← Continued from part 2, on who sets the moral rules that karma works by
One of the striking problems with karmic worldviews is the implications they have for human suffering, and our attitude towards it. According to these worldviews, suffering is a result of past actions, and is not merely justified, but necessary for a person to move closer to achieving enlightenment.
This has the very counterintuitive implication that we ought not to interfere with the suffering of others, because to do so would interfere with justice (or balance or harmony or whatever term you prefer), and delay their being freed from the cycle of life and death.
This conclusion, combined with the belief that the key to achieving enlightenment is in cultivating indifference to the material world—including other people and their problems—is one of the chief forces behind the fact that India contains a third of the world’s poor. Just 8 Indian states house more of the world’s poor than 26 of the poorest African countries, according to a 2010 report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. One in three Indians lives below the poverty line, and 97% of them live on less than $5 USD a day.
A religion or philosophy which logically cultivates an inhumane attitude toward other people seems, on the face of it, to be probably false. This is because we know we should be charitable and merciful toward others, and especially toward those in dire need—we certainly should not be cruel and indifferent to them. But the only clear reason to be charitable and merciful under a karmic worldview is to improve your own karma…at the expense of someone else’s. In other words, karmic worldviews seem to make charity and mercy vices, rather than virtues; and indifference and cruelty virtues, rather than vices. (Which sounds suspiciously like Isaiah 5:20-21.)
This is why I have always found it so strange that many westerners are enamored with the idea of traveling to places like India and Tibet to seek wisdom. Surely some of the obvious baselines for wisdom are things like right judgment and virtuous living. You won’t find wisdom without those.
But then why look for it in places of abject poverty and inhumanity, caused by a philosophy which leads to poor judgment, lack of virtue, and fatalism?
Karmic religions seem to have largely produced societies which promote cruelty, poverty, oppression and stagnation. Christianity, by contrast, has largely produced societies which promote charity, economic flourishing, personal liberty and scientific advancement. Why then do people who claim to value wisdom seem unwilling to investigate Christianity over karmic religions?