(’76 Contributor) Whenever I talk to a woman who has looked into her past lives and reincarnations, she is almost sure to include having been a midwife, a slave, a warrior princess, Napoleon’s mistress, a male soldier or artist, or often a nun or monk. She is likely to report having been with a soul mate in some of these past lives and is certain that the progressing thread of her many lives is bringing her to higher and more love, insight and opportunity. The previous lives are described with generous dashes of adventure, struggle against oppression, and romance. All this even though in most cultures through history an accident of birth would define a woman’s choices for her entire life.
Odds are that most of us, in a past life wouldn’t have been midwives or princesses or nuns. We would’ve been subsistence farmers, pregnant at 13 and dead by 33. And a soul mate? How about a man that didn’t beat you? That would be pretty great.
Karma demands that a person pay for past transgressions through life assignments and events until they learn from their choices and behave in a more highly evolved way. Karma can determine where and to whom you are born and how much you will be able to explore, choose and accomplish in your life. Even as a woman trying her best to be a great gal, this cosmic pinball game idea is a real buzz kill.
Karma pre-determines winners and losers. It picks Kings and Queens who are born with a higher station and absolute position power. She decides if you’re going to be with your soul mate or not. The bitch can seem fickle – she could designate that you will be a courtesan to Pharaoh, although again the odds are that you’d be tending two goats, 4 chickens and a well with dirty water. It’s not up to you. It’s in the stars or the cosmos. Your choices are set from before you were born.
In a Karmic world, people are not equals. Some people have more choices than others – regardless of their innate talents, passions or intelligence. If you’re born down the social or power scale, then tough luck. You might have the makings of a great artist but the system doesn’t allow breakthroughs if you’re the wrong kind of person. I might be able to do a bit of wood carving after the cows are milked and the grain is threshed. If a nobleman rode by and saw my quaint artwork, he could just take it and I would have no right or means to protest.
So, yes – Karma is (no other word will do) a bitch. But she is not the boss of me. I don’t live in the nightmare country of oppression and futility. I live in a dream nation where I choose my own Karma. I live under natural law, not karmic law. Sure, there are natural consequences that affect who I was born to and where. And there are struggles, differences in talent and wealth and health. But this system says that all of us are created equal and we each have the right to strive after our own definition of life and liberty and happiness. I am the boss of me, and there is no “higher born” citizen that has any absolute authority over me.
I am not a slave to any past lives I’ve lead. I can create my own future with this sweet life given as a blank slate. I am free to make garbage out of it, or to aggressively pursue my goals. No guarantees, no assured outcomes, but I have the right to try. This right has been handed to me as a birthright. Karma is not the boss of me because the Declaration of Independence says I am created equal.
Jeannie Edwards is assistant director of the Centennial Institute and executive producer of the annual Western Conservative Summit. Soon to graduate with the Leadership Program of the Rockies Class of 2014, she wrote this essay for an LPR assignment on personal responses to the Declaration of Independence.