In Nepal and generally this part of the world, I hear people saying “oh this is my fate” or “this is my karma”, I can’t escape it, I can’t change it, with an attitude toward their situations, whatever it may be in their personal and professional lives, as unchanging and therefore, unchangeable. Fixed in stone. Written on their foreheads before they were even born.
There is a book called “Fatalism and Development” followed still by many agencies. It’s written by an anthropologist and the development of Nepal has been studied generally through this books’ lens. I might be wrong but I think the general thinking goes Nepal is underdeveloped and the way it is because people have a fatalistic attitude ingrained into our DNA via sociocultural, religious conditioning, the caste system and so on.
We can call it the famous “ke garne?” (what to do) syndrome. So we do nothing. But I have a different take on fate and karma, that it’s not fatalistic.
Fatalism is just bad attitude, in my humble opinion. I don’t know how along the way karma came to be understood as a position of complete and utter resignation. I suspect someone put their own interpretation of karma, or fate, to create order and hierarchies.
Take all those other layers away. Caste. Socio economic status. Class. Gender. Geographic location. Center or periphery. Kathmandu or elsewhere.
If you just look at yourself as a human being. We know that one day we have to all go, leave this body, the places and the cities and countries we become so attached to while living.
If you understand that human life is limited, if you understand impermanence and that because everything and everyone is assembled (meaning two or more parts coming together to create a whole) and therefore everything and everyone at any moment might disintegrate and altogether collapse before our eyes, we should actually take better care of ourselves, each other, and the world we live and engage in.
Explaining misinterpretation of karma.
Karma is not fatalistic or predetermined. (as many especially in our Eastern cultures seem to think). Karma means our ability to create and to change. It is creative because we CAN determine how and why we act. We CAN change. The future is in our hands, and in the hands of our heart.
Buddha said: “Karma creates all, like an artist. Karma composes, like a dancer”.
If we understand this, it can be quite liberating and we do not have to feel that we are trapped or doomed or that we have to endure all kinds of outer and inner sufferings. Everything is in our hands, or shall we say, minds. But of course at the same time, everything is not in hour hands. So this, the whole idea of karma, is kind of a cosmic joke, a paradox. So sometimes all we can do is laugh at some of the situations we have found ourselves or find ourselves in and do the best we can, knowing we can change – either the situation, the city, the country, or ourselves. And it begins with thoughts and our mind. So look inside at how we perceive our world. If we have a narrow mind, we will perceive a narrow world, if we have an open mind, we will perceive an open world, if we have a limited mind, we will perceive a limited world.