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Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism have differing ideas about how karma works and its effect on one's existence in subsequent lives.
Hindus believe the soul is trapped in a circle of birth and rebirth called samsara. Until a person quells all desires and accepts that the individual soul is the same as the absolute soul, he or she must suffer in samsara and forgo moksha -- the goal of salvation. But because moksha is an ultimate goal, and one that can be achieved only after it is no longer desired, most Hindus attempt to generate good karma so that they can be born into a better life.
For Hindus, good karma is usually produced by correctly performing the duties of one's caste, or social class. If a person lives admirably and fulfills the responsibilities of the caste, the soul can be reborn into a higher caste. Hindus also believe that because karma is its own law, it requires no divine interference.
Sikhism also teaches karmic law and reincarnation. For Sikhs, karma affects the quality of life and of future lives.
Jainism teaches that karma is an atomic substance -- an actual particulate that attaches itself to the soul. Jain followers believe that as long as a soul is burdened by karma it remains trapped in a cycle of birth and rebirth. Because negative qualities of the soul (like anger, greed or pride) make karma more inclined to stick, Jain believers try to minimize passions, live soberly and inflict harm on no living thing, except in self-defense.
New Age ethical philosophy that good engenders good and vice versa much like the ethical philosophies of Abrahamic belief structures.
Theosophical Society which was developed in 1875 in New York had a lot to do with New Age philosophy of Karma. It's a view of karma that is only loosely connected to the structure of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain philosophies.
Instant Karma hit the western world in the late 60's and early 70's.
The Western idea of karma is best epressed in popular phrases like, what goes around comes around and what you sow, you will reap. Which is very much like the law of attraction and cause and effect philosophies present today.
For a better understanding of Karma I suggest the book: Everyday Karma by Carmen Harra, Ph.D.
So what are your idea's of Karma and how does it affect your practices?

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Replies to This Discussion

I can't say I believe in Karma in any traditional sense and in any case, I don't want to stop reincarnating. With that said, odds are, if you're a asshole, it'll eventually catch up to you. Not because of celestial justice system, but, because, you'll piss off the wrong individual. Chances are you won't learn from it and will continue to do the same actions over and over.

That is what some have described as the law of return I think.
My ten year old granddaughter explained it very well to her sibs and cousins.
You drop a stone (a deed) in a puddle (life) it ripples out and other see it and thinks it's cool so they drop a stone in the puddle and those ripples touch your stone and your stone ripples touch their stone and others put stones in the puddle until everyone is being touched by the ripples.
So if you put in a good stone your touched by good and if you put in a bad stone your touched by bad, so only use good stones when playing in the puddle.

It's weird because I am Shakta, but I am very undecided on even the existence of karma. I can believe that karma does effect future lives...

For example, having a mental illness while not living a bad life or a personality disorder is a result of a past life. But I have difficulty believing things such as rape, cancer, or murder are a result of 'karma'. I find it also difficult to think the universe is just and on our side. The mental illness thing makes sense to me and some Buddhist have proposed it as well. Other issues do not seem to jive with the theory of karma.

Interesting the idea of mental illness is karma. Now personality disorders are almost 99% traced back to an event in this life time, but mental illness maybe...just maybe.
Take bipolar it has been proven to be attached to a chemical imbalance that short circuits the firing of synapsis in brain communication and is almost proven to be a birth defect or evolution which isn't decided as of yet. Your idea of Karma being the reason for the defect from birth would make absolute sense. Well to me any way.  

WOW ... Karma is one of those things, as is reincarnation, that everybody has a different idea about. I strongly believe in karma but is it "what goes around comes around?" It's been described as a type of bank that holds your good deeds and bad deeds and then when you reincarnate your bank weighs out the deeds to see if you have more good deeds or bad deeds. There's also the belief that karma affects you soon after the good or bad deed is done. Of course these are just two of millions of ideas about karma but this is one of the most interesting ideas to discuss because there is no provable correct answer. May your Journey be filled with Kindness. Mike

I agree it's an interesting subject.
My spirituality doesn't have karma per say, but I love hearing others opinions and idea's.  

And you know , of course , that karma bank , is a slippery slope...

So said the guru , sitting on the earth , by the river , waiting for

as long as it took for the bodies of his enemies to drift on by...;)

I have been thinking of investing in the karma bank , just want to

make sure the funs are not being mismanaged , or misappropriated...;)

Lol. Shawn you crack me up.

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