It sucks when people hurt you. And I’ve been hurt bad in the past. (Haven’t we all?) Yeah, I get it, people suck and people do bad things. Friends will say, “everything happens for a reason.” Another thing I hear a lot is “they’ll get what they deserve.” But what? But when? But how?
Do you believe in karma? Do you have a karma story? They say karma is a bitch. Have you ever met her?
QUENTIN: I have broken up twice before Valentine’s… mostly because I really didn’t feel right going through another Valentine’s without feeling right. I felt bad and I surely spent several Valentine’s alone after that. I do believe you sow what you get… is that karma? Karma sounds a bit too mystical, and I believe more in “action = reaction.” Isn’t that a law of Physics?
JEROME: As a kid, I used to believe in karma, feared it in fact. These days though, I’m of the notion that the good things or bad things that happen to you have no correlation with those good things or bad things that you do for or to others.
I’m open to the possibility that someone could have a healthy relationship with the concept, but I feel like the idea of things coming around because of your deeds is just a way to coerce people into doing good out of fear or reward alone.
I’d like to do good not because not doing so will bite me in the ass or because doing so will benefit me. I want to do it because I think it’s one of the best things I can do in this short life of mine. Let’s see how long this attitude lasts…
ALFREDO: Yes and No.
As to no: I remember watching a Holocaust documentary years ago and seeing innocent families crammed into cattle cars on their way to the gas chambers. There was nothing they could’ve done in their lives for which this was justifiable karmic payback. The same documentary, made in the 70’s or 80’s, also showed interviews with former concentration camp guards, living in nice homes, enjoying a comfortable retirement. There was clearly nothing they had experienced since the war which came close to forcing them to repay their karmic debt.
As to yes: as I watched the documentary, I wondered if the concentration camp guard’s actions had slowly corroded him on the inside, so that, in spite of the nice china and Mercedes in the driveway, he was depressed and unhappy and perhaps his children had come to loathe him. I wondered if it wasn’t a little bit like “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” only instead of a painting turning horrific while the guard’s face remained normal, it was his soul, his conscience - what he thought about when he turned the lights off at night - that was rotting him from the inside out.
PHILIP: I wouldn’t say I normally put much faith in that stuff but this one time, I remember being at a party and meeting the biggest asshole I’ve ever met—and I mean that literally. A couple of days later I’m visiting a TV producer friend for lunch and he tells me he’s about to hire a new assistant and it’s down to two candidates and could I sit in on the final interview with him and help him choose since they’re both equally qualified. The first candidate is a young college graduate and she’s very nice and seems perfect for the job. The second candidate turns out to be…yup, the asshole from the party. The sight of the guy’s face dropping as my friend introduced me and said I’d be sitting in was priceless and I thought to myself, “maybe there is something to this karma stuff.”
DHH: I don’t believe in karma, at least not in any predictive fashion, because I hold to a principle about human nature which works well for writers: very rarely do people believe their actions are bad or evil. That’s why most good drama focuses on characters who think they’re doing the right thing, even when they’re not (for instance, poor Oedipus, who has no idea that he killed his Dad and is sleeping with his Mom). Therefore, I can’t possibly figure out which actions by others would trigger a reward, and which would lead to retribution. And, in my experience, good and bad seem to fall fairly randomly upon people.
That said, there is one activity in life where it seems to me karma comes into play: parenting. All your unresolved issues come back to haunt you when you’re raising and dealing with your kids. And, yes, that can be scary as hell.
ROGER: I do believe in Karma. But what I’m intrigued in is how Karma has become that “God-fearing” element for many of those individuals who don’t believe in God. Most formal, organized religions basically keep you in check right? If you do good, you reap the rewards of what the religion promises. If you do bad, you will suffer the holy consequences. But what about those folks out there who don’t believe in formal religion, who don’t believe in God? What keeps them in check? In some strange way, Karma can and does for a good many. I find this rather ironic because many people I’ve met that are turned off by formal, organized religion are turned off because of that God-fearing element - that “thou can not believe God could be so fear-inducing.” But Karma does invoke some fear too, right? If you’re an ass to someone, some time down the line, perhaps not in this life but future ones, you’re gonna get a face full of that ass. Perhaps it won’t be dealt back in the same fashion it was delivered, but it will come around…eventually. That’s scary, right? Well, it’s scary for me. But my personal relationship with Karma is more on the lines of a scorecard. If anything, trying to load up on the good things and minimize the bad ones really helps dictate how I go about my day. And, most importantly, how I react to the jacked up things that come flinging at you on a day to day basis. All I know is if I’m too much of an ass too often of the time, I feel like crap. But I feel pretty consistently good when I do the opposite. So yeah, Karma keeps me in check. And at times it does scare me. Perhaps not in the way a violation of holy scripture would scare me, but scary nonetheless. Being reincarnated as a dung beetle is pretty sucky. But maybe not as scary or as sucky as eternal life in the fiery bowels of Satan’s anus known as hell…
IRIS: Growing up, we had the expression “bachi ga ataru” which was the warning given if someone said or did something disrespectful to someone or something else. Some karmic justice would come back and bite you in the ass. It was a good way to spook us kids to not do bad things, even if no one was looking. I suppose I do still believe in karma in a way, because I feel that it’s better to expend positive energy rather than negative energy. For instance, while I know most people tend to only write reviews (like on Yelp or Amazon or TripAdvisor) when they’ve had a negative experience (which is very helpful to know and I’m glad that they’re being written up if someone was treated poorly), but I prefer to only write reviews if I had an experience that was unusually positive.
ANDERSON: Growing up in Hawaii, we also used the term bachi to indicate that if you’re doing something bad, karma will bite you in the ass somewhere down the line. I don’t know if I believe all this karma stuff, but I do believe in being a good person and your good will will rub off on others or people will want to reciprocate that back to you. People who are sour apples, well, they’re just dicktards. You can’t help it.
I am also a firm believer of “noble revenge,”, which I think encapsulates Phil’s story. Moral causation, baby. Wait, so I guess I do believe in karma. Shit.
ANSON: Sure, it could be a made up term or belief to hopefully have people act more humane but I fully believe in karma. All the good things in life I know that somehow in some weird mysterious way, it’ll be paid back to me whether if its me finding a dollar on the floor, getting an awesome parking spot, or having an opportunity to work on amazing projects. At the same time, I know when I drink or smoke and abuse my body, karma will also mess with me. It’s the balance of life. You really think Saddamn Hussien would be chillin on some hawaiian resort sippin a mojito?
Is karma the same as karma sutra? Or is that kama sutra?
EMMIE: It’s kama sutra. Don’t act all innocent like you don’t know.
I do believe in karma, but not in a rigid tit-for-tat way. I subscribe to an all-creatures-great-and-small, universal umbrella type of energy/karma. I think we do good things for the world when we behave honorably, and vice versa. We’re all in this together, just like the Method soap guys say in the Virgin America airplane bathrooms.
BEVERLY: Karma might be something we humans made up in order for us to move on with our lives. If we get angry at somebody, it would be a waste of time to try to revenge ourselves. (I know some people might disagree with me on that- because let’s face it, the taste of revenge is sweet!) Karma let’s me ‘let it go’ and puts it in the hands of the cosmos. I like it, so I’ll subscribe to it. And karma teaches me to be kind because I don’t want to create bad karma for myself. I remember watching “The Craft” -this old 1990’s film with Neve Campbell- and since then, I try to only think good thoughts about other people because I’m afraid of wishing someone ill (giving off bad karma) and having that curse come back to me but 3xs stronger. (That film still makes me shudder!)
JUSTIN: Whether you believe in karma or not, it’s something that’s alive and well in the film industry- where lines are constantly being stretched and crossed. If you get to stay in the game long enough you can always get a front row seat to wtiness someone’s karmic arc in play. People might argue that a lot of the biggest assholes continue to be successful. But behind the scenes you see the price to their ‘success’.