The 12 Laws of Karma are often presented to us on a silver platter as amazing life-hacks that will change our lives. The idea of Karma has entered the western world and a lot of its meaning has been lost in translation. To truly understand Karma, we need to take a step back from the westernization of this Eastern philosophy.
Karma is often compared to Newton’s Law of Cause and Effect. This comparison might come close to explaining an aspect of the concept of Karma. But it is a gross simplification of a more complex ideology. Karma is not a looming punishment or form of retribution. It is not meant to scare or threaten you with bad consequences for your ill-intended actions. Neither does it reward you with a winning lottery ticket a week after you helped an old lady cross the road. There is no such thing as instant karma.
Definitions of Karma
The root of the word Karma comes from the Sanskrit word kri: कृ. It means to do or to act.
The Buddha explained karma as, “This arises, that becomes.”
It is not exactly the same as cause and effect. It is more circular. Take for example life and death. Cause and effect would have us think that we die because we are born. It is almost as if these 2 concepts can are separated. As though they are polar opposites. Karma teaches us that life and death involve each other and are connected. Linked. Life implies death. Death implies life.
Karma in Buddhism
According to the British philosopher Alan Watts, Karma in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy translates as “The interdependent origination of all the forms and phases of life.” You can’t simply ascribe an Eastern philosophy to a Western way of thinking without having a close look at its origin. You have to consider that Karma is part of a bigger circular, spiritual picture. It involves reincarnation and knowing that everything is connected. Western thought doesn’t give room for us to think that we are the fabric of the universe. But we are.
Buddhism teaches us that we are not tiny, insignificant specks on a lonely little planet. We are in fact a part of everything around us, and everything that happens is happening as it should. It is not up to us to control the world around us. We have to control what is within ourselves, and by doing so, we become part of everything.
Karma involves the idea of continuity of a pattern. People look for patterns everywhere. It is a part of our intrinsic make-up and a big reason for the survival of our species. When history repeats itself, it tends to do so with good karma or bad karma. Karma transcends many cycles of life so you won’t necessarily reap the benefits of what you sow in this lifetime.
Karma is not an instant reward system. It is a set of values that are meant to teach us all to do better. The more good people do, the better will come of it. You shouldn’t be in it for yourself, but for the growth of the greater good. The people in the world will keep changing. They will come and go. But the more people adhere to the teachings of karma, the better the world will become for everyone.
Consider a war that has been going on for decades or centuries. The people fighting the war today are not those who started the war. If you think negative thoughts and perform destructive actions, the karmic cycle of negativity and destruction will continue. People need to make a conscious decision to change destructive patterns of behavior. They need to spread loving-kindness and good intentions to break the endless cycles of war. It requires higher levels of thinking and similar spiritual values. Everyone needs to make a personal contribution to accomplish the task of bringing about peace in the universe.
In a nutshell, karma dictates, that if you plant an acorn, an oak will grow. The oak will produce acorns and the cycle of growth will continue. If you plant a rotten seed, nothing will grow. That is karma.
What Are the 12 Laws of Karma?
The word law is often used for lack of a more appropriate translation. The 12 Laws of Karma are not laws. They are more like lessons. They are constituents or links in the circular chain life. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
The laws are meant to educate you to make the necessary changes within yourself. To set you on a path of good karma and free yourself from bad karma as it were. If the world around you is chaos, it is because there is chaos within yourself. Once you are at peace with yourself, you can be at peace with the world.
Here are the 12 Laws of Karma:
- The Great Law: Whatever we put into the universe will come back to us.
- The Law of Creation: Life does not happen by itself, we have to make it happen.
- The Law of Humility: We must accept something before we can change it.
- The Law of Growth: By changing ourselves, we change our lives.
- The Law of Responsibility: We are responsible for what happens in our lives.
- The Law of Connection: The past, the present, and the future are all connected.
- The Law of Focus: We cannot think of two different things at the same time.
- The Law of Giving and Hospitality: Our behavior should match our thoughts and actions.
- The Law of Here and Now: We cannot be present if we are looking backward.
- The Law of Change: History repeats itself until we learn from it and change our path.
- The Law of Patience and Reward: The most valuable rewards require persistence.
- The Law of Significance and Inspiration: Rewards are a result of the effort and energy we put into it.
When bad things happen to us, we shouldn’t think of them as punishment or bad karma. Karmic justice is an opportunity for us to learn a lesson and make the necessary changes to break the cycle. You should manifest your desires and get rid of all lackluster and negative energy. Changing our karma is a gradual process and what we do today will change our future lives.
Regardless of whether you believe in karma and reincarnation or not, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from these teachings. It is a universal truth that a lot of the suffering in this world is a direct result of inaction. Karma teaches us to act. To do. We need to start thinking, acting, and doing good.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax