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The Law of Karma


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This presentation discusses how karma involves a three part causality comprising cause, effect, and consequence. It also describes how karma is created because in addition to the body we also have a role which brings normative expectations of behavior and we either fulfill those expectation or neglect them due to our desires. Karma is therefore based on our desires or intentions, and its effects include the abilities of the body and the opportunities afforded to this body in the world.

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The Law of Karma

  1. 1. THE LAW OF KARMA A S H I S H DA L E L A I N T R O D U C I N G V E D I C P H I L O S O P H Y — L E S S O N 6
  2. 2. WHAT IS KARMA?
  3. 3. K A R M A A N D J U D G M E N T • Karma is the idea that every action is judged to be right or wrong –Judgment is performed by nature –The judgment creates a consequence • Consequences differ from effects –The effect is visible immediately –The consequence remains dormant and manifests at a later time • Every society has some idea about justice; moral and legal laws are based on this idea • Karma is the idea that justice is natural; you may escape the society’s legal laws but you cannot escape karma • Karma can therefore be said to be the notion of natural justice
  4. 4. KARMA IS LIKE MONEY • You earn money by your actions, and you spend this money to buy what you want – Earning is based on the value you create – The value you purchase by spending money is the value you earned previously • The action you perform is the cause, the value you create is the effect, and the money you earn is the consequence • The work you doCAUSE • The value you createEFFECT • The money you earnCONSEQUENCE
  5. 5. K A R M A – A S S E T S A N D L I A B I L I T I E S • Good karma creates enjoyment – Just like you can spend your earnings on food or clothes or education – We are free to spend the wealth in whichever way we want to enjoy • Bad karma creates suffering – You have to pay the debt by parting with something that is dear to you – We can choose voluntary austerities or enforced suffering • Karma determines the assets or the debt you hold, which have been created in the past • But there is freedom to use these assets in different ways, and there is freedom to repay the liabilities in different ways • This means that karma doesn’t eliminate our freedom, although it restricts it
  6. 6. T H R E E T Y P E S O F K A R M A • Sanchita is the karma that is expected to be enjoyed or suffered in future lives • This karma is destroyed by spiritual practices • Prarabdha is described to be like the arrow that has left the bow; it cannot be stopped and it must hit its target • Even a spiritualist must suffer prarabdha but they don’t suffer sanchita.Thus it is said that bad things happen to good people; it is because of prarabdha • The karma that is accumulated from many lives and lies dormantSANCHITA • The karma that is destined to be reaped by the events in this lifePRARABDHA • The karma that is creating effects in our life at the present momentKRIYAMANA
  8. 8. T H R E E WAYS TO D I S T I N G U I S H • Each person is a combination of three things: • They have a body, which can be known by some concepts like Asian, Indian,African, etc. • They have a role in society, which can be known by concepts such as cook, salesman, writer, etc. • They have a personality of likes and dislikes such reading, playing football, watching movies, etc. • Each person can be distinguished from other persons by their body, role, and personality SALESMAN LOVES FOOTBALL AFRICAN COOK LOVES READING LOVES MOVIES WRITER INDIAN ASIAN
  9. 9. T H E R O L E C R E AT E S E X P E C TAT I O N S O F I D E A L B E H AV I O R S • Sat or the awareness of a person creates roles among persons • The roles are hierarchical and each person is a single role at a time • Each role is associated with some duties or responsibilities • Karma is created by the comparison between the duty of the role and one’s actions SALESMAN COOK WRITER SAT CHIT ANANDA MAHAT The ideal behaviors (Honesty, charity) The ideal objects (Perfect male body) The ideal emotion (Love, kindness)
  10. 10. D E S I R E S I N T E R F E R E W I T H O U R D U T I E S • Sometimes we are incapable of performing the ideal duties • This neglecting of duties doesn’t create karma because there is no ability to do • But most times we are capable of doing the duty but we neglect them due to desires • We desire to do something different from our duties • This neglect creates karma because we have the ability DUTIES (SAT) What we are supposed to do ABILITIES (CHIT) What we are capable of doing DESIRES (ANANDA) What we enjoy doing What we are supposed to do and can do What we can do and like to do
  11. 11. D U T I E S C A N B E C O N T R A D I C TO RY • We are simultaneously in multiple different roles and the duties of these roles often conflict each other • When a conflict appears, we have to prioritize the right type of duty over the others • This prioritization of duties constitutes a choice • We have to prioritize the higher type of duty over lower duty to avoid creating karma Spiritual Duties Social Duties Job Duties Family Duties Maximize Profits Work Hard Pay Taxes Teach Children CONTRADICTION CONTRADICTION All duties may not always be fulfilled. However, the highest priority duties must be fulfilled.
  12. 12. CAUSES OF KARMA BAD KARMA • We neglect the duty due to desire (we can do the duty, but we don’t want to) • We prioritize the lower priority duty over a higher priority duty (mostly because we like some duties over others) • We overstep the bounds of one duty and therefore infringe on other duties GOOD KARMA • We perform the duty even though it is inconvenient or we don’t enjoy it • We prioritize the higher priority duty over the lower priority duty (even though we may not enjoy doing so) • We remain in the bounds of duty and perform all duties as necessary and required
  13. 13. THE PROBLEM OF INTENTION BUDDHIST VIEW • If you did something unintentionally or unknowingly, there is no karma • Counterargument: everyone can avoid learning about moral laws and then claim that they are not responsible; learning about moral laws must be a duty JAIN VIEW • Whether or not you know about the moral laws you will be punished • Counterargument: a child may shoot someone by mistake (without intending to do so). Mistakes or inadvertent actions should not implicate a person in karma
  14. 14. IGNORANT VS. INADVERTENT • An ignorant action is things done intentionally but without knowledge of consequences – E.g. someone may kill animals deliberately not knowing the consequences – This ignorance is unpardonable; bad actions resulting from false beliefs are not excusable • An inadvertent action is things done unintentionally with full knowledge of consequences – E.g. a child may shoot someone accidentally without ever planning to do so – This inadvertent action is excusable; it is to be considered an accident Ignorance of moral laws is not a legitimate excuse against karma
  16. 16. K A R M A D E C I D E S T H E T Y P E O F B O DY A N D L I F E • Karma determines abilities (chit) and opportunities (sat) • Abilities and opportunities used by desires (ananda) –Good karma: abilities and opportunities aligned to desires –Bad karma: abilities and opportunities opposed to desires • The soul picks his personality of likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, what makes them happy or unhappy • With good karma, based on this personality, we get a body and circumstances in which we can enjoy; with bad karma we get a body and circumstances that force us to suffer • The soul controls the desires, karma controls abilities and opportunities
  18. 18. SUKARMA, VIKARMA, AKARMA VIKARMA • Bad karma • When desires are prioritized over duties • The person wants an immediate reward and neglects their duties • Based on short-term thinking (immediate profits of this life) SUKARMA • Good karma • When duties are prioritized over desires • But the person wants a ‘reward’ for the compromise (doing the duty they don’t like) • Based on medium-term thinking (e.g. next life) AKARMA • No karma • When desires are subordinated to duties • The person doesn’t want a reward in return, but just does their duty • Based on long-term thinking (i.e. freedom from birth and death)
  19. 19. THE PHILOSOPHY OF KARMA-YOGA English Transliteration Meaning in English karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango 'stv akarmani You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. Akarma or Karma-Yoga is duty performance without desire for results
  20. 20. "A man is born alone and dies alone; and he experiences the good and bad consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the Supreme abode.” ― Chanakya