A poor man and a rich man each found themselves captives as part of a secret personality test conducted by a team of very unscrupulous researchers. The two individuals were kidnapped and each subsequently detained in different rooms. Both were then told that they could be released from their captivity if they authorized their captors to torture the other. Without any hesitation, the rich man consented to the torture of his impoverished counterpart. Posing as a captor in this experiment, the lead researcher then asked the rich man why he seemed so at ease with his decision. The rich man replied in a very arrogant tone:
“Its really quite simple. I’m more important. I worked hard to get to my station in life while he (referring to the poor man) failed to improve on his own lot in life. If released, I can do better for society then some leech who lives off the system.”
Meanwhile, in the other room, the poor man was given the same stark choice by his phony captors to either authorize the torture of the rich man and secure his release or remain in captivity. The poor man replied just as quickly as the rich man but unlike him, inflected deep kindness and sincerity in his voice:
“Look, I know that the rich man will probably opt to have me tortured to secure his release. However, no matter what he decides I can’t in good conscience know that my freedom would come at the cost of another’s suffering. If coming from less has taught me anything it is to have empathy. I have suffered grave indignities that I wouldn’t wish on my own worst enemy. Leave me to rot then in my own captivity.”
The team of researchers were so moved by the selflessness of the poor man that after unmasking their true identities they arranged for a one-time payment to him of $ 3 million for his participation in the study. The poor man gratefully accepted the payment and in good nature even embraced the individuals who he had thought were his captors.
In sharp contrast, the rich man received no cash payment for his participation in the study. But the researchers did offer to set him up with one of the most renown therapists in the country to address his extreme narcissism. Predictably, the rich man refused the researchers’ offer and instead threatened to sue them for the ordeal he had just endured.
Over time, as the seeds of karma would dictate, the rich man was devoured by his own selfishness. In only one years’ time, the rich man managed to push away all his friends and family due to his callous behavior and sadly became addicted to opiates. Eventually, the rich man’s businesses went under too and he found himself destitute and homeless on the streets. By happy comparison, the poor man went on to start countless service projects for the very homeless community that the rich man now belonged to and became a highly beloved figure within that community for his boundless love, flowing generosity, and infinite compassion.
“Pay It Forward: A Life Lesson from the Ganja Shop”
By: Forrest Rivers
It was the start of a typical evening along the Colorado Front Range. Rush hour traffic was unbearable due to multiple car accidents caused by impatient drivers. Understandably, I felt a bit antsy from this hair-raising commute. So, I did the only sensible thing any 420-inclined person might do in a legal state: I stopped at my favorite ganja shop for some much-needed herbal relief! As I made my way into the shop, I was greeted by my favorite bud tender with a hug and smiles (This was pre-COVID-19). Who wouldn’t be all smiles in a cannabis shop! After a few minutes of friendly banter with my grateful host, I motioned toward the pre-rolled joints in the back of the room and inquired about their cost. My beloved bud-tender smiled and said it was $ 11.50 after tax. I reached into my wallet and pulled out $ 7.50. I was clearly short. You know the look children give when they are denied candy by their parents? Well, that is how my face must have appeared to everyone around me. I didn’t have enough cash to buy my favorite green candy!
Since I was a well-liked regular, my bud-tender succeeded in cutting a dollar off the cost. However, I was still $ 3.00 short to make the purchase. Then, suddenly, at the very moment that I was prepared to walk out the door a young man emerged from the back of the shop and handed me $ 3.00. I turned to the man and introduced myself. We then exchanged a high five and I turned to my bud-tender friend and said: “See, that man is a shining example of how world peace will one day be achieved. It won’t come through the brokered “peace” of nation states but rather through the daily generous acts of individuals”. For several moments, the two of us talked excitedly about the beautiful concept of “pay it forward.”
Three days later, with the interaction from the ganja shop still fresh in my mind, I spotted a homeless man on the side of the road. I introduced myself to him and we started talking as two brother souls. As I came to find out, this person was an inspiring being who had simply fallen on rough times in the wake of a recent break up. He had dedicated much of his previous adult life to protecting the Earth from corporate predators and he had a deep faith in the Universe. I handed him $ 7.00 and promised that the next time I saw him I would bring him a copy of the Upanishads, a sacred Hindu text that was also dear to his heart. We then hugged and said good bye. While driving home, I thought of the power of “pay it forward”. I then smiled wide inside as I acknowledged the fitting setting of my training in this practice!
Karma has a funny way of catching back up with us. Sometimes, its response is immediate. Examples of instant karma include the carjacker who crashes a stolen car, leading to his arrest, or the selfless working person who wins a lottery ticket just moments after giving away his last dollar.
However, for most of us, karma is not delivered in such a swift and dramatic fashion. Rather, it usually takes days, weeks, months, decades and even lifetimes to manifest completely. When karma finally does emerge, its presence can be quite painful, and seemingly unbearable.
In short, one cannot run from their own karma! It is the direct reflection of our thoughts, intentions and actions, put out to the Universe in vibrational form.
While we cannot hide from our own karma, we can all learn to become more mindful of the cosmic interplay between it and the impact that our thoughts, intentions and actions may have on the world around us.
Something else that we can all practice is to not lament or resist our karmic events as they occur. The unpleasant experiences that we endure, because of our karma, only become more extreme when we fight against what is.
The best thing we can all do is practice acceptance, when we find ourselves caught in a karmic sequence of events. This allows us to become both a conscious witness and a knowing participant in the encounter. And, in turn, we can engage karma the way it is intended: to learn from it and grow.
We cannot hide from karma
Karmic events provide us with invaluable opportunities for personal transformation and growth. They can teach us a great deal about those things that are established qualities of our earthly existence. The more uplifting qualities include compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and love. Some of the darker qualities include anger, fear, jealousy and hate.
What makes karma such an outstanding teacher? Karma instructs us by reflecting our own vibrations of thoughts, intentions and actions back onto us. Only the Universe could devise a scheme so ingenious as to make us all co-directors in the unfolding of our own cosmic screenplays. We all have the choice to reorient our behaviors and reactions, in response to our karmic predicaments.
Unfortunately, in Western culture, karma is not always esteemed as the great and venerable teacher that it truly is. If it were, then our society would not cast such a selfish and misguided vision onto the world. We would understand that our actions have consequences, and that what we put out, we receive back.
The plundering of Mother Earth, senseless wars of aggression and the stubborn pervasiveness of greed, centered on the almighty dollar, would all end. A people mindful of karmic law would heed the wise words of the “Golden Rule,” which famously states: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Deep down, what each of us badly yearns for is to know and experience love. So, let us spread positive karma by treating the Earth and all her beings (including our fellow humans) with peace, respect and affection. If we each make the conscious choice to be mindful of our own karma, it will not be long before it positively comes back around tenfold!