In today’s lesson we shall leave Buddhism alone for a while and focus on Hinduism (specifically, the concepts of ‘dharma’ and ‘karma’).
Dharma: Your life’s work, or duty. Prescribed to you by authoritative figures.
This concept was created by a society that had no upward mobility in its class system and serves as little more than a means of social control. ‘Dharma’ does not mean “oh it’s my destiny to become an artist because when I look at Van Gogh’s work it speaks to mah feels” and most certainly does not mean “I feel deep down inside that I’m supposed to be a world-famous DJ because mommy bought me a MacBook for Christmas this year and I learned how to push ‘play’ and ‘stop’ in Ableton and had a visionary dream where I was sucking Skrillex’s dick”.
What dharma does mean is that if you were born to a janitor and a whore you better get real used to either being a janitor or a whore (or possibly asking people if they’d like fries with that) and sit down, shut up, and don’t even fucking think about educating yourself or trying to get something more out of life.
Karma: Punishment for not following your dharma (or reward for following it).
In Western Christian societies, we’ve invented Satan/”original sin” to explain why your life sucks, and heaven/hell to motivate people into following the Church’s orders.
Hinduism accomplishes both these tasks with the concept of karma. Instead of an “afterlife” the way we traditionally view it, they have a “next life”, and if you want to know why your current life is shitty, it’s because of something you did in the previous life.
Karma is NOT “my boyfriend cheated on me and the next week his car broke down”, nor is it “I gave a dollar to a homeless person and the next day I found $3 on the sidewalk”, and it is most certainly not “I spend 20 minutes in the morning meditating upon pure white light and bliss so that means that I did my part toward making the world a better place and excuses me to wander throughout life hopelessly spaced-out and unaware, acting like a mindlessly indulgent selfish entitled prick and gives me the right to bitch when my life still sucks.”
What karma does mean is that if you were born to a janitor and a whore you better get used to asking people if they’d like fries with that or in your next life you’re going to be born a blind cripple and never even know who your father was.
To reiterate: Karma and Dharma are not mystical forces that “most people just don’t understand because they’re not as enlightened as I am.” They don’t entitle you to anything, they don’t make you a special snowflake and they don’t give you a free pass to “turn on, tune in and cop-out”.
Karma and Dharma were invented as a means of religious social control to enforce and preserve the caste system and prevent upward social mobility.
Stop romanticizing them.