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Karma is a what?

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A lot is said about Karma nowadays. There is a popularly used phrase which indicates bad deeds will not go unpunished. Where does this word come from? What does it really mean? Read on….


Karma is the concept that actions have consequences. In India, it is believed that every action, thought, and word generates karma, which can be positive or negative.

This karma accumulates over time and affects an individual’s future experiences, including their next birth. The goal of spiritual practice is to perform actions that generate positive karma and lead to liberation from the cycle of samsara.

The understanding of Karma encourages us to cultivate virtues, foster personal growth, and live with integrity, knowing that our actions today can plant the seeds for a brighter and more fulfilling future, both in this life and the next ones…

Karma embodies the notion that every action, intention, and thought leaves an indelible imprint on an individual’s life, shaping their present circumstances and influencing their future

What is Karma?

Karma, is a concept intertwined with the fabric of Indian culture.

Karma, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “action” or “deed,” forms a fundamental pillar of Indian philosophical systems, including Jainism, and Buddhism. It embodies the notion that every action, intention, and thought leaves an indelible imprint on an individual’s life, shaping their present circumstances and influencing their future.

In essence, Karma is the law of cause and effect, asserting that every action carries consequences, both in this lifetime and in future rebirths.

The concept of Karma urges us to recognize that individuals are not mere passive recipients of their fate but active participants in the cosmic unfolding.

Like the ripples that emanate from a stone thrown into a still pond, Karma echoes throughout one’s existence, molding their experiences, circumstances, and even the nature of subsequent rebirths.

Karma is intricately linked with the cycle of Samsara, which refers to the continuous process of birth, death, and rebirth.

The accumulated Karma from past actions determines the quality of one’s present life, influencing factors such as health, social status, and the joys or sorrows one encounters.

This framework of cause and effect is an integral part of the ancient Indian understanding of cosmic justice and personal responsibility.

Jainism shares a similar perspective on Karma, emphasizing its impact on the individual soul’s journey toward liberation. Here, Karma is viewed as a subtle yet powerful force that binds the soul, perpetuating the cycle of birth and death.

By understanding the nature of Karma, adherents of Jainism strive to cultivate right conduct, moral purity, and spiritual discipline to gradually free themselves from the karmic bondage.

In Buddhism, Karma is closely linked to the cycle of Samsara as well.

However, it emphasizes the role of intention behind actions rather than the actions themselves. The quality of one’s intention, be it driven by ignorance, aversion, or wisdom, determines the karmic consequences. Buddhism teaches that by developing mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion, individuals can transform their intentions and cultivate positive Karma that leads to liberation from suffering.

While interpretations of Karma may vary across different Indian cultural texts and philosophical systems, the underlying principle remains consistent: our actions have consequences. Karma urges individuals to be mindful of their intentions, choices, and deeds, for they shape the trajectory of their lives and influence their spiritual evolution.

So, as you navigate the tapestry of existence, remember the profound interplay of cause and effect, and let the awareness of Karma guide you toward actions that bring harmony, growth, and liberation.

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Source – Karma symbols such as the endless knot (above) are common cultural motifs in Asia. Endless knots symbolize interlinking of cause and effect, a karmic cycle that continues eternally.

Now as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be;
a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;

And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.

— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th century BCE[19][note 1]

Karma – simplified

Imagine Karma as the gentle breeze that carries the echoes of your actions throughout the vast landscape of existence. It’s like a cosmic boomerang that reminds us that every action, intention, and thought we put forth has consequences.

Just as you sow seeds in a garden, Karma suggests that the seeds of our actions bear fruit in due time. Whether those actions are loving, generous, or harmful, they ripple through our lives and shape our future experiences. It’s like writing the script of our own lives, with each word and deed adding to the narrative.

Karma teaches us that we’re not mere spectators but active participants in the grand dance of cause and effect. Our choices and intentions carry weight, influencing not only our present circumstances but also the trajectory of our future. It’s a reminder that we have the power to shape our destinies through conscious action.

This knowledge of Karma encourages us to be mindful of our thoughts, words, and deeds, urging us to cultivate kindness, compassion, and positive intentions. By doing so, we create a harmonious symphony that reverberates through our lives, bringing joy, fulfillment, and even favorable circumstances.

On the other hand, Karma also serves as a gentle nudge to steer us away from harmful actions. It reminds us that the negativity we project into the world will find its way back to us, like a boomerang returning to its thrower. It’s a call to reflect on our choices, redirect our intentions, and strive for growth and understanding.

As we traverse through life, let us be mindful of the seeds we plant. Let our actions be driven by love, compassion, and integrity, knowing that the energy we put out into the world will find its way back to us. When we consider the power of Karma, and let it guide us on a path of conscious living and positive transformation.

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Karma – follows us past this life?

The echoes of our Karma do follow us beyond our current life. The concept of Karma suggests that the consequences of our actions transcend the boundaries of a single lifetime.

Imagine Karma as a river that flows through time, carrying the imprints of our thoughts, intentions, and deeds. It connects the dots between our past, present, and future existences, weaving them into a tapestry of cause and effect.

According to the belief in Karma, the quality of our actions leaves an indelible mark on our souls, shaping the circumstances and experiences of our future lives. The seeds we sow in one lifetime bear fruit in subsequent lifetimes, like a continuous cycle of cause and effect.

If we have engaged in virtuous and compassionate actions, these positive energies ripple through the fabric of our being, influencing the direction and quality of our future experiences. Similarly, if our actions have been unkind or harmful, the repercussions of those actions may manifest as challenges or difficulties in our subsequent lives.

However, it’s important to note that the concept of Karma is not deterministic or fatalistic. While our past actions influence our future, we also possess the power to shape our present and future through our current choices and intentions. Karma invites us to embrace personal responsibility and strive for positive change, knowing that our actions in this very moment can shape the trajectory of our journey.

So, as we traverse the river of existence, may we navigate it with awareness and compassion. Let us be mindful of the ripples we create through our actions, recognizing that the consequences of our choices extend beyond the confines of a single lifetime.

May this knowledge of Karma guide us towards a life filled with love, wisdom, and the liberation of our souls from the cycle of rebirth and transmigration.

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Top Image: Photo by Heiko May on Unsplash

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