3 out of 4 stars
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Before I dove into Karma In Action: Finding Meaning, Making Choices by Constance L. Vincent I, like many people, was mistaken about karma. I always thought karma was the idea that what you do, whether good or bad, comes back to you at some point in the future. While this is partially true, Karma in Action opened my eyes to not one, not two, but ELEVEN additional rules of karma!
Karma in Action is a nonfiction book that explains and then explores karma. Constance begins by defining the difference between coincidence, luck and karma. Many folks use these terms interchangeably; I've certainly been known to throw phrases like "that's just my luck" or "I just have bad luck today" around myself. To clear these up, Constance explains each term in a clear way, then goes into some great depth about karma. She gives details on how Carl Jung, the famous psychatrist, brought some great insight to the word, explained that "karma" comes from a Sanskrit word from 1500 BCE meaning "action", and details the "twelve universal laws of karma". These laws include things like the most famous law of karma - "the great law - the law of cause and effect" (Constance points out that the Bible quote 'as you sow, so shall you reap' is a perfect example of this) - as well as "the law of connection - everything in the universe is connected" and "the law of focus - you cannot think of two things at the same time". These laws show that karma is far more than a punishment/reward system, and that we have far more influence over it and our lives than we may initially think.
The above quote comes from Constance's explanation of an experiment on entanglement, and it's a great comparison to how karma works in the world. She says this is also referred to as "action at a distance", and since "karma" means "action", it makes for an incredibly full-circle experiment![W]hen scientists first pair two particles and then separate them by a long distance, such as by keeping one in New York City and moving the other to Los Angeles, changing the spin on one causes the other particle to simultaneously change its spin too.
Following this first chapter that explains karma, the rest of the book shifts into an autobiography that details various parts of Constance's life. In the process of highlighting various points of her life, she also shows how, where and which laws of karma come into play. She also weaves great quotes from various sources, book references (with footnotes at the bottom of their respective pages) and stories from research, friends, parables and jokes along with her own autobiographical writing. Her own stories range from negative to positive, but they're all insightful. For example, the second chapter is about her discovering that a very scary medical condition she had where her feet went numb wasn't even something physical. She ended up finding that by taking control of her life and strengthening her will, she was able to strengthen her body as well. Another story, one steeped even more in tragic karma masked as coincidence, was when Constance was about to break up with her then-boyfriend Ed. He ended up getting terribly wounded - almost fatally so! - by falling through their sliding glass door and severing the nerves in his arms up by his armpits. This injury left him with terrible long term effects, and the author points out that this terrible accident actually caused them to not only stay together, they eventually got married and have been married for well over 30 years since! This accident happened on Bastille day, and she points out that the glass he landed on was essentially an upside-down guillotine. Furthermore, they'd recently hired a contractor to replace the glass with safety glass, and it would've been replaced by then if he hadn't ripped them off and run off with their money.
I was really blown away by the first chapter. I went into this book expecting some fluff piece about how to create good karma and thus live a fantastic, magical life. Instead, that first chapter was full of fantastic information, stuff that would compete with textbooks without actually feeling like a textbook. I felt a little disappointed by the following autobiographical chapters at first, but I really ended up liking the book overall. Some bits may have gone into a bit more detail than I would've liked, but at under 120 pages it's far from dry, dull or drawn-out, and the drawn-out pieces are the exception, not the rule. She also did an excellent job showing how karma is woven through her life, even "couples karma" that ran through her and Ed's past lives!
Karma In Action: Finding Meaning, Making Choices is informative, inspirational and a quick read. I only noticed one error, and it was an incredibly minor error in a footnote (the word "italicize" was in parentheses before a book title that should've been italicized). The book even ends with 11 discussion questions, although I'm a bit ashamed to admit I didn't even remember one of the answers mere days after finishing the book myself. I'm happy to give the book 3 out of 4 stars - I would have loved more about karma itself as the first chapter was stellar! It's an easy recommendation for anyone interested in karma, people who love books about looking at life in a new way and people who are interested in alternative medicine (in one of the chapters Ed is fighting lung cancer, and the following methods and research they used were fantastic!).
Karma in Action
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