Thursday, December 02, 2010

A (Re) Definition of Karma

Karma is a fundamental concept in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies. Like any other concept, there are many definitions of the word. As Rama Kandra in the Matrix says, karma is a word. It is a way of saying “what I’m here to do”. What is it that I’m here to do?

The basis of karmic theory is the idea of causation – that every event has a cause and every action has a consequence. Thus, to understand what you’re here to do, you must understand cause and consequence.

You open your refrigerator, fetch a can of soft drink, pop it open and take a swig. A simple action: but a culmination of complex causes and the initiation of complex consequences. Whence does this soft drink come from? Where was it made? Who made it? Did it pollute the environment that it was made in? Were the people who made it given fair wages? Did people have to leave their homes and livelihood for the factory to be set up? Where politicians bribed, media played with to obtain permit to set up that factory? Was advertising subtly used to manipulate you into desiring something that you don’t really need? What does the intense amount of sugar and caffeine do when you gulp down this drink which you’ve been deluded into believing is refreshing? When you throw away the can, where does it go? What becomes of it?

Are you here to drink that can of soft drink? When you understand the causes and consequences of that simple action, you may be able to answer that question. Or you may not. Or the answer may change as you understand better. Sometimes understanding may become an end in itself.

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