Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga
Karma is a vicious concept, used to reinforce repressive social systems. It's not just "what goes around comes around" or "you reap what you sow." It's also "you're poor and diseased because of wrongs you did in a previous life and I am in a position to exploit you because I was virtuous in a previous life." Kind of hard to argue with that reasoning!
Perhaps the caste system has been largely dismantled in a formal way. Societies can change like that. But the basic tenets of karma remain, ready for anyone to use to justify horrific repression of others. Most Westerners are oblivious to this because we get our understanding of karma largely from Western pop culture.
It's interesting to see how you've misinterpreted the workings of karma to construe it as something evil.
If I am rich and powerful and I wrong those that are weak, I will be served up a dish of karma to avenge my wrongdoings perhaps in this life, or perhaps in the next. There is always come-uppance for wrongs and just as likely reward for virtue, but not necessarily a timeframe.
If I fail to adhere to principles like dharma (virtuous living), I will no doubt be doomed to be reborn again and again, sometimes richer, sometimes poorer. After all, what does virtue have to do with how rich or poor people are? Some of the poor people I know are far more virtuous than the rich. And the opposite holds true as well.
AKA you can feel sorry for yourself, or you can pick yourself up and give it the old "college boy" try.
Thinking of it as a punishment system is just erroneous interpretation. In this case, the Western pop culture version is decidedly more accurate than your version.
I would shudder to try and explain Maya (illusion) with my skills. As in, it's all maya, baby, you can't take it with you, but hey hey, you're not going anywhere either haha :)