This article was written quite a while back. After publishing my article “The Matrix and the Eastern doctrine of Maya” in the Dutch magazine “Religie & Mystiek” the readers asked for a similar article based on a film. I knew that Lola Rennt (“Lola runs”) is a good film to explain Karma, so I wrote the article below. It was supposed to be published in the last issue, but due to miscommunication, it will be in the upcoming issue. Here you have the English version:
The film is not as well-known as with The Matrix. Lola Rennt is a German film from 1998 made by Tom Tykwer and with Franka Potente as Lola. Potente made it to Hollywood for a few films and Tykwer also made some new movies. Together they recently made the film Der Kaiser Und Der Kaiserin. After this film Lola Rennt got new attention and most videostores have it. Also you can see this film on television every once in a while (at least in Europe).
The film is about a girl with fire-red hair (Lola) and her boyfriend Manni. Manni moves around a bit in criminal circles and as some sort of test for a higher position, Manni get the assignment to deliver a bag with a large amount of money. Manni leaves the bag in the trolley where it is found by a tramp. In high panic Manni calls Lola that if he doesn’t have the same amount of money at a certain place in 20 minutes, he will rob a large store to get it, because if he can’t deliver the money, he will not survive his mistake. Lola thinks about her father who works at a bank who may be able to get her the money and she starts to run.
From this point on the coming 20 minutes are shown in three different versions. Some things remain the same, some things are (slightly) different. This is caused by things that go a bit different than previous time just before.
Every time Lola runs out of her house, her mother asks her to bring something from the shop, she sees a man with an agressive dog on the stairs and she runs around a corner running into an old lady or just not. In every version she encounters to rows of nuns, a guy on a bike, a colleague of her fathers and an old car with three very muscular men. Also every time we see her father having a conversation with his girlfriend about getting rid off the wife and children and a new child with the girlfriend. Lola meets a guard at the bank where her father works every time, a woman down the hall and a red ambulance.
Every time the situation is a bit different. Lola avoids the dog, gets tackelled or jumps over it with a huge jump. She runs into the old woman or misses her by an inch. She runs between the two rows of nuns or around them. One time she runs into the guy on the bike, the second time he wants to sell the bike to her and the third time he sells the bike to the beggar with Manni’s money. Lola runs just in front of the car of her father’s colleague who startled and hits the wreck of the bodybuilders or she ends up on the windshield. The conversation of her father and his girlfriend is either interrupted by Lola or a phonecall of the secretary and the way Lola gets the money is different all three times.
You could say that these little changes are caused by previous things who were just a bit different and the result is again different. Maybe the entire story is different because she avoid the dogs or falls down the stairs. It is quite easy to come up with the Eastern idea of Karma.
This is a doctrine introduced in the west well over 100 years ago by orientalists like Max Müller and the first of the modern Theosophists Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. However the doctrine has been known for quite a while and at least Blavatsky explained it very well, many westerners still don’t know who to take it. Too often Karma is identified with Fate, while this doesn’t cover the law of Karma not even close. Also often Karma is explained very fatalistically like: “if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you”, but also this is only half the thruth, because it works the other way around just as well. Besides, Karma isn’t just about good or bad actions, in fact is everything Karma. When a tiny fluff is blown into your living room, this is caused by Karma and causes new Karma. That we don’t see the use or reason, doesn’t matter a bit. Karma doesn’t only relate to people (however there are people who will say that free will is needed to ‘make Karma’) and definately not only to individuals, because that is another misunderstanding in the thinking of many westerners. There is something like ‘group-Karma’, ‘family-Karma’, ‘national-Karma’, etc. That -for example- almost the entire German population was sucked into the cause of two world wars, was the Karma of the Germans.
Let me see if I can make things a bit clearer using Lola Rennt.
The clearest explanation of Karma in the movey is how Lola gets the money and how the story ends. The first time, her father sends Lola away (they don’t have the best relationship). When Lola reaches the place where she would meet Manni, he is already in the shop waving his gun. Lola is forced to help him when somebody else turns out to have a gun and they run the shop. Unfortunately they are caught by the police and when Manni throws away the bag with money out of frustration, a policeman accidentally shoots Lola.
The second time Lola robs her father’s bank with the gun of the guard and however Lola gets away, Manni is ran over by the red ambulance.
The third time Lola misses her father when he drives away with his colleague and on her way to the place where she would meet Manni, she enters a casino and wins a lot of money. When she meets Manni, he already got the money back from the beggar and gave it to his boss. Both survive the adventure this time.
Needles to say that Lola got her money in a ‘good’ way in the third version and the result is positive. This is -so to say- the Karma of Lola and Manni and probably also that of the people in the shop, Lola’s father, the beggar, etc.
These are not the only refences to Karma in the film. There are a couple of “und dann” (and then) flashes, in which you see the rest of someone’s life in just a few photos. The old woman around the corner -for example- wins the lotery and gets married when she yelled at Lola and she finds faith when she only made an angry face.
The guy on the bike find his life going rapidly downwards after selling the bike to the beggar.
The father’s colleague has very bad Karma, because he has ‘bad luck’ all three times. Two times he runs into the wreck of the bodybuilders after getting a fright of Lola passing his car by an inch and the last time he misses the bodybuilder’s car when Lola ends up on his windshield, but he gets killed in an accident caused by Manni chasing the beggar on the bike, the bodybuilders are also involved in the accident.
The red ambulance drives through a glass-plate when Lola asks if she can ride with them, runs Manni dead in the second version and when Lola jumps on the ambulance without asking in the third version and cures the wounded, he driver remains sound and healthy as well.
All this shows how the results for different (and on first sight unconnected) people can be different after different situations. Group-Karma so to say. And especially in case of the old woman, a very small event (Lola running into her or just not) seems to make the difference between a wealthy happy life and a life in a monastery.
However it may often seem futile every situation is caused by Karma and causes Karma just as well as punching someone in the face when you are angry.
As said, everything is Karma