"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." - - - Mark Twain
I have an affinity toward trouble. In that if I do not get into trouble, trouble finds me ! And in a recent spot of trouble I had to accept help from friends. Be it a place to stay or an airport pick up - I had to rely on friends to get things done. What I found, truly surprised me. Assuming the negative, I was pleasantly proven wrong when my friends insisted upon bestowing me favor after favor. And when I resisted, saying I really could not accept - a friend simply said - "Its what you would do for me". At that, I rested my case, caved in and accepted their generosity - ever so gratefully.
It led me to believe that my good 'Karma' was actually coming to rescue. I am a science person, firmly grounded and rooted in the annals of logic, thus an abstract concept like 'Karma' - remained a purely theoretical idea for me. Until, as I mentioned, I was rescued and was forced to concede the possibility that there might be something more to it. Hence my attempt to encapsulate Karma into a logical albeit flawed theory - and thus this post.
I believe a person's 'Karma' begins the minute he starts to take conscious decisions. Given the ethics of each situation and a person's awareness of them, each action leads to good or bad 'Karma'. Sooner or later, people start to associate you with your choice of actions and what they mean. Call it a 'character-score' (c-score) if you will. Like a credit score that tells how financially reliable a person is, the 'c-score' reflects how trustworthy he is. If you keep a promise made to a friend, that friend bolsters your 'c-score'. If you lie/cheat on a person, your c-score is lowered.
Try to visualize your friends, as you see each face, you will realize you already have an established label to go along with it - trusty, selfish, arrogant, supportive ... etc We may not actually quantify what we think about a person, but we can certainly tell if we trust a person or not. When you go to a bank and ask for a loan, the bank looks at your credit score to determine - what are the chances you will pay back? Similarly, when you approach a friend and ask for a favor, the person intrinsically asks, what are the chances you will repay the favor? If your c-score is good, chances are, more friends will do you favors when you need them. Hence the immediate effects of good Karma.
However, I believe 'Karma' in fact does influence more than how your immediate friends respond. In fact one can safely say, Karma influences your chances of success in almost everything you undertake. Barring the essential ingredients of success: hard work, discipline and dedication, when all factors are accounted for and success hinges on pure luck, it is Karma that affects the outcome. Acting acts as your guardian angel - it knows how good you are as a person, and how much do you really deserve success. When all logical reasons are exhausted, it is Karma that bends the arch of opportunity and gifts you happiness.
Skeptics may find this explanation lacking in proof. I offer no proof, just a theory. Every so often, the outcome we hope for, depends on factors we do not control. It may depend on the whim of a person we do not know, who has the deciding power to grant or deny you. I felt this way when I was nearing the end of my Visa interview. There is no way of telling which way the pieces are going to fall and if you will get what you want. Yet, if you have good 'Karma' - the pieces just might trickle down in the order you are pining for.
Consider for a moment, the entire living human population. You make friends, your friends make friends and so on. Thus, a stranger you meet, might be a stranger to you, in that you haven't personally interacted with this individual yet, but you can rest assured that you have touched this person through a chain/network of people you have built. Like they say, we are all connected to each other. A cliche, more veritable today than one might have thought in the past. Thus when you build good Karma - i.e. behave ethically when there is no immediate gain for you, you influence a whole network of people positively. It might take years and decades to reach back to you. And thus the anonymous old woman I helped cross the road years ago, might trickle down a positive influence that led my Visa officer to grant me my dream. 'Karma', often has latent effects.
Yet, in all fairness, this explanation is a long shot from what one might call 'complete'. Is it ever possible to completely capture the reasons of every bad/good thing happened to you? I think not. May be - we will never know - if our Karma patted us on the back, or bit us in the ass. Still it simply makes sense, to be on the good side of Karma.
It is the all important one percent after you have put in your 99 cents of hard work. A self accurate system of cause and effect - which decides if its your turn or not. At the end of the line, you have to account for everything you have done. Some say, if Karma does not catch up to you in this life time, it will surely do so in the next. Who can wisely contemplate on what happens after death? Is it Karma that decides if we go to heaven or hell? I do not know, and I am certainly not going to die just to find out.
For what its worth, I might add, being a good guy really really sucks, you don't have the luxury to make your choices on what's convenient for you - but rather have to base your choice on what's right - which more often than not - is a harder path to choose. Yet, if you do, and if you believe you have built good Karma, I think it really does come to rescue when you need it the most.
In a roof over my head as shelter against a cruel night, in the warm smile of a friend when I was spent and fortune had turned aside. I have felt the existence of my guardian angel. In that moment when I had closed my eyes, and despite disbelief in prayer, prayed so hard - God please please please, just this one time. I have felt life soften in a dimple and seen Karma, save my Life.