April 18, 2014

Blessed Karma of the Drunk.


The word karma invokes images of do good and get good, do bad and get bad, a cosmic tit for tat.

The reality is that the only thing we can be sure of is, that in the present, whatever I am experiencing is a result of past karma. Something is coming to fruition in the present moment as a result of innumerable forces of my own karma, the karma of others and pure chance of this or previous lifetimes.

Only a Buddha could figure out the exact causes and conditions that created the present moment experience. So what does karma really say? What I am experiencing and feeling in the present moment, good, bad or indifferent, it is that feeling that is a result of karma.

Not the physical tangible results but my emotional state of being is the direct result of karma. My pain and sadness is the result of:

“step on the toes of our fellow and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.”

~ Bill W. from the Big Book of AA

We fixate on the result—the good and the bad. Many times those results are mixed. How many times did we chase that good feeling to only end up with a boatload of bad results and feelings. The bad thing that turns into a blessing or what we think is the dream scenario turns into a nightmare.

Recently, I went through a hugely traumatic and dramatic experience that now I can only look back on as the worst/best thing to ever happen. My daughters’ mother trying to relocate her to another state without my permission was a direct result of the karmic wreckage of my past, in ways figurative and literal.

The fruition of the seven month court battle had a positive outcome with much joy and relief. Whether that outcome has a positive or negative effect on my daughter in the long term will be determined on each action we take going forward in each moment.

The results of any action are not predetermined.

Granted, with continued repetition of bad or unskillful actions the probability of bad results increases dramatically. Getting drunk each night and coming to work each morning with a churning stomach, the shakes and a splitting headache increased the chances that I was going to perform badly and reap the reward of a talk with my manager on a good day, or a pink slip on a bad day.

Getting sober does not erase those possibilities from the course of any particular day, but the chances of it happening are less. Being clear headed and present each day allows me to burn the “bad” karmic seeds that I sowed during all those hung over days.

The blessing within the workings of karma allows each moment to be a chance to do the “right thing” whereever we are on the path. If I lie today, I can admit it tomorrow, make amends and therefore the seeds may not sprout. That daily inventory of Step 10 allows us to keep the karmic seeds from growing.

So no matter where I am at any given moment, whether I am standing on the edge looking at that rock-hard bottom or getting tussled by life’s currents, I have a choice and a chance. I may still have to experience pain, I may still have to hurt a little along the way, but I have a chance and a choice. Each positive choice, made with full clarity, erases countless mindless actions.

Each moment is the sum of all previous moments, but each moment has that gap of possibility to break from our habitual path and choose a different direction. It was that continued struggle to get sober, or clean, that finally throws, out of the samsaric cycle of addiction, the seeds of sobriety that we planted over and over to finally come to fruition.

Over time the choices become easier.

“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” (

Bill W. from the Big Book of AA

No matter how many times we repeat the cycle and fall there is always a possibility of freedom.

To pause and see the gap of possibility is all the willingness you need to change the path of your own karma.


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Editor: Travis May

Photos: Pixoto

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