I think I have very western views on karma, you know, that it is like some form of divine justice. And I had thought that there were plenty of non-karmic reasons for suffering. So I really can't debate or even understand a lot of what is being said here. It seems that one has to believe in reincarnation to believe in karma - and I have to admit, I don't see a lot of valid reasons to believe in reincarnation. I also have a hard time understanding karma when it comes to death or suffering in situations like earthquakes, or 9-11, or the holocaust. Or the fact that how a child handles being tortured and murdered, as if it were an opportunity for spiritual growth, can even be a consideration. Perhaps I need to read a little more on this subject.
The older I get, the less I believe in anything outside of this life - god, heaven, hell, punishment, reward, reincarnation, the idea that everything we do, every move we make, has an effect. It is the here and now that I think matters. Maybe this way of thinking does not mesh with buddhist principles, I don't know. Like I said, more studying to do.
It sounds like you see Karma as The Law of What Comes Around Goes Around, which I think is a fairly common view point. I hear that point of view a lot outside of Buddhism. My mother often interchanges the phrase"God's gonna get him/her." with "Karma's gonna bite him/her in the ass." when she observes someone doing something bad. This then becomes a self-fulfilling profecy, like a fortune cookie, because something negative will eventually happen to that person (as it does to everyone), and when it does - BAM - Karma or God got that person back.
I think this view of Karma is not Karma. It is coincidence. I have linked a video at the end of my post that illustrates my concept of Karma in a very cute story told by Ajahn Brahm.
Also, reincarnation is the transmigration of the soul from one body to another and is typical of Hindu thought. This is different from Rebirth as I understand. Here is the way I explained my understanding of rebirth on a different forum:
Mojo Jojo wrote:
I have a friend who is young and dying of cancer. She just so happens to be the most passionate person towards birds that I've ever met and has taught me things about birds I probably would have never known had I not ever had her as a friend. Now, whenever I see an exotic bird, I always think of her and maybe I'll share some of what I learned from her with someone else. In this way, even though her body will eventually succomb to cancer, part of her will continue to live through myself as well as everyone else that she has made an impact on - which may continue to people that we have made an impact on and so on and so on and in 1000 years it could be possible for someone to pass on to someone else what had once been passed from my friend to me and hence she has been reborn countless times between now and 1000 years from now.