Karma is a bit*h. A phrase that is often used yet vastly misunderstood. In the West, most people view Karma as a punishment. Such that if you have done something bad, an invisible force called Karma will come after you. Like Santa or the Tooth Fairy, at one point, we will question if this is just another fairytale to make us be nice to one another.
Growing up in Asia, I was exposed to the concept of Karma and Reincarnation at an early age. It was silently embedded in the culture. In Chinese, the word Karma or “YinGuo” is made up of two characters. The first one “Yin” means “cause” or “reason”, while Guo means “result” or “effect.” In the Buddhist tradition, Karma refers to action driven by intention which leads to future consequences. In the realm of cause and effect, there is no white-beard man bringing you presents nor would your tooth turn into a five-dollar bill overnight. Instead, what comes around goes around, that includes both the good and the bad.
Like nature, Karma follows a set of patterns. Here are the 4 Laws of Karma:
1. First Law: What You Plant Is What You Sow.
The first law of Karma states, the content of a seed and the result are the same. A tomato seed would always yield tomatoes and an acorn for an oak tree. Sometimes we think that some good results are caused by bad deeds such as cheating on taxes or gaining wealth through corruption. This is considered wrong view because the ‘good’ result we perceive is indeed a good Karmic seed ripening from past actions. In the case of corruption, the act of corrupting will plant bad seeds for future negative consequences and the wealth obtained is indeed a result from past good actions.
2. Second Law: The Result is Always Bigger.
Such that the fruit is always bigger than its seed, your Karmic result is always bigger than its cause. If you steal something small or insignificant, the effect is to have something significant (in quantities or in value) being stolen from you. Similarly, a small act of kindness in the past is a reason why great things would happen to you now.
3. Third Law: Not Reaping What is Not Sown.
A person will never experience a cause for which they have not created the cause. Going back to the garden, one will never wait for the tomatoes to grow if they have never planted the tomato seeds. In sum, everything that we experience or not experience in life is a result of whether we have created a cause in the past.
4. Fourth Law: Karma Is Never Wasted.
Karmic seeds may be dormant for a time, but they’re never lost. Whenever we perform any deed whether by thought, speech or act, the karmic imprint of that action is stored in our consciousness. The imprint will continue to be carried in our consciousness until the conditions are right for it to ripen. Your random act of kindness may not ripen for years or even lifetimes but it will never go unnoticed. The Buddha stated: “The actions of living beings are never wasted even though hundreds of eons may pass before their effects are experienced.” In so, we might not be able to predict when we’ll experience the result created by our good cause, we can certainly create our future by continuously doing good deeds now.
So truly, if Karma is a bit*h, you bet she is relentless, unforgiving and calculative. She records every action that we take from cradle to the grave and beyond. By the same token, she is also your ally who would reward you with the greatest gifts should you be kind to others. Is Karma your friend or foe? That is totally up to you.