Karma 2: Electric Boogaloo
So, yesterday’s article gave us a (brief) overview of the origins of Karmic theory, which seems an excellent basis for today’s topic of discussion: The practical application of Karma in today’s world.
When I was working for the BBC a couple of years ago I wrote a short piece on the science of morality, a remarkable perceptual phenomenon which modified peoples’ behavioural capacities depending upon how they viewed themselves. To read the full article, why not check out the original at http://sciencefocus.com/blog/how-be-hero-imagine-you-are-one?
The article focused on a study carried out by the ultra-prestigious Harvard university in the USA, headed by Kurt Gray PhD. (director of the Maryland Mind Perception and Morality lab), which found that there was power to be found in perceiving one’s self as both good and evil, however the benefits were varied respectively. People who saw themselves as ‘evil’ on a traditional Karmic scale tended to have increased stamina, willpower and efficacy- in short they became stronger through a belief that their actions were ‘larger than life’, if you will.
Now, this isn’t to say that they gained any kind of superpowers or became in some way superior to their human peers; rather than that absurd conclusion the study actually showed that in perceiving their actions against the backdrop of morality and Karma they lent more credence to these actions mentally. Through this imagined transcendence of human limitation the test subjects actually got stronger physically, mentally and their acuity as individuals was raised; in short it proved that ‘evil’ could strengthen people.
There is, however, a pretty good reason to turn to the light side of the farce.
Humans are, at their core, instinctively geared towards ‘good’. We don’t like seeing one another suffer; it’s keyed into the very basis of our genetic structure and has been an instrumental part of our survival as a species. Glorious collaboration, if you will. It is, then, no wonder that the results of Doctor Gray’s study proved that while there is power to be found by performing deeds regarded by modern morality to be evil, there is more to be earned through the belief that one is a ‘good person’.
Indeed, those who performed good, Karmically positive actions received the same boosts to their physical attributes as their negative counterparts, but with an absurd boost to the amount of benefit received. Vitality, strength, stamina, reaction time- all were significantly stronger, the subjects were happier and they benefited on an emotional level through simple acts of kindness and love. As it usually does, good triumphed over evil, proven as the direct result of actions performed which altered the test subjects’ perceptions of themselves, hence the name of my old article:
How to be a hero? Imagine you are one!
Now, if that’s not a prime example of a real-world application for the theory of Karma I don’t know what is. Do good, perceive the actions as positive and the belief that you have done good will strengthen you! Or, if you wish do evil and receive a smaller boost. If you look at the phenomena comparatively then it’s clear to see that this is, in itself a simplistic scientific system of Karma, and even though the motive of obtaining absolution to benefit one’s self is selfish, it is in no way harmful to other people. A way of life which not only benefits others but strengthens your body and mind and by its very nature does no harm to other people? Looks like we should all start proving that we’re good to reap these rewards.
Along with the concept of Social Karma discussed yesterday, this is a pretty comprehensive way to live one’s life. No lying, no cheating, no harming others- whether you choose to live this way through religious conviction or as a result of personal ethics the outcome will be that people like you, you will be stronger than your negative-living counterparts and (in a spiritual sense) will eventually come to be at peace. It’s proven that volunteer work can help counter depression, and has been a common treatment to raise self-esteem and boost serotonin levels since the 1950s, so why not apply it to day-to-day life?
I’m not saying that you should go out, donate everything you own to charity and start up a soup kitchen in the ghetto- that would be redundant and dangerous- but if science has proven that your positive actions actually help you then what excuse do you have not to do them? It can be as simple as being kinder to strangers, or more polite; working out and taking better care of yourself- it’s all good, and it helps! You’ll feel better, be stronger and not suck to talk to! Just do it with conviction and you’ll be alright!
Oh, and it has health benefits too, check out further writings on Dr. Gray’s work at http://www.emaxhealth.com/11306/many-benefits-tlc to find out how you can make your perceptions work for you!
So go on, do a good deed- if not for someone else, then do it for the relative boost it’ll give you. After all, even if you do it for a selfish reason, it’s still a good deed, and the world needs those in this time of crisis more than ever.