There is a philosophical debate between karma beliefs and social justice beliefs. The karma group tells us that what we think, feel and do become causes of future effects. This is true. They also tell us that whatever happens to us is from our making; that whatever happens to us, we caused in our past. They are wrong in this respect, because this is not necessarily true. This karma group could also be called the ultimate self-responsibility group. They put all responsibility on each person; that is, each person is absolutely responsible for their causes and also responsible for every effect that happens to them. The reason they are wrong in the second kind of responsibility is because everyone else in the world has a potential for causing adverse effects upon our lives and situation. Everyone is a cause of karma, everyone in the past and everyone now. And the effects of people’s activity (including their thoughts and emotions) are not limited to just themselves, but rather everyone affects everyone else in some way. We are all interconnected, and thus our karmas are interconnected. People affect other people. One person can be a cause for another person. To deny this, or forget it, is to wallow in a solipsism or narcissic egotism.
The social justice group focuses more on social causes of people’s situations. They recognize social causes, and that social injustices are often much of the reason why various people’s lives are not so good. The social justice belief emphasizes social causes of poor living and suffering; rather than emphasizing personal responsibility. To say that every personal circumstance is merely the result of that person’s past causes and that they themselves are completely responsible for how their life is; well this idea is obnoxious and elitist according to the social justice group, because it obnoxiously ignores the fact that people can adversely affect others and that social injustices are real causes of suffering in the world.
Yet if we combine the truths of karma philosophy with social justice philosophy we then realize the reality of social karma, social causes and effects. This gives a more complete truth of karma philosophy; that is, we need to realize karma in both its self and social aspects. At the same time, we should take heed about the self-responsibility teaching; because we are often more responsible for our circumstances than we would like to admit, in consideration of how our thoughts and emotions and actions cause various future effects in our lives. In addition, we are more causative to others and the world than we would like to admit, considering how we affect others and the world by our thoughts, emotions and actions. Thus, we need to realize self-responsibility, in relation to how we self-cause circumstances both to ourselves and the world.
Finally, in realizing these truths about self-responsibility, karma, and social justice issues, we should look closely and even critically at a third group of belief – those who say that everything comes from God, or that God causes everything that happens to us. Does this take into consideration the truths of self-responsibility, or how karma is at work, or how human/world situations are often caused by social injustices (caused by man, not God)??
Generally speaking, one could say that all comes from God because God is the primal Source of all activity; but when we speak of particular events or situations we have to include the causes of people, and some of these people and causes are bad.1 (see large footnote explaining the contradictions)
However, we should also recognize two additional truths. One is the continuous Divine Influence (Divine Power) towards good and perfection in our world. Second is the efficacious influence of our own positive attitude (including thoughts and emotions) about life and our faith in God as Divine Influence and Guidance, because our positive faith in divine goodness will help bring forth this divine goodness.
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1 If one were to say that these causes from people are actually caused by God, or that these human causes are actually part of a divine intelligent plan or predestiny; then one would be implying that all human causes and effects are actually good (rather than bad) – since they would be really caused by divine intelligence and mercy. This would then mean that all causes and effects (including human ones) are really good (that is, intelligent and merciful). And then if there is no such thing as bad actions (but only divinely caused actions), then this would mean it is impossible to create bad karma (since no one would ever be doing anything bad at all) and furthermore the very idea of self-responsible actions becomes illusory. So if one follows the ‘God is cause of everything’ idea and the ‘thank God for everything because it all comes from God’s intelligent mercy’ idea; then one would need to abandon beliefs about self-responsibility, karma, and the very possibility of social injustice. That is, one would need to abandon these, if coherence is to be maintained. If one is not bothered by logical contradictions, and is just happy to be happy, without questioning religious clichés and simplistic new age beliefs, then there isn’t any problem.