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Not Good, Not Bad, Just Karma

Q: I've been in two bad accidents. I'm crippled in my left leg and my right arm. Some say that this is bad luck others bad Karma. If it is bad Karma how do I make up for it?

A: There is a common misconception that karma comes in both "good" and "bad" varieties. Karma is actually the law of cause-and-effect, nothing more, nothing less. Whether things that happened are labeled fortunate or unfortunate usually depends on one's point of view. In your case the karmic elements that contributed to your injuries encountered the conditions that led to their ripening, you had two bad accidents, and those particular cause-and-effect cycles are now over.  The ultimate causes of your pain are mostly unknown, but for you the effects are manifested in an injured arm and an injured leg.

Here's an interesting question: what if your injuries caused you, in time, to become a far better person than you are already? Would they be considered "good" or "bad" karma? When you are lying in the hospital in pain you may consider your circumstances to be unfortunate, but if you were to look at yourself five years from now and determine that those painful injuries changed your life for the better, you might consider those injuries to be the best thing that ever happened to you. This reinforces the point that karma is simply cause-and-effect, and that judging events to be fortunate or unfortunate has more to do with our own outlook than on the events themselves.

So really, there is nothing to "make up for," as you put it. The causes happened in the past and the effects of those causes have already come about. The most constructive thing to do at this point is to calmly assess your situation and determine how you will conduct your life from this point forward, given the nature of your injuries. It never hurts to try to conduct one's life from the standpoint of compassion and wisdom, making sure that one works to promote harmony and lessen suffering wherever one can. The ultimate point is to live your life moment by moment, unencumbered by guilt or remorse, and to deal with each situation in your life as it occurs. Keeping the mind focused in this way can only lead, ultimately, to the end of suffering. I wish you well.

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