What is karma?
Karma is another word we hear about quite often on television. “This is my karma.” or, “It must have been something I did in a past life to bring such good karma to me.” In more liberal schools of Hinduism, karma is looked upon as something bad. Just two days ago a Hindu guest from Guyana in South America came to visit us in Hawaii and mentioned that karma means “sin,” and that this is what the Christians in his country are preaching that it means. Karma actually means “cause and effect.” Here is an example: I have a glass of water sitting in front of me on a table. Because the table is not moving, nor is the glass, the water is calm. Shake the table, the water ripples. This is action and reaction, the basic law of nature. The process of action and reaction on all levels-physical, mental and spiritual-is karma.
Here is another example: I say kind words to you, you are peaceful and happy. I say harsh words to you, you become ruffled and sad. This is karma. It names the basic law of the motion of energy. An architect thinks creative, productive thoughts, and draws plans for a new building. But were he to think destructive, unproductive thoughts, he would soon not be able to accomplish any kind of positive task even if he desired to do so. This is karma, a natural law of the mind. We must be very careful about our thoughts because thought creates and thoughts also make karmas, both good, bad and mixed. Here are three answers to memorize and later explain to beautiful souls who are seeking higher consciousness and look to you for mystical knowledge of the Far East.
Karma is one of the natural laws of the universe. It simply means “cause and effect.” Our religion is made up of many natural laws of the universe. Karma is just one of them. (This is a simple answer for a casual seeker. After you have said this, smile and ask if they want to know anything more.)
Karma is basically energy. I throw energy out through thoughts, words and deeds, and it comes back to me (in time) through other people. We Hindus look at time as a circle. I think professor Einstein came to the same conclusion. He saw time as a curved thing and space as well. This would eventually make a circle. Karma is a very just law, too, as it is equal in re-payment. Like gravity, it treats everyone the same.
God does not give us karma. We create our own. Bad karma is because we have done something bad in the past to someone, and now someone is doing something bad to us. Good karma means that we have done something good in the past and now others are doing something good to us now. Because we Hindus understand karma, we do not hate or resent the people who do us harm. We understand they are giving back the effects of the causes we set in motion at an earlier time. At least we try not to hate them or hold hard feelings, by reminding ourselves of the law of karma.