Friday, November 04, 2005

Bad Karma

Buddhists believe that we bear the consequences of our deeds, if not in this life, then in the next. Good deeds add to our stock of good Karma. Bad deeds add to our stock of bad Karma. As some readers will know, accumulating good Karma is an institutional goal of the Center for Teaching Excellence. I believe we mostly do this and that it pays off.

Last evening was at the end of intense day, near the end of an intense week. It was a week of multitasking, addressing personnel and budget matters in CTE, playing a role (as an SIS Senator) in the ongoing discussions related to Dr. Ladner’s termination and participating as a principal in workshop on conflict and state building in South Asia, with a group of about 40 scholar-practitioners, mostly from the five South Asian countries we are studying (Sri Lanka in my case)

At about 8 PM, I was racing to my car, 30 minutes late for a diplomatic dinner hosted by the DCM of the Sri Lanka Embassy (who also happens to be my student) when I encountered a senior colleague. He has some difficulty with this vision and normally has a driver, but the driver had taken leave to attend a family event. My colleague was having difficulty finding a taxi, a task complicated by his poor vision. I offered some suggestions, but was clearly preoccupied. He said he would find a taxi on Mass Avenue and off I went to my function after spending about ten minutes with him.

What I should have done was to stay with him until he found a taxi or even given him a ride home. I might have been an hour late, but could have explained. I had an opportunity to reflect on this as I drove off and – obviously – this evening as well. It reminded me that when I an rushed, stressed, and preoccupied with ‘important matters’ it is easy to lose touch with my humanity, my values and what is fundamentally important.

I will pay a price for the bad Karma created that loss of perspective in this life or the next – and I should.


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