Karma as Principle…and how Filipinos perceive it

Karma as Principle

…and how Filipinos perceive it

By Apolinario Villalobos

The followers of Hinduism believe that karma as a principle is about the positive or negative consequence for the action of a person on his soul in his next life. This principle has become so popular that even non-believers of Hinduism use it as part of their daily expression in warning wrongdoers for the consequence of their actions. Noticeably, however, the user dwells more on the karma’s negative result. It has beaten the Golden Rule which has a more universal character in this aspect. More often, one easily would say, “be careful or you might suffer the karma for what you did”, rather than “be careful or others might do to you what you did to them”. Among the Filipinos, the easy statement is “baka makarma ka”, which fuses the principle in the language, using it as a verb. In English it literally means, “you might suffer the karma”, in which the principle this time, is used as a noun.

Nevertheless, karma is a very significant enhancement of the Hindu religion which promotes kindness and non-violence. It has even become more popular than the religion itself, in which the said principle serves as the substance. Many people use the term without knowing that it is part of the Hindu religion. Still some Filipinos thought that it is a word found in their vocabulary.

While in Hinduism, the effect of the bad deed is expected in the next life of a person yet, for the Filipinos, it is expected to happen even while a person is still alive. That is why when a former president is found to be suffering from a seemingly incurable illness, the nation is almost one in uttering, “good for her!”.  The former president is under detention due to her plundering of people’s money, particularly, that of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes (PCSO). When another detained woman  accused for masterminding the plunder of “pork barrel” fund is found to be also suffering from an ailment, hence, the operation that she just underwent, the nation is again almost one in uttering, “good for her”.

Karma is supposed to have a good side, such that there is a so-called “good karma”. Unfortunately, among the Filipinos, its bad connotation is overwhelming, that even just its mere mention could send chills down the spine of one who hears it. A small group of cultists even uses the word in their incantation. I happen to come across this group right in front of the Quiapo Church. A free round of coffee to the seven members was enough to for them to give me their trust. Their short incantation goes this way: makarma ka…makarma ka…sana’y lagi kang madapa…iwasan ka ng pera…iwanan ka ng asawa (nobyo o nobya)…makarma ka…makarma ka…mga buto mo ay lumambot…sakit sa iyo habambuhay ay manuot! (translation: bad karma be yours…bad karma be yours…may you always fall…may money evade you…may your loved ones desert you…bad karma be yours…bad karma be yours…may your bones crumble…may disease be yours forever!)

I asked the cult’s leader if they have ever been invited by organizers of protest rallies to join them when they hold these near Malacaῆan Palace, or outside the gates of Congress and Senate. The leader replied in negative but expressed their willingness as echoed by the nods of the members. I failed to ask another question as one woman member suddenly went into a “trance”, so I just thanked the leader and approached another group.

Well, karma or no karma, our salvation is spelled by our wholehearted love of God and our fellowmen. Such love for fellowmen can be manifested by the sharing of our blessings without regard to their religious affiliation or perception of life. And, belief in God should be without any taint of doubt.

The Passage to the Other Life…if indeed, there is one

The Passage to the Other Life

…if indeed, there is one

By Apolinario Villalobos

My experience of a “near- death” was when I rolled down Mt. Hibok-hibok resulting to a series of bumps that my head suffered from the boulders. What I felt was a floating sensation while I was enveloped by a blinding light. I did not see the light at the end of a tunnel as other near-dead claim. When I came to, I found out that it happened in split second…so fast that I did not feel so much physical pain. What pained was my pride.

There are stories about spirits of those who encountered sudden death that still linger at the site of accident. There are also stories of those whose spirits still cling to their worldly wealth. Still, there are stories of those who died without taking the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, so that their spirit kept roaming around to seek help by way of prayers. And, finally, the spirit of those who died without talking to their adversaries to seek forgiveness, are said to be lingering in limbo, waiting for dispensation.

The belief in the afterlife is not universal. Some religions do not advocate such, while some even claim rebirth in another body, or reincarnation. Some religions do not believe in hell, hence, for them there is no heaven, too. But some believe in such two eternal destinations of spirits.

Whatever is our belief, it should be noted that there are just two things that we can do in this world: to do good or to do bad. The universal view is that if we do good, we make others happy, and if we do bad things, we make others suffer. It is important therefore, that we leave the world with a clean record, by seeking clemency for our wrong deeds while we are still gasping for breath, so that others will not remember us for our bad deeds.