The Concept of Karma in Buddhism

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Buddhism is a philosophy and religion composed of practical teachings, such as meditation for example, which aims to induce a transformation within the practitioner. It promotes the development of wisdom, consciousness, and goodness to reach a state of enlightenment. We have learned in class that Karma is caused by intentional actions perform by individuals not accidental actions. In Karma existence is approached as a permanent state of change. The condition for benefiting from that change is to develop discipline over our mind. It must focus on positive states, concentration, and calm. The objective of discipline is to deepen the emotionseassociated with understanding, happiness, and love. Additionally, for Buddhism, all spiritual development is materialized and complemented by areas such as social work, ethics, and philosophy. The word Karma meanseaction and consists of a type of force that transcends. This type of energy is infinite and invisible and is a direct consequence of theeactions of the human being. Karma is governed by twelve laws. Each of them allows us to understand the spiritual meaning of existence. In Buddhism there is no controllingegod, these lawsecome from nature and people have free will to apply them or not. Therefore, doing good or evil depends on each one of us and on that decision theeconsequences for which we are, to a large extent, responsible. The way in which we configure ourepersonality, that is, what we are, is determined by the kind of karma we have, that is, by the actseof will. It is often mistakenly thought that karma is a form of divine universal retribution. On the contrary, however, the law of karma only suggests that volitional actions have inevitable consequences. It is simply an extension of the fundamental doctrine of conditioned co-production.

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In this world, nothing happens to a person who doesn’t deserve it for one reason or another. In general, men of ordinary intellect cannot understand reason or current reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible eeffect are not necessarily limited to the present life, but can be traced back to a near or remote past birth. According to Buddhism, this inequalityeis due not only toeheredity, the environment, ‘nature and nutrition,’ but also to karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own presentations. 

Buddhism teaches that the results of karma are not always experienced immediately; sometimes they are accomplished much later, even in another life. Over the years, Buddhists have held that the process of being again occurs not only in this life, where we renew ourselves every minute, but also beyond the apparent barrier of death, where our will also determines how we are reborn. “The belief in karma and rebirth, according to which actions performed in one lifetime bear fruit in a subsequent one, is widespread, some version of it being common among Buddhist, and some other religious traditions. Ethnographic studies sometimes provide examples of how this belief manifests in people’s lives.” In this sense, ‘rebirth’ is not synonymous with ‘reincarnation’. It is not a question of a fixed and immovable spiritual essence finding shelter in another body when the first one has already been worn out. What happens is that the rhythm of continuous change follows its course, in the same way that a flame of fire advances through a set of branches, passing from one to the other. The flame never ceases to change. In the same way, it is never the same ‘I’ that is reborn.

In all the texts I’ve read, I’ve realized that there’s something everyone agrees on. There is a force in the world that unites us men with the earth, which we are in this world because of someone else’s actions in the past. We have to live our lives helping everyone and preaching by example. Because Buddhism says that once we die, it is not the end of our lives but with Karma we reincarnate into something else in the next life. The difference in how we reincarnate depends on whether we have been good people or not because Karma says that actions in this life will have consequences in the next life. “the force that connects man to the world. Even more: through karma, all things are interconnected. Karma insures that every action has a cause and an effect. Every existing thing – be it matter or of spirit – exists out of a confluence of various factors.” Based on the readings and all the articles I have read it seems clear that when it comes to Buddhism, they believe everything in this world is here for a reason, it comes from a force in the past. 

“The Upanisads and Buddhism have basically identical ideas on rebirth: Beings are, by ignorance, desire and will, entangled in an ongoing process of repeated birth and death conditioned by actions (karma) and operating in such a way that is possible to link a given being to a chain of past existences.” What this book says is that we are all linked to something from the past, that we live in a way of life that is like a wheel. We don’t stop living and that’s the end of our story. It is not so, as I said before we live in a way of living that is a wheel, our actions in this life according to the law of Karma will have its consequences in the next life. And it is something we should all learn, it is an exemplary way of life. It is a life in which we have to be treating everyone well because if you treat someone badly, according to the laws of Karma, this will harm you in the future and be twice as bad as what you did. We must also realize that the actions that give life to the law of Karma are voluntary actions, not actions that we have done without realizing it. Those who follow the religion of Buddhism do not have to worry about actions that have resulted in something bad if those actions were involuntary.

Buddhism also believes that some theories that are not natural, from my point of view I do not believe that all the actions that happen to us are for something that we have done in another life. You can’t sit on the couch and say that everything that happens to you in this life is because of actions that happened in the past. You also have to assume that we make bad decisions and we have to stick to the consequences, whether we like them or not. “Buddhism also assumes a particular non-naturalistic theory concerning the mode of operation of Karma-namely, its operation as a transpersonal casual chain in which future situations constitute the mechanically prescribed consequences of specifiable deeds- consequences that are, so to speak, visited upon the agent by inflexible external powers.” But Buddhists do not do it because of the consequences that their actions have in the future but because there is a difference between good and evil. It is one of the their Eightfold paths, the right of action: “honesty and not harming living things.”

But just like every subject we have to see both point of views to come to a conclusion and have a better understanding of what Karma means to the Buddhism religion. Buddhism is a big religion and some people have different views on this subject. “The problem of reconciling the doctrines of karma and rebirth with the doctrine of nonsubstantiality (anatta) is, therefore, not a problem faced only by Western students of Buddhism, for it created difficulties also for contemporaries of the Buddha, as well as for many of his later disciples.” As I have been able to read in this book, the contemporary ideas of Buddhism are different from the ideas of Buddhism of the past. But that’s something you can understand, over the years things change and ideas are no longer the same. Karma is such an open subject that all members of Buddhism can believe in this law but interpret it in different ways.

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