I don't believe in Karma. Never did. Probably never will.
Having dabbled a bit in Eastern philosophy, I think Karma is one of the most misused words in the English lexicon. Many have heard "what goes around comes around" but don't know the original source (Lao Tzu, in case you are curious). But there is a bit more to Karma than that. It is actually a much more intricate concept.
I forget the source. When I was in college, I was reading a piece on concepts that are lost in translation, rendered completely meaningless in other languages. The example was "karma" and "justice." Justice is as foreign a concept to the Eastern world as Karma is to the Western world. But they both accomplish the same thing. They both embody the same principle of humans getting what they deserve. To use the Jewish terminology, "same Tachlis, different Pe'ulah" (same purpose, different action).
Last week, my mother gave me a box. In the box was some old papers of mine. Letters. Classwork. Assignments. Poems. Pictures. I looked through them. I wrote those things. I recall writing them. But as I read them, I almost didn't recognize my own voice.
It was as if a stranger had once inhabited my body. For all these years, that stranger lived my life. He carried out my human subprocesses. He was my ego. But trapped under that ego was an Atman waiting to get out. The environment I was in trapped this Atman. Restraint after restraint after restraint. They wanted to turn me into someone else.
For all these years, I was doing someone else's Dharma. That someone else would have thrived if only he was in someone else's body. But that someone else was too distant.
Reading these letters makes me more painfully aware of this dissonance.
But most importantly, the key that imprisons Atman is held by only one man: ME.
I am all that stands in the way of my being free.