The Indian Concept of Karma

Published | Updated March 29, 2020

The Indian Concept of Karma
According to the Indian concept of Karma “… doing good, will bring good and doing bad, will bring bad.” It means you in fact gain or lose “points” depending on our actions.

But before further examining the implications of Karma, I believe the first question we need to ask ourselves is, if we can really know what the good and what the bad is. Because sometimes we believe a certain action or act is good, but later on it seems like it was after all a bad thing to do. And sometimes it’s just exactly the other way around.

If the Karma-concept were true, it would be of course of utmost importance to be able to distinguish between good and bad deeds.

The problem however is — can we?

I think we cannot, because we don’t know and cannot know all the results of our actions. Every act boasts an infinite chain of causes and effects. It looks somewhat like the circular expansion of an increasing amount of waves created by throwing a stone in a lake. We most likely will not or cannot know what the “final” or even intermediate results are or if they will turn out to be what we call good or bad.

However, we could claim that it doesn’t matter! That it is about the single act or deed that counts — our intention. But this would imply that the Inquisitors from the dark-ages, the by the Holy Church appointed witch-burners, did something good.

Sure, burning witches was without any doubt a respectful, even a “necessary and sacred” thing to do — at the time. In fact, the Inquisitors acted in “the name and will of God.” Their intention was doing good, but surely nowadays we don’t really agree, don’t we?

Returning to Karma. It means that collecting merit by doing good is rather cruel and at best of no meaning at all, because we have no objective means to comply and fulfill her demands.

As it is, we happen to live in a world where good and bad are circumstantial and relative. Human ethics and morality are culturally and historically defined. And because of that, we are not and will not be able to decide between doing (the absolute) good or (the absolute) bad. We are in fact lost.

With regard to this it’s interesting that the Bible speaks of us “having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. That might as well be true, but it still seems we just splash around in shallow waters, thinking to be excellent swimmers.


Disclaimer: All information, content, and material in this article is for informational purposes only and not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or other professional healthcare provider. Article Categories: Mindfulness, Non-Duality & Advaita Vedanta, Spirituality, Enlightenment, and Self-Realization
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