Progressive Prison Project
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Karma and Soup du Jour
By Joseph Deltito, M.D.- Guest Blogger
Dr. Deltito is a psychiatrist and
psychopharmacologist practicing in
Greenwich, CT. He can be reached at
While recently eating in a Chinese restaurant I received my new most favorite saying in a fortune cookie. It said, “a new tie will always find the soup du jour.”
Previous to this my favorite fortune had been “Help! I am a prisoner in a Chinese bakery”. I would like to reflect on the former and most recent fortune.
Life seems that way: we try to do our best and when enjoying some new fortune something undesired will often ruin everything. Some people would say “it’s just my Karma that makes things go wrong”. Karma may very well be a reasonable concept for explaining the workings of the world. But I believe it is mostly misused differently from its accurate meaning in Buddhism.
I have a friend who has been studying to be a Buddhist monk. I asked him about Karma and he told me that Karma was simply”cause-and-effect”. The idea that in general if we do good things, good things will come to us and if we do bad things, bad things will come to us is not really Karma. Our Karma is what we create.
There are things we can do to increase the probability that good things will happen to us. There are things we can do to decrease the probability that bad things will come to us. In the end we have no full and perfect control of our future. A quote I quite like is “if you want to make God laugh tell Him* your future plans.”
So many well-thought-out plans never materialize. So many negative things can intervene; this does not mean that we have no control, only that we have partial control. As a psychiatrist I spend a lot of time helping people see how they can discover and exercise that partial control. Usually the things they need to do are not particularly secret nor sacred. The effects of their behaviors are often self-evident.
Although, I believe that God “is not playing dice with the universe”, free will does exist. To a large extent we reap what we sow, notwithstanding that even while trying to do our best calamity may still triumph. This does not mean that we should not try to do our best, in fact it reinforces the idea that we should exert as much control over our lives as is possible. That is our Karma!
People from different religious and humanitarian traditions may have particular “suggestions” for what might be helpful for the self and those around us. For me taking responsibility for the outcome of our decisions and behaviors can form the basis of any reasonable code by which we should live our lives. I also think we cannot go wrong with “treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated yourself”or restated:
we should all try to give everyone around us an even break.
In summary, although the new tie will find the soup and much will unfold beyond our control, there still remains much we can do to improve ourselves and our society.
May your Karma take you to wherever your would like to be going. Amen.
Joseph Deltito MD is currently a full Clinical Professor at NY Medical College and a Senior Research Fellow at the Gianfranco Delisio Institute for Behavioral Research in Pisa, Italy. Dr Deltito is a member of the advisory board of the International Review of Bipolar Disorders. He is the author of over 100 articles on the diagnoses and treatment of Psychiatric Illnesses.
He received his Undergraduate and Medical Degrees from Brown University and completed his Psychiatric residency at Harvard Medical School (The Massachusetts General Hospital). He has served as a visiting Professor at the Christchurch School of Medicine (New Zealand) and the University of Pisa (Italy).His main areas of expertise include the treatment of Anxiety ( Panic Disorder, Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Mood Disorders ( Bipolar and Unipolar), Borderline Personality Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults. In additional Dr Deltito is an expert in the delivery of High Intensity Light Therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and the rational use of Medical Hypnoses.
He is proud to have been awarded the Professor of the Year award at both Cornell Medical School and New York Medical College. He has received the William Gaston Award for Oratory and the Silver Hill Award for outstanding contributions for Mental Health Awareness in the Media. He is highly recognizable throughout the country due to his greater than 300 appearances as a Psychiatric Expert on CNN, Headline News, MsNBC, Fox News and Court TV. He is very much in demand as a Forensic consultant in legal cases where Psychiatric issues are crucial to the case.
He is currently associated with Contemporary Care in Greenwich where he provides Psychiatric evaluation and treatment with Psychopharmacology, TMS and other modalities. …Dr Deltito continues to be an outspoken and opinionated advocate for those suffering from Mental illnesses.
Progressive Prison Project/
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Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouse & Children Project
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