While this is not an attempt by any means to
review the concept of karma in depth, I will try to employ this concept as an
illustration for behavior that is manifested in Family Court. I am also not attempting to review each
religion’s definition of Karma, or the historical origins derived from each
religion, but rather to make a point as it pertains to Family Court
issues. So with that proviso, here goes.
The concept of karma, simplistically, can be
seen as a consequence of one’s actions, as a stream of cause and effect. The Hindus see Karma as thoughts, words and
actions that cause a direct effect. But the consequences of one’s actions (Karmically
speaking) are mitigated by other actions, and it is the totality of one’s
actions that will determine one’s future course. It is the law of nature, if you will, that brings
the effects of one’s actions back to the actor.
It is similar to the Newtonian physics concept that every action causes
an equivalent, opposite reaction.
Buddhism conceptualizes Karma as a person’s actual intention, as
contrasted with their overt behavior.
Good intentions cause good effects while bad intentions cause evil
effects. Doing good acts for selfish
motives causes bad Karma.
Western culture adapted the karma concept
which essentially has the same or similar themes in concepts such as “what goes
around comes around”, “reaping what you sow” and “live by the sword, die by the
sword” (Christian). A more modern view,
such as that discussed by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, suggests in his concept
of synchronicity that things that happen simultaneously are
related. He suggests that any act
resulting from cognitively unresolved emotions (cognitive dissonance) causes Karma. (Note: I previously discussed cognitive
dissonance in my post about “Dog Wars”.)
Rabbi Nachman, the founder of Breslev Chassidism and his followers
discuss “A turn for a turn” which is conceptualized as the message that is sent
from G-d to teach a person why he/she is suffering. For example:
“An employer who unjustly accused an employee of stealing (to withhold
his wages) was soon thereafter accused by the tax authorities of cheating on
his income tax.” (Breslev.co.il). There are numerous discussions in the Talmud
and other Jewish commentaries regarding why people experience suffering and
tragedy, in the context of “a turn for a turn” or for purifying one’s soul
(this time around). Whether or not the
person recognizes his/her suffering as a message or as a consequence of an
action (Karma) varies from person to person.
Sometimes, especially in times of great duress, it is difficult to
discern the correct course or to figure out why things go in a particular
direction, despite one’s certainty of what seems fair and just at that
time. “A wise mind will know time and
justice. For everything has its time and
justice, for man’s evil overwhelms him. Indeed, he does not know what will
happen, for when it happens, who will tell him?” (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6).
Whether it is called karma, or poetic
justice, a turn for a turn, or reaping what you sow, it all represents a
widespread belief across cultures and religions that in one way or another, one
is responsible for-and will be held accountable for-their actions and
intentions. How does that apply to Family
Court actions? It is common to see
hatred expressed freely in Family Court.
It is often a place of great sadness, disappointment, betrayal and
hurt. Divorces happen there. Marriages end. Spouses and partners recount their subjective
pain, their traumas, their addictions and perversions, rejections, physical
violence, the allegations of abuse and neglect of children, etc. Day after day mud is slung from one side to
another, either to gain some perceived or hoped-for advantage, or most
importantly to get essential relief from the Court. Regarding the latter, sometimes the only
language someone will understand is a Court Order. The Family Courts are, among other things,
charged with protecting the best interests of the children. These courts also protect litigants’ rights,
enforce previous court orders, ensure fairness in the financial aspects of
marital dissolution, protect battered spouses, etc. (to name a few). When one party is dishonest, disturbed,
violent or uncooperative, a person may have no choice but to make an
application for Court assistance (i.e. filing a motion or petition). That is not the primary focus here. Rather, the issue of Karma is one that can
help guide a person through very difficult circumstances.
In general, a person’s self perception can
determine their reactions to difficulties.
For example, an angry person who perceives him/herself as a victim may
be driven toward vindictive behavior by a sense of self righteous
indignation. If a person feels
justified, that person may indulge in unnecessary and harassing litigation that
was not necessary. This is sometimes
done just to punish the other party, to make them spend their last dime on
legal fees, to try to humiliate that other person in court, etc. Sometimes a person who feels betrayed,
abandoned or otherwise screwed-over by
the other, gives him/herself a license to beat up the other party in court over
and over again. Sometimes the issues are
not clear and it takes time for the Court to see that this is frivolous and
harassing. This is bad legal Karma and can
come back to bite the offending party.
We see this when a Judge who may have once been sympathetic, begins to
realize that the complaints are never-ending, without merit, are trivial,
mean-spirited, untrue and represent a continual process of legal harassment and
vilification of the other person. The
Court won’t indefinitely allow this to take place.
Very Bad Karma- Some Examples:
Alienation of Children from the Other Parent:
One of the worst things a parent can
do is to alienate a child from their other parent. Regardless of your opinion of the other
parent, as long as he/she is not dangerous, violent, neglectful, a drug addict
or alcoholic, or possesses some other terrible characteristic, you do not have
the right to deprive the child of that parent.
The definition of “neglectful” can be very subjective. We are not talking about who is the better
parent. Even though you may consider
yourself to be the better quality parent, your concerns probably do not rise to
the level of abuse or neglect. Purposely
alienating a child from the other parent is a form of child abuse. The child will eventually realize what the
alienating parent did to them (maybe much later in life) and what that
alienating parent did to the child will come back to haunt him/her. The child will want to know why the
alienating parent did that to them and will usually seek out the other parent
anyway. The maliciously alienating
parent goes down a destructive as well as self-defeating path. A parent in the throes of a dissolution of a
relationship may become so reactively narcissistic that he/she cannot see the
damage this does to the child. There is a selfish loss of empathy. Every bad behavior becomes justified in that
person’s mind. Being consumed with hate,
anger, vengeance and a sense of personal victimhood creates bad Karma. It is a disabling and destructive force and
is hurtful to children who need two parents to love.
to impoverish the other party:
Whether it is a wife who feels
betrayed by a philandering husband or a husband who hates his seemingly
unlovable wife (these are just for illustration; could be the opposite
scenario, or one of many others), the more powerful spouse’s sense of
victimhood and self righteousness may act as self-permission for--or
rationalization of mean behavior. Trying
to “take him/her for everything he/she’s worth” is just mean. Being selfish, uncaring, punitive and vindictive
to the other party is sometimes acted out financially. One of the parties may try to make sure the
other person—possibly the other parent of the child they both created—has “nothing”
at the end of the day. It is sad to see
one party enjoy their apparent victory when the other person is ordered to pay
an inordinate amount of support, beyond what the recipient really needs and
what the payor can comfortably afford.
Sometimes it works that way and while it might be unfair, it gets put
into place and one party is enriched parasitically off of the other. The Courts try to prevent this, but do not
always see how one party is being disproportionately enriched. This often happens when the larger wage
earner is able to hide their income and to make it look like they have less
than they do to avoid paying the support they should be paying. This is mean, unfair and creates bad Karma.
Gordon’s Rules of
Family Court Karma:
What goes around comes around sooner
or later. When it does, you may or may
not be there to see it. Justice doesn’t
always show up at your convenience for you to witness. You just have to trust
that it will occur eventually. That may
entail some spirituality on your part to believe that things get taken care of
one way or another in this world (or in the next), and that you do not have to
be the one to mete out justice.
It’s bad Karma to want to witness
someone else’s bad outcome, just to get satisfaction that they “got theirs”. Believing that life balances itself out one
way or another for the best should be enough.
Don’t do the right thing for the
sake of being rewarded by some supernatural force, like getting a prize for
good behavior. That will lead to
disappointment and bitterness. Living
your life in a positive way with minimal expectations for reward will create
inner positive effects. You will like
yourself more and be a happier person living in the light. That is your reward.
It is bad Karma to try to control
and manipulate others for your own benefit.
It is bad Karma to walk around chronically
angry, feeling victimized, blaming others, not taking responsibility for your
actions, relying on magical solutions, lying to others, making promises you
don’t intend to keep, manipulating and misleading others, obsessing, scheming,
plotting, being vengeful, etc.
It is bad Karma to threaten, verbally or
physically abuse another person. Bullies
create bad Karma.
It is bad Karma to steal, cheat, deceive,
manipulate, lie, defy court orders, not show up for appointments
(passive-aggressive behavior), hide things from the court or from your estranged partner/ex, exaggerate, be
a drama queen, say inappropriate things in front of your children and their
teachers, withhold parenting time, etc.
It is good Karma to tell the truth, allow
others to be who they are (as long as they are not trying to hurt you), take
responsibility for your actions, make amends, be fair, respectful and
It is good Karma to be forgiving, kind,
charitable, civil, respectful and sensitive of the feelings of others. This includes your ex, your children, and
those around you. Getting more with
honey than with vinegar holds true most of the time. When it doesn’t, you can be satisfied knowing
that you took the high road and acted in a way that you can be proud of. You want to be an example and a good role
model to your children who observe you and who absorb your attitudes and copy
your behaviors. On the other hand,
taking the high road does not mean that you have to subject yourself to abuse
and be taken advantage of repeatedly by a mean person. There is a time for understanding and
civility and there is a time for litigation. Knowing and recognizing the difference is important.
It is good Karma to allow and to encourage
your children to love their other parent, enjoy their time with that parent and
his/her family without being made to feel guilty or uncomfortable. You should assume that your child(ren) will
not always be with you or under your control since they also have to be with
the other parent. The other parent has
other rules and other ways of doing things.
Accepting the other parent’s differing parenting style and philosophy of
life amounts to accepting reality on your part and that is a good thing. Fighting the other parent on inconsequential
parenting issues or on other things you cannot control, such as differing
religious observances, creates bad Karma and makes your child anxious, guilt-ridden
and depressed. It is good Karma to
accept that you cannot control everything, don’t have to, and that things will usually
turn out for the best regardless of what you do. You cannot control what goes on in your ex’s
house when your child is there. Your
child is not as fragile as you may think. Think about other things and let go. We are not, however, talking about abuse,
neglect or other extreme conditions.
That is an entirely different subject requiring a different approach.
There are probably many more examples I could
use, but hopefully this makes the point clear.
Even though Family Court litigation is unpleasant, comes with hurt,
betrayal and sadness, it does not, and should not have to be a place where one
party is trying to maliciously and vindictively destroy the other, hurt the
other, and alienate the children from the other. Keeping a sense of personal balance,
perspective and decency is key. Asking
one’s self, “Is this going to generate bad Karma?” is a good way to self-check
one’s actions. There was once a time
when you loved the other person, perhaps created a child with that person, and
now if the relationship is over, it is still a good thing to part civilly,
respectfully and fairly to each other.
That way, you can look in the mirror at night and like what you see, not
have to feel guilty. If you don’t feel guilty (because the other person had it
coming) then at least not having to deal with the inevitable consequence of the
bad Karma you created, later down the road.
Even in Family Court, light is better than darkness, mutual respect wins
over vilification, forgiveness wins over victimhood and retribution, and all of
these allow you to more quickly move on with your life for a better future. What do you think? Post a comment.
Please note, this blog is for information purposes only. It is not legal or psychological advice and it does not create an attorney/client or psychologist/patient relationship. If you have a question about a specific matter you should seek out an attorney or mental health expert to assist you.
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