karma

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karma

or

karman

(kär`mə, kär`mən), [Skt.,=action, work, or ritual], basic concept common to HinduismHinduism
, Western term for the religious beliefs and practices of the vast majority of the people of India. One of the oldest living religions in the world, Hinduism is unique among the world religions in that it had no single founder but grew over a period of 4,000 years in
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, BuddhismBuddhism
, religion and philosophy founded in India c.525 B.C. by Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha. There are over 300 million Buddhists worldwide. One of the great world religions, it is divided into two main schools: the Theravada or Hinayana in Sri Lanka and SE Asia, and
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, and JainismJainism
[i.e., the religion of Jina], religious system of India practiced by about 5,000,000 persons. Jainism, Ajivika, and Buddhism arose in the 6th cent. B.C. as protests against the overdeveloped ritualism of Hinduism, particularly its sacrificial cults, and the authority of
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. The doctrine of karma states that one's state in this life is a result of actions (both physical and mental) in past incarnations, and action in this life can determine one's destiny in future incarnations. Karma is a natural, impersonal law of moral cause and effect and has no connection with the idea of a supreme power that decrees punishment or forgiveness of sins. Karmic law is universally applicable, and only those who have attained liberation from rebirth, called mukti (or moksha) or nirvananirvana
, in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, a state of supreme liberation and bliss, contrasted to samsara or bondage in the repeating cycle of death and rebirth.
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, can transcend it. Karma yoga (see yogayoga
[Skt.,=union], general term for spiritual disciplines in Hinduism, Buddhism, and throughout S Asia that are directed toward attaining higher consciousness and liberation from ignorance, suffering, and rebirth.
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), the spiritual discipline of detachment from the results of action, is a famous teaching of the Bhagavad-GitaBhagavad-Gita
[Skt.,=song of the Lord], Sanskrit poem incorporated into the Mahabharata, one of the greatest religious classics of Hinduism. The Gita (as it is often called) consists of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna on the eve of the great battle of
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.

karma

See CASTE.

Karma

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In both Hinduism and Buddhism, every action has consequences. When a pebble falls into a pool, it produces rings that spread throughout the whole pool. A butterfly fluttering its wings can produce a typhoon, under the right conditions.

In the same way, our actions cause cosmic vibrations that affect not only this life but our lives to come. What we do not learn in this life must be learned in the next. Harm we cause in this life will come back to us in the next. The universe is relentless. It will not let us get away with anything.

At the same time, good things we do affect future lives as well. It is said that when the Buddha had his great moment of insight, he saw how all his past lives had prepared him for that moment. He understood how they were connected. All at once, he understood the great force of karma at work, propelling him to come to understand the Middle Way of the Four Noble Truths (see Buddhism). With this realization, karma had done its work. He was now complete.

And that, according to the teachings, is what karma does. It makes us complete, driving us forever, if need be, until we come to understand what we are. And with that understanding, we also come to know who we are. In this grand scheme of things, it is not that we wrestle with God. It is that God wrestles with us and says, in reverse of the words of Genesis 32, "I will not let you go until I bless you!"

Karma

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The word means "action" but, according to the doctrine of Brahmanism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, amounts to "as you sow, so shall you reap." It is related to the concept of reincarnation, wherein everyone passes through a number of lives and in each life atones for the errors of the previous one. What actually occurs after death varies a little with different theologians. According to Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, a system of rewards and punishments starts immediately following death. Those who have led an exemplary life will enjoy a brief period of joy in paradise. Those who have been wicked will suffer any one of a number of hells of varying torment, depending upon the transgressions. But these serve only as reminders of what has been done and foretastes of what is to come. Eventually all are reborn and again either rewarded or punished in the new life, depending upon what they had done in their previous lives. They experience a succession of lives until the slate has been wiped clean.

The concept of karma in Witchcraft is somewhat different. There is a belief in the "Threefold Law," the law of threefold return. Do good, and good will be returned, either three times or at three times the intensity. Do evil, and that too will return threefold. But these returns will be within the current lifetime. There is no "putting off" one's rewards or punishments; they come about in this life. Obviously, with this belief, there is no inducement to do evil. It is, therefore, a corollary of the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." By consciously harming none as you live your life, you will not invoke any negative threefold return upon yourself.

In the Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, the point of reincarnation is to return, in other incarnations, in order to expiate one's transgressions. When the slate has been totally wiped clean, there will be no further incarnations. In Witchcraft, however, the purpose of reincarnation is different. It is for experience. One goes through a number of lives on this earth in order to learn and to experience all things. Only when everything has been learned and experienced will the cycle cease. But each individual life is not dependent upon the previous life, as it is in the Hindu and Buddhist doctrines. (See also Reincarnation.)

Karma

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Adoctrine found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Brahmanism, and Theosophy, and also in many neo-pagan religions. The word karma comes from a Sanskrit root and means “action,” and is the law of cosmic requital for one’s good and bad deeds. Karma represents the sum total of the causes set in motion in past lives, which make a pattern for present and future lives. Every person born, therefore, carries the seeds of what he or she was formerly. If a soul brings with it into life an accumulation of bad karma from a previous life, it will have to spend that new life expiating it in order to advance in the growth process. This belief accounts for the apparent injustices and inequalities of life, and explains differences of personalities, circumstances, intelligence, and special gifts. It can also be an incentive to live life as worthily as possible so as to avoid negative karma in the next life.

The Hindu often believe that bad karma will bring punishment in the form of having to live the next life as a lower caste person or even a despised animal, while good karma will ensure the next life as a Brahmin or a sacred cow. In some branches of Wicca, there is a variation on such karma belief. It is felt that everything must be experienced over a number of lives. Although there will be both “good” and “bad” incarnations, one is not dependent upon another. So a life of crime, for example, will not mean that the next life must be spent atoning for that. Yet at some time, in some future life, there will be the opposite experience as the victim of crimes.

Where there is no belief in reincarnation, there can still be a belief in karma. Without reincarnation, the quality of the life lived dictates any rewards and punishments in the afterlife—whatever its form. This follows the Spiritualist law of cause and effect and the Greek concept of heimarmene or destiny.

Sources:

Bletzer, June G.: The Encyclopedia Psychic Dictionary. Lithia Springs: New Leaf, 1998
Holroyd, Stuart: The Supernatural: Psychic Voyages. London: Aldus, 1976
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975
Walker, Benjamin: Man, Myth & Magic: Karma. London: BPC Publishing, 1970

Karma

 

one of the central concepts of Indian philosophy, supplementing the doctrine of reincarnation.

The concept of karma already existed when the Vedas were being written and subsequently was incorporated into nearly all the Indian religious and philosophical systems; it is an essential part of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. In a broad sense, karma is the total sum of the actions performed by any living creature and the consequences of these actions, which together determine the character of the creature’s new birth, that is, his later existence. In the narrow sense, karma generally refers to the influence of the accomplished actions on the character of the creature’s present and subsequent existence. In both cases, karma appears as an invisible force: the general principle of its operation is held to be clear but its internal mechanism remains perfectly concealed. Karma not only determines the favorable or unfavorable conditions of existence (health or illness, wealth or poverty, happiness or unhappiness) and the sex, length of life, and social status of the individual but also the ultimate progress or regression in relation to the main goal of man: freedom from the ties of “profane” existence and subordination to the law of cause and effect. Karma differs from the concept of fate in its ethical coloring, since the determination of present and future existence has the character of retribution or recompense for accomplished acts and is not under the influence of inevitable divine or cosmic forces.

REFERENCES

Radhakrishnan, S. Indiiskaia filosofiia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from English.)
Rutter, O. The Scales of Karma. London, 1940.
Humphreys, S. Karma and Rebirth. London, 1943.

V. P. LUCHINA

karma

one’s every action brings inevitable results. [Buddhist and Hindu Trad.: EB (1963), 13: 283; Pop. Culture: Misc.]
See: Fate

karma

1. Hinduism Buddhism the principle of retributive justice determining a person's state of life and the state of his reincarnations as the effect of his past deeds
2. Theosophy the doctrine of inevitable consequence