I hear a lot of people talking about karma like it’s a scorecard in some weird game where the columns all need to balance somehow.  “She did *such-n-such* which is just horrible.  And she does it all the time.  I just don’t understand how she can get away with it while I have deal with _____ and I try to live right all the time.  At some point the she will have to get hers.”  “He is such a *so-n-so*.  He has everything and I have nothing.  He treats me like ______.  What have I done to deserve this?  I can’t wait until he falls on his face.  Then he’ll know what pain is.”

And so it goes all the time.  We look for balance, for justice, for vindication of our feelings from human actions all the time.  We try to see a pattern that will help us feel less powerless, more right, and more righteous.  But karma doesn’t work like that.  I hate to say it, but in some part the old saying is true, “Fare is what you pay to ride the bus.”  For one thing, the Universe is too interconnected and complex for embodied spiritual beings to be aware of or have any understanding of what balance would be in that context.  Also, in my experience, the Universe isn’t a parent that punishes infractions, perceived or otherwise.  We aren’t children running around on a playground being monitored by adults.  We have free will and, regardless of whether we know or understand the consequences, we are responsible for our actions.

Karma isn’t a scorecard of rights or wrongs and you don’t get a gold star for doing it right the first, second or third time.  And you don’t get demerits when you get it wrong.  If you get it right you get to do it more, better, or you move on to the next item you need to do.  If you do it wrong you get to do it more strenuously until you get it right.  Or you get to do a small piece of it so you can learn it more completely in a less overwhelming situation. Or you can choose to not do any of it or to just keep doing it over and over without change.  It’s really up to you.

The thing to know is, just as other people can’t know where you are in your journey, you can’t know where other people are in theirs.  If you look at a person jogging down a path in a park, can you know whether they are a long time athlete or someone who just recently got thin?  You can’t.  When you see someone at the gym who is working hard and seems to have quite a bit of weight to lose, can you tell if they have just started a workout regimen or if they have already lost 250 LB?  You can’t.  You can’t know where they’ve started, where they are now on their path, or where they are headed.  So you can’t know their karma around things and judgements just keep you from being able to know.  When someone does something awful or seems to act in a less spiritual way, you see the action in the moment, but you don’t see what is going on inside. You can’t know the full story, the emotions and causes for why they have made these choices or where they are headed with them.  The best you can do is have healthy boundaries in dealing with their actions.  Don’t try to heal them, punish them, or ‘make them see the light’ because you have no idea what lights are already going on for them.  The only person you can really know is yourself and you need to focus on your path and the best right actions for you to take.  And those are the ones that give the best results for everyone including yourself.

There’s not a scorecard, just now and the best choices you can make with the gift you have been given, Free Will.