The Karma of Nations


Marhaba Ananda! I am from Turkey. My country has taking more refugees than any other country. We have given shelter to 4 million people from Iraq and Syria and spend a lot of money to help them despite ourselves being low income country. Will this good karma help Turkey as a country? What is Karma of countries that refuse to help refugees. Like I heard that rich Japan only took 20 refugees last year. Why rich country more heartless than poor country? Jesus said love your neighbour.

—Duruk, Istanbul


Dear Duruk,

Paramhansa Yogananda spoke of the karma of nations. Each of us, as individual souls, accrue karma from our actions but so do entire nations. So certainty Turkey will obtain good karma from sheltering so many people in need. As a neighbor to those unfortunate, warring countries, taking in refugees is a noble and righteous act. There may even be some compelling reasons of its own to do so. For other countries far, far away, who have no specific relationship, culturally or otherwise, the karma for not taking in refugees is somewhat more mixed. To refuse to help when asked, and to refuse because of selfishness or prejudice, is to accumulate the karma of being refused help or being discriminated against at some point in the future.

Nonetheless, we, as individuals and nations, have a certain degree of free will which God has given us. He has given us the freedom to act with compassion and the freedom to be selfish. As God grants each of us that freedom, it would be good for us to do so also for other people or nations.

They have their own karma to work out. Demanding that others behave according to our views or standards does not help them nor does it bring any happiness to us. Indeed, being angry that another country like Japan doesn’t lend a hand is to potentially create the karma for oneself to be judged selfish by others at some future point.

So, let other countries be what they are and be thankful that your country is willing to be compassionate and giving. Consider this: those who are relatively poor more easily recognize the poverty of others and will sometimes lend a hand even though they have little. They know what poverty is and they know the gratitude others feel who, being in dire need, receive a helping hand. Those who are wealthy may not relate easily or compassionately to those who are suffering and, are, furthermore, fearful that the needs of others will deplete their wealth were they to be generous. Thus as a nation or a person gains wealth they all too often become attached to that wealth to such a degree that, ironic though it is, the poorer person is more generous than the wealthy person.

Yogananda once wrote: “The drama of life has for its lesson that it is simply that: a drama!” Awake from your temporary role on the stage of life. See all the players as actors like yourself: some have noble roles; some are rogues. But in this play of life, the noble ones are rewarded with greater happiness because their noble consciousness is like unto that of God. The rogues, however, must be punished repeatedly until they mend their ways. Such is the law of karma played out on the stage of life for untold millions or billions of years or lifetimes. Arise, awake, rejoice that behind the mask of this great drama can the Playwright (God) to be found. Act your script well and wisely and you will get to know the Playwright and enjoy his play.

Blessings and joy to you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA