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Lions Roar : January 2003
72 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 complex concept, and if you don’t get it, that’s part of your karma, too. Note: Karma can be troubling to those who are tempted by more practical- seeming theories of causation. Let’s say you get pneumonia, God forbid. “It’s your karma,” a dilettante (and for all I know a real) Buddhist might say. “It’s your staphylococcus,” a doctor might say. But you can’t beat karma, I’m afraid, because it’s one of those oceanic ideas that drowns everything else, as in “It’s your karma to have your staphylococcus.” Shawarma: N/A. Reincarnation: It gets really tricky when you add to the pneumo- nia example that the staphylococcus in question might be the reincarnation of Nero or Senator Joseph McCarthy. Yes, it’s true, from all reports I’ve heard: Buddhism holds that after you die you come back as someone else or an ani- mal or even an animalcule. But you’re still you, if you and your past incarna- tions see what I and mine mean. If you have good compounded karma from past lives and your present life, you come back on a higher plane—like the pre- vious incarnations who are now Derek Jeter and Diane Sawyer. If you were rotten, you might be a vole or an asp or a dung beetle. Questions: Do you come back as yourself if your life has been a karmic wash? Or is there a tiebreaker or sudden-death overtime? Wouldn’t it be awful to come back and realize you’re still Trent Lott? Wouldn’t it be cool to start over