I watch helplessly as a friend, who is a Trans woman and until recently a believing Christian, suddenly discovered Karma, reincarnation and destiny. She has been going on and on about how God is the evil being who awards karma. She is now convinced God made her gay just to punish her for bad karma she accumulated in a previous life. She claims God appeared to her in a vision/dream and explained that she was a white woman in her previous life, however she was reborn a black African man in a homophobic society as a result of bad karma. God then threatened to punish her for speaking against him. Needless to say, this ‘revelation’ has made her very bitter about God, whom she now refers to as the ‘evil one’ to the chagrined of her now ex fellow Christians.
It pains me that this lovely being is distraught and torn apart by the myth of Karma, Reincarnation and Destiny. It is even more painful that after her long journey towards transitioning into her preferred gender, this new belief in Karma, reincarnation and destiny has made her bitter about being born gay to the extent that she now sees her sexual orientation and gender identity as a sort of punishment; a bad karma.
So, let’s talk about Karma, Reincarnation and Destiny.
- Are you blaming Karma for the calamities in your life?
- Do you wish you had known about Karma so that you could have averted the calamities?
- Do you believe the Karma you accumulated in your previous life is why your life is a mess?
So tell me,
- Was it bad Karma that got 3 million Jews gassed?
- Is bad Karma responsible for the death of millions of African children from preventable diseases?
- Is Karma the reason many African children go to bed hungry or starve to death?
- Do you seriously think accumulated bad Karma is why a gay person is born into a homophobic society?
If we are to go by the definition of Karma, it is rational to conclude that dictatorship, bad governance, homophobia and poverty are all necessary wheels of Karma, and therefore they are important to life and/or karmic circle.
Now, if bad governance, corruption, greed and poverty are all integral to keeping the wheel of Karma turning, why do we bother to fight these menaces? Are they even menaces considering that they are needed for people to get their ‘Just Karma’?
It is sad and ridiculous that Karma seems to be widely accepted as a fact. I have come across some freethinkers who are quick to say ‘Karma is a bitch’ and basically endorse the concept. Karma is just another made up bullshit.
And like religion, Karma is also bullshit that hurts innocent people.
The belief in Karma has caused and is still causing much pain to many. If you believe people are in a bad situation because of some bad things they did in a past life, then you will be less inclined to help them. Visually impaired people were and in some places still treated as the scum of the earth because in some societies, it is believed that blindness is caused by bad karma.
Reincarnation works with a belief in Karma. The new concept or rather the western concept of Karma, which often manifests in the saying “Karma is a bitch”, deals more with the belief that people get the repercussions of their actions through cause and effect, brought on by the belief that there is a natural law/order that decreed bad people would get their bad Karma on earth.
We know this is not the case, especially since there are more people lamenting “Why do bad things always happen to good people” than people giving a thumps up to Karma, yelling “Yeah, karma is a bitch, he got his Karma!”
Waiting around hoping the cause and effect law of Karma would catch up with a rapist, burglar, or murderer is indeed stupid. For any semblance of justice to be done, the necessary structures must be in place. This includes:
- A law and order society that is not at war
- A law against the crime
- A body that can enforce the law
- A system that is not partial
- And you have to do your bit by reporting the case to the appropriate authority for investigation.
If you were the victim of a crime and you reported the criminal to a security officer, but the officer tells you “Karma is a bitch, just wait around, Karma is dealing with it”, you will no doubt be angry at such bullshit. The angry reaction says a lot. It tells me you also know that Karma is nothing but wishful thinking.
Now, aside this consoling, lazy, wishful western Karma, there is the Eastern concept of Karma which dates far back. The Eastern concept of Karma is very much linked to reincarnation. Although there are variations in the eastern version of Karma, for example some belief it has to do with a God, and some think you can achieve a state of Dharma or a state of Nirvana, when you work off all your bad Karma, however one belief that is central to them all is that people are reborn. Souls are reborn in new bodies.
Now, it is only rational to ask, what are souls?
Is soul the alternative word for consciousness?
Is it another word for brain activities?
Is my soul my personality? For example, when India Arie sang “I am not my hair”, can I in the same parlance proclaim ‘I am not my body’? Well, if my body is not so pleasant to look at, I could say I am my soul, after all ‘true beauty’ they say, is from within. But really, jokes aside, why are people so intent on ascribing a soul to their existence?
A belief in soul is why Christians keep asking me to give my life to the blue eyed, blonde, Jew called Jesus Christ, the saviour. Although I inform them many times that I have no soul crying out to be saved, in fact, that I have no soul at all but they still keep bothering me with their promise of salvation.
Belief in a soul whether it is from Eastern Karma or Christian mythology is all about irrational beliefs. There is no evidence to support such myths, and logic laughs in the face of such stupidity.
Many African cultures also belief in a variation of reincarnation. There is the popular Yoruba belief that old family members can be reborn into the family. It is believed that a dead grandfather or grandmother can be reborn into the family especially if a member of the family is pregnant at the time of the death of an elderly family member. Hence, such names as Babatunde (Father has come back) Babajide (Father has risen) Yetunde (Mother is reborn), are popular names among Yorubas. It must however be pointed out that this Yoruba take on reincarnation is not about Karma. The Yorubas believe the new born baby is starting life afresh. .
Reincarnation should also not be mistaken for the African concept of Abiku or Ogbanje. The Abiku myth, which was well illustrated in poems of the same title by two great African poets, Wole Soyinka and J.P Clarke, is a child that keeps ‘coming and going’ just to torment the parents. Abiku refers to the spirits of children who die before they reached puberty. A child who dies before twelve years of age can be called an Abiku, and the spirit, or spirits, who caused the death, is also referred to as the Abiku spirit. Sacrifices are offered to Gods to beg the Abiku child to stay. Incisions are sometimes made on the body of the child, to deter the child from choosing to die. If the child died, it is believed that the child would come back again, this time with the incision visible on the skin. Many who survived into adulthood still bear the physical scars caused by incision made on their bodies as children. The scarification of the faces of innocent and vulnerable children because of silly adult myths and ignorance must be condemned.
As I have stated many times, I do not care what people belief in, as long as their beliefs do not harm others. However, beliefs in Karma, Reincarnation and Destiny do harm others. If you belief the bad things happening to me are a result of bad Karma which I accumulated in a past life, you might be reluctant to help me. After all for all you know, I might have murdered your child in a past life.
Also, If you belief in reincarnation, you might be reluctant to donate your vital organs to help sick people, after all what if you need those organs in your new life? It would be tragic to be born blind in a new life just because you donated your old eyes to give a blind person the gift of sight.
Reincarnation is as ridiculous as it is bullshit. It is just another idea sold to encourage good behaviour and morality. Like most religious and spiritual ideologies, it is about the reward or punishment doctrine, as if humans can only do good if controlled by a fear of punishment or a reward of a better life.
Belief in Karma and reincarnation could lead you to maltreat animals. If you thought Hitler accumulated bad karma and has now been reincarnated as an elephant, you are more likely to support killing elephants for sport and harvesting their ivories.
Belief in Karma and reincarnation could also lead one to dismiss the suffering of others. The child begging on the street could be said to be working off a bad Karma from a previous life. And that cow, well it was probably an armed robber in the life before this.
On a side note, why do people never reincarnate as Dinosaurs or one of the 99% already extinct living things on earth?
Destiny also has its link with Karma. It stands to reason that if I have some bad karma to work off, I am destined to have bad things happen to me. And if I have some good Karma in my favour, I am destined to have good things happen to me.
It is telling that those who claim to believe in destiny will never knowingly run into a moving vehicle. Why bother to even look left, right and left again when crossing the road? After all, if you are not destined to die by car accident, it does not matter whether or not you looked before you crossed the road, if you are destined to die by car accident, you will and if you are not, you will not, so why bother? In fact, why bother with anything; after all you are just here on earth playing a predetermined role.
Going by the logic of destiny, I am predetermined to be an atheist, I am even predetermined to write this blog post and you are predetermined to read this blog post. Silly, isn’t it?
Belief in destiny might seem like an innocuous, non-harmful belief but aside from being bullshit, it is also very harmful. I see this harm play out a lot in collective circumstances. Destiny encourages lackadaisical attitude towards important issues. The believer in destiny would easily conclude:
- If a politician is destined to win the election, s/he will win; therefore, there is no need to vote.
- If someone is destined to be a failure, no matter how much you help them, they will still be a failure. Therefore, one must not waste one’s time and resources helping someone who is destined to be poor.
- E no concern me, make I waka pass. I get better mansion for paradise. No need to take responsibility; it is already done and sanctioned in heaven by my skydaddy!
Belief in destiny deters us from helping people. We believe destiny will take its course whatever we do. It encourages inaction, breeds laziness, destroys empathy and encourages the belief that we are not in control of our lives.
Belief in Karma, reincarnation and destiny becomes a potent force for losing our humanity. It becomes a dangerous, hindering, harmful belief not just to those around us but to ourselves as well.
Now as to my thoughts on what happens to our “spirit” when we die, I say there is no such thing. There is no soul, there is no spirit. Our personality is a manifestation of a host of factors including social, environmental and psychological factors. When we die, our personality dies with us. Our bodies decompose unless this process is stopped by preservation techniques like mummification.
Anyone who offers anything other than the scientific explanation is required to provide proof of those assertions or they need to deal with the skepticism and/or ridicule of those that find their claims ludicrous. Yes, it is good to keep an open mind; the mind is like a parachute that functions best when it is open. But don’t let it be so open that your brains fall out.
There is no credible evidence of paranormal, but there is a whole industry that thrives on gullibility, hope, pain, naivety and so forth. There are psychics, faith healers, clairvoyants and your dime a dozen religious charlatans and such who are happy to prey on vulnerable people. Yes, there are things that science doesn’t explain yet but this does not by default mean there are ghosts, goblins or gods.
From the atheist perspective, there is no hell or paradise waiting as punishments or rewards for dead people. There is no reincarnation as a bee, cow or bird in the second, third or fourth coming. This is your one chance at life, make it worth it! Many could still be helped when they finally accept that this one life we are living is most likely our only shot at life and living! That is the atheist reality. Reality does not always offer comfort but I would rather have the truth than sugar coated lies and delusions.
BTW, why would you want to do good or evil just because there is a small hope of getting into a fictional paradise, avoid a fictional hell or accumulate good karma? Why do you need those dangling carrots or deterrents? Why do you need a reward before you can act like a decent person?
I would rather someone does a good deed for me not because the person wants to accumulate ‘good karma’ or ‘paradise points’ the way we accumulate Tesco or Nectar points, but because the person believes doing good is the humane thing to do. I also would do unto others just how I wish them to do unto me not because I am afraid of the mysterious hell-fire but because it is the humane thing to do. Hell, paradise and after life as deterrents are for those who only do good simply because they want a reward. I would expect a ‘Righteous God’ to be indignant at such sycophancy.
Ignorance of how a feat or trick is performed is not evidence of the supernatural. “God Did It” is not an explanation for the gaps in our knowledge. Even if Science has not yet filled all the missing gaps, don’t fill it with superstitious nonsense. Ignorance might have been a major reason for creating Gods but it is not an excuse to keep believing in Gods.
Don’t nurture ignorance; it breeds gullibility, dishonesty, bigotry, discrimination, irrationality, fear, miracles, faith and Dark Ages. Let go of your ignorance, if you don’t know the meaning of life, simply Google it. As Carl Sagal said, “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring”.
Reincarnation is one of the oldest religious myths, popular amongst Africans and made even more popular by Eastern religions. Funny enough, it is not a popular belief amongst Abrahamic religions. Christianity and Islam do not subscribe to reincarnation; they belief in Resurrection, which is not in any way the same as reincarnation.
However, one thing they all share in common is that they are all MYTHS. And it really is not worth it to put yourself through emotional turmoil because of what some myths tell you about a Skydaddy who they claim is busy apportioning destinies, karma and retribution through reincarnation.
There is no living wicked God because there is no God. Skydaddy is a figment of the fevered and most times, perverted imagination of human beings.
Life is a twin fountain of pain and pleasure. We should enjoy the pleasure when we have it and bear our pain with dignity and hope for a better tomorrow.