I was asked to write an article on luck, the theme for a monthly online magazine where I was a columnist. The whole concept brings up an interesting point of discussion. What constitutes luck, and what are the elements within an individual that correspond to being the recipient of good or bad fortune?
Webster's Dictionary defines luck as the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping events or opportunities; to have good or bad fortune as the result of one's luck.
Webster's defines karma as an action seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, either in this life or another, rewards or punishment for acts performed in a previous time. So whereas luck is the vehicle of good or bad fortune, karma is viewed as the accounting process that determines who is lucky and who is not.
It is interesting to note our own response to luck and karma when we hear the words. Is there excitement at the prospect of reaping our good, or are we disheartened by the concepts, anticipating something bad?
One of the things I've noted in working with clients through the years is the horrifying judgment that we heap on ourselves as humans. There are those who deflect their own actions by pointing at others as responsible, but for the most part, nobody could be more violent and unforgiving of us than ourselves.
When someone is experiencing lack in life, we can usually find an internal message linked to perceived unworthiness or guilt for past actions. The problem with this response is that the perceived debt is never paid. The individual is unwilling to pardon themselves at the deepest core level in order that they can be open to receive the good part of their life inheritance for the many things they have done right.
By dwelling on our faults rather than our good, we are inadvertently making a statement against God. We are in essence saying that God's creation is unworthy of good. And often that statement is linked to a family or religious system of conditioned response that is part of the multi-faceted input we inherit, including our genetic makeup.
We often look to genetics as the defining attribute of our character or health. And yet, science is discovering that genetics have flexibility. Our free choice allows us to alter certain tendencies, and once new patterns of behavior or belief are ingrained, they are reflected in the genetic code of the body. This gives an exciting boost to the notion that we have free will choice and that it makes a significant difference in our lives.
Without the ability to unfold new capabilities through our creative capacities, we would never have works of genius. If we were iratrevably linked to our genetic programming, how could there be anything other than that which had already been known? Our actions would be rote and predictable. And it is the same with luck and karma. As we continue to look only at our past misdeeds to determine our present, we are locked in a view that is seemingly unalterable.
When we remember that life is a process of growing and unfolding our understanding and knowledge through experience, we can claim God's goodness in the trial and error adventure called life. We can draw upon a life view that is unifying, forgiving, and loving of us for being willing to make mistakes in the process of developing who we are. Then when we think of luck or karma, we will not do so fearfully, but joyously. We will have no need to live with the specter of endless punishment for past misdeeds, but open our arms to receive the benefits of the many good things we have also accomplished.
So let's ask the question again...Is it luck, karma, or genetic makeup that determines the quality of our lives?
It is all three...and our individual perception of what that means. Through our expectations we are either lifted up to receive life's bounty, or damned to endure unrelenting penance. The choice, as we are discovering, is ours!
From Seasons of the Soul print edition, Spring 2000