The concept of Karma has always bothered me. Karma, as explained by many, sounds like mystical handwaving. More than that, Karma can rob us of doing something for the proper reasons. When we stay calm when someone wrongs us believing that Karma will pay them back, are we really forgiving and allowing that moment to pass without emotion? Or are we only going through the motions painting in it a more palatable version of revenge? In addition, believing in Karma requires one to believe that there's a force that carries out the balance Karma enforces. An all-knowing scoreboard of equality somehow baked into the experience of human existence. This runs in the same vein of an all-powerful God. Albeit one who cares that everyone receives equal reactions to their deeds. But it doesn't make sense in the case of Karma unless you believe that there's some form of setting the score straight after death. Suddenly, Karma looks an awful lot like a monotheistic God playing the role of scorekeeper and enforcing the equal repayment of deeds. Considering that I had just rejected the notion of a God, accepting Karma didn't make a lot of sense. Perhaps my rejecting of Karma was a form of me confirming my priors by not shining light on similarities Karma holds with my freshly rejected beliefs.
Perhaps you've came across the New Thought philosophy the Law of Attraction. Subscribers to this belief believe that they attract that which they put out into the Universe. This was equally hard for me to accept for similar reason to those above. The most positive people in the world are still impacted by disease, poverty, and other misfortunes. On first look, they experience just as many external afflictions as someone with a negative outlook. The key word being external. There do seem to be some internal benefits to thinking in such a way but it's caused more by the misleading phenomenon of selective attention than anything of substance.
This was my mindset coming into the following passage of The Power of Now where Eckhart Tolle lays out probably the most believable explanation of Karma or the Law of Attraction, especially to those who've rejected the idea of any all-powerful forces.
Saying that embracing the Now attracts positive events in your life is often misunderstood and wrongly criticized. It’s not that bad things don’t happen. It’s that certain events can’t affect you when you are truly enlightened. Some negative actions, such as arguing, can’t happen with an enlightened being and thus less drama, less negativity.
Imagine for a moment that you're a radio. Let's say you have your internal dial set to the station of drama. If you're in tune with drama, you will find drama. You're more likely to engage in events and thoughts that cause drama when this is the channel in which you operate your mind. Contrast that to a practitioner of mindfulness. Through consistent internal reflection, they've become less reactive. Mindfulness removes the fuel drama needs to burn. By extension, if your radio is in tune with awareness, you're less likely to experience certain drama in your life. This could be seen as a form of Karma.
This differs from New Age Law of attraction in one major way; Rather than being a byproduct of selective attention, awareness is a practice that instils a mindset that actually causes the results by inaction or mindful action.
Awareness is a skill that allows you to remove the lenses through which we distort reality. By so doing we allow our actions to be more mindful. When acting mindfully we're more likely to deal with life in a way that reduces conflict and false beliefs instilled buy our unskillful perceptions. While the results may be similar to that described by Karma or New Age Law of Attraction, the motive is more pure and is much more tangible.