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ROTW #9: The Power of Karma

It’s a Sunday morning.  But it is a Sunday morning where something is amiss in the cosmic way of things.  Yes, something seems a bit out of kilter.  Could it be that I decided to make my church at the last service of the day today, something that is a bit unusual for me?  No, it’s not that.  Although during the summer, it is nice to not “be on” for choir or teaching Sunday school.  It may even allow me to get more golf in on my Sundays.  I could do early church and still be playing golf by mid-morning, or I could play get in a round first thing in the morning and then do church later in the afternoon/evening.  Anyway, I’ll leave that for later.  But golf does seem to figure into this issue of something messing with karma in my universe.  What could it be?
Oh, I know.  This weekend the PGA Tour is at the Buick Open.  The major spokesperson for Buick, tied to the professional golfer’s tour, just happens to be a golfer.  A good golfer.  A very good golfer.  Phenomenal even.  Likely, when it is all said and done the greatest to play the game.  Still need a hint?  His name is Tiger Woods.  But sadly, Tiger isn’t playing this weekend, and he won’t be playing next weekend.  In fact, he won’t play anymore this year due to a torn ligament in his left knee and two stress fractures in his lower left leg.  We learned in the past few weeks that Tiger Woods effectively won his 14th major PGA championship on one good leg.
Anyway, what does Karma have to do with Tiger Woods?  I’m glad you asked.
In my Religions of the World class, among the eastern traditions we have explored are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.  These three traditions all consider karma in their belief systems, and are somewhat guided in their ways of living because of it.  I’ll share from the glossary of our text book (M.P. Fisher. Living Religions: Eastern Traditions on Karma: “In Hinduism and Buddhism, our actions and their effects on this life and lives to come.  In Jainism, subtle particles that accumulate on the soul as a result of one’s thoughts and actions.”  I hear Cause and Effect in that.  And I know I’ve heard people refer to good karma and bad karma.
For Tiger Woods, red has become the signature color he always wears in any final round he’s played because his Buddhist mother tells Tiger it gives him powerful karma.  Since his mother said so, he does it.  What a good son!  He does it out of respect to her.  Tiger’s mother took him on a trip to Thailand to help him connect with that part of his heritage in the Thai culture.  During one of their “spiritual” sessions, red was identified as Tiger’s power color.  Also, Red represents Luck in the Thai culture.  Shortly after this visit, Tiger wore the color red and won the tournament.  His mother has encouraged him to wear red ever since.  Again, wearing the red is Tiger’s way of honoring his mother, and their shared heritage.  The other players on the PGA Tour have come to expect if Tiger is playing Sunday (or sometimes Monday as was the case this last time when he won the U.S. Open on one leg); he’s on the charge, and wearing his powerful and lucky signature color red.  I imagine that leaves other players seeing red, but for an entirely different reason. 

So sadly, no more Tiger Woods for the rest of 2008!  Consequently, you’ll be seeing a lot less red on Sundays (except for other “wannabes” who’d like to capitalize on his absence).  I suspect the PGA will see a big drop in their tourney attendance numbers and TV ratings due to this.  Maybe not, but probably so.
{Ahem}.  Sorry about that.  I get carried away when it involves golf and Tiger.  Where was I?
Oh Yeah.  Karma.  The actions and the consequences of those actions.  Anything we do (or don’t do), all of which we think, even any desire that we may have, can influence our life in the most immediate and future long-term days.  In both Hinduism and Buddhism, with its karmic wheel of life: birth, death and rebirth, the deeds of today follow us into the possibilities of tomorrow.  Followers hope that each new life moves toward a better incarnation and higher plane, eventually achieving liberation from their earthly existence.  In Jainism, the law of karma operates with a more physical experience.  Karma is “soot” that one can accumulate from what they do and how they think.  That soot, once is builds up, can begin to weigh you down.  The Jains believe the less action you take, the better off you will be.  Purification rituals are very important in all these traditions.  That could be a whole ‘nuther reflection right there.
So Karma, whether it be powerful or good or lucky or bad, it’s all about Cause and Effect.  And as I’ve shared before, “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?” 

Let’s be careful out there, folks.