Buddhist Reflection: Karma


“According to the seed that’s sown,
So is the fruit you reap there from,
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps,
Down is the seed and thou shalt taste
The fruit thereof.”

Karma is about more than “You get what you deserve.” It’s a philosophy of cause and effect. Karma is law of moral causation and is a fundamental principle in Buddhism, though it had roots in Indian Brahmanic religion and culture thousands of years before Buddhism was established. The word is a Pali term literally meaning “action” or “doing”.

The basic idea is that nothing happens to a person that he/she does not deserve, whether positive or negative. Every situation we find ourselves in is a direct result of our own past actions or present doings. We are responsible for our own happiness or misery. We essentially create our own heaven or hell. We are architects of our own fate.

What I love about the concept of Karma is that it forces us to take responsibility for whatever situation we find ourselves in. Whatever energy you put out into the world is the same exact energy you get back. Karma causes people to take charge of their life and remain mindful of their actions. It saves us from being the victim.

With Karma, it’s not just about our actions. It can begin with the things we think or say. I’m fond of the following quote by Gandhi:

Our beliefs become our thoughts.
Our thoughts become our words.
Our words become our actions.
Our actions become our habits.
Our habits become our values.
Our values become our destiny

That quote pretty much sums it up.

I chose to write about Karma because I’ve been reflecting on the part I played in a recent conflict. While I take full responsibility for my actions I briefly  questioned whether I was in the wrong for engaging to begin with. I am fully aware of my faults, one of which is my tendency to engage in almost bullying behavior when provoked. What’s ironic about this is that as mean as I can be I really do not like hurting people’s feelings. I almost felt bad about some of my actions, until a friend of mine spoke some harsh truths that snapped me back to reality. Whatever the situation, everyone involved engaged in some action that ultimately created the conflict. Sometimes I tend to give people a pass that don’t deserve it. My lesson is to stop feeling bad for others over the situations they’ve created for themselves, to stop taking responsibility for the actions of others. My thing is that I am either too soft or too hard. My challenge is to find the middle way between those two extremes and remember that everyone’s karma belongs solely to them.


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