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Karma (Sanskrit: कर्म About this sound kárma , kárman- "act, action, performance"[1]; Pali: kamma) in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called saṃsāra) originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.[2]

'Karma' is an Eastern religious concept in contradistinction to 'faith' espoused by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), which view all human dramas as the will of God as opposed to present - and past - life actions. In theistic schools of Hinduism, humans have free will to choose good or evil and suffer the consequences, which require the will of God to implement karma's consequences, unlike Buddhism or Jainism which do not accord any role to a supreme God or gods. In Eastern beliefs, the karmic effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences. The results or 'fruits' of actions are called karma-phala.[3]

Contents

Origins

A concept of karma (along with reincarnation, samsara, and moksha) may originate in the shramana tradition of which Buddhism and Jainism are continuations. This tradition influenced the Brahmanic religion in the early Vedantic (Upanishadic) movement of the 1st millennium BC. Reincarnation was adopted from this religious culture by Brahmin orthodoxy, and Brahmins wrote the earliest recorded scriptures containing these ideas in the early Upanishads.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Views

Some traditions (i.e., the Vedanta), believe that a Supreme Being plays some kind of role, for example, as the dispenser of the 'fruits' of karma[12] or as exercising the option to change one's karma in rare instances. In general, followers of the Buddhism and many followers of Hinduism traditions consider the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma.[13][14][15] Another view holds that a Sadguru, acting on a god's behalf, can mitigate or work out some of the karma of the disciple.[16][17][18] And according to the Jainism perspective, neither a god nor a guru have any role in a person's karma - the individual is considered to be the sole doer and enjoyer of his karmas and their 'fruits'.

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Karma in Hinduism is also considered to be a spiritually originated law. Many Hindus see God's direct involvement in this process, while others consider the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma.[19][20][21] However, followers of Vedanta, the leading extant school of Hinduism today, consider Ishvara, a personal supreme God, as playing a role in the delivery of karma. Theistic schools of Hinduism such as Vedanta thus disagree with the Buddhist and Jain views and other Hindu views that karma is merely a law of cause and effect but rather is also dependent on the will of a personal supreme God. Examples of a personal supreme God include Shiva in Shaivism or Vishnu in Vaishnavism. A good summary of this theistic view of karma is expressed by the following: "God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve."[22]

Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts. Karma means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction that governs all life. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment.

Karma is not fate, for humans act with free will creating their own destiny. According to the Vedas, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.

One of the first and most dramatic illustrations of karma can be found in the Bhagavad Gita. In this poem, Arjuna the protagonist is preparing for battle when he realizes that the enemy consists of members of his own family and decides not to fight. His charioteer, Krishna (an avatar of god), explains to Arjuna the concept of dharma (duty) among other things and makes him see that it is his duty to fight. The whole of the Bhagavad Gita within the Mahabharata, is a dialogue between these two on aspects of life including morality and a host of other philosophical themes. The original Hindu concept of karma was later enhanced by several other movements within the religion, most notably Vedanta, and Tantra.

According to Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, we produce Karma in four ways:

  • through thoughts
  • through words
  • through actions that we perform ourselves
  • through actions others do under our instructions

Everything that we have ever thought, spoken, done or caused is Karma; as is also that which we think, speak or do this very moment. After death we lose Kriya Shakti (ability to act) and do karma. Actions performed consciously are weighted more heavily than those done unconsciously. But just as poison affects us if taken unknowingly, suffering caused unintentionally will also give appropriate karmic effect. We are in position to do something about our destiny by doing the right thing at the right time. Through positive actions, pure thoughts, prayer, mantra and meditation, we can resolve the influence of the karma in present life and turn the destiny for the better. A spiritual master knowing the sequence in which our Karma will bear fruit, can help us. As humans, we have the opportunity to speed up our spiritual progress with practice of good Karma. We produce negative karma because we lack knowledge and clarity.[23]

Sri Tulsidas said: "Our destiny was shaped long before the body came into being." [24]

Hindu scriptures divide karma into three kinds [25] :

  • Sanchita is the accumulated karma. It would be impossible to experience and endure all Karmas in one life. From this stock of sanchita karma, a handful is taken out to serve one lifetime and this handful of actions, which has begun to bear fruit and which will be exhausted only on their fruit being experienced. Hence, it is the sum of one's past karmas – all actions (good and bad) that follow through from one's past life to the next.
  • Prarabdha Fruit-bearing karma is the portion of accumulated karma that has "ripened" and appears as a particular problem in the present life.
  • Kriyamana is everything that we produce in current life. All kriyamana karmas flow in to sanchita karma and consequently shape our future.

In this way, so long as the stock of sanchita karma lasts, a part of it continues to be taken out as prarabdha karma for being experienced in one lifetime, leading to the cycle of birth and death. A Jiva cannot attain moksha until the accumulated sanchita karmas are completely exhausted.[26]

Sikhism

Within Sikhism, all living beings are described as being under the influence of Maya's three qualities. Always present together in varying mix and degrees, these three qualities of Maya bind the Soul to the body and to the earth plane. Above these three qualities is the eternal time. Due to the influence of three modes of Maya's nature, jivas (individual beings) perform activities under the control and purview of the eternal time. These activities are called Karma. The underlying principle is that karma is the law that brings back the results of actions to the person performing them.

This life is likened to a field (Khet) in which our Karma is the seed. We harvest exactly what we sow. No less, no more. This infallible law of Karma holds everyone responsible for what the person is or going to be. Based on the total sum of past Karma, some feel close to the Pure Being in this life, and others feel separated. This is the Gurbani's (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) law of Karma. Like other Indian as well as oriental school of thoughts, the Gurbani also accepts the doctrines of Karma and reincarnation as the facts of nature.[27]

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In Buddhism, karma (Pāli kamma) is strictly distinguished from vipāka, meaning "fruit" or "result". Karma is categorized within the group or groups of cause (Pāli hetu) in the chain of cause and effect, where it comprises the elements of "volitional activities" (Pali sankhara) and "action" (Pali bhava). Any action is understood as creating "seeds" in the mind that will sprout into the appropriate result (Pāli vipaka) when met with the right conditions. Most types of karmas, with good or bad results, will keep one within the wheel of samsāra, while others will liberate one to nirvāna.

Buddhism links karma directly to the motives behind an action. Motivation usually makes the difference between "good" and "bad" actions, but included in the motivation is also the aspect of ignorance such that a well-intended action from an ignorant mind can subsequently be interpreted as a "bad" action in the sense that it creates unpleasant results for the "actor".

Other causal categories

In Buddhism, karma is not the only cause of everything that happens. The commentarial tradition classifed causal mechanisms governing the universe as taught in the early texts in five categories, known as Niyama Dhammas:[28][29]

  • Kamma Niyama—Consequences of one's actions
  • Utu Niyama—Seasonal changes and climate
  • Biija Niyama—Laws of heredity
  • Citta Niyama—Will of mind
  • Dhamma Niyama—Nature's tendency to produce a perfect type

Jainism

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Karma in Jainism conveys a totally different meaning as commonly understood in the Hindu philosophy and western civilization.[30] In Jainism, karma is referred to as karmic dirt, as it consists of very subtle and microscopic particles i.e. pudgala that pervade the entire universe.[31] Karmas are attracted to the karmic field of a soul on account of vibrations created by activities of mind, speech, and body as well as on account of various mental dispositions. Hence the karmas are the subtle matter surrounding the consciousness of a soul. When these two components, i.e. consciousness and karma, interact, we experience the life we know at present.

Herman Kuhn quoting from Tattvarthasutra describes karmas as – a mechanism that makes us thoroughly experience the themes of our life until we gained optimal knowledge from them and until our emotional attachment to these themes falls off. [30]

According to Padmanabh Jaini "this emphasis on reaping the fruits only of one’s own karma was not restricted to the Jainas; both Hindus and Buddhist writers have produced doctrinal materials stressing the same point. Each of the latter traditions, however, developed practices in basic contradiction to such belief. In addition to shrardha (the ritual Hindu offerings by the son of deceased), we find among Hindus widespread adherence to the notion of divine intervention in ones fate, while Buddhists eventually came to propound such theories like boon-granting bodhisattvas, transfer of merit and like. Only Jainas have been absolutely unwilling to allow such ideas to penetrate their community, despite the fact that there must have been tremendous amount of social pressure on them to do so."[32]

The key points where the theory of Karma in Jainism differs from the other religions such as theistic traditions of Hinduism, can be stated as follows:

  1. Karma in Jainism operates as a self-sustaining mechanism as natural universal law, without any need of an external entity to manage them. (absence of the exogenous "Divine Entity" in Jainism)
  2. Jainism advocates that a soul's karma changes even with the thoughts, and not just the actions. Thus, to even think evil of someone would endure a "karm-bandh" or an increment in bad karma. It is for this reason, that Jainism gives a very strong emphasis on "samyak dhyan" (Rationality in thoughts) and "samyak darshan" (Rationality in perception) and not just "samyak charitra" (rationality in conduct).
  3. Under Jain theology, a soul is released of worldly affairs as soon as it is able to emanicipate from the "karm-bandh". A famous illustration is that of Mata Marudevi, the mother of Shri Rishabh Dev, the first Tirthankar of present time cycle, who reached such emanicipation by elevating sequentially her thought processes, while she was visiting her Tirthankar son. This illustration explains how "Nirvana" and "Moksha" are different in Jainism, from other religions. In the presence of a Tirthankar, another soul achieved Keval Gyan and subsequently Nirvana, without any need of intervention by the Tirthankar.
  4. The karmic theory in Jainism operates endogenously. Tirthankars are not attributed "godhood" under Jainism. Thus, even the tirthankars themselves have to go through the stages of emanicipation, for attaining that state. While Buddhism does give a similar and to some extent a matching account for Shri Gautama Buddha, Hinduism maintains a totally different theory where "divine grace" is needed for emanicipation.
  5. Jainism treats all souls equally, in as much as it advocates that all souls have the same potential of attaining "nirvana". Only those who make effort, really attain it, but nonetheless, each soul is capable on its own to do so by gradually reducing its karma.[33]

Western interpretation

An academic and religious definition was mentioned above. The concept of karma is part of the world view of many millions of people throughout the world. Many in western cultures or with a Christian upbringing have incorporated a notion of karma. The Christian concept of reaping what you sow from Galatians 6:7 can be considered equivalent to Karma.[34]

According to karma, performing positive actions results in a good condition in one's experience, whereas a negative action results in a bad effect. The effects may be seen immediately or delayed. Delay can be until later in the present life or in the next. Thus, meritorious acts may mean rebirth into a higher station, such as a superior human or a godlike being, while evil acts result in rebirth as a human living in less desirable circumstances, or as a lower animal. Some observers have compared the action of karma to Western notions of sin and judgment by God or gods, while others understand karma as an inherent principle of the universe without the intervention of any supernatural Being. In Hinduism, God does play a role and is seen as a dispenser of karma; see Karma in Hinduism for more details. The non-interventionist view is that of Buddhism and Jainism.

Most teachings say that for common mortals, being involved with karma is an unavoidable part of daily living. However, in light of the Hindu philosophical school of Vedanta, as well as Gautama Buddha's teachings, one is advised to either avoid, control or become mindful of the effects of desires and aversions as a way to moderate or change one's karma (or, more accurately, one's karmic results or destiny).

Spiritism

In Spiritism, karma is known as "the law of cause and effect", and plays a central role in determining how one's life should be lived. Spirits are encouraged to choose how (and when) to suffer retribution for the wrong they did in previous lives. Disabilities, physical or mental impairment or even an unlucky life are due to the choices a spirit makes before reincarnating (that is, before being born to a new life).

What sets Spiritism apart from the more traditional religious views is that it understands karma as a condition inherent to the spirit, whether incarnated or not: the consequences of the crimes committed by the spirit last beyond the physical life and cause him (moral) pain in the afterlife. The choice of a life of hardships is, therefore, a way to rid oneself of the pain caused by moral guilt and to perfect qualities that are necessary for the spirit to progress to a higher form.

Because Spiritism always accepted the plurality of inhabited worlds, its concept of karma became considerably complex. There are worlds that are "primitive" (in the sense that they are home to spirits newly born and still very low on intellect and morals) and a succession of more and more advanced worlds to where spirits move as they are elevated. A spirit may choose to be born on a world inferior to his own as a penance or as a mission.

New Age and Theosophy

The idea of karma was popularized in the Western world through the work of the Theosophical Society. In this conception, karma is affiliated with the Neopagan law of return or Threefold Law, the idea that the beneficial or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself. Colloquially this may be summed up as 'what goes around comes around.'

The omniverse idea includes concepts such as souls, psychic energy, synchronicity (a concept originally from psychoanalyst Carl Jung, which says that things that happen at the same time are related), and ideas from quantum or theoretical physics.

Karma and emotions

Since the 20th century emergence of emotional intelligence as a novel paradigm for viewing human experience, karma has become a sectarian term which umbrellas the entire collection (both conscious and subconscious) of human emotionality.[35] This modern view of karma, devoid of any spiritual exigencies, obviates the need for an acceptance of reincarnation in Judeochristian societies and attempts to portray karma as a universal psychological phenomenon which behaves predictably, like other physical forces such as gravity.

Sakyong Mipham eloquently summed this up when he said;

Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it.[36]

This view of karma, as a universal and personally impacting emotional constant, correlates with Buddhist and Jungian understanding that volition (or libido, created from personal and cultural biases) is the primary instigator of karma. Any conscious thought, word and/or action, arising from a cognitively unresolved emotion (cognitive dissonance), results in karma.[37]

Jung once opined on unresolved emotions and the synchronicity of karma;

'When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.'[38]

Popular methods for negating cognitive dissonance include meditation, metacognition, counselling, psychoanalysis, etc, whose aim is to enhance emotional self-awareness and thus avoid negative karma. This results in better emotional hygiene and reduced karmic impacts.[39] Permanent neuronal changes within the amygdala and left prefrontal cortex of the human brain attributed to long-term meditation and metacognition techniques have been proven scientifically.[40] This process of emotional maturation aspires to a goal of Individuation or self-actualisation. Such peak experience are hypothetically devoid of any karma (nirvana).

As Rabindranath Tagore most eloquently explained about the heat of human emotions;

Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come[41]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a neuter n-stem, nominative kárma कर्म; from the root √kṛ, means "to do, make, perform, accomplish, cause, effect, prepare, undertake"
  2. ^ The Manual of Life - Karma,Parvesh Singla, section 1
  3. ^ A Dictionary of Some Theosophical Terms, Powis Hoult, 1910, p.67.
  4. ^ Y. Masih (2000) In : A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarsidass Publ : Delhi, ISBN 8120808150, page 37: “This confirms that the doctrine of transmigration is non-aryan and was accepted by non-vedics like Ajivikism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Indo-aryans have borrowed the theory of re-birth after coming in contact with the aboriginal inhabitants of India. Certainly Jainism and non-vedics [..] accepted the doctrine of rebirth as supreme postulate or article of faith.”
  5. ^ Karel Werner, The Longhaired Sage in The Yogi and the Mystic. Karel Werner, ed., Curzon Press, 1989, page 34. "Rahurkar speaks of them as belonging to two distinct 'cultural strands' ... Wayman also found evidence for two distinct approaches to the spiritual dimension in ancient India and calls them the traditions of 'truth and silence.' He traces them particularly in the older Upanishads, in early Buddhism, and in some later literature."
  6. ^ Gavin D. Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press : UK ISBN 0521438780 - “The origin and doctrine of Karma and Samsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circulating amongst sramanas, and Jainism and Buddhism developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahaminical thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions.” Page 86.
  7. ^ Padmanabh S. Jaini 2001 “Collected Paper on Buddhist Studies” Motilal Banarsidass Publ 576 pages ISBN 8120817761: "Yajnavalkya’s reluctance and manner in expounding the doctrine of karma in the assembly of Janaka (a reluctance not shown on any other occasion) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul, of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from them." Page 51.
  8. ^ Govind Chandra Pande, (1994) Life and Thought of Sankaracarya, Motilal Banarsidass ISBN 8120811046 : Early Upanishad thinkers like Yajnavalkya were acquainted with the sramanic thinking and tried to incorporate these ideals of Karma, Samsara and Moksa into the vedic thought implying a disparagement of the vedic ritualism and recognising the mendicancy as an ideal. Page 135.
  9. ^ A History of Yoga By Vivian Worthington 1982 Routledge ISBN 071009258X - "The Upanishads were like a breath of fresh air blowing through the stuffy corridors of power of the vedic brahminism. They were noticed by the Brahmin establishment because the yogis did not owe allegiance to any established religion or mode of thought.. So although, the Upanishads came to be noticed by Brahmin establishment, they were very largely saying what may well have been current among other sramanic groups at that time. It can be said that this atheistic doctrine was evidently very acceptable to the authors of Upanishads, who made use of many of its concepts." Page 27.
  10. ^ A History of Yoga By Vivian Worthington 1982 Routledge ISBN 071009258X: "The idea of re-incarnation, so central to the older sramanic creeds is still new to many people throughout the world. The Aryans of the Vedic age knew nothing of it. When the Brahmins began to accept it, they declared it as a secret doctrine. […] It will be seen from this short account of Jains, that they had fully developed the ideas of karma and reincarnation very early in history. The earliest Upanishads were probably strongly influenced by their teachings. Jainism the religion, Samkhya the philosophy and yoga the way to self discipline and enlightenment dominated the spiritual life of Indian during the Dravidian times. They were to be overshadowed for over thousand years by the lower form of religion that was foisted on the local inhabitants by the invading Aryans, but in the end it was Sramanic disciplines that triumphed. They did so by surviving in their own right and by their ideas being fully adopted by the Brahmins who steadily modified their own vedic religion." Page 35.
  11. ^ "The sudden appearance of this theory [of karma] in a full-fledged form is likely to be due, as already pointed out, to an impact of the wandering muni-and-shramana-cult, coming down from the pre-Vedic non-Aryan time." Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgita. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1998, page 76.
  12. ^ The Brahma Sutras - Chapter 3
  13. ^ Pratima Bowes, The Hindu Religious Tradition 54–80 (Allied Pub. 1976) ISBN 0710086687
  14. ^ Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. II, at 217–225 (18th reprint 1995) ISBN 81-85301-75-1
  15. ^ Alex Michaels, Hinduism: Past and Present 154–56 (Princeton 1998) ISBN 0-691-08953-1
  16. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 21 ISBN 1-56589-212-7
  17. ^ Swami Krishnananda on the Guru mitigating the karma of the disciple
  18. ^ Swami B. V. Tripurari on grace of the Guru destroying karma
  19. ^ E.g., Compare Swami-Krishnananda.org with Pratima Bowes, The Hindu Religious Tradition 54–80 (Allied Pub. 1976) ISBN 0710086687
  20. ^ Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. II, at 217–225 (18th reprint 1995) ISBN 81-85301-75-1
  21. ^ Alex Michaels, Hinduism: Past and Present 154–56 (Princeton 1998) ISBN 0-691-08953-1.
  22. ^ Gitamrta.org
  23. ^ Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda , The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, page 22., ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  24. ^ Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda , The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, page 24., ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  25. ^ Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda , The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, page 23., ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  26. ^ Goyandaka J, The Secret of Karmayoga, Gita Press, Gorakhpur
  27. ^ Gurbani.org
  28. ^ Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids, Buddhism. Reprint by Read Books, 2007, Books.Google.com
  29. ^ Padmasiri De Silva, Environmental philosophy and ethics in Buddhism. Macmillan, 1998, page 41. Books.Google.com
  30. ^ a b Hermann Kuhn, Karma, the Mechanism, 2004
  31. ^ Acharya Umasvati, Tattvartha Sutra, Ch VIII, Sutra 24
  32. ^ Padmanabh Jaini, Collected papers on Jaina Studies, Chapter 7, Pg 137
  33. ^ Sancheti Asoo Lal, Bhandari Manak Mal - Fist Steps to Jainism (Part Two): Doctrine of Karma, Doctrine of Anekant and Other Articles with Appendices - Catalogued by Library of U.S. Congress, Washington, Card No. 90-232383
  34. ^ Santmat.net
  35. ^ Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books
  36. ^ GoodReads.com
  37. ^ "I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Karma. Having willed one acts by body, speech, and thought." (Anguttara Nikaya)
  38. ^ Jung, C.G. and Wolfgang Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche, New York: Pantheon Books, 1955
  39. ^ Buddha, at First Council of monks (approx. 544 b.c.e.): Bhikkhus, this is the one and the only way for the purification (of the minds) of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for the cessation of physical and mental pain, for attainment of the Noble Paths and for the realization of Nibbana. That (only way) is the four satipatthanas. What are these four? Here (in this teaching), bhikkhus, a bhikkhu (i.e. a disciple) dwells perceiving again and again the body (kaya) as just the body (not mine, not I, not self, but just a phenomenon) with diligence, clear understanding, and mindfulness, thus keeping away covetousness and mental pain in the world; he dwells perceiving again and again feelings (vedana) as just feelings (not mine, not I, not self but just as phenomena) with diligence, clear understanding, and mindfulness, thus keeping away covetousness and mental pain in the world; he dwells perceiving again and again the mind (citta) as just the mind (not mine, not I, not self but just a phenomenon) with diligence, clear understanding, and mindfulness, thus keeping away covetousness and mental pain in the world; he dwells perceiving again and again dhammas as just dhammas (not mine, not I, not self but just as phenomena) with diligence, clear understanding, and mindfulness, thus keeping away covetousness and mental pain in the world.
  40. ^ Davidson, Richard J., Jon Kabat-Jinn, Jessica Schumacher, Melissa Rosenkranz, Daniel Muller, Saki F. Santorelli, Ferris Urbanowski, Anne Harrington, Katherine Bonus, and John F. Sheridan. "Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation." Psychosomatic Medicine 65 (2003): 564-70
  41. ^ ThinkExist.com

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From LoveToKnow 1911

KARMA, sometimes written Karman, a Sanskrit noun (from the root kri, to do), meaning deed or action. In addition to this simple meaning it has also, both in the philosophical and the colloquial speech of India a technical meaning, denoting "a person's deeds as determining his future lot." This is not merely in the vague sense that on the whole good will be rewarded and evil punished, but that every single act must work out to the uttermost its inevitable consequences, and receive its retribution, however many ages the process may require. Every part of the material universe - man, woman, insect, tree, stone, or whatever it be - is the dwelling of an eternal spirit that is working out its destiny, and while receiving reward and punishment for the past is laying up reward and punishment for the future. This view of existence as an endless and concomitant sowing and reaping is accepted by learned and unlearned alike as accounting for those inequalities in human life which might otherwise lead men to doubt the justice of God. Every act of every person has not only a moral value producing merit or demerit, but also an inherent power which works out its fitting reward or punishment. To the Hindu this does not make heaven and hell unnecessary. These two exist in many forms more or less grotesque, and after death the soul passes to one of them and there receives its due; but that existence too is marked by desire and action, and is therefore productive of merit or demerit, and as the soul is thus still entangled in the meshes of karma it must again assume an earthly garb and continue the strife. Salvation is to the Hindu simply deliverance from the power of karma, and each of the philosophic systems has its own method of obtaining it. The last book of the Laws of Manu deals with karmaplialam, " the fruit of karma," and gives many curious details of the way in which sin is punished and merit rewarded. The origin of the doctrine cannot be traced with certainty, but there is little doubt that it is post-vedic, and that it was readily accepted by Buddha in the 6th century B.C. As he did not believe in the existence of soul he had to modify the doctrine (see Buddhism).

Karman, Jozsef (1769-1795), Hungarian author, was born at Losoncz on the 14th of March 1769, the son of a Calvinist pastor. He was educated at Losoncz and Pest, whence he migrated to Vienna. There he made the acquaintance of the beautiful and eccentric Countess Markovics, who was for a time his mistress, but she was not, as has often been supposed, the heroine of his famous novel Fanni Hagyomeinai (Fanny's testament). Subsequently he settled in Pest as a lawyer. His sensibility, social charm, liberal ideas (he was one of the earliest of the Magyar freemasons) and personal beauty, opened the doors of the best houses to him. He was generally known as the Pest Alcibiades, and was especially at home in the salons of the Protestant magnates. In 1792, together with Count Raday, he founded the first theatrical society at Buda. He maintained that Pest, not Pressburg, should be the literary centre of Hungary, and in 1794 founded the first Hungarian quarterly, Urania, but it met with little support and ceased to exist in 1795, after three volumes had appeared. Karman, who had long been suffering from an incurable disease, died in the same year. The most important contribution to Urania was his sentimental novel, Fanni Hagyomanai, much in the style of La nouvelle Héloise and Werther, the most exquisite product of Hungarian prose in the 18th century and one of the finest psychological romances in the literature. Karman also wrote two satires and fragments of an historical novel, while his literary programme is set forth in his dissertation Anemzet csinosoddsa. Karman's collected works were published in Abafi's Nemzeti Kiinyvtdr (Pest, 1878), &c., preceded by a life of Karman. See F. Barhth, Joseph Kdrmdn (Hung., Vas. Ujs, 1874); Zsolt Beothy, article on Karman in Kepes Irodalomtortenet (Budapest, 1894).

(R. N. B.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also karma

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Noun

Karma n.

  1. karma

Simple English

Karma is a word meaning the result of a person's actions as well as the actions themselves. It is a term about the cycle of cause and effect. According to the theory of Karma, what happens to a person, happens because they caused it with their actions. It is an important part of many religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Karma is about all that a person has done, is doing and will do. Karma is not about punishment or reward. It makes a person responsible for their own life, and how they treat other people.

The "Theory of Karma" is a major belief in Hinduism, Ayyavazhi, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. All living creatures are responsible for their karma - their actions and the effects of their actions.

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Definition

and reaction: if we show goodness, we will reap goodness.]] Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, both good and bad, come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from life’s lessons and become better people. In religions that include reincarnation, karma extends through one's present life and all past and future lives as well. 

Karma is basically energy. One person throws out energy through thoughts, words and actions, and it comes back, in time, through other people. Karma is the best teacher, forcing people to face the consequences of their actions and thus improve and refine their behavior, or suffer if they do not. Even harsh karma, when faced in wisdom, can be the greatest spark for spiritual growth. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and unemotional response.

Examples of karma

The process of action and reaction on all levels—physical, mental and spiritual—is karma. One must pay attention to thoughts, because thought can make karmas—good, bad and mixed.[1]

“I say kind words to you, and you feel peaceful and happy. I say harsh words to you, and you become ruffled and upset. The kindness and the harshness will return to me, through others, at a later time.”

“An architect thinks creative, productive thoughts while drawing plans for a new building. But were he to think destructive, unproductive thoughts, he would soon not be able to accomplish any kind of positive task even if he desired to do so.”

Karma in Hinduism

Hindus look at time as a circle, as things cycle around again. Karma is a very just law which, like gravity, treats everyone the same. The law of karma puts man at the center of responsibility for everything he does and everything that is done to him. Understanding the way karma works, Hindus try to live a virtuous life. This is called dharma.

There are three types of karma in Hinduism:

  1. sanchita karma, the sum total of past karmas yet to be resolved;
  2. prarabdha karma, that portion of sanchita karma that is to be experienced in this life; and
  3. kriyamana karma, the karma that humans are currently creating, which will bear fruit in future.

The role of divine forces

Karma is considered one of the natural laws of the mind, just as gravity is a law of matter. Just as God created gravity to bring order to the physical world, He created karma as a divine system of justice that is self-governing and infinitely fair. It automatically creates the appropriate future experience in response to the current action.

Several different views exist in Hinduism regarding the role of divine beings. In Hinduism, many see the deities or devas as playing some kind of role. Other Hindus, such as the Mimamsakas, reject such notions and see karma as acting independently, considering the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma.[2][3][4]

Some interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita[5] suggest an intermediate view, that karma is a law of cause and effect yet God can mitigate karma for His devotees. It is said in Bhagavad Gita that only the karma that is done with a sense of doership and with attachment to the karma could cause good or bad reactions. Karma that is done with an attitude of duty and without attachment to the results will not create any effect and will move one closer to God.

Another view holds that a Satguru, acting on God's behalf, can mitigate or work out some of the karma of the disciple.[6][7][8]

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References

  1. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, "Ten Questions people ask About Hinduism …and ten terrific answers!" (p. 5) [1]
  2. Pratima Bowes, The Hindu Religious Tradition 54-80 (Allied Pub. 1976) ISBN 0710086687
  3. Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. II, at 217-225 (18th reprint 1995) ISBN 81-85301-75-1
  4. Alex Michaels, Hinduism: Past and Present 154-56 (Princeton 1998) ISBN 0-691-08953-1
  5. Verses 4:14, 9.22 and 18.61
  6. Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 21 ISBN 1-56589-212-7
  7. Swami Krishnananda on the Guru mitigating the karma of the disciple
  8. Swami B. V. Tripurari on grace of the Guru destroying karma

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