Skipping Breakfast at the Karma Cafe

karma-cafeThat driver going way too fast who cuts in front of you gets pulled over by the police. The woman who is rude to the barista trips on the tile floor and spills coffee all over her new slacks. The employer who terminates your position gets laid off in a budget cut. The lover who left you gets dumped by next person. Your tears turn into smiles. Your righteous thoughts become real actions and the universe is balanced one more.

Karma. Everyone loves her. Except, when they don’t.

You’re late to work and it’s the third time this month, so you cut through traffic like soft butter, thankful there aren’t any cops around today. You know you were a little terse with the barista, but you’ve been up all night with a sick puppy and besides, she should know you don’t want decaf. Thank goodness you managed to spill your coffee on their floor and not your pants.  Cutting that assistant at work saved your department budget and might give you a raise for being a shrewd manager – that would be a blessing from God.

Love for karma is a uniquely one way experience.


When she’s coming up to my table with a hefty serving tray of sown seeds grown into a bitter fruit cocktail – I’ll decide to skip breakfast that day.  Maybe just some tea and a biscuit made of lessons learned. That’ll do.

I am frequently asked if I believe in karma.  Here’s the truth:

  • I am bound by natural consequence
  • I secretly enjoy karma.
  • I believe in grace.

Karma comes from the Sanskrit word karman and means, “to form fate.”  It has been adopted into popular western culture from the Buddhist reincarnation idea that what you do in your whole life determines who/what you will be in your next. It isn’t just “one bad act = one bad return” – but the whole of your life – good and bad – are weighed for an outcome that will happen in the next. Within the Buddhist context, karma is a natural, logical by-product of transition.  Outside of it – it becomes nothing but a tool for revenge.

Grace comes from the Latin word gratia and means “favor or goodwill.”  Christianity has weighted the word with all kinds of theological implications that make for good small group discussions and seminary squabbles – but simple “good will’ remains at its core. Grace means that even when you don’t deserve it, good can happen. And if we are wise, we can happen to be good too.

IF I stake my cosmic system on the idea that good and bad always come back when you do good and bad – that means the guy who cuts me off on the freeway gets penalized and the lady who puts a quarter in my parking meter gets blessed.  IF I base my life on grace – the guy who cuts me off on the freeway gets forgiven. And the woman who pops a quarter in the slot – gets the natual blessing of being a generous person.  Win-Win.

Does that unbalance the world?  Yes.   But, if you haven’t noticed, it’s been tilted on its axis for a long time anyway.

It should be noted that grace isn’t a blank check to reckless driving (physically, or spiritually).  There is another law that comes into play – natural consequence. And fortunately, like all natural laws – it doesn’t need me to believe in it. It just is.  If you plant tomatoes, you’ll get tomatoes. If something goes up, it will come down.  A habit of driving badly with cars or souls will wreck you in the end. So, drive your life like everyone around you is beloved. You won’t believe how much you enjoy the ride.

And, when you arrive at the café for breakfast with me – I’ll skip the karma, and take some grace with an extra side of bacon and possibly an organic cherry tart.


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