Do you believe in Karma?


April 2, 2007 7:50 PM

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Coming from a Buddhist background, I know the concept of karma well but I don’t believe in it. Karma is a highly nuanced subject but the gist of it is summed up easily:

If you do good things, good things will happen to you – if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.

Of course, good things should happen to good people, and bad things should happen to bad people. Though in real life that is not a guarantee. That bad things happen to good people, and that bad people get away with evil deeds everyday are a given.

And the argument is even more stark when you include babies and children. They get born with defects, they go hungry, they get abused, they fall ill and they die. If you believe in karma, then you must believe that they have somehow brought it on themselves. How do you reconcile that?

However, there are two things that I do take from the concept of karma, and they are:

  • Do no evil, and
  • Evil people get neither forgiveness nor mercy.

To a lesser extent, that’s how I also deal with people who’ve crossed or wronged me. I don’t wish them harm, but they get excised out of my life completely. They abuse my friendship, so they should lose it.

My arguments here about bad things should only happen to bad people, and that unfortunate babies and children do not deserve their fate can also be applied to the Christian belief that all non-Christians would go to hell, regardless of whether they are good or evil.

But that’s a new can of worms to be opened another day. 😉

35 thoughts on “Do you believe in Karma?

  1. sourrain

    karma is ‘transferrable’ from one lifetime to another – babies born with defects might have collected bad karma from their past lives.

    In the same vein, those gangsters that literally get away with murder+hotass wife+mansion in the bahamas might still be exhausting the good karma collected from past lives – they will be repaying that in the commin lifetime.

    Reply
  2. Xinyi

    I was gonna reply with the Buddhist concept of karma that follows one across lifetimes, until I realised that Sourrain just did.

    It’s the only way I can reconcile the “good will be rewarded with good, and the evil be rewarded with evil” concept with the numerous babies that are born with defects. I can’t convince myself that God has His Reasons for making them so.

    What Reasons?

    Reply
  3. usually quiet

    perhaps you should not speak of a religion you don’t know much about aka christianity. usually people bring up what you said and that is not the point of christianity at all. the point of Christianity is mercy because of love. to realize that we ourselves and everyone else is not always good and do not always choose to do the right thing. by your standards god and everyone else should excise you out of their lives when you mess up. by christianity’s standards you get other chances to improve yourself as a friend, brother, son, etc. etc. why? because whomever you wronged loves you despite your faults. This is the example that God sets for us through Christ. Hmmm…not really meaning to be preachy. But there is so much that has been done in the name of and said about Christianity that is so clearly false that i can’t keep quiet anymore.
    BTW, I enjoy your blog. You are witty, funny at times and possess interesting opinions; it is clear that you are striving for better all the time. Keep it up mooiness.

    Reply
  4. robin

    I do not believe in Karma, in Christianity, we believe in faith and be saved by grace, meaning that we get undeserving forgiveness and mercy despite all the sins that we have done in this world.
    Seriously, considering all those horrible things humans have done in the past, it is amazing this world is in such a good shape, given Karma is true.

    Reply
  5. mooiness Post author

    sourrain: good point. I guess my contention, especially with ppl who die young is that they didn’t even have a chance to build up the good karma. So does that mean that when they get reborn, they have the same level of bad karma again?

    My Buddhist learnings are not that deep – can a soul be born into bad karma for a few continuous cycles?

    Xinyi: yes that’s my question too – what reasons? Especially with the young and still-born. Is it because the parents or ppl who love them are being punished indirectly because they have sinned?

    usually quiet: I admit I haven’t studied enough about Christianity but my questions are still valid. Why are all non-Christians condemned to hell regardless if they’ve done good or not? What if they were never exposed to Christianity and never had a chance to choose to accept Christ and God?

    Fundamentally, I just do not accept the Christian belief that we are all born with sin. So I guess we just have to agree to disagree.

    However, thank you for your kind compliments. 🙂

    Robin: I believe “usually quiet” and yourself are reading this wrong. I’m merely questioning the fact that why bad things happen to good people, especially to those who have no control over it – babies and young children. That was the gist of my piece.

    Reply
  6. sourrain

    upon usually quiet’s comment,i would like to add on that showing mercy and forgiveness is a buddhist virtue.

    I will always remember the story that was told to me in buddhist sunday school (I had been to both christian & buddhist sunday schools).Have you heard of the story of the nun that cried as she was raped – she was crying for the bad karma that her rapist is accumulating by raping her,not the actual repulsive act of her being raped. That, is not only mercy&forgiveness, it is loving kindness.

    The reason I chose buddhism is because it is a very fair religion.Buddhism is all about self-regulation,what goes around comes around. Meditating in sharing of merits is a big part of buddhism, as it not only forgives the so-called ‘sinners’, but a shares your accumulated merits/good karma with the so-called sinners.This, my friends, is an extension of good karma.

    I don’t believe I am getting involved in a discussion about religion.must shut up now.

    Reply
  7. sourrain

    moo:

    Technically yes.BUT,if your parents prays for transferrence of merits to you ect (as per my earlier post’s explaination)..this will probably change.This is why there are such long prayers and meditations in buddhist funerals.I believe that your level of karma definately changes even though a child might pass away at age 3.

    The point with karma is..you never know when will it come back to bite you in the ass.

    My Buddhist learnings are not that deep – can a soul be born into bad karma for a few continuous cycles? – Yes.Depending on how much bad karma you had accumulated – again, even though you might be a serial killer for 4 continuous lifecycle – you might be born an ant in the next 10 or 100 lifecycles.Or you may be born a prince,and have the bad karma come to you and end up a pauper.

    wah, I am quite cheem today.

    Reply
  8. shelly rayedeane

    I agree completely with everything you said, with the exception that I do wish people harm who have done bad things to me. Maybe it is this attitude which creates my bad karma. Who knows for certain? But then, I’ve had bad things happen to me as a child too. So who’s to say really? Maybe children who suffer aren’t the ones who have the bad karma. Maybe it’s the people who surround them who have it, and the child just has no control over escaping their environment.

    Reply
  9. mooiness Post author

    sourrain: your explanation is most excellent.

    herman: ah but … mercy and forgiveness may not necessarily be given back to you. 😉

    shelly: exactly – the kids are not the one being punished but those who love them are. We can go on for days talking about why do bad things happen to kids/babies because to us, there’s no reason nor logic. Then again, life is chaotic that way.

    Reply
  10. girlstar7

    Interesting post. I’m not sure if I believe in karma, but I would like to. I would really like to believe that bad things happen to bad people, and good things happen to good people. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.
    My mantra is that you should enjoy life as much as possible. Enjoy the good times, and when you are going through a really bad time, as bad as it feels, remember that it will only make you a stronger person and that you learn something from everything that happens to you. Maybe the bad things are happening for a reason; to teach you a lesson about life. Who knows?

    Reply
  11. Bird

    From what I know, it that there’s such a thing call family karma which the family shares.

    E.g: Dad, mum, elder brother, elder sister, sister, brother etc etc.

    Thru their practice in buddhism, they are trying to cleanse their negative karma(bad karma).

    The thing is, negative karma cant be changed to positive karma. It needs to be outflowed by the positive one.

    So many of times, you see good guys getting the abuse + child with defects etc etc.

    But on the other hand, thru your continuous practice in buddhism, and teaching others about it, and helping others ( doing good ) gives you good karma. And then you can change your environment.

    Then you see the good results of good karma.

    Reply
  12. rationalneurotic

    I agree with herman. I work on the principle – even if I get nothing back, I have not ?? anyone. I loan money (if I can afford it) to people I am close to even if I am not sure they can return it, I defend people whom have backstabbed me. I’m not a saint. Often, I have these twistings inside me and I can assure you that there are times I can beat up people for being assholes. I believe in karma in a certain way, but I don’t think that people should do things to ‘score points’. Goodness comes from within. We all have a little conscience in us. Actions should come from good intentions and not because one hopes for better things… and if you’re truly a good person, sooner or later good things will happen to you. Either that, or things will happen in a good light haha.

    Btw, the christian thing – babies and children have a special place in heaven. =)

    Reply
  13. sourrain

    Another point to make,in the same stream of thought, happiness comes with sadness hand in hand; i.e. I might marry a rich ass prince but he might cheat on me ect.

    It is the serenity of how you handle things that matter.Buddhism is not a religion for the impatient – good things come to those that wait;even for a few lifespans.

    But I agree with what most people had mentioned. Just keep on doing what you can.You don’t have to be a saint or a monk to ‘collecting’ good karma.Btw, if you consiously donate 1/2 your salary to cancer research hoping to ‘collect’ good karma,baby it doesnt work.

    Going back to babies and children – for a child to be stillborn,it is no pain on the child,but it’s anguish on the parents = parents bad karma comming back to bite them.

    I need to stop or I’ll go on all day and sound preachy

    Reply
  14. DeV|LisH

    gosh i’ve been away for few days and so intense jor the topic hahaha anyway i don’t know if i shud say i belif karma or not but all i know is do what you belif is right and don’t worry if in return u will get a bad karma or not as long as u got nothing to regret about nor now nor in the future. But of cos don’t ill treat others as i belif in buddhism as well! Be kind to others and they will treat u the same in return.

    Reply
  15. Lisa Y

    Though I do believe in Karma, I’m not sure how long it span. Two lifetimes? Three? Four maybe? I’m still waiting for a person who has been to heaven or hell to come back and tell me.

    All I know is that Karma is all the same in all religions. Only perhaps repackaged in different ways; Judgement Day, Syurga, “what comes around goes around” etc. All these which we are familiar with. No?

    Reply
  16. LupinTan

    Well, though I’m a Christian, I think I leave the comment on Chrisitianity until you open the other can of worm.

    Talking about Karma.

    1. There are 2 part to Karma. One is accumulated (past lives (note: with an s). One is current Karma. What ever happen to you in this present life is an accumulation of your deeds in the past. And watever current decision you make in this current life will affect the next. But the ultimate goal of Buddhismm is to escape this vicious cycle by attaining enlightenment.

    The reasons of bad things happen to good people in buddhism context is that it’s is mean to be, and it sort of cancel off some of the bad karma he/she/it have in the past life. Hence when it proceed to the next life, it will have a clean sheet of karma, making it easier to achieve enlightenment.

    Therefore, in buddhism context, it’s always important to do good deeds all the time cause you do not know what u did in ur past lives.

    Reply
  17. LupinTan

    Mooi: Ya, you have to understand the fundamental truth that all people are sinners before u can even believe in Jesus. It’s ok, no rush, take u time, though time is not much left.

    usually quiet: Actually, we can’t blame him for not understand, he’s willing to know more (rite, mooi)

    Sourrain: Did you Christian Sunday school teach that Jesus say when someone if cold, we should take our coat and give it to them? That, though we are saved by faith, we need to exercise those faith through works to “earn” our place in heaven lest we go hell too.

    Yes, only true Christian (disciples of Christ) goto heaven. Those who profess with mouth only goes to hell too. Like the Lukeworm Church of Revelation.

    OK. I think I talk too much too. Should end here.

    I apologise if I offend anyone.

    Reply
  18. sourrain

    mr lupin tan

    if me and mooiness are going to hell anyway,why are you still trying to preach to us heathens?You will be going to heaven irregardless whether you kill someone tomorow or bomb the world seeing that you are a true christian disiple?

    I apologize to everyone else.I am not trying to insult christianity,most of my closest friends are christians,but i hate those high and mighty i am going to heaven you will burn in hell people.

    Reply
  19. Xinyi

    Actually, maybe karma is not a simple 2D scale that goes from ‘bad’ on one end all the way to ‘good’ on the other?

    Maybe it’s too simplistic to think of levels of good/ bad karma for an individual, because the type of karma that one shares with a mother would be different compared to that with a brother/ friend/ country etc. Good doesn’t necessarily cancel out the bad, and vice versa.

    About your concern that a child might not have a chance to build up good karma may be too straightforward. Maybe the lack of chance is an ‘effect’?

    The fact that he was born to his parents would already be the combination of ‘effects’ for past ’causes’, for both the child and the family. No matter how short a child’s life is, I believe the child would have chances to sow ’causes’ for ‘effects’ to happen in later in life, or in the next life! (Remember that a stillborn was alive for some time in his mother’s womb, every little kick he gave her, the joy/ laughter/ tears he brought her just by being, could be the effects of past causes, or the causes of future effects.) I think every little thing counts!

    So if it’s a stillborn, maybe it means that bad karma debt has just been paid off some, for both the baby and the family?

    Wow that was hard to write, had a really difficult time articulating my thoughts! Hope I don’t come across as being too didactic. The above is what I believe now… after pondering some of the questions that you threw up. =P

    Reply
  20. LupinTan

    Sourrain: I can’t guranttee myself that I’m going to heaven, at least not now. There are areas of mine that don’t meet the requirement. At the end of the day, God is the one that make the Judgement.

    The reason of me “preaching” is not to boast of me going or non-believer going hell but let them understand that there indeed is a hell, and a heaven.

    Do you think a true christian will bomb others?
    I don’t think so. When I say a true Christian, I mean really someone that would do what Jesus would do. So Question is, do you think Jesus will bomb the world to prove himself?

    Reply
  21. mooiness Post author

    Woah woah woah … gees. I would have stopped this earlier if my Internet connection wasn’t down.

    Lupin: I think your comments to be a little presumptuous. I don’t want to be a Christian, and I find it insulting to think I’d need to be one if I want to go to heaven.

    This is what Mili (sourrain) said above, and what I said in my post – this sense of superiority and condescension, and a thinking that we are somehow foolish or misguided if we don’t believe in the Bible is a major source of contention. It’s what pisses ppl off about Christians.

    I’m gonna word this better in a follow-up post.

    Reply
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  23. robin

    Oh dear, I have been branded “usually quiet”. Thats interesting, ahahahaa…

    Anyway, there is a little I feel that I need to say about what sourrain mentioned.
    If you claim Buddhism to be a fair religion, I suppose it is not wrong to say that Christianity is not a fair religion. Why? If God is to punish us in every sins we commit, I believe there will be no heaven for anyone, since everyone sins. Life itself is unfair.

    Hey marcus,
    I totally understand ur message there, I was just saying I do not believe in Karma, why so, and how oddly out of place it would have been if Karma is true, in a very general sense of course.

    Reply
  24. robin

    Hey marcus,
    Alamak !!!!
    I better screen through ALL comments next time before posting mine up.
    Sorry for the confusion on my part. I have a bad habit of not reading what others comment and post my own up. Not good not good.

    Reply
  25. LupinTan

    Mooiness: All I can say is that no one can force you to make an decision that you don’t want to.

    I don’t think Christianity is superior in any sense.

    To Me, it’s just the most logical religon.

    Sadly to say, that’s is really what Christianity is about, that Jesus die for our sins cause we are sinners, that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the bible. And it’s the only way to heaven.

    Reply
  26. Rachel

    whoa whoa whoa… it seems to me everytime discussion of religion comes into play, tempers get ruffed up and words get exchanged… is it not possible to discuss objectively and calmly? In any case, whatever religion i believe in, I would not “hard sell” it unless opposite party specifically asks me for info. I am always keen to find out about different religions but it seems to me most discussions always end in some form of anger.. NO offence to any one here. *peace out*

    Reply
  27. rationalneurotic

    er. I am a Christian, though not a very good one. I just wanna say that I do find some other christians (in general) very self-righteous and irritating. No one is guaranteed a place in heaven, not even the Pope.

    Discussion is always good but one must have tolerance for others’ beliefs =) and I think that is what marcus has been saying too, no?

    Reply
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  30. Ann

    Karma? What is karma anyway? If it is the cause and effect thing, I guess that is what how you define it.

    But if you use it as wishful thinking for others who have done wrong against you, I think that is wrong.

    If you use it as a belief in getting a reward for doing a good thing, I believe that is wrong too.

    For me, do something good because of your love for God and for others, do not expect anything in return. If someone hurt you, pray for that person (TRY not to think of karma).

    I am also a Christian.

    Reply
  31. Stephanie

    The idea of Karma is very questionable to me. We can never really know if Karma exists if those that hurts us never pay their karmic dues in their current lifetime. I think to believe you can accumulate karmic dues for the next lifetime is insane sense we may never know if reincarnation really exists. It just a crazy theory. At the same time I find it hard to accept, and even makes me a little upset, that if I wish bad karma on a man that cheated on me I will in return receive bad karma for those thoughts. With matters of the heart I would hope karma works differently. It would seem to make more sense that bad karma comes to those that are intentionally hurtful, manipulative, , immoral, and deceptive. I would never wish tragedies on those that hurt me. I do wish learning lessons that create the same amount of pain they caused with hopes it will awaken them. Why is that so wrong?

    Reply

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