The Wheel of Dharma, The endless cycle of samsara/rebirth, Buddha, Karma - Mental Professionals, Dietikon, Zürich
The Wheel of Dharma, The endless cycle of samsara/rebirth.

As there are some years ago I studied Hinduism and Buddhism at the University of Oslo, I started some days ago to refresh and look into other peoples opinion about what really Karma is. And my result I think is as many as there are people who have written about the topic. So to give a short overview about karma is no so easy, but I will try my best, based on different views.


To start with the beginning - Karma comes from the ancient Indo-European language of Sanskrit, and must be translated in three words, namely "deed," "action," and "execution".


In Eastern religions one can say that the explanation of karma has to do with deed and causality. When this is said I have to point out that Karma is not easy, especially since the meaning of karma is a bit different from a Buddhist or Hindu point of view.

Karma is a system just lying there, completely subconscious of all people. Karma work independently of our manipulations and will affect every human being in this life, before or later and in the next lives to be reborn.


Karma is, after Hindu belief, the reasons behind human space in life. The actions a human being does in this life will decide how to go in the next life. It is first and foremost the motive behind the action and not the very action that is important. The motives behind everything we do create either good or bad karma. The idea that karma maintains life is in the Upanishadene combined with the idea of reincarnation. The actions a person does in this life will decide how to go next.


Buddhist karma differs from Hindu karma in that the results of the actions are coming right here and now. Where Hinduism talks about the actions of karma are summed up after life, before deciding what to be reborn, the Buddhists see the Laws of karma more like nature laws. All actions, both active, self-chosen passivity and thoughts put karmic traces in consciousness. These tracks will affect everything that happens to you and all you do in this life and in the next life.


The Buddhism offense is mindset ethics. That means that it is the idea behind the actions that are essential. If you feel good, it gives good karma. It is not necessarily the consequence of the action or the result that is important. If a human innocent person makes mistakes, judges mistakes or does not mean hurting someone, yes, good Buddhists must expect to be excused. If the thought was good you can not dislike or hate a person. Forgiveness is important in Buddhism. As important as being generous, both with compliments and with presents.


But you can break out of this "mechanical" action pattern. You can always take an active position in your choice. If you manage to completely break away from karmic mechanics, you reach the stage as in Buddhism called enlightenment. Then, in Theravadabuddhism, one becomes a arhat or one worthy of Nirvana. In Mahayana and its associated directions one can achieve the status of boddhisattva. A boddhisattva is an enlightened creature that helps others to be saved after he has nullified Nirvana himself. Dalai Lama is the most famous boddhisattva in the world.


“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realise that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”

Dalai Lama



In Vedanta and Yoga teachings, it is referred to three types of karma:

  • Prarabdha karma – karma we experience during the present lifetime
  • Sancita karma – karma that we have not yet reached fruition of
  • Agami karma – karma we sow in this life and that will come to fruition in a future life

As mentioned before, Karma works through a process of various rebirths. The basic idea is that all actions are followed by a result. The rebirth is a result of the actions that have been performed in previous lives.  Good or bad actions create impressions (samskaras) or tendencies (vasanas) in the mind, which in time will result in more action and karma. Unless we can see below the actual action it is so difficult to judge whether that action is harmful or not. The action itself is not an indication of whether it is positive or negative; it is the mind, the motivation creating the action that determines this.


Maybe the hell that many religions speak of is simply the unbearable and painful situations we create for ourselves by our past bad actions.


When you realize that you can do something with repetitive negative thoughts that you self have created and caused, you can let go...


At some point in your life, you chose it, by your actions.


In one way this can be hard to take in over oneself, but in an other way it can be liberating when you know that you can do something about it. You have the power of a positive response, no matter what the situation. It’s not about blaming yourself, or others, but more to accept the situation of karma.


You can use the laws of karma to create success in your life. If you really want something to happen maybe the way to this is to help others to achieve their goals. In this way you create positive karma for yourself, and this seeds you sow will one day give this good karma back to you.

The law of karma is about choice.

We can not always control what is happening in our world, but we can absolutely control how we respond to it. It is how you respond to things that will either create good or bad karma. Whether you believe in karma or not, it can be worth to try out living after the law of karma, and maybe the principles can help you live a better life.


If you would like to improve or balance your life with karma, some ways to do this is with Meditation or Reiki. With both of this methods you will improve you love for life and love to others. And as in so much else here in life, Love is a keyword.


"You will not be punished for your anger,

you will be punished by your anger."



Last but not at least; Within Indian philosophy and religion, many solutions have been prepared for how man can get rid of karma and rebirth, which is the goal itself, but that is an other story ;)


Heidi Faugli Feurer