Karma’s Role in Buddhism

Karma is an eloquent word in any religion. It gives a direct and strong message without giving importance to people’s caste, creed, culture, and tradition. The word “Jaise Karni, Waise Bharni” is still popular and carries a strong sense of belief among the people. To be precise in Buddhism, the definition, description, and impacts of Karma are mentioned in the most advanced form with logical support and reasoning that it develops the strong foundation for people to believe in it and act according to the law of nature.

Karma is the heart of Buddhism. During Buddha’s 45 years of “Bahujana Hitaya, Bahujana Sukhaya” traveling, walking across different villages, his gist of whole teachings is interlinked with the Karmic connections. Karma automatically finds its way. His ideology of teaching was “Sabbe Satta Kammassaka” which means all humans are the result of their Karma”. It is supreme, it is great. No one can escape the reality of it. Just like humans don’t see the shadow in the sun, but it’s still following, the same applies to Karma whether you believe it or not. So what is Karma? Why is it so important in Buddhism?

Karma is connected with our deeds. If we do good deeds, the result will also be good and if we do the bad, the result will also be bad. Those deeds are so important that it becomes the human identity, their behavior, and habits. These are performed through the physical body, word of mouth, and mind. To kill (Panatipata), steal (Adinnadana), and perform sexual misconduct (Kamesu michachara) are the bad deeds performed through physical activities. To lie (Musawada), to assassinate character (Pisunawacha), harsh speech (Pharusawacha), and to have an unwanted talk (Samphappalapawacha) produces bad Karma through the word of mouth. Similarly, feelings to have materialistic possession of other, greediness and jealousy (Abhijjha), ill-will; the feeling of hatred or dislike (Vyapada), and false perception (Micchaditthi) are the result of bad Karma through the mental status.

Those all things carry the essence about the intention and purpose to harm others. If we do anything through physical, mental, and from our mouth that becomes the reason for the other’s unhappiness and misery then we deposit the chunk of evil deeds. Have we ever wondered how delicate and sensitive the term Karma is? Why we have to be so serious about every action we take in our life? Anytime we could be the victim of the evil deeds and face the consequences sooner or later.

Human beings are born in a selfish world. Some are rich, some are poor. People are born with a physically handicapped body while others are born with great posture. Some take birth in the untouchable family whereas others are born in the high caste family. Someone is so talented, shows the symptoms of being great in life while others are so foolish that they do not expect to do anything in life. There are many more examples. Why this demarcation line is created by this world who are born in the same land, from the womb of the same alike mothers. One of the strong logical reasoning from the prospects of Buddha is the “KARMIC CONNECTIONS”. Karma is attached with our every work performed, with every action we do or even we think.

Lord Buddha has explained every detail and supported this statement through his reasoning whenever he speaks. To name it as an evil deed and know we had done the bad Karma, those actions performed by physical, word of mouth, and mental activity have their respective criteria. As in the case of action performed by the physical body i.e. to kill others, five conditions need to be fulfilled. i) a living being, ii) knowledge that it is a living being, iii) intention to kill iv) effort to kill, v) consequent death. All other actions through physical, word of mouth, and mind have similar requirements that need to be fulfilled to identify it as a bad or good deed. Above all, intentions play a serious role. Willingness to do good or bad is delivered later in action. False intentions result in bad behavior whereas good one result in performing better activity.

In the case, if we have the bad intentions in mind only, we have to face the consequences of it which tell how sensitive and delicate the teaching of Buddha is as we are lucky to learn every tiny aspect to detail form. The consequences of Karma can be categorized into three forms i.e. marking a line in the water, sand, and a stone. For example, bad thought just come and just go is like a marking a line in water which just happened and ended soon but we have to face the least consequences. Some Karmas have the result just like marking the line in the sand. With the phase of time and our practice of doing the good Karma, those markings can also be removed. The danger of them all is marking the line in the stone. We have to face the severe consequences of it, no good Karma will act as the alternative to eradicate it. We have to bear the impact of it in this life or many uncountable lives to come.

According to the Buddha’s Doctrine of Philosophy, to kill one’s father, mother, to shed even traces of blood from the body of Buddha, to break the Sangha (Sanga vedh) and to kill the enlighten being (Arahatghat) is planting the worst seed to evil deeds which takes an uncountable life to surpass it. Doesn’t it sound scary? Yes, it does. So we have to think twice when we perform any act and realize that whether our actions are harming the happiness of others or not. There are some examples from the life of Buddha who was responsible for such an evil act and successful in marking the unresolvable line in the stone.

The kings of Magadha, the royal highness Bimbisara was the great follower of Buddha. He became one of the trusted disciples of him, attained Sotapatti (phases to reach enlightenment). His son, Ajatasatru, the rightful heir was against his father from the beginning. He wanted to rule the powerful state of his father, dethrone him and minimize the craze of Buddha whose advice was interlinking with the life of people. He was successful in killing his father who was just not a follower of Buddha but a saint who had already initiated steps in the path of enlightenment. Later on, he was so guilty and regretful about killing his father, went to several saints from different religions in search of peace but was unable to find the medicine he was searching for. Finally, he went to Buddha, got delighted seeing the disciples of him meditating in such a peaceful state. Lord knew that he had committed such a sinful act, gave Dhamma Deshana (Samanyafala Sutta) related to the advantages and benefits of being a monk. He was so inspired, satisfied, happy, and took an oath to dedicate the rest of his life for the shake of Buddhism. Later Buddha addressed among the monks that if King Ajatasatru had not committed such a shameful deed or crime, he would have attained Sotapatti in the same position while he was listening to my Dhamma advice. With such a powerful crime he committed, he took birth in Avichi Maha Naraka (one of the dreadful hell) to face the consequences of his evil deeds. Now we can analyze how powerful those Karmas are. It can turn the life of a person to burning hell or wonderful heaven.

It teaches us that we should be aware of our activities. Because once it’s committed, we have to face the consequences. It is not that the sacred being has to face little consequences and the evil person has to face more. Concerning Karma, there is no discrimination. Everyone is equal in the eye of it. Even Tathagata faced the sins of his past life when Devdatta, wounded his foot. It sets a vibe that Karma is miraculous, everyone should abide by the rule of Karma.

Similarly, doing good has its benefits. Bodhisatwa, after performing the righteous act and spectacular deeds for four uncountable (asankhya), one lakh Kalpa, finally took birth as a Prince Siddhartha in Kapilvastu and got enlightenment at the age of 35. His 32 signs (lakshyan) of a great man followed by another 80 secondary characteristics (Byanjan) is also the power and effect of his unique and incomparable Karmas not for benefits of himself but the shake of mankind. Apart from that, Tathagata disciples, the holy monks, and followers also took birth during the origin of Buddha because of their own rightful and excellent Karmas. That’s why Venerable Sariputta, one of the top disciples of Buddha; hearing some texts “Hey Dhamma Hetupabhawa” before becoming monk understood the essence of the law of nature that every Dhamma have the features of arising and passing away and attained Sotapatti instantly. Those were the golden era when the people of a great soul having the weighted Karma took birth and walked in the path of purity and sanity.

But the generations have completely changed. The false perceptions are maximum. Every human has got a single life, so do good, bad or evil does not matter at all. Those thoughts and beliefs are in the mind of people. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha but the activities that are prevailing currently in our society are completely shameful becoming difficult to pronounce the slogan “Buddha was born in Nepal”. The daily murders, crimes, rapes, theft, robbery, corruption have made life more difficult. The country is drowning since everybody cares about themselves as humanity has lost its value. Strangely, good generations are followed by generous people whereas the bad generations are followed by evil and self-centered ones.

The teaching of Buddha is an inspiration for human beings and is practiced in the world as it has a strong foundation and scientific reasoning. The role of Karma is an integral part of Buddhism in which every living organism is dependent. In the animal world too, they are facing the sins due to their own Karma. The consequences of Karma are so dreadful that once it’s committed it’s somewhat least possible to break the chain of it and come out of those circumstances. The popular verse in Dhammapada, “Ata Hi Atano Natho, Ata Hi Atano Gati” also explains the fact we are the master of our deeds and we are responsible for our actions. So, we must be aware of our actions that do not lead to trouble and invite the harmful consequences. Apart from that, being the citizen of the birthplace of Gautama Buddha it’s the prime responsibility for every being to follow, learn, practice, and pursue the teaching of Buddha and walk in the path of Dhamma and set an example that Nepal is the land of Lord Buddha.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s