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  • Karl Thunemann

Trying to Define Karma

For weeks—it could be months—I have been struggling to write an epistle about karma. My life has been peppered by apparent experiences with karma—many occurring long before I had ever heard the word—but even as I have embraced the idea I still wonder what exactly it means.

The idea of karma—perhaps it would be better labeled as “experience” than “idea”—is incredibly ancient. It’s said to have evolved in preliterate India. Many eastern religions incorporate it, but their understandings differ. Hindu and Buddhist ideas seem quite different, but I have trouble keeping their variances in mind. * I finally settled on a potpourri of experience and opinion, parts of it notably off the wall, and assembled an epistle. But when I read it to a group of fellow writers, it felt flat and lifeless.

It was easy to discard the epistle itself, but what about my disjointed collection of experience and observation? These are precious to me, even those instances that seem obscure or off-the-wall. I cannot toss away these tidbits of my spiritual life. † I have set aside the notion of writing an overview. Instead, I am commencing a series of—shall we call them epistlinis? –short posts of observations and speculations about my relationship with karma. Maybe over time they will adduce my true working vision of karma. Even though I may be at a loss to define it, I am a true believer.

The series begins today, with this and two others: “Might this Mary Be my Karma Pal?” and “The Buddha Came to John Blofeld.”


*Must ask Miss Otis why this might be so; she seems to have opinions where I have trouble keeping things straight.

† I briefly feel moved to term this “my so-called spiritual life,” but forbear, knowing it would bring me to grief with some of my confidantes.


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