Karma is such a common word…It’s perhaps one of the most well-known words from Buddhist vocabulary, but it’s also the most misunderstood. Generally, when you hear the word karma, what comes to mind? Most likely it’s something along the lines of “what goes around, comes around”, right? It’s common to think of karma as a cosmic form of justice, but that’s a misconception.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, so where is the justice? Remember: Who Knows What is Good and What is Bad? Simply stated, karma is nothing more than the law of cause and effect within a system of interdependence. EVERYTHING depends on other things.[mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]Karma is the law of interdependence[/mks_highlight]. Rather than thinking of karma as, “if I do something good, I’ll get something good” or it’s opposite, “if I do something bad, something bad will happen to me”, it’s really a lot more simple than that. The proper thinking would be: [mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]If I do something, something will happen.[/mks_highlight] That’s it!

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Wherever there is great power…there is great responsibility – Reverend John Cumming (1854)[/mks_pullquote]

Karma means action (physical, verbal, or mental). Everything we do is constantly changing the world around us. We rarely think about it, but the reality is that a simple smile to a stranger or a middle finger to a fellow driver has effects far beyond what we can comprehend. The things we do affect things that in turn affect other things that in turn affect other things and it goes on and on. We literally have the power to change the world and we’re already constantly changing it without even noticing that we’re changing it. Karma is not about good or bad, wrong or right, it’s about simply understanding that our actions are interdependent with everything.[mks_highlight color=”#eeee22″]The proper understanding of Karma inspires us to be wiser in our actions because our actions have the incredible power to change things.[/mks_highlight]

  • william edleman

    I’ve found that using mindful meditation has greatly reduced my need to
    change things, and to focus more on what is

  • Lianne Davis

    That is the best description of karma I have ever heard. Love it. Thanks!

  • Arwen Undomiel

    I’m confused by the statement “who knows what is good and what is bad.” I know there certain things and situations that make it difficult for one to know what is good or bad. But there aren’t also situations in which we know certain things are bad for sure? Like murder or child abuse? Is it important to make this distinction? Could it be that by saying ” who knows what is good or what is bad” we could be sending the message that everything goes? Isn’t this something that should be clarified in this post? ….

    • howlin_wolf

      Do you mean murder, or killing? Do you mean child abuse, or causing pain to a child? When you imbed the idea of evil into your definition of a behavior or phenomenon, then you are presenting a tautological argument – in other words, you are essentially asking, “Aren’t bad things bad?” If we kill in defense of our child’s life, is this killing really evil? If we cause pain to a child while giving that child a vaccination, is that evil?
      In addition, even the most evil acts sometimes have positive consequences, just as the best intentioned acts have negative unintended consequences.

      • Arwen Undomiel

        Well, I understand some one might be in the position to kill in self defense. I meant when people murder innocent children or animals that cannot defend themselves. I meant people who like to see others suffers and torture others. Things like that. It’s a hard concept for me to grasp that this is not evil. I understand there is a positive side to everything. At the same time, there are so many people that are mentally and emotionally damaged because of abuse. Most of the people that have been abused spend the rest of their lives in therapy, which doesn’t seem positive at all. And there are some that say they learned through the experience and that is positive.
        Anyway, I’m not sure what it would take for me to understand this philosophy of who knows what is evil or not. If nothing is evil then everything is good? Or there is no evil and there is no good? And if there is no evil then we can do whatever? I’m confused…
        Sent from my iPad

        • Because all things have causes and conditions (interdependence), there cannot be something like “evil” that exists as an inherent “thing”. That’s not to say that people can’t do “evil” things (horrible/harmful things are done all the time) but the implication is that these things arise out of causes and conditions and not some mystical dark force. For example, a person who murders, will have a long list of causes and conditions that allowed them to reach the point of being capable of taking someone else’s life. I hope that makes a little more sense?

          • Arwen Undomiel

            Maybe…I think we agree in one thing. For example, if a man cheats on his wife a then he gets divorced, I’ll conclude that happened because the man made an evil/ bad choice. But I would not believe that the devil or some evil force tempted him to do bad. But I would still believe he was capable of doing evil ( because evil hurts others) a bad/wrong choice. That’s the thing, I think people have the power to choose the light or the darkness. We all have light and darkness in us but we choose if we want the dark side to prevail over the light.

            I don’t think I believe so much in a darker force or evil that makes people do bad things. But I believe people are responsible for things they do and that they can create evil themselves.
            Children born in the same families with the same parents and the same causes and conditions, they all turn different. Some of them make good choices and some of them make evil choices that makes them and others unhappy. I have seen this happen in troubled families where parents got divorced. So, I agree that there are causes and conditions that make things happen but people still choose to do something good of it or something bad of it.

            Sent from my iPad

    • Yes, you are correct. I think I should clarify that “good” and “bad” in this article is more along the lines of good and evil. What’s implied here is that things aren’t inherently good or evil. Obviously murder or child abuse is bad in the sense that it’s wrong, but it’s not out of evil that such things occur, it’s out of ignorance or delusion. I hope that makes more sense? I’ll probably post a separate article clarifying this concept a bit more. Thank you for commenting and for bringing this up!

      • Arwen Undomiel

        Yeah, this makes more sense. If there is a person that is inherently evil, I think that would be something very rare. I think most people are good in general. But it’s not impossible that there is someone inherently evil. I say this because we don’t know all things and I believe everything is possible. What makes bad things happen? Like you said, ignorance is one of them, and delusion. I suppose there are other factors as well like anger, pride, and the one factor that has been driven men crazy for ever, the delusion of power and control over others. Some people are power hungry, this is the greatest delusion of all. You can never have control of everything at all times. Nothing is ever under complete control.

        Thank you for your answers Noah.


        Sent from my iPad