Does karma really exist?

By Ashok Malhotra

The principle of Karma is a central part of spiritual philosophies. Karma is a Sanskrit word used in eastern philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism. In Islam and Christianity different words are used to describe the same principle.

Basically the principle of Karma implies that everything we do, good or bad is recorded by the Universal Intelligence and causes a reaction similar to our deed. It is the principle of retribution. As you sow so shall you reap! The main difference between Christianity and Eastern religion as regards this principle is that in prevalent mainstream Christianity the actions and reactions take place over two lives (this one and the next) whereas in eastern philosophy it is something that can be executed over several life times with a soul taking birth repeatedly.

The principle of Karma is applicable even if one does not believe in more than just one life. i.e. this one. All it means then is that it would be executed within this life because as such the principle of Karma has nothing to do with the number of lives a person believes in.

The principle of Karma extends not only to our actions but also our thoughts. According to this principle nothing escapes the attention of the Universal eye. Everything is recorded and taken into account. Any person who believes in doing good should have no difficulty in accepting this principle. All it means is that his or her good deeds will be rewarded. The evildoer who is afraid of the result of his evil would like to deny it vehemently. However he too need not be afraid of this principle because within the principle of Karma are means to wash of that evil.

For those who believe in this principle, its proper understanding can lead to minimizing effort in whatever it is that we have to do with excellent time management.

We are born from a portion of this Universe and are therefore the children of the Universe. A loving parent punishes or rewards a child from time to time in order that the child will develop into a better individual and punishment is never so damaging that it causes permanent scars. The goal is progress. The role of karmic principle is precisely that- To nudge us towards progress into compassion and love.

A way to teach a person a lesson in compassion is to make the person see the other side. Thus a child who hurts others by throwing things may be taught not to do that through explanation. If an explanation does not suffice, he may have to be hurt in a similar way. The principle of Karma works something like that. If we can learn our lessons into compassion in a gentle manner then Nature will teach us that way, but if a harder way of inculcating that learning is required then Nature will do that too. What better way to feel the pain of a poor person, but suffering through an episode of poverty and what better way to feel the headache of another than by suffering a headache oneself. Yet if one is compassionate enough to feel the pain of another without personally undergoing a similar pain then it is not quite necessary to undergo a similar pain. One may like to argue that we are not children anymore, but that argument is meaningless when we stand in front of the vast Infinite Intelligence of the universe.

If we have hurt someone and we repent, then it means that it may not be necessary for us to undergo a similar suffering in order not to cause a similar intentional suffering again and we may then be excused a similar reaction. This and other ways that undesirable Karma can be dissolved shall be discussed again in a later post on karma.

Karma arises from an exercise of our free wills but let us leave that aspect for the third post on Karma. At this stage it is essential to emphasize that the essence of the Karmic principle is love in a Universe where life thrives on the principle of love.

The source of our Karma is Free Will. All life forms possess it. It is the distinguishing feature of life much more so than ability to reproduce etc. as defined by scientists because after all a sterile person is a life form too. Whenever we exercise our free wills and make a choice or carry out on action based on that choice, it will influence some other life form or some other part of the Universe and most importantly our own soul and it may therefore generate Karma.

I used the word “may” in the last paragraph because karma may not be generated at all. The Universe as a whole has a Will also, but the Universe does not accumulate karma in the exercise of that free will, because it does not influence anyone but itself. We are all parts of the Universe. We may not realize that fully but the universe is never in doubt of that.

It is possible to align one’s free will with that of the Universe in a spirit of service and when we carry out actions based on that we may not accumulate any Karma. The mighty angelic spirits of the Universe do that most times. Therefore, they do not accumulate Karma most times-either good or bad. Good Karma is a reward but it has its limitations. It lasts for a limited duration. When that good karma is exhausted one is at a loss and back to square one. The angels don’t need that. Their needs are met directly by the Universe since they spend their time in sharing the work of the Universal Consciousness. Different Humans do that to different degrees and to that extent do the work of the angels, (gods, devas and the evolved compassionate spirits included) and to that extent the Universe meets their needs directly.

This work of the Universe is different from service for nature and humanity merely in order to be good ant not out of compassion, because service is a good deed and generates good karma. The universe does all kinds of things, some that are regarded as bad by beings affected adversely by it such as earthquakes and hurricanes besides sunshine and the music of the birds. How are we to know what the will of the Universe is? That is an altogether different matter and needs a separate discussion some other time.

There are other ways in which significant Karma may not be generated, because the accumulation of Karma depends on the associated intentions, motivations and emotions rather than the action itself. Thus, if you stepped over an insect and killed it unknowingly yesterday while out on a walk, no bad karma is generated for you personally. However if you killed one slowly and derived gleeful pleasure as you watched it writhe in pain, then a similar karma may await you some day. A military man who kills hundreds of enemies in a war on instructions from his superiors for the protection of his country generates no significant bad Karma whereas another who kills a single person out of anger or for gain accumulates bad karma that invites a similar fate for him sometime in the future. It appears that it is not just the action but its impact on our inner self or souls that decides karma. Thus an action committed at the level of thought that impacts deeply on our soul will generate karma whereas another action actually committed unknowingly will produce none.

The universal eye however misses nothing and our record of deeds is written on our souls and the firmament of the Universe. Based on that the Universe will draw out an individual lesson plan for our education, that education is the unfolding of our individual Karma. We could by pass some of that unfolding through self-study such as (meditation, reflection, prayer or service) or by earning extra credits by doing things life forgiving others who have wronged us. Then as a result some of our similar Karma would be forgiven too. However all such karma that needs action by Nature for the evolution of our soul towards knowledge and compassion will be dealt with by nature. In this karmic education there is no canceling of good and bad karma. The result of both have to be experienced separately. One cannot pass the Language exam by getting extra points in Mathematics.

As we go about conducting the business of living, we often make plans and put in the required effort to execute those plans. Simultaneously something else happens around us-Nature goes about unfolding events throughout our lives-a timing known to Nature alone. We thus face the results of two types of actions, first our own and secondly those of others and the world around i.e. Nature. This second set of actions may be regarded as our karma executed for us by Nature through various means including the people we interact with and occurrences around us.

Karmic results require no special effort on our part in order to unfold. Thus, whereas it usually takes a lot of effort to get a home built and many make that effort, it takes little effort to accept another as a part of an inheritance. The first home comes primarily as a result of our efforts whereas the second comes mostly from our karma-which too is a result of our own deeds, an indirect one though, that was noted by nature on some past occasion and the resulting karma then allocated, if one subscribes to the karma theory.

Most simply viewed unfolding karma is the influence on us of the efforts and actions of others and the world around us as distinct from our own personal efforts and actions. The net result is due the combined affect of these two types of actions. The outside influences are not from random causes in an intelligent Universe but rather by design for those who believe in an intelligent and interacting Universe.

We can move with the flow, making little effort, and watch our karma as it unfolds. However that might include unfortunate encounters. With a little effort to resist we could avert the harm in some cases. Of the innumerable sorts of karma that lie in store for us, each has a certain weight or significant. Those that affect others and us only slightly for brief periods of time are the less significant and lighter ones. Others that affect a large number of persons or affect us for long periods of our life are heavier ones. It takes little effort on our part to change the results of the lighter karma but the heavier karma requires an immense effort to change. It may be beyond our capacity to change and one may wish to decide in each situation if the effort is worth it. A belief in the principles of Karma may make us accept with greater fortitude unfortunate events of our life over which we had no power of change.

If it is Karmically destined that we should have a meal of rice for dinner today, then that is a light karma

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