What Is Karma?
We often talk about something being good or bad karma in today’s world. But what do we mean by this? If we look into the traditional meaning of Karma it stems back to the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems. It is much more complex, involving the intent of a person when doing a deed and the sum of all their deeds in a former life.
Before considering what is meant by the term Karma, it is important to note that these days the term is often misused. Often people can be heard saying that if someone does something bad or good, Karma will come back to them. This is kind of simplifying and misrepresenting the true meaning of karma.
People often simplify the concept of karma by simply stating “What goes around comes around”. However, in the original meaning of Karma, the continued flow of a soul from one body to another refers to reincarnation. This means that an object or person has some sort of soul from a former, past life.
Perhaps the person did good deeds then or bad deeds, they have done good or bad deeds out of ignorance or knowing what they were doing, and this affects the Karma outcome in the next life.
Let’s explore further what is meant by all of this.
Often nowadays we talk about the immediate link between good or bad deeds and karma (good luck or good events or bad luck or bad events) that occur in the near or distant future.
Traditional Karma as mentioned earlier not only refers back to deeds in past life. This is especially the case with the Hindu and Buddhist religions, both of which believe in reincarnation and Karma flowing into the next life.
All of this is associated with every living person and animal having a soul which in some religions is believed to pass between one life and the next (Reincarnation).
In addition to this, Karma refers to the intent a person has when they act, not just the action itself. This has many implications and outcomes since a person may appear to do a good deed that would surely bring good Karma but in their heart and mind may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
This would not necessarily result in good Karma later in this life or the next. In a way, this is similar to the Christian belief that the committing of sin occurs in the heart and mind, not just in the carrying out of the act. Going back to the widely used concept of karma, what else is different from the original understanding of it?
Well, traditionally it was also associated with the belief that when someone died they were re-birthed or reincarnated as either another person or as an animal. Certain animals indicate a person had done certain things in a past life. For example, someone who came back as a pig, ass (donkey) or a goat has slain innocent religious people. This would be a depiction of bad Karma.
So now reaffirming what bad Karma is. It is essentially bad luck or bad events coming back to a person in this life or the next. They may have either committed bad deeds or committed good deeds with the wrong intent. Of course, no one but themselves, their soul, and God can know what intent they have had in carrying out certain actions.
Summing up, you can see that it is a bit more complex than just good or bad things coming back to you. It involves two religions, beliefs in the afterlife and in reincarnation where a person comes back as either another person or a non-human (an animal).
In some ways while we may often be able to pinpoint when something will bring good or bad Karma in this life, if we believe in the afterlife, when it comes to reincarnation it is the sum of all our life activities, a much more complex equation!