Karma is more complex than the idea that if we do something good then good things will happen to us and that when we do something bad then bad things will happen to us. Intention is the key to understanding how it works. Simply stated, Karma is action, work, or deed. It is the spiritual principle belief of cause and effect where intent and actions of a person cause or influence the future of an individual. Good deeds and intent mean good karma, which means future happiness. Bad intentions or deeds result in bad karma and future suffering.While not a core component of the Astrological system, Karma fits into the whole belief system of being who you were destined to be and making the right decisions based on your surroundings.

Karma Overview

There are multiple definitions based on beliefs. The meaning, scope, and importance all vary based on religious. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism are some of the main religions that belief in karma.

Through the variances there are three common themes of karma within religions. These are: causality, ethicization, rebirth.

This first theory of causality means executed actions of individual affects the individual and their life. Intentions will affect them and how they live. In this theory, disinterested actions, or unintentional actions, do not have the same positive/negative effect. It is all based on material, moral, or emotional actions. Like deeds create like effects, though not always immediate. With causality, the consequences and effects can be felt in two different ways. There is phalas, or the fruit/result of the actions. This is visible or invisible, but felt immediately in the current life. Samskaras are the invisible effects that are internal and affect the person to where they are happy or unhappy in this life and the future.

Karma seeds habits, habits create nature of man. Karm seeds self perception, perception influences how a person experiences life events. Habits and self perception affect the course of ones life. It is not easy to break bad habits, this requires conscious karmic effort. The psyche and habits link karma to causality. The character of a person is the assessment that is determined by habitual thinking and acting.

The second theory is ethicization. Every action has a consequence that comes to fruition at some point. There is no reward or punishment but a law of consequence. It is ethical because your intentions, attitudes and desires count if the outcome was intended. This means there is less moral responsibility. Karma considers actions and intent, not just causal. This encourages seeking and living moral lives. It is the building block of theory.

The third theory is that of rebirth. Samsara is going through the cycle of reincarnation. There are series of births and rebirths. They can be in different realms, conditions, or forms. It is dependent on the quality and quantity of the karma. Every living being’s soul transmigrates after death with seeds of life just completed. This continues indefinitely, except when consciously reach the moksa (the realm of Gods).

In Indian religions, the belief is that it affects the next lives or future lives. Its an executed act of activity. The present circumstances are explained by actions in the past.

Buddhism

KarmaKarma is a Buddhist principle spoken about by Buddha in which he made it plain that it was not just our actions that mattered, but the reasoning behind those actions as well. Simply put, intention is Karma. It is moral causation, which is the fundamental doctrine of Buddhism. It is the way to explain the inequality of mankind. Buddhists believe that nothing happens that is not deserved. That being said, it is not always due to the present life, but the past.

Inequality can be hereditary, partially due to nature versus nurture. It can also be due to past actions and present doings. We are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We are born with our hereditary characteristics and then possess certain innate abilities without scientific explanation.

Our accumulated karmic tendencies from other lives can be more powerful than anything hereditary. As Buddha states “we are heirs of our own actions.” It is not a fatalistic doctrine and it is not saying that everything is pre-determined.

There are 5 orders or processes that operate in our physical and mental realms.

  1. Utu: order of the inorganic seasons (physical, wind and rain)
  2. Bija: order of germs and seeds (scientific theory)
  3. Kamma: order of act and result (innate sequence)
  4. Dhamma: order of norm (natural phenomena occurring at advent of Bodhisattva)
  5. Citta: order of mind or psychic law (process of consciousness)

Buddha identified six intentions that are often our motivators for what we do:

    1. good-will or kindness
    2. compassion
    3. generosity
    4. anger
    5. cruelty
    6. greed

Intentional acts keep us tied to rebirth. A deed done deliberately through body, speech, or mind leads to future consequences. This is a fluid and flexible process. It is not a linear relationship from action to consequence. It is not just based on deed, but considers a person’s nature and the circumstances.

Kamphala is the outcome of the natural process of cause and effect.

There are seven tattvas or truths that constitute reality. They are:

  1. Jiva: The soul which is characterized by consciousness.
  2. Ajiva: The non soul.
  3. Asrava: In flow of auspicious and evil karmic matter into the soul.
  4. Bandha: Mutual intermingling of souls and karmas.
  5. Samvara: Obstruction of in flow of karmic matter into the soul.
  6. Nirjara: separation or falling off of part of karmic matter from the soul.
  7. Moksha: the complete annihilation of all karmic matter (bound with any particular soul).

Karma is a self sustaining mechanism that is the natural universal law. The soul attracts karmic matter even with thoughts, not just actions. You need three jewels: samyak darsana (Right Faith), samyak jnana (Right Knowledge), and Samyak chartra (Right Conduct).

Hinduism

With Hinduism, intent and action both have consequences. Karma lingers but never disappears. All positive and negative experiences in life require effort and intent. There are many schools of thought but in Hinduism it is believed it is a force generated by person’s actions. There are ethical consequences and nothing happens for no reason. We are responsible for our own happiness.

Jainism

In this religion, Karma has a totally different meaning. It is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body from soul (pure consciousness). Karmic dirt is the subtle particles of matter that pervade the universe. They are attracted to the karmic field of soul due to vibrations created by activities of mind, speech, and body as well as mental dispositions. It is subtle matter surrounding the soul. When consciousness and karma interact you experience life at present.