You know how when you’re on a diet, you go past a chocolate shop and your mouth waters and sometimes you just can’t resist – you have to go in there and buy a family sized bar of Cadbury Dark Gold?
Well, for me, philosophising is like that. I try not to do it, because most people start yawning and consulting their I-Phones – but then sometimes I just can’t resist that dark, all consuming temptation. (It’s also great with chocolate, by the way).
So I guess what follows is a kind of guilty indulgence. It may help some people to imagine me doing it in fishnets.
Professor of Metaphysics Preparing for Inaugural Lecture
Suppose you don’t believe in an absolute, universal standard of morality (I don’t). But suppose you do believe in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ karma (I do). How do you get these two concepts together? How do you make them snuggle up together in their ethical basket and not wake up growling and snapping in the night?
In the LEFT corner, we have, scowling and rude-fingering the crowd, Belief Number One. And here it is! The universe doesn’t CARE if I do good deeds or spread crap everywhere I go. It doesn’t arrange ‘lessons’ for me. There is no entity thinking, hmmm, Rose has done very well on her empathy exam, but she needs to sit Humility 101 again…I’ll stick her soul in an Indian peasant, send her through a few Bhopals and train riots, and she should do better next time around. Any more than the position of stars I don’t even know the name of determines that all Aquarians are going to wear the wrong shoes with their evening dresses (which it does, in my case).
In the RIGHT corner, replete with gleaming toga and smug smile, Belief No Two! If I don’t behave, I’ll cop it. For instance, why is it that the ills inflicted on me by the Demon Ex, are very like the ills I myself inflicted on other exes over the years? KARMA. Why did I pick a man who in many ways echoed my vices? (Not that I mean to drone on about the DE, he’s over and done with, but just as an example). KARMA. Why do I find, in my life, that when I do things I’m ashamed of, they rebound on me? K-K-K-KARMA!
How can I reconcile these two philosophical welter-weights and have them eating nicely out of the same bowl?
Haven’t these people grown out of their rompers already??
By admitting – they’re both right. Stuff affects us, and we affect stuff, because we live in a connected universe. What divides ‘me’ from ‘not me’? Nothing, really. Physically, I’m an arrangement of atoms and energy in a universe of atoms and energy. ‘I’ am a definition, not an entity. My locus of control spreads outwards in never-ending ripples.
How can we tell the direction of causation – what happens because of what – without knowing the direction of time? But what if time has no direction? What if time and causation flow all around us, like the ocean around a single plankton? Then karma becomes a kind of bio-feedback loop – we cause and are caused, we do and are done by, we receive what we give, and the only person giving me ‘lessons’ is me.
So what have I thrown out into my ocean this week? Pretty much nothing – I’m struggling just to stay afloat. Unless you count taking my treasured eldest sister to Birthday Breakfast on Sunday – CAN we count that, Ms A? Please?
What do you think? Does the universe care about us? Does somebody have a Plan for you? Do they have one for the cat – and if not, why not? Do you believe in the connectedness of all things? Do you believe in reincarnation or is all this karma-counting for nothing?