Repairing Your Karma
They say that you’ve got to sin to be saved. That’s my excuse anyhow. In my day as a mob boss I did some questionable things, stuff I’m not proud of today. Probably we all have. But how to make up for the wrongs of yesterday? Sweep them under the rug? Give some cash to a hippie charity? Take up a drinking habit? Well, until they build a time ma¬chine which lets you go back and not knock off Bruno Donatelli for bringing you stale coffee, what’s the best way to set right the screw-ups of old?
I like to keep a list of regrets on a notecard. I call it my ‘discredit card’. The way I see it, I’m in spiritual hock and the Bank of God is calling in the loan. I don’t settle up, I don’t get to use their services when I die.
Took me a while to remember all the things I shouldn’t have done in my life. My first regret I can remember is when I was nine. My teacher made me sit in the corner for talking in class, so after school I went out into the parking lot and put sugar in his gas tank. As everybody knows, sugar will turn gasoline to glue and destroy your engine. Only, I couldn’t read so good when I was nine and put in something else. Whatever it was, the thing blew up after Mr. Obermeyer turned the key. I sort of dropped out of school after that.
So here I am, decades later, thinking of poor Mr. Obermeyer so I make some calls to see whatever happened to him. Course, I’m an old man now, so the guy’s been gone for ears. Instead, I find his son and give him a call. When I tell him I’m the one that blew up his dad’s car, he hangs up on me, but I keep calling. Finally says to leave him alone. “Listen,” I say “I’d like to buy you a brand new car to make up for what I done.” This gets his attention. “What kind of car?” the guy says. So I ask him for his address and make the arrangements. I feel better, he feels better, case closed.
Only, after I tell my brother Ernie I done this, he says my teacher wasn’t Obermeyer, he was Meyersen. Which leads me to believe that I’ve sent a car to the wrong guy. Big mistake? Do I gotta get the car back and break the guy’s fingers? Turns out, no.
After asking my palmreader friend Bongpak about it, it turns out that’s what karma’s all about. You do something bad to someone, you do something good to someone else. It all evens out in the end, right? For instance, I bought my new chick a diamond necklace yesterday. Seems that should make up for the time I threw Louie Granitello off a bridge for spilling coffee on my new Armani suit. Tomorrow I’m going to buy my pal Supaporn that girlie bar he’s had his eye on, which will make up for when I burned down Louie’s Diner for overcharging me.
As for the discredit card, I don’t need it no more. Bongpak’s shown me the error of my ways. As long as I do good things to people from now on, my accounts will slowly become balanced and I’ll be able to cash out pretty nicely when I get to the heaven or nirvana or Atlantis or wherever.
Still, that don’t mean all you wiseguys should come up to me asking for stuff. I decide when and where I drive my karma. I may be spiritual and everything, but I ain’t no sap.
What is the difference between the world’s many great religions? Besides the funny hats and hairdos, I mean. Okay, shut up, I’ll tell you. The truth is, there’s nothing really differ¬ent. There, I’ve said it. They all have the same basic purpose, and that is this: to get everyone to stop raping and pillaging and killing each other all the time.
Many years ago a poor farmer named Nat was plowing his field with the help of his buffalo. When the รนท was at its zenith, Nat unhitched the buffalo and went home to eat his lunch and rest. While the buffalo was eating grass under the shade of a tree, a tiger crept up on him. The buffalo was suddenly startled at the presence of such a powerful preda¬tor, and saw no way out, but his own death. The tiger calmly told the buffalo to relax, and that his life would be spared if he could explain one thing. “I have been watching you plow the field all morning and one thing has puzzled me. I will spare the lives of you and your master if you can give me the answer to a very curious thing.” The buffalo was anxious to do all he could to satisfy the tiger’s curiosity and agreed. The tiger asked, “Why do large, powerful animals, such as the buffalo and the elephant, work to serve man? They could lead a life of leisure, eating grass and resting; but instead they toil long days and get no reward except periods of rest and meager vegetation; which they could have in greater abun¬dance without men. Why do they, powerful beasts, serve the weaker?”
The buffalo thought about this for a moment and then replied, “We must serve man because he has panya (wisdom), which overcomes even the most powerful animal. The tiger asked his companion what this panya was; but the buffalo explained that since only man has wisdom, only man can ex¬plain it. On hearing this, the tiger slunk back into the brush and awaited the return of the farmer. When Nat returned
and began hitching the plow to his workmate, the tiger emerged from the foliage. Nat was startled by the sudden appearance of the tiger. He drew his knife and prayed for strength. The tiger calmly instructed Nat to relax. “I will spare the lives of both you and your buffalo if you can ex¬plain one thing that has baffled me all day. What is this panya that man possesses which causes much larger, more powerful animals such as the buffalo and the elephant to serve him?”
Nat thought for a moment, not entirely certain how to answer, or if this was some trick on the tiger’s part to dis¬tract him and then attack. Nat replied, “I can not tell you what wisdom is, but I can show you. But to show you I must go back to my house; and while I am gone you will eat my buffalo.” The tiger insisted that the buffalo was safe, but Nat would not trust them alone. Finally the tiger offered to allow Nat to tie a rope around its neck and tie the other end to a tree, so the buffalo would be safe. Nat secured the rope, holding his knife in one hand, then went to his house. He returned carrying two long sharpened poles. He then stood beyond the reach of the tiger and began to repeatedly stab it with the pikes, until the tiger lay wounded and dying under the tree. Nat then asked the hapless tiger, “Now do you know understand panya, which makes man the master?” The dying tiger nodded its head and groaned in reply. The buf¬falo quietly ate its grass…