What Goes Around…

There are some moments in life when the impact of karma feels particularly strong. For me, for reasons I must keep private, this is one such moment. I’m not a proponent of, nor an expert on karma from any philosophical or religious angle, I’m simply reflecting on the notion that thoughts, motives and actions in life – both good and bad, positive and negative – all have consequences.

Here, for the particular benefit of the very few people in my life who will understand the place from whence this post comes, a few words quoted directly from a couple of respected sources on the subject of karma (because they can explain it better than I); and (with a spoiler alert to anyone who does not know the story and has never read the book), a plot summary of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’, which may make little sense to you, but is connected.  Thank you, lovely readers, for indulging me today.


The theory of karma as causality holds that (1) executed actions of an individual affect the individual and the life he or she lives, and (2) the intentions of an individual affect the individual and the life he or she lives. Another causality characteristic, shared by Karmic theories, is that like deeds lead to like effects. Thus good karma produces good effect on the actor, while bad karma produces bad effect. This effect may be material, moral or emotional — that is, one’s karma affects one’s happiness and unhappiness. The effect of karma need not be immediate; the effect of karma can be later in one’s life, or even in future lives.


BBC Website

The word karma means ‘action’, and this indicates something important about the concept of karma: it is determined by our own actions, in particular by the motives behind intentional actions. Skilful actions that lead to good karmic outcomes are based upon motives of generosity; compassion, kindness and sympathy, and clear mindfulness or wisdom. The opposite motives of greed, aversion (hatred) and delusion, when acted upon, lead to bad karmic results. Karma is not an external force, not a system of punishment or reward dealt out by a god. The concept is more accurately understood as a natural law similar to gravity.

In Buddhist teaching there is the concept of karmic ‘conditioning’, which is a process by which a person’s nature is shaped by their moral actions. Every action we take moulds our characters for the future. Both positive and negative traits can become magnified over time as we fall into habits. All of these cause us to acquire karma.


‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

In Oscar Wilde’s celebrated novel, Dorian Gray, a handsome narcissist, has a portrait of himself painted whilst he is a young man – it is widely admired. But his is a hedonistic and amoral life, filled with moral duplicity and self-indulgence. Dorian Gray engages in ever more compulsive and dishonest behaviours, a process which takes him on a downward spiral from which he cannot escape. At first he believes he notices small changes happening to his face in the portrait; it appears to be becoming subtly less open and attractive, although he cannot be sure. All the while, he himself remains inexplicably handsome and youthful. As time goes by however, and he cannot escape from his own moral degradation, the changes in the picture are so obvious that they become a constant rebuke to him. He hides the picture from the world as his private guilty secret. By the time of his death, the picture depicts the grotesque portrait of his warped soul.

In the spirit of positive karma, join me today in celebrating the life-enhancing qualities of compassion, empathy, friendship, kindness and generosity of spirit.

17 thoughts on “What Goes Around…

  1. I never did approve of ‘karma’, that the life we live now might already have been ruined by us in a former life! Hardly fair, in my opinion, but at least our next reincarnation should have a better time…

    1. I’m not myself a student of the detail of karma, neither am I a believer in reincarnation and future lives for that matter. However, I’m a firm believer in the concept that what we do, how we conduct ourselves, what we think, and what our motivations are, impact who we are as people, and our ‘current’ life experience.

  2. Waits by river bank. Waits some more. Checks watch. Looks at the view. Waits a bit longer. Sleeps a bit. Waits again. Drums fingers. Makes dinner. Walks back to river bank.

    Bodies of enemies come floating past.

    Either things just take time or they get lodged upstream somewhere. Either way there’s no hurrying the process 😏

  3. Simply, treat other as you would like to be treated yourself, as the old mantra goes. I remember a life coaching theory, that we only have the right to change our own behaviour, this is all we need to change to influence our situation and environment surrounding us.

      1. Indeed, easy to say. Stay strong, be yourself and love the friends and family that care and love you.

        Love, light and peace.

  4. A lot to think about here …
    I agree with your comment above that it is only our actions that we can control.
    Although, it is possible that we learn to influence others in a positive way.
    by that I mean, that we can hope that we can teach others to be positive, kind, caring etc or to show by example.
    However, their response to whatever we do is then up to them.

    1. We can try to show by example and we can hope. There is always hope, Elizabeth, but with eyes wide open. But that thing about leopards not changing their spots is sadly all too true.

  5. I have no answers, Julie, but tend to think that we pay for our mistakes and reap our benefits in this life, only it doesn’t always look like we expect it to. It’s an interesting topic. The key, I suppose, is to do our best and be kind. ❤

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