  Yet, as I understand it, no action is Karma free.  And before you say something about “Good” and “Bad” Karma, know that there is no such thing.  There’s just Karma.

Creative Commons License photo credit: AlicePopkorn

I suppose it’s human nature to want to see those who have harmed us pay for their actions.  I can understand that.  However, relishing the day that this might happen, if human, is part of our baser nature which we should, as ever evolving beings, seek to eliminate.

Trust me, you don’t want to watch.  By the time Karma gets around to this person, you should have moved on.  Way on.  People who turn around to look at the past, mythologically speaking, turn into pillars of salt.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Looking Glass

One of the problems with believing that someone else is deserving of karmic justice (whatever that means) is the assumption that somehow you don’t.  You do.  No one is clean.  We all have closet skeletons we hope to keep from Karma’s roving eye. Seems like we should just let the past be, no matter how much it hurts.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and all.

One last thing.  I believe in justice.  And I suppose Karma, the way we like to think of it, is a form of justice.  However, the desire to see Karma at work is revenge, and revenge only brings about the same karmic retribution one was hoping to witness.  After all, as Confucius says, “when you seek revenge remember to dig two graves.”


Tell me what you think.  Is wanting to witness the effects of Karma itself “karmically” detrimental?

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- who has written 6 posts on Yoga Modern.

Ifeoluwa (Ife) Togun is a freelance writer whose articles have been featured on Yoga Modern, Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, and Intentblog.com. He also maintains a blog dedicated to his adventures raising his newborn daughter, Skye Lily, at theskyechronicles.wordpress.com. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Grambling State University, a Master's degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology from Southern Methodist University, and a Doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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