Free 740 words essay on KARMA for school and college students.
Any act does not simply mean carrying out an action. Its meaning includes the intent of the actor, and the implication of the action. If you imagine an action as a circle which always ends at the beginning, a circle where what you do comes back to you; then an action always ends at the point at which you began. It means an endless circle of cause and effect. That is what the Sanskrit word karma encompasses – the vastness of what we roughly translate as action in English.
That said, it is difficult to offer a single definition of karma, or to trace its genealogy, because of the diverse interpretations made by different schools of philosophy. These are religions in Asia that offer interpretations of principles that have been explained in religious texts. While we much later theorised karma as a law, our Vedic texts offered simple explanations of the cause-effect relationship of everyday actions.
Consider this excerpt from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, for instance:
And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.
The excerpt is premised on an idea that every actor begins with a desire, and therefore one cannot separate the intent of the actor from the action itself. Morality, then, becomes the ground at which we perform everyday actions. A good intent will produce a good effect, and one can reap its reward; while an actor with a bad intent is merely an architect of his/her own fate.
Buddha in his doctrine explained mankind’s basic inequality at birth by elucidating the meaning of karma. He refuted the idea that all experiences are merely a consequence of past action. In his doctrine, he explained why mankind is a hierarchy with some people at a poorer state as opposed to the ones who live in better circumstances with a qualitatively better attitude. His doctrines teach us that we are not wholly the result of who we were (in the past), and will not wholly be the result of who we are (in the present). Buddhism therefore understands karma to be more complex than a mere judgement of an action on moral grounds.
With an understanding of the interconnectedness of our selves, Jainism elucidates karma as actions of both the body and the mind. Like Hinduism, it interprets Karma as a natural, universal law where the soul is tied to material dispositions and desires (or intentions). Only freeing oneself of the karma-bandha would ensure a freedom from the circle of desires, subsequently leading to nirvana.
An important contention to karma is its opposition to free will. If actions are consequences and not an actor’s free will, then can actions that are criminal and unjust be skimmed off as the victim’s karma? Does that mean everyone deserves the situation they find themselves in? Does the law of karma then oppose a judicial system that ensures fair treatment for all and strives to build an egalitarian society? Controversies around the law of karma have often referred to the Buddha’s teachings that explain that karma is not a judge of all actions, and one must understand the difference between what is naturally evil and morally evil.
While the word ‘karma’ might be contextually rooted to Eastern teaching and thought, we find that it is a fundamentally human question that we can’t evade – it is a question of the working of our minds. For instance, we find a similar concept in the work of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung who explains that our unresolved emotions and an ambiguity of our inner-selves appear to us as our fate. His work holds that events are meaningful coincidences and cannot be explained as a simple cause-effect relationship. Thus, mindfulness, counselling, or meditation can help us resolve ourselves of our actions – helping us move towards self-awareness or nirvana.
Karma teaches us not to submit ourselves to fate; that would be an act of ignorance and would not free us of karma-bandha. An actor cannot be separated from an action. Karma teaches us to work towards being conscious of the intent of our actions and what it implies on a moral ground. When our actions are conscious of this, we allow karma and free will to co-exist, and this further lets us enforce our free will to break away from the circle of karma-bandha.