Wednesday Word with Roy Noble
BBC Radio Wales - 12th November 2003
Bad Karma for Rally Drivers
When people drive into Wales these days, the first thing they notice is not the beautiful scenery, but the fact that all the cars are travelling in convoy at exactly the speed limit. They might think: “Aren’t the people of Wales such law-abiding folk!” But, the reality is that many of us are already on nine points and are terrified of losing our license and having to cope on public transport.
So, isn’t it reassuring that our police are so even-handed they’ve prosecuted the rally drivers in last year’s World Championships for speeding during the Wales section of the race. Speeding tickets are a good example of the Hindu concept of karma. You may have heard of Bad Karma or Instant Karma as some kind of punishment for wrong-doing. But, karma is really about personal responsibility and how the happiness and distress we cause others through our choice of actions is returned to us.
Karma isn’t fatalistic, because each one of us is in charge of our own destiny. Hindus believe in free will. We’re not compelled to crime or evil; it is a choice we can resist. So, when we break the speed limit, we’ve only ourselves to blame.
Karma is even more pervasive than Welsh speed cameras. Nothing escapes the universal law of karma. It affects everyone - like gravity– whether you believe in it or not. The rally drivers might have argued that they no longer drive the cars that broke the speed limit. But, that isn’t much of an excuse as it’s the driver, not the car, which must face the consequences. Similarly, karma doesn’t just work within one lifetime. Hindus believe that the soul moves from one body to another through the process of reincarnation in the same way we might change our car. And, sometimes we have to face the consequences for things we did in a previous life. This might seem unfair, as we no longer remember what we did. I bet the rally drivers don’t remember zooming past the cameras a year ago, but it would be even more unfair if both the law and karma overlooked our indiscretions just because we had forgotten them.
It’s been proposed that the rally drivers should be above the law on the basis that they and their cars are safer than most road-users. Maybe…, but we would expect safer drivers to lead by example and to follow the law. There is a parallel in Hinduism; that those who dedicate their lives to God are above the law of karma. That doesn’t mean they are free to misbehave. It means they should live a life of pure love so that all their actions are so pleasing to God that karma becomes irrelevant.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.