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.