Karma is a common term that is used in discussions regularly these days. While the word "karma" comes from Eastern Spirituality, the concept and application are universal. Karma has to do with the connection between actions, intentions and consequences. It is rooted in traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism; however, the essence of karma is found in various forms globally.
Karma centers around the fundamental notion that every action we take - whether it's an action, a thought, or an emotion - creates an energetic force that shapes our experiences in life. This cause-and-effect relationship is based on the principle that positive actions give positive outcomes, while negative actions result in negative consequences.
Eastern Religious Beliefs
In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism karma is an important part of the belief systems. It aligns with the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (reincarnation), where actions in past lives influence the circumstance of future ones. For instance, the concept of "yugas" in Hinduism's cosmology connects with the cycles in nature of karma, showing periods of spiritual evolution and decline.
Other Religious Beliefs
While the word "karma" comes from Eastern traditions, similar principles are found in many different belief systems around the world.
In Christianity, Islam,and Judaism the beliefs of Divine judgment, retribution, and ethical accountability relate to the same concept of how karma works with our actions determining our destiny in life. The Baha'i Faith stresses the importance of spiritual growth and ethical behavior. While the term "karma" is not directly used, the principle of personal responsibility for actions connects with karma's focus on the consequences of our deeds done. In addition, Sikhism has the concept of "karmic debt" present. Which is where a person's actions in past lives impacts their current life. This aligns with karma's principle of actions shaping a person's destiny. Similarly, the idea of the Golden Rule (Do onto others as you would have them do unto you), which is a common theme in many religions, highlights the belief of actions and their effects on others. As well as phrases like, "you reap what you sow" along with other religious parables that tell of actions leading to consequences the same way karma tells of actions leading to fateful events.
Native American religions incorporate the belief that all beings are interconnected and that there is a shared collective responsibility. This is similar to the aspect of karma in terms of how our actions go beyond the individual person and have a greater impact on the community and environment. In African spirituality, like Ifa, the consequences of actions are emphasized in a similar way to how karma is with accountability. In the Maori Culture of New Zealand, the concept of "mana" centers around keeping harmony in relationships with others and the environment. This aligns with karma's concept of interconnectedness and balance by showing that actions have a direct effect on the natural world. Additionally, Inuit Spirituality from Arctic Regions, focuses on the relationship between humans, animals, and nature. Their concept of "silap inua" tells how actions affect the balance of life forces. This connects with karmas' understanding of actions and consequences showing throughout all existence.
Several of the Hermetic Principles align with the concept of karma. First, the Principle of Mentalism describes the creative power of the mind in a similar way to how karma focuses on the power of thoughts and intentions in determining the outcomes. The Principle of Vibration is related to karma's idea that actions transfer energy with varying vibrations. Which explains how positive actions and intentions generate higher vibrational energies, which leads to positive outcomes. The same way karma encourages balancing energies, the Principle of Polarity involves finding equilibrium between opposites. Also, just as karma creates and ebb and flow of actions and outcomes, the Principle of Rhythm shows the movement of cycles in a similar pattern. Finally, the Principle of Cause and Effect is the Hermetic Principle that most closely aligns with karma. It states that every cause has an effect, and every effect has a cause. This principle describes karma's core understanding of actions leading to consequences, both in an immediate and long-term sense.
Alchemy and Modern Spirituality
In Alchemy, balance is essential for successful transmutation or sublimation. Karma also promotes balance through actions that counterbalance negative consequences. Alchemy's focus on harmony within substances can be related to karma's goal of achieving harmony within a person's life. Modern spiritual practices such as meditation, mindfulness, prayer, and contemplation help connect a person with their inner self to align actions with spiritual values. These practices help a person make conscious choices and positively contribute to their karmic journey in this life.
The psychological approach of Behaviorism emphasizes the relationship between behavior and its consequences. This aligns with karma's principle that actions have outcomes. This approach also includes how reinforcement and punishment shape behaviors. Similarly, karma focuses on how positive actions lead to positive outcomes, reinforcing ethical behavior. Positive Psychology studies factors that contribute to success and well-being. Karma's outlook on positive actions leading to positive outcomes matches this approach as well. In Social Learning Theory, there is a belief that we learn from observing other people's behavior and the consequences they face. This theory parallels karma by making a connection between us witnessing others' actions and their outcomes, which can have an impact on our own behavior and choices; thus, learning a karmic lesson.