The Buddhist notion of Karma isn’t about payback. It’s about the awful reality of being tied up in contingency. We choose. We act. There are consequences for us and for others and these have consequences in turn. So bit by bit moving through our days we build a life and as it takes shape we have to live it out. This is karma. The cage of good and bad consequences from our past that becomes our horizons.
The tragedy—the awful terrifying tragedy of it all—becomes clear when someone builds an unlivable life for themselves over the course of years and then are stuck with it and have to live it and there’s nothing anyone can do to get them out of it.