Posted in Introspection, Learnings, Life

Dharma and Karma

The concept of Dharma makes sense to me. From the book Difficulty of Being Good by Gurucharan Das, I learnt that Dharma is a very relative and personal guiding principle. To some, it is the call of duty. To others, it is doing the right thing. To me, it’s the highest form of personal integrity. The voice of intellect that guides me, and brings clarity to the chaos that the mind creates. Over the years, unintentionally, I have begun to trust this voice of intellect and it *feels* like I am fulfilling my Dharma when I dare to listen to this voice.

The concept of Karma intrigues me though. A discussion I had with a couple of friends on FaceBook shed some light on the topic. Jotting down the pieces that resonated with me here for my reference.

Maha: I do not know much about karma other than the simple premise that what goes around comes around or as a friend put it, as you sow, so will you reap. But I find that explaining life situations in terms of Karma to be somewhat of an oversimplification. I just posted a review on a book called Waves. A life story of a person who lost her family to Tsunami. Then I wonder about the kids that get abused. Or about the kids that were killed in shooting. I mean these are outcomes that no human being deserves to undergo, no matter what your/your family’s karma is/was. The notion of Karma feels so unkind, and unforgiving to me. People should be allowed to make mistakes and evolve.

Friend 1: I guess we often confuse the two terms ‘fate’ and ‘karma’ . Karma is not fate. It is not any punishment either. It just is. neither good nor bad. It is not even about deserving. It is about the laws of nature. If you put your hand in a fire do you “deserve” the pain and blisters? It just happens eventually as an effect of your action of ‘putting your hand in the fire’. It is us who put the judgemental factors into ‘karma’. If we look at a poor person and say “he deserved it due to his past karma” then that attitude is an abuse of karma . Isn’t it? The crucial point is the moment when we lose our empathy and compassion in viewing the condition of another and we go about thinking “he deserved it” . “Deserved” is a word in the lexicon of judgements and karma itself is not driven by judgement … it is just being nothing more than a law of nature. That is my understanding.

Friend 2: Whether Karma is justified or not, whether it is reasonable in your opinion or not, it goes on. It is cause and effect. It is a fundamental truth of dynamics of life. you, a big bunch of molecule or a thinking machine, when you do something, you will have a consequence of what you have done. In reality, the consequence has ” started” immediately!!! you may realise much later or may not realise the consequence at all!!. When realising much later, you may not connect with the cause at all. This does not mean any lack of Karma property. Our inability to perceive and interpret properly does not invalidate Karma theory. It is one way of understanding the dynamics of life and be careful in guiding our ” free will ” for ” worthy” causes.

Friend 2:Theedum Nandrum Pirar Thara vaaraa.. greatest statement in any language. certain things can not be explained or understood by looking at only a ” local context”.. most misunderstanding comes due to lack of ” global understanding” and perception. If you work in a company and if it is suddenly closed due to loss or competition and if you lose job, you take a global view and say Ok for the loss of job, though you may be doing very well. you do not say ” i lost the job for no fault of mine”.. this understanding comes to you when you take a broader look of urself in a context. you did not do a bad stuff to loose the job.. the whole company , in another dynamics , is lost and you are a part of it. you are a part of it BECAUSE of the action you did in the past to ” join the company”.. certain things like tsunami can not be understood when u take a local view.. it is a global one u suffer because u r a part of a big system.

Friend 2: Also, we never even consider the good days we had on the beach front!!!! You enjoy breeze and sea view… did we create it/made it to enjoy it? sea has both tsunami and grand view, fish for your dinner etc.. for tsunami we question but food and great view we take for granted!! Anyway, Karma theory was discovered much like formula for solar and lunar eclipse — long time of observation, analysis, finding commonality, pattern etc. that Karma is foundation for all dynamics of life is as astonishing discovery as the formula which predicts the lunar eclipse days in 2014!!!!


The closest analogy that I can come up to explain Karma is one of statistical models. I am no statistician, but my daytime job involves explaining the results of statistical models. I have supported linear statistical models wherein there is clear cause and effect relationship between the variables and outcome. I have also supported black box models wherein all you know is a set of variables produces a certain outcome, but you cannot isolate the variables to pinpoint the contribution of each variable to an outcome. Karma is no different. Sometimes the cause and effect direct and at other times it is clear as mud.

2 thoughts on “Dharma and Karma

  1. I am fuzzy about the concept of “Dharma” (in fact, even skeptical, but as a basis of personal integrity, I am all for it) but am a strong advocate of “Karma”. Not as much in a spiritual sense, but practical sense – you reap as you sow principle. I have seen way too many instances of karmic returns. I am not sure I believe in rebirth. I think karmic returns are very time bound and come to you within your life time.
    As for stuff that happen to you with no prior karma to track it back to, I think of it as merely chance. God, if you believe in the concept, does play dice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s