Over the holidays, the Robert Collier quote came to my mind: “In every adversity there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time.” A less elegant way to say the same thing is, “when life hands you lemons; you make lemonade.”
The same truth is told by most New Age thinkers, whether they lived 100 years ago or yesterday. Oprah Winfrey gave credit to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Compensation” for helping her to set her mind towards her great success. Today, we would use the word “karma” to refer to what Emerson described as “compensation.” The idea is that by serving others you will be served, and by loving others you will be loved. Everything has its price, and if you take something that is not rightfully yours, you will pay the price at some point.
Emerson, in his essay, talks about how each person is compensated in like manner for whatever that person has contributed to the world. Like karma, in every sin lies its own punishment and in every kindness lies its own reward. That’s the balance of nature, and no one can cheat nature.
When I had more money, I was more generous with panhandlers. Now that I’m poor, I withhold my money and I remain in a mindset of poverty. Yet I know that if you give something away, another thing – most likely better – will take its place, because nature abhors a vacuum. I will be compensated for what I give away, and I will be denied what I withhold from others. Likewise, a tragedy builds up my strength. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
The ebb and flow of life is the mechanism of compensation, according to Emerson. A reversal of fortune might bring about a simpler life that is more peaceful to the heart. A sudden gain might cause a frenzy of celebration that steals away our peace of mind. Finding new love makes us anxious with fear of losing it. A break-up inspires us to self-reflect and improve ourselves. How many dowdy divorcées get fit and cheerful?
As for those who would go against the laws of compensation (or karma), be certain nature will catch up with them. If a person is hurt and they become angry and hurt others, their pain will only be magnified. If a person chooses to find happiness in excess – in material things, in power – their soul will darken. There will always be compensation – even for the pain which causes us to look inwardly and do soul work, and for the great happiness that inspires us to give back to others in gratitude.
I pray to the Universe that I get what I deserve when I need it. I have the same wish for all others, but there’s really no need to “wish” because it’s the natural law of “compensation.”
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.