Saturday, December 15, 2012

Karma - A Natural Law

Buddha reinterpreted the theory of karma
The kids on my soccer team have asked me if I believe in karma. They always use the word as a synonym for luck. They think good karma means good luck. Sometimes after a loss they blame it on "bad karma" and resign themselves to the belief that karma is something beyond their control. They believe the outcome of their game had already been determined. A fatalistic point of view that couldn't be farther from the truth. The Buddhist states that the present is influenced by the past and the future will be based on choices you make now. Your choices are made of your own volition, so you control your own destiny. You have free will.

The theory of karma originated in ancient India and is central to Hinduism. Buddha later reinterpreted and explained the doctrine. He taught that karma is a complex, non-linear, unseen natural law that flows freely through the universe. The Buddhist version was exported to the United States where its true meaning has been lost in translation. Karma is the force that initiates the cosmic principle of cause and effect. Buddhists imply that there is no such thing as good or bad karma, there is just karma.

In its original sanskrit form, karma means action or deed. Buddha also translated it as intention. Many of the Eastern religions believe that a person's thoughts, words and physical actions, whether good or bad, will have consequences, good or bad, for that person. A Western interpretation for this thought process would be "What goes around, comes around." As a Christian, we are taught God's justice from Galatians 6:7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." In the cycle of action and consequences, karma refers to the action part only. The consequences or reactions are known as vipaka.

Karma works in very mysterious ways. One aspect of causality I find interesting is the payback. You may receive results that are impossible to trace back to their original actions because it doesn't always happen instantly. It could take days, months or years and if you believe in reincarnation it could take several lifetimes. It all seems fairly logical. If you give kindness, compassion and generosity, you will receive peace and happiness in return. Anger, cruelty and greed will be met with suffering and misery. It's such a simple concept but often difficult to put into practice.
Karma comes from ancient India

Free Will is symbolized by flowing water

Karma is a complex, natural law

Kindness, compassion and generosity brings happiness

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post. It does get bandied about a lot these days. I didn't know that there was a separate term for the consequences of actions - vipaka. I believe in actions and consequences, although not necessarily karma in the strict sense. More like the idea you mention later, in which one doesn't know what good one does comes back later, or when.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Courtney

      It's a complex, mysterious force. I believe in cause and effect, it just seems to make sense. A little bit of order in all the chaos.

      Delete