Karma: You are responsible for everything in your life


While karma is an important concept in Korean Zen Buddhism, it used to be an esoteric idea in the West. But over the years, an increasing number of people have espoused the idea of karma, realizing that they are responsible for everything that happens in their lives.

In the past, most people were short-sighted in terms of the way they viewed the world. Many of them were unable to look past the surface. They were unable to see beyond the illusion. Since they were completely fixated on only what they could perceive with their five senses, the Universe seemed harsh and cruel.

If there were God, why do so many people suffer? They asked. Why is there such injustice? Why do some people have to endure deplorable misery, while there are other who live wealthy and happy? If God existed, why can’t she relieve pain in this world?

These questions are still repeated in our days. We see tremendous differences in people’s life conditions in this world of Yin and Yang. Therefore, anybody who is compassionate enough to care about others cannot help but wonder why some people are born physically or mentally challenged, or why little children have to die of hunger in certain parts of the world.

Especially when we ourselves fall victim to a tragic event, we cannot help but wonder why it happened to us instead of somebody else. The question “Why me?” has been uttered countless times. Did it happen by God’s whim? Why is God so malevolent sometimes? People have asked.

However, many of us now have a better understanding of the world’s seeming injustice. We have begun to take the responsibility away from some higher powers to place it firmly into our hands. It is not God who determines the conditions of our lives. Our current life conditions were created by our thoughts, words, and deeds in the past which includes our past life incarnations. It is us who create our own reality. It is us who create our own destiny.

Therefore, we should be held accountable for whatever problems that we face in our lives. In the course of our life, we are reaping the results of our karma, whether it is good or bad. At the same time, we are also planting seeds for our future experiences.

As the Christ said, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Karma is an energy dynamic. It is the cosmic law of cause and effect. Simply put, we reap what we sow. We receive what we send out. 


Your karma

Why are some children born to parents who are unable to provide them with proper food, while there are others who are born to millionaires? Why do some children come to the world mentally challenged, while there are others who turn out to be infant prodigies? Is it a coincidence? Is it an arbitrary decision made by some higher powers?

Now think about flowers. Why are some flowers homely with no floral fragrance whatsoever, while others are exquisitely beautiful and enchantingly fragrant? Why do roses guard themselves with thorns, while tulips do not? It is simply because they have sprouted from different kinds of seeds.

So going back to the question why we are born into vastly different environments and conditions, it is because all of us have different karmic backgrounds. For example, children who are born with fatal illness have completely different karma from those who are born healthy and well. Therefore, even small children who are born in miserable circumstances cannot be made an exception to the principle that “you are solely responsible for your life.”

It is not a coincidence that you were born where you were born. It is not a coincidence that you were born to your parents. Your life conditions — such as your parents, family, nationality, race and gender — were chosen prior to being born, in accordance with your karma and the lessons your soul wanted to learn in this lifetime. You are here to reap what you sowed in the past, as well as in your past lives, while you are simultaneously shaping your future with your thoughts, emotions, words and actions. In every moment, you are sowing the seeds of your future experiences.

You are the product of your karma, and you are the creator of your own karma as well. Therefore, you are responsible for everything that happens in your life, both good and bad.

Did you withstand a traumatic experience as a child? Are you plagued with chronic illness? You have nobody to blame for whatever problems you have. Whether you were abused as a child or a victim of a dysfunctional family, it was your karma to experience it.

In other words, in accordance with your karma, you put yourself in that situation for your deeper good, whether it be to exhaust your karmic debts, restore balance, or bring healing at a deeper level. Your personality may dread the experience, but it is actually working for your deeper good. 

Karma is not meant to be a mechanism of punishment. Instead, it is a balancing mechanism. It is a healing mechanism. Karma is always working for your higher good.

Korean Zen