The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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In the excerpt “True Forgiveness” [September 2003] Richard Smoley perpetuates a Western misunderstanding about the law of karma. To view karma as “good begets good, and evil, evil” is inappropriate and harmful. The concept of good and evil simply perpetuates the dualism that hinders most of Western thought. Life — with all of its pleasure and pain, grace and beauty — just is.
The law of karma says that each person experiences the life he or she needs for further spiritual development. How else is one to explain how “bad” things happen to “good” people, and good to bad? Our perceived misfortune is actually precisely what we need, at that time, in order to grow and to open our hearts and minds to a greater understanding of what it is to be human.
In the interview that precedes the excerpt, Smoley says, “Gnosis is the direct knowledge or insight into the nature of things. Like enlightenment in Buddhism or Hinduism, it is not given freely.” Again, duality creeps in: God over there and humankind over here trying so hard to “earn” that which we already have. Enlightenment is every person’s birthright, our basic state. It is only through the obscuration of mind, which projects duality on the situation, that we have lost sight of this.
Smoley touched on the truth when he quoted Saint Francis of Assisi: “What you are looking for is what is looking.” I fear, however, that as long as Smoley and other Western seekers continue to perpetuate the myth of duality, of object and subject, of me and God, then they are destined to turn away from enlightenment and search outwardly for understanding of themselves and their God.