Karma, What is Karma, Karma Facts, Karma Meaning, Karma History


In Hinduism and Buddhism, Karma is the sum of all one has done; it determines individual's status in this life and in the life to come.

What is Karma?

The word karma itself comes from the Sanskrit language, and is often translated as an act of volition, an effect, destiny or an action. It is important to understand that karma is the action itself, not necessarily the good or bad results of that action. Some Eastern religions call these inevitable reactions vipaka. Karma and vipaka are considered to be the basis for a cosmic law of cause and effect, although many Westerners use the word karma by itself to suggest causality.

The concept of karma is central to both Buddhism and Hinduism, since both religions believe in reincarnation as a means of spiritual renewal. In the purest sense, karma is any action willfully performed by a person who understands the goodness or evilness of that act. Karma is essentially the stone that causes future ripples in a soul's lifestream. The fruits of that karma may be seen right away, or they may takes several reincarnation cycles to manifest themselves.

The idea that the effects of karma may not be experienced in one's current lifetime is one incentive for believers to consider each of their actions carefully. The accumulation of bad karma over several lifetimes can cause a person to experience a lifetime of misery and sacrifice. In some Eastern belief structures, karma can affect the actual form a reincarnate soul will take. Those with an abundance of good karma may return as higher forms of life, while those who have accumulated bad karma may become creatures of a lower form.

In the Western sense of karma, many people tend to view it as a cosmic version of "what goes around, comes around" or "you reap what you sow". In one sense, karma does indeed address the idea of causality, or the principle of action and reaction. If someone chooses to commit a criminal act, for example, he or she should be aware that there will be a cosmic price to pay for their action. Consequently, if someone chooses to perform an act of charity, the concept of universal karma dictates his or her selfless action will eventually be rewarded.

Karma is not necessarily experienced in an overt way. One cannot simply perform a good act with the express hope of receiving karmic payback instantaneously. As with the Western belief in God's benevolence towards mankind, karma also works in mysterious ways. A lifetime of performing good works often results in a sense of satisfaction during one's old age, which is essentially the message inherent in a belief in karma.

What does the Bible say about Karma?

Karma is a theological concept found in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. It is the idea that how you live your life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation. If you are unselfish, kind, and holy during this lifetime, you will be rewarded by being reincarnated (reborn into a new earthly body) into a pleasant life. However, if you live a life of selfishness and evil, you will be reincarnated into a less-than-pleasant lifestyle. In other words, you reap in the next life what you sow in this one. Karma is based on the theological belief in reincarnation. The Bible rejects the idea of reincarnation; therefore, it does not support the idea of karma.

Hebrews 9:27 states, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…" This Bible verse makes clear two important points which, for Christians, negate the possibility of reincarnation and karma. First, it states that we are "destined to die once," meaning that humans are only born once and only die once. There is no endless cycle of life and death and rebirth, an idea inherent in the reincarnation theory. Second, it states that after death we face judgment, meaning that there is no second chance, like there is in reincarnation and karma, to live a better life. You get one shot at life and living it according to God's plan, and that is it.

The Bible talks a lot about reaping and sowing. Job 4:8 says, "As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it." Psalm 126:5 says, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Luke 12:24 says, "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" In each of these instances, as well as all the other references to reaping and sowing, the act of receiving the rewards of your actions takes place in this life, not in some future life. It is a present-day activity, and the references make it clear that the fruit you reap will be commensurate with the actions you have performed. In addition, the sowing you perform in this life will affect your reward or punishment in the afterlife.

This afterlife is not a rebirth or a reincarnation into another body here on earth. It is either eternal suffering in hell (Matthew 25:46) or eternal life in heaven with Jesus, who died so that we might live eternally with Him. This should be the focus of our life on earth. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:8-9, "The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will also reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Finally, we must always remember that it was Jesus whose death on the cross resulted in the reaping of eternal life for us, and that it is faith in Jesus that gives us this eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Not of works, as of our own growth, or from ourselves: but as from the grace of God. Therefore, we see that the concept of reincarnation and karma is incompatible with what the Bible teaches about life, death, and the sowing and reaping of eternal life.

Some Major Problems With Karma

Concerning karma, the concept doesn't make sense because if for people to "get back what they put out" or as said, to have negative or positive consequences for a financial act, and for everything they do, karma would have to be alive and have a mind and be intelligent and know right from wrong, and have the desire to judge and punish or reward or give consequences. Even if karma were not that specific, it would still have to have intelligence in order to do such things. How can a non-living thing, like a rock, tell the difference between a good or bad act, or good or bad speech? Further, it would have to coordinate all of the "positive or negative" things it did to people so that each one got what it deserved, otherwise it would be chaotic and nonsensical. On top of that, karma would also have to deal with giving positive or negative things to non-human things, even aliens if they existed (what most people today believe to be aliens, are in fact demons). How could a non-living thing, unless it was programmed with future events, know how to respond in every situation? And how is it able to manipulate every single thing in such a way that everyone "gets what they deserve" or "gets What they put out"? It would have to be a computer far more advanced that we can comprehend, and the one who programmed it even more advanced since it would have to know how to program such complex tasks and would have to have the power to give the computer such power to manipulate the countless things in this universe so that everything came out as the programmer wanted it to. Karma then wouldn't be karma as Buddhists, Hindus or New Agers claim it is, but a tool of a being who would be best described as God, and who has destined all things already since this karma machine would always achieve its goals. And no Buddhist, Hindu or New Ager has ever even hinted that karma fails. And even if it didn't always work out, what would their point be? It would be self-defeating to argue that since they would be admitting that karma isn't just, but unfair, and it wouldn't explain how karma knows what to do to a person for their actions, how it knows a good thing from an evil thing.

Another problem with karma is that it justifies any evil act committed against another person, because according to the doctrine on karma, whatever bad thing happens to you, you deserve. So if a baby or little kid or anyone is abused in some way, sexually or not, or murdered, it was because they deserved it. Is that true? According to the Bible even a person who is suffering or who is in need or handicapped, isn't always suffering or in need or handicapped because God is punishing them, but sometimes to test them (as evidence for or against something, like if they are patient or impatient, good or bad), or to show his love through them, like when Jesus healed various people who were handicapped.

What good comes out of a drive-by killing, someone might ask, or the death of a teenager through overdose, or a daughter's rape, or child abuse? The answer is that a commensurate good doesn't always come perceptibly out of those individual situations, though God is certainly capable of redeeming any tragedy. Rather, the greater good results from having a world in which there is moral freedom, and moral freedom makes moral tragedies like these possible. This observation reveals an interesting twist in this problem. If morality freely chosen can only happen in a world where evil is possible, then heaven will be a place where there will be no moral growth, where moral choices will not be possible because all the inhabitants of heaven will be immutably good. Growth of the soul is only possible and available to inhabitants of a fallen world. Two Scriptural observations lend credibility to this view. First, in recounting the great heroes of faith, the writer of Hebrews mentions that some were rescued by faith, but others endured by faith "...in order that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Heb. 11:35) Second, St. Paul tells St. Timothy that "...godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Tim. 4:8) Both of these verses indicate that conditions in this life affect conditions in the next. Bearing up under evil in this life improves our resurrection in the next. Godliness in this life brings profit in the next. These benefits are not available after this life or there would be little urgency to grow now; all eternity would be left in which to catch up. A deeper, more profound good results when virtue is won by free, moral souls struggling with evil, rather than simply granted to them as an element of their constitution. There's a sound reason why God has allowed man the freedom to choose evil. It doesn't conflict with His goodness. God is neither the author of evil, nor its helpless victim. Rather, precisely because of His goodness He chooses to co-exist with evil for a time, that His goodness may be all the more manifest in those who overcome it by freely choosing to do good and avoid evil. Romans 8:28: "And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints."

Another problem with karma is that it justifies (according to the doctrine or personal belief of many who believe in karma) someone giving things to the rich who don't need what they give them and which rich people have no intention of giving what they received from that person to the poor, little or anything of the things they already have, even things they most likely don't or won't need in the future. And the personal beliefs of many who believe in karma, even justify giving such things to the rich even if those rich people are stingy and hoard their wealth. But according to the doctrine or personal belief of others, those things, including gifts, should be given to the poor who need them, even the sinners, but especially to ones who are righteous or good, and to such poor who even share with others who are poor. So who does karma consider to be in the right? And according to the simplistic doctrine that most have on karma, if an evil person who mostly does evil, but to whom mostly good is done, deserves that goodness. So for example, when Hitler was murdering the Jews and was having good things done to him and when many were doing almost whatever he asked them to do, it was because he deserved it. Or if someone was hoarding their wealth all throughout their life and using it for little good or only using it to make a profit and doing it oppressively in general (there have been many people like that all throughout history), and those people had many good things done to them, more than the evil things, it was because they deserved it.

Another problem with karma, is how to know how to comply with it so that what you want to happen to you, happens, but the problem is, how can I know what it considers good or evil being that it doesn't show it in any way and can't be found or accessed? Does it consider it a good thing to kill a person who is deserving of death according to the Divine law? Does it consider it an evil eating certain food in front of another person considers immoral to eat? Does it consider saying, "Allah doesn't exist", "Buddha doesn't exist", or "Moses didn't exist" evil things to say? Does it consider that one person's conscience isn't the same as someone else's, and that some people have no conscience? Does it consider any lying to be evil, even when one commits a lie that doesn't seem to harm anyone but instead saves a life or lives, or does it consider it to be less evil and forgivable? Does it consider stealing a weapon or what someone intends to use as a weapon to commit murder a good thing or a bad thing? and does it consider it as stealing at all? Where is the rule book or commandments of karma? Some might argue that karma judges you by your own standard, but if that is true, and my standard is to do whatever I feel like: steal, lie, commit adultery, hate people for no good reason (hate the evil deeds of the person, not hating the person himself; we must wish all persons good and wish that they may be converted), dishonor my parents even when they do good to me, abuse animals, endanger the lives of others, including by polluting in such a way that it is a certain danger to others, or murdering people whenever I feel like it, and I do those things, then shouldn't karma "reward" me? Some might argue that no one is like that, but that isn't the point, the point is that that can be a standard, and besides that, there are people like that, and hundreds of millions of people have died because of people who made it their standard, at least for a moment, to speak and act in those wrong ways.

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