"I am the owner of my karma .
I inherit my karma.
I am born of my karma.
I am related to my karma.
I live supported by my karma.
Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit."
The Buddha, Anguttara Nikaya V.57 - Upajjhatthana Sutta
"Countless rebirths lie ahead, both good and bad. The effects of karma (actions) are inevitable, and in previous lifetimes we have accumulated negative karma which will inevitably have its fruition in this or future lives. Just as someone witnessed by police in a criminal act will eventually be caught and punished, so we too must face the consequences of faulty actions we have committed in the past, there is no way to be at ease; those actions are irreversible; we must eventually undergo their effects."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from 'Kindness, Clarity and Insight'
The Sanskrit word Karma (or kamma in Pali) literally means action. In Buddhism however, karma mainly refers to one's intention or motivation while doing an action.
The shortest explanation of karma that I know is: 'you get what you give'. In other words; whatever you do intentionally to others, a similar thing will happen to yourself in the future.
Our largest obstacle to understanding or even believing in karma may be time. The 're-actions' or results of our actions show up with a time delay, and it becomes extremely hard to tell which action caused which result. Actions done in a previous life can create results in this life, but who can remember their past life? For ordinary humans, the mechanisms of karma can be intellectually understood to some extent, but never completely "seen".
The idea behind karma is not only found in Buddhism and Hinduism; it seems that the Bible certainly conveys the same essence:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A person reaps what he sows.
All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you,
do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Also the 'Golden Rule' of Confucianism makes a similar statement:
Tzu-kung asked, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?"
Confucius answered, "Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."'
From His Holiness the Dalai Lama's book Path to Bliss:
"Some people misunderstand the concept of karma. They take the Buddha's doctrine of the law of causality to mean that all is predetermined, that there is nothing that the individual can do. This is a total misunderstanding. The very term karma or action is a term of active force, which indicates that future events are within your own hands. Since action is a phenomenon that is committed by a person, a living being, it is within your own hands whether or not you engage in action."
You can find suggestions for a meditation on karma (or other subjects) in the List of Sample Meditations.
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