â€śKarma is a b****. Gets you every time. Itâ€™s not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything,â€ť said LeBron James on Twitter the other day. This caused quite a stir (though I donâ€™t know why he thinks karma is a bagel or why he felt the need to use asterisks to censor himself). Then he backed off the statement, saying it wasnâ€™t even his tweet; he was just passing it along. Too late, karmaâ€™s out there, King.
But LeBron raises a good point (which we may witness playing out with him cracking his head on the rim during an alley oop, knocking himself out), and that is â€“- â€śTo what degree does karma play a role in sports?â€ť
Letâ€™s look at Eastern philosophical ideal known as karma. First off, it began as a uniquely religious tenet, though has cross-pollinated with philosophy. The word karma literally means â€śto act.â€ť In sanskrit (an Indian language of Hindus and Buddhists), it means â€śvolitional action that is undertaken deliberately or knowingly.â€ť In Pali (another language of Buddhists), itâ€™s â€śkamma.â€ť In baby talk, it means â€ścamera.â€ť
It is â€śthe law of cause and effect.â€ť LeBron feels that Clevelandâ€™s action of speaking badly of him after his defection (the cause) resulted in a 55-point beat down at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers (the effect). But the reason Cleveland hates him in the first place is because â€śthe Chosen Oneâ€ť spurned them for Miami. Isnâ€™t that the action that should have a subsequent result?
Another question to ask is if the action of leaving Cleveland deserves a negative reaction. He left because, well, theyâ€™re stuck in Cleveland. He didnâ€™t want his talents to get snowbound or become Clevelandish. (Everyone knows the only way to make it in Cleveland is to first succumb to drugs and alcohol, become
homeless, clean yourself up, and start pan-handling at a highway off ramp, where you will be discovered for a career in voiceovers.) LeBron simply had to take his talents to South Beach, and fast.
If Cleveland was in, say, the Virgin Islands, then maybe he wouldâ€™ve stayed in Cleveland. Hence, karma doesnâ€™t really have anything to do with it. (His method of announcement may be another story, however.)
The major Eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism agree with this law of karma, but there is a disagreement over the specifics. Most believers argue, for example, that a personâ€™s actions, past, present and future, are the only things affecting oneâ€™s fate. On the other hand, a certain sect of Hindus believes that a supreme being rules over all, judging you and influencing matters. Now, thatâ€™s obviously not true in sports ... unless youâ€™re referring to David Stern, in which case, itâ€™s dead on. (Referencing God indicates that LeBron might be one of these Hindus since God and karma are generally independent of one another.)
Then there are the Jainists, a lesser known Eastern religion, who although also believers, look at karma as the pollution of colored particles that infect the soul. That may explain the Clippers' misfortune, though those colored particles are just smog particles, I think. We wonâ€™t focus too much on them.
So, going with the Hindus and Buddhists, weâ€™ve got action/reaction. Itâ€™s Newtonâ€™s Law for the soul. And thereâ€™s three types of karma:
So much of the past actions have given rise to the present birth. That is, all the actions have paid off and you are now living out the results of these acts. This is termed prarabdha, because it was theorized at a time when, apparently, the letter â€śaâ€ť was their only vowel. There are things that your team did long before today that are keeping you mired in suckiness. Whatever Isiah Thomas did to the New York Knicks, they're still paying for it.
Then there is sanchita, the balance of past actions that have yet to bloom, or reveal their fruits. They will come into play or give rise to future births. Imagine a big silo filled with positive and negative acts. Everything that happens to you, is a result of each one of those grains of karma, so to speak. In other words, Tiger Woods may not win for a long time. Or the New York Yankees look good now, but there's a storm a-brewin'.
Finally, the agami or kriyamana are acts being done in present life, which can yield results in present life, but usually do not bear fruit until the future. Doing something as petty as tweeting when your ex-team gets spanked is probably not looked upon as a good act, so we can expect LeBron to meet up with a negative reaction sometime soon ... or in the next life. Who knows, instead of â€śthe King,â€ť he may be reincarnated as â€śthe Pool Boy.â€ť
Itâ€™s tough to avoid karma, especially in sports. You can live a pure life and then you see Derek Jeter covering second base on a double play ball and try to contact the base runner telepathically, â€śSpikes up! Câ€™mon, spikes up!â€ť Every act you do is karma. The belief is that you either undertake an act selflessly, selfishly, or savagely. But are thoughts considered highly by the karmic rules?
Take the Jets-Patriots media war last week. Rex Ryan saying that Tom Brady is only good because of Bill
Belichick's coaching, though meant to tweak the quarterback, is not bad, really. Itâ€™s stupid, yes; itâ€™s like saying that Ryan is only fat because of the silverware he chooses to eat with.
And at least outwardly, the Patriots were polite when discussing the Jets. But really, did the Patriots speak highly of the Jets amongst themselves or privately in meetings? No. They probably said, â€śThese guys suck and if we exploit their suckiness, weâ€™ll win.â€ť Maybe the Jets do suck and this is not an action or thought more it is the statement of a fact.
If the Jets had lost â€“ and why shouldnâ€™t they? The only thing they had going for them is that I picked the Patriots to win â€“ it was not because of a few barbs launched at the Patriots; it was not due to the time a Jets fan urinated on the side of Gillette Stadium during the last meeting between the teams; it was not because Bill Belichick only has love in his heart and a song in his soul for the J-E-T-S Jets. Itâ€™s more than likely, however, that it happened because God is a Patriots fan and wants them to win above all else.
Of course, we found this to be untrue as well. Maybe the rhetoric the Patriots used in private was worth more on a karmic scale than the blashphemy spewed by Jets players and coaches in the press.
No, the idea here is that there are so many bad thoughts and actions going on between two teams that each will cancel each other out. There is no running tally to indicate, â€śWell, the Jets players grabbed more groins and gouged more eyes at the bottom of the pile ups than the Patriots did.â€ť Maybe they do, but it may not result in a negative effect for them until later, a game in the future, or an individual moment for the grabby player.
The same can be said about the fans. Does their behavior have anything to do with the effect? Did Kevin Garnett get injured before the 2008 playoffs because Boston fans harassed the Lakers team bus after the 2007 championship victory, allowing the Lakers to win that year? It certainly may seem that way, but thereâ€™s a Latin phrase that addresses this connection to the karmic mechanism â€“ Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, which means "Why are we still quoting Latin phrases?" No, wait ... it means â€śAfter this, therefore because of this.â€ť It proposes that an event causes the effect simply because it comes before it, but it is a fallacy. It doesnâ€™t take into consideration that other factors are at play, such as David Stern pulling some strings or whatever. Coincidental correlation is being mistaken for causation.
The Lions started winning once they got rid of Matt Millen, and it may look like thatâ€™s a result of the loss of Millen, but in actuality ... oh, wait, thatâ€™s exactly why they started winning. Okay, bad example.
Once mired in bad karma, how much longer do teams have to wait until they finally get good karma? When will the Chicago Cubs finally win? Unfortunately, karma keeps one in an endless cycle of rebirth. But this is only for individual souls, not collective teams or states of fandom.
However, if each individual involved here â€“ the fans, the players, etc. â€“ lives life according to dharma (the right way), and without desire, hate, and delusion, will they be able to end the cycle of death and rebirth (i.e. losing again and again) and achieve, as the Hindus call it, moksha, or spiritual perfection? Perhaps, but what fun would that be if you have a whole bunch of Tim Tebowâ€™s running around?
So letâ€™s recap here â€“- If the â€śHeatlesâ€ť lose to the Magic, is that because of Bron Bronâ€™s tweeting? Does that mean Orlandoâ€™s a team and fan base more pure of mind? A better city? The conclusion is no, karma really has no place in sports. It simply means that the talents he took to Miami werenâ€™t enough to guide his team to victory, the team wasnâ€™t coached as well as the opponents, or injuries to key players provided too big an obstacle.
That said, he probably should keep his tweets to himself, just in case, because God sees everything. And HE clearly doesnâ€™t like Cleveland.