Introduction To the Concept of Karma

Regardless of background, religion, philosophy, social position or experience, one thing that people intuitively grasp and almost universally accept is that there is some type of universal law that applies to our actions. We may call it “cause and effect”, or we may call it “consequences” or we may call it “eternal law”, “divine retribution”, “judgment day”, “damnation” or “law of Nature”. In the East, it is called “karma”, and it is a tribute to this concept that the word “karma” has found its way easily into the English language and even into daily use. A new website even calls itself “credit karma” and offers to show individuals what their credit worthiness ranking is and provide ways to improve it.

It is true that concepts that are adopted by popular approval tend to become caricatures of the Truth, and so it may be with the popular notions of Karma (under whatever banner or name it is being considered). There is no doubt that some of the ideas that people carry around with this concept do not bear serious scrutiny; however, the core truth contained within is still something that cannot be denied.

Sri Aurobindo points out: “There is a solidity at once of philosophic and of practical truth supporting the idea, a bedrock of the deepest universal undeniable verities against which the human mind must always come up in its fathomings of the fathomless; in this way indeed does the world deal with us, there is a law here which does so make itself felt and against whicha ll our egoistic ignorance and self-will and violence dashes up in the end, as the old Greek poet said of the haughty insolence and prosperous pride of man, against the very foundation of the throne of Zeus, the marble feet of Themis, the adamantine bust of Ananke. There is the secret of an eternal factor, the base of the unchanging action of the just and truthful gods…in the self-sufficient and impartial law of Karma.”

Sri Aurobindo,