Free Lunch (the Law of the Conservation of Karma)

The Triumph of Death, or The 3 Fates. Flemish tapestry (probably Brussels, ca. 1510-1520). Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The three fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, draw out and cut the thread of Life, represent Death in this tapestry, as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. (Wikipedia 23 April 2014)The three fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, "...who spin, draw out and cut the thread of Life ... as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity." (Wikipedia 23 April 2014). I don't know what Chastity's got to do with it. Death triumphs over Chastity? Doesn't make sense to me.
The fact that anything exists at all is a very good sign pointing to the basic fairness, rightness and justice of Everything*.

You can get a free lunch, you just gotta know where to look (Everywhere and forever, all at once.)

According to philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, “god” is the answer to the question about why anything exists. The question arises from the contradiction between a reality in which things exist, and the idea that non-existence is easier than existence. In contrast to non-existence, which requires nothing, “everything that is possible demands to exist,” as Leibniz puts it.

But the fact that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people is a bad sign, pointing in the other direction, to the basic randomness and meaninglessness of Everything.

This post is about how that apparent contradiction is resolved by the Law of the Conservation of Karma.

In physics, the Law of the Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only be changed from one form to another.

Similarly, the Law of the Conservation of Karma states that justice (karma) cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another. In other words, everyone gets their just desserts, maybe not at the time or in the form anticipated, but at one stage or another, at one place or another, in one way or another. Everyone gets what’s coming to them, sooner or later, here or there, once or twice, in one lump or many.

In physics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the total entropy (disorder) of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time. The Universe is an isolated thermodynamic system. So, according to the Second Law the disorder of the Universe tends to increase over time.

But lo and behold: Living things thwart the Second Law by imposing order locally and temporarily at the cost of greater disorder non-locally over the lifetime of the Universe. Being semi-closed systems, living things insulate themselves to an extent from the entropy going on “outside” of them.

When bad things happen to good people or good things to bad people that is a local effect which has to be paid for non-locally so that the overall quantum of justice in a just universe is conserved.

If a good thing happens to a bad person, under the Law of the Conservation of Karma, somewhen else a bad thing happens to cancel out the good thing, and the overall quantum of just desserts is conserved.

If a bad thing happens to a good person, under the Law, somewhen else a good thing happens to cancel out the bad thing, and the overall karma of the Universe is preserved.

There’s another part to all this, concerning emptiness that actually contains stuff, virtual particles, and how things can and do arise out of nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit notwithstanding). But I can’t remember (and/or I'm too lazy to explicate)... something about the relationship between conjugate variables energy and time and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Never mind. Some other time.

* In this post (at least), “Universe" means Everything, including every little thing in the multiverse, maxiverse, megaverse, reality, the all, whatever label you can dream up. Everything includes literally every thing: material and immaterial, past and present and future, real and imaginary, subjective and objective.


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mgeorge said...

Hi MM,

Living things must resist some (major) change/entrophy while utilising some of it such as materials/energy/opportunity. When the hegemon/species/civilisation has become exceedingly successful, it manages to thwart the gradient of change and itself become the nexus of change, at least in the vicinity. We envisage a Type 1/2/3 civilization that manages to control and exploit an entire planet/star/galaxy. In his stories, Isaac Asimov hypothesied that they all manage to destroy themselves. As the recent past shows, it is easy to consider delusion and depravity becoming the driving factors. On this planet, no species has lasted longer than 10s or 100s of millions of years, according to one source.

Karma is a good winkle to keep the galley slaves at their tasks. It is brought to you by the same sort who brought Kumbaya (we shall overcome, another system of hope based on accounting), Kapitalism and Kaste (innate superiority).

Not only do particles pop out of the void of outer space, they exert a force (Van de Waals) before most of them hide again.

masterymistery said...

Hi mgeorge, thanks for your excellent and thought-provoking comment. Unfortunately, due to having had no more than a couple hours sleep last night, I can't contribute very much or add anything to your comment, or even respond in a meaningful way, other than to say: and then there's the Casimir effect.
Thanks for stopping by. Greatly appreciated. Cheers, MM

mgeorge said...


Here is a case of karma biting back:

masterymistery said...

Hi mgeorge,
An instructive little story! Never underestimate the desperate determination of a person or a parson to mutilate their ideology in the futile attempt to force reality to comply with their wishful thinking!
Thanks for stopping by. I will start posting again in the near future.
Cheers, MM

Tim Bowers said...

"the overall quantum of justice in a just universe is conserved"
Is the "quantum of solace" also conserved?

masterymistery said...

Hi Tim,

Perhaps there is a quantum of solace in an Aston Martin karma?

Thanks for stopping by.


Adam Stephens said...

Hm. As I understand Karma is more subtle a concept and it requires the assumption of reincarnation to "function". Granted, this isn't the only way to think about it, but I do think it's a simple way to explain:

If you die and are born again as a different person with no memories of a previous life, in what sense, then, are you really the same person? The point to understand, I think, is the feeling of "I am" is universally the same. By recognizing this, we can seee how we share an identity with all things that possess that feeling of "I" and I might go so far as to say that that awareness, that fundamental experience ofvexistence, belongs to the Universe, to God, if you will entertain the use of the term for a moment, seeing zirself through "your" eyes which really ultimately belong to the Universe in a different sense. It is as though you have already been and will one day become everything capable of feeling its own existence, which may or may not in fact be everything.

Karma, then, makes the Golden Rule much more real. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you because what you do to others you literally do to yourself. Pain or joy anywhere belongs to the Universe by way of the "I" -- that is, the "You" -- and so pain or joy or what-have-you anywhere is always yours.

The moral to be taken away here is to take seriously what you create and, further, that separation is necessarily an illusion.

masterymistery said...

Hi Adam, thanks for your thoughtful comment, which has sparked new insights in my tired old mind!

As you say, there are multiple ways of looking at it. Karma and Justice are not the same, but share some common elements.

One of the differences, is that Justice is about the part, and Karma is about the whole.

That difference is similar to the difference between some "Western" ideas on immortality, and some "Eastern" ideas on reincarnation.

Einstein, for instance, believed there is a non-trivial* sense in which no-one ever dies.

He wrote a letter to the Besso family on the death of Michele Besso, one of his closest friends. Einstein wrote:

“He has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. … the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion…”

In that letter he went on to reassure the Besso family that Michele was not irretrievably dead, but rather lives somewhen else.

That letter and its implications are analysed in the post The Dead Live Elsewhen

*[I include "non-trivial" to exclude from this discussion the sense in which no person ever comes to nothing, because the molecules of the body gradually transform into their constituent atoms, and are absorbed into the All, without being destroyed. To me, that is a trivial form of immortality]

So the idea of a timeless "block universe" (see above link) incorporating multiple worldlines is a Western version of the immortality that in Eastern thinking is conferred by virtue of reincarnation.

Thanks for stopping by.