Saturday, December 18, 2010
Review of Television Series My Name is Earl (2005+)
The Buddha identified karma as volitional activity. That is, each volition in the mind is like a seed with tremendous potential. In the same way that the smallest acorn contains the potential of a great oak tree, so too each of our willed actions contains the seed of karmic results. The particular result depends on the qualities of mind associated with each volition. Greed, hatred, and delusion are unwholesome qualities that produce fruits of suffering; generosity, love, and wisdom are wholesome factors that bear fruits of happiness.
The Buddha called the understanding of this law of karma, the law of action and result, the “light of the world,” because it illuminates how life unfolds and why things are the way they are. The wisdom of this understanding allows us the freedom to make wise choices in our life.
- Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation
Earl believes in a simplistic concept karma - “If you do bad things, bad things happen to you. If you do good things, good things happen to you.” While this is a simplistic understanding it does motivate Earl to change his life. He creates a list of all the bad things he has done in his life and sets out to make amends . In addition to experiencing better luck, Earl discovers the joy of making people’s lives better.
Although some of Earl’s previous actions were criminal, the series shows that even smaller actions have long term consequences. Earl develops awareness of cause and effect. The series is laugh out loud funny but also poignant and thought-provoking.