Bono doesn’t have enough good karma

And here is the #1 reason I am NOT a Buddhist: I don’t believe in a moral law of karma without a moral law giver.

In Buddhism there is a fundamental principle that regulates one’s station in this life and the next and this principle is called “karma.” Karma determines your fate in the next reincarnational cycle. If you accumulate enough good karma, you will reincarnate as a higher being, but if you are not good enough, you will be lucky if you come back as the gecko from the Geico commercial… Karma is in essence a moral law that makes value judgments about what everyone deserves. But what or who is behind these determinations? In a religion without a personal God, how can there be a moral law that judges between good and bad? Who put that in place and how do I know that it is always fair and will not trick me in the end? What if the “karma machine” malfunctions on some days when I am doing good? Will there be a recourse? A karma recall of sorts?

I guess someone could ask the same question about the morals of the Christian faith, but here our answer would simply be that God has made His will clearly known in the pages of Scriptures. The Word of God is normative for my life and for the world. You can disagree with it, but don’t try to deny that there is a moral law giver behind the Word. Who is the moral law giver behind the law of karma? How can an impersonal, cosmic something give rise to a law so specific as to determine the fate of each individual being in the universe in this life, all previous ones and the next? How can an impersonal force keep track of reincarnations that span centuries into the infinite?

Karma doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t do it for Bono either. The leader of the Irish band U-2 has spoken clearly of how he feels about karma. Here are some of his comments:

 You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that… Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.” (Bono).

It is not often that I quote Bono but he nailed it here when it comes to karma and grace. Maybe some people have achieved a higher level of confidence to believe that their good karma can deliver them a better station in the next life, if there is one. As for Ivanildo, he knows himself too well and is not afraid to say that if he depended on karma to decide his fate, he would be doomed.

Ivanildo C. Trindade