Dear Karma Cleanser:
My wife recently posed a playful question, one that's been pondered from trailer park to townhome (mostly trailer park) across the country: "What is the first thing you'd do if you won the lottery?"
My plan involved giving life-changing amounts of money to the key personnel in my department at work, enabling them to leave the cheapskate corporate psycho we all work for. Then my wife brought out the "K" word: karma. After some heated debate, the question came down to intent. She felt that my intention of "stickin' it to the Man" dilutes the good karma of giving some respectable people a chance at improving their lives.
Even if the money were given without any stipulations, she believed my secondary intent to create trouble for "the Man" is cause for bad karma. Is karma based on a simplistic, one-dimensional event? If one intends to do good and sets in motion events that do more harm, is that bad karma?--Scared to Play the Lottery
We'll side with your spouse on this one. If you could give out some green just as a mitzvah -- a good deed -- to improve the lives of your fellow wage slaves, then karma's fully on your side. But giving with the intent of inflicting revenge on your Scrooge of a supervisor risks plenty of karmic payback. That's the trouble with stickin' it to the Man: The universe always pokes back. No wonder so many lottery winners end up miserable.
Dear Karma Cleanser:
I know for a fact that my boyfriend's been reading my e-mail, which was cute at first but now it's getting really annoying. The truth is that I don't have anything to hide from him. but still, I don't much like the thought of him going into my mail. After he did it the last time, I told him I was going to start reading his mail, as retaliation. Of course he did not like my plan. But I told him this is just karma in action. How can I fix this without wrecking the relationship?--No New Messages
It's not karma in action for you to invade his privacy the same way he's disrespected yours, it's petty revenge and not a good strategy for romantic longevity. Rather, you should sit the dude down and tell him you need some space. Cyber space, even. If he doesn't listen, change your password, then change the locks.
Been bad? email@example.com.