We hear and read about Karma all the time. To a lot of people it’s this invisible force that controls the fortune or misfortune of others. So if someone cut someone off on the highway, or stole something, that would result in bad Karma. Though that’s true, people often forget about their own Karma and what Karma really is or how it works.

Karma is a Sanskrit word and it literally means the accumulation of our deeds (physical), words (verbal), and thoughts (mental) – our volitional actions. It basically means all moral and immoral volition. Where there is consciousness, there is Karma. Karma depends on your volition as well as your will, so there is unintentional Karma.

The nature of every action from the perspective of morality (every thought, every action, and every speech) can be classified in three ways:    Virtuous, non-virtuous, and neutral – or good, bad, and neither good or bad. We’ve been accumulating Karma for thousands or millions of lifetimes. It stays with us through our lifetimes of Samsara. It’s because of the Karma of our past lives that we have the life we have today; whether we were born into a rich or poor family, beautiful or ugly, smart or mentally challenged, or well built or disabled – it’s all because of our past Karma. The accumulation of our present Karma will determine our future lives. If we’ve been doing virtuous things and accumulate good Karma, we’ll be reborn into a life with good merits and fortunes, but if we’re doing non-virtuous things, then we’ll be reborn into a life of suffering and misfortunes, or even in another realm (Hell, animal, or ghost realm).

There are six realms a person can be reborn in: The human realm, animal realm, heavenly being realm, hell realm, Asuras realm, and hungry ghost realm. Only you will determine where you’ll be reborn again; you and your Karma!

Every deed, thought, and speech we say and do contributes to our good or bad Karma. If we’re stealing, sexual misconduct, or hurting/killing, those are all part of your deeds (physical Karma). Slandering, lying, etc. affect our speech Karma. Greed, anger, hatred, and ignorance affect our thought Karma. Our thought Karma is probably the hardest to get over and control – at some point we all have greed, anger, hatred, and ignorance towards things and people.

As we sow, we reap somewhere and sometime, in his life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past.

The Samyutta Nikaya states:

“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 a law in itself, which operates in its own field without the intervention of any external, independent ruling agency.  Asking where Karma comes from is like asking where wind comes from. So it’s not really important to know where Karma comes from, it’s more important that we know WE control our own Karma. Ignorance and craving/desires is the main cause for Karma.

There is also another classification of Karma in regards to when effects are worked out (because Karma is a cause and effect thing): 1. Immediately Effective Karma, Karma that affects you in this present life. 2. Subsequently Effective Karma, Karma that affects you in your subsequent/following life. And 3. Indefinitely Effective Karma, is the Karma that will affect you in future lives after your subsequent life. The last one is a little more trickier than the first two, because for indefinitely effective Karma, the Karma has to “do its thing” according to the right causes and conditions, so it matures until it gets to that point, and that point could be in the third, fourth, or fifth life after yours.

So everything you’ve become, everything that you are, and will be is because of Karma. As long as you control your Karma and only do good deeds, speak truthfully and wisely, and give compassion and do good things, you’ll always be gaining Karma points. So you can definitely change! You can’t “delete” or “erase” bad Karma, but you can out weigh it with good Karma, and once you’ve accumulated enough good Karma and merit, you can be born in Heaven and find Enlightenment. You can always change for the better. Everything is impermanent and changing. So even if you’re sitting down and thinking that you’re suffering or your life sucks, purify your mind, speech, and action! How? With meditation and mindfulness! Being mindful of every thought, speech, and action you can train yourself for goodness.

You need to plant your seed! You water it, give it fertilizers, and sunshine, and eventually it’ll grow and blossom into Buddhahood! This is how you can train yourself by being mindful and purify your thoughts, speech, and actions.

Smile and be well!


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