What is the karma behind freak deaths or accidents? For example, crashing and dying after a swerving in your car to miss a deer on the road, or getting lost in the forest and starving to death, or getting struck by lightning, or an experienced diver drowning from malfunctioning dive gear? I can understand karma such as disease as having happened from past lives, but what to make of these things which seem so random?

—Rush, USA


Dear Rush,

Human life would become meaningless if we didn’t believe in and could experience the causal relationship between action and consequences. The fact that we frequently cannot see the thread of action that leads to specific consequences doesn’t mean the thread isn’t there. Just because we have never heard of gravity doesn’t mean gravity fails to operate.

Freak deaths or accidents are “freak” because they seem random. But so also do many other things, if you view them as such: miscarriages, early death, unfair incarceration and injustices in general.

More important than understanding the “why” is the “what:” What do I do about this? What is my response to this tragedy? Even the bumper sticker proclaims that “Stuff happens!” And, indeed it does.

The mature approach, therefore, to the paradoxes of life is to have a practical response. In part, a practical response imputes the possibility of action preceding the consequences but without demanding to view the thread, or chain, of karma that leads to the consequences. In effect, it is an act of implied faith. Why not have explicit faith in the workings of karma?

A practical response is one that is calm; even-minded; hopeful for the best; sad, perhaps, yes, but accepting when there’s nothing presently that can done. Faith that for others, at least, a ray of light may appear. A tragedy might inspire a listless or wayward person to sit up and seek meaning in his life. Another may despair, it is true, but then that is the response, an impractical one at best, that such a person chooses.

Choose instead faith; hope; and charity. When the great Indian saint, Ananda Moyi Ma was asked about the world and its troubles, she said, impersonally, “Don’t you think He that has created and sustains the universe knows how to run it?”

We didn’t create ourselves; the laws that govern life; nor yet the world itself. Our job is to tune into the deeper purpose of life behind which the greatest saints of east and west attest is the manifestation of love; of joy; of wisdom; and, ultimately, re-union with our Father, Mother, Beloved-Friend: God.

Blessings and joy to you,

Nayaswami Hriman