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It is my observation that effect and cause can be hard to distinguish. Sometimes the effect of something negative can be the cause of something totally unrelated to be affected negatively, etc. times infinity. Doesn't the concept of Karma confuse people about the ultimate origins of their problems and/or in some cases pardon them from thinking critically about what their problems really are? I ask this in the spirit of genuine inquiry, with respect for Ananda.
Karma sounds—and is—simple: As you sow, so shall you reap. But although the reaping part may be clear, it's often extremely difficult, or even impossible for most people, to link it correctly with what was sown. This can, as you say, “confuse people about the ultimate origins of their problems.” I have heard Swami Kriyananda say, “It takes a spiritual master to understand karma.”
Then should we even try to understand the causes behind what happens to us? Absolutely. If we don't try to see where and why we've gone wrong (or right), how will we learn to do better? Yet along with this spirit of sincere self-inquiry, we must have the humility to accept that it's beyond us to find the inner causes of much of what happens to us. And it's also helpful to accept that, whatever has happened, we had a role in bringing it about, regardless of whether we understand what that role was. The point comes, however, when we simply need to get on with our lives, doing the best we can. Paramhansa Yogananda's ever-practical advice was to analyze our mistakes carefully to learn what we can from them, then forget them forever.
For a deeper understanding of the mind-bending law of karma, I highly recommend the book, Karma and Reincarnation, by Paramhansa Yogananda.
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