I saw a post on Facebook that captured my interest so intensely that I immediately shared it. The post, in Pilipino, was written as follows:
“Kung anong ginagawa mo sa kapwa mo, babalik at babalik yan sayo, sa ayaw at sa gusto mo.” (Whatever you do to your neighbor will surely come back to you, whether you agree or not.)
This saying is an old one and expressed differently in a variety of religious beliefs. It affirms not only what is a conviction to many but a conviction with overarching and overriding powers. The message is clear – that divine justice is ever at work and is impervious even to dimensions of time. Because we here in the Philippines observe the twin Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, the principle of divine justice having a reach beyond life on earth came to mind.
Most people believe in a God, in Creation, in existence prior, during, and after our human lifetime. That belief incorporates a belief in a divine order corresponding to the power, the purpose, and the governing laws of the creator and creation. To some major Eastern beliefs, Karma represents the guarantee and keeper of the divine order.
Of course, Karma is the name given by some belief systems but its nature is accepted by most other belief systems though may be called differently. It can even be said that the laws of man follow man’s acceptance that existence itself is governed by laws. Human laws hue closely to the principles of divine laws as understood by man. Or, at least, that is what many societies would like to think so, would like to reflect.
Recalling the decades that seemed to pass rather quickly in my life, especially the ones involving school and early life in the home, this sense of divine justice seemed quite clearly felt in the laws of the domicile and the academe. So natural, then, in our youth to be clear about right and wrong. We were largely innocent but wonderfully clear about the essentials. It is ironic that grew to adulthood appears to have clouded what was once very clear. Is it because we were taught to think? Or is it because we were taught by example to compromise?
There was a time when the operating law was a simplified “eye for an eye.” But somewhere along the line, the great Jesus Christ taught forgiveness. By elevating love as the greatest virtue of all, it trumped even justice – or so it seems. The central Christian teaching, however, is quite difficult to accept, even after two thousand years. In the first Christian nation in Asia, we struggle with the death penalty. We applied it, we eliminated it, and now seriously wondering if we should apply it once more. It seems that when we learn of a heinous crime when we read stories of the ugliest acts of evil, we do want to go back to exact an eye for an eye.
The reality is that when we are driven by fear when we see more threats than opportunities, we return to the simplified version of justice. The world around us keeps shifting from conservative to liberal, from fear to aspiration. With each major shift, we rationalize differently. Like when we are so afraid, though quietly so for so long, about the use and the business of illegal drugs, so powerfully dangerous and so total our helplessness against it as ordinary citizens, a violent drug war becomes acceptable. Thousands have been killed in this war, and the President has just admitted that he cannot solve the problem as quickly, if at all, as he had said he could. That means thousands more will die, legitimately in drug raids, or by execution by unknown vigilantes.
Justice, then, can have different nuances when the general temper shifts from fear to aspiration, more eye-for-an-eye when fearful, more forgiving when hopeful. Furthermore, when justice is translated to words from its spiritual essence to human laws, a form can become more important than spirit. Because, then, the truth has to be proven for it to be real when the truth is simply truth whether explained or not. And many a justice system adopted by societies begin with an innocent-until-proven-guilty presumption, allowing guilt the edge more than innocence. In other words, with all the flaws of justice when applied by human laws, there are many instances of injustice that themselves seek justice.
There is unquestionably a solid basis for an overarching system of justice in order for the universal order to stand its intelligent and powerful ground. There is Karma, the universal keeper of order, the guarantor and guarantee of justice, at work beyond the human parameters of time and space.
Thankfully, there is Karma. Thankfully, there is a certainty that truth will always be the truth, the truth that is understood intuitively by the innocent and then blurred, paradoxically, when the mind takes a more active journey towards information and wisdom. With Karma, it becomes easier to trust that the supernatural order has a supernatural system of justice that has no exception in its application. With that trust, human beings like you and me can rest our worries and pain when we see violators of the truth and justice in our midst appear to get away with wrongdoing. That trust makes us understand that they, and we, are governed by the same rules, justly and perfectly applied.
Celebrating All Saints and All Souls remind us of existence beyond human lifetimes, an existence that continues to be unerringly subject to laws and the essence of justice in endless time and space. In whatever form our individual and collective life may be, the long arm of the law punishes and rewards justly. With this assurance, we can better focus on living our lives faithfully according to how we understand right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil – because Karma never sleeps.