Metaphysics 101 — Karma — The Law of Cause and Effect


In metaphysical and philosophical communities of thought there is much discussion about karma. Occidentally you find gold within the comments but frequently the use of the word karma misses the point of the concept. An enormous number of people in our world believe in reincarnation and karma but that concept is religiously polarizing. Karma is a Sanskrit word but is being defined around the world by people (including me) that do not have Sanskrit as our mother language and therefore we may or may not understand the term correctly. More than likely karma is the only Sanskrit word we know or employ. In my personal experience karma is a very misunderstood concept in metaphysical and philosophical communities and in general.

I choose to start from the root of the word in order to understand its use and application. I have a 6-foot tall, 30-inch wide set of books holding my collection of eastern philosophy books many of which I have read so I am not without resource. However, I am not personally a practitioner of eastern philosophy. As with most metaphysical or philosopher types eastern concepts have threaded their way through my studies. I am always interested the philosophy from all cultures and their large unconscious effects on my life. It is important to me that I have a reasonable grasp of the words and the concepts the words describe regardless of their origins. This series is an introduction to metaphysics, so simple is better at this stage of understanding. According to my handy-dandy eMac dictionary the Sanskrit word root is karman, which means action, effect, and fate. Simply put, karma is an eastern philosophy concept that translates into our western culture as the law of cause and effect.

Within a lifetime we make hundreds of thousands of decisions that lead to actions that in turn lead to natural reactions, results or consequences. It does not matter whether these actions are conscious or unconscious. We set them into motion through our action or our intervention and we can be guaranteed there will be results. From my perspective, as part of our day-to-day lives most of these decisions or actions are unconsciously initiated and just as unconsciously experienced. We do not usually think of being causative at the moment we are initiating yet we will reap the natural results of those decisions and actions at some time in our experience. At times those effects are singular and specific and stem from a single cause. At other times those effects can be collective and are therefore more difficult to recognize or explain as a single cause. For a simple example …

When I get up in the morning, depending on how busy I am, I may or may not eat breakfast. If I do eat breakfast it can have the effect of putting gas in my tank to run my physical vehicle (my body) and I am ready to meet the world. That same breakfast could have a digestively upsetting result and I will not be ready to meet the world, I may have to stay home and deal with that upset. That would definitely change my day. I may not eat breakfast and wish that I had … or congratulate myself on my steel will because I am dieting. Perhaps the lack of food will make me light-headed and out-of-it or cranky. Perhaps I will go past light-headed and fault from lack of food. I might do so safely or I might whack my head or some part of my body on the way to the floor (gravity will win in this instance). Hopefully I will not experience this in traffic or in dangerous circumstances. Whether I choose to eat or not eat is causative, all the rest is effect.

Whether you say yes to an experience, say no to an experience, throw up your hands and reply to participate, or decide it is none of your business or responsibility, results will happen that do belong to us because we put in motion. We can be aware or unaware of such results but those results belong to us regardless of our ignorance. Why? It is because effect naturally follows cause. Think of the hundreds of possibilities on a daily basis … all the potential causes. You should be able to see that it is wise to make every possible as positive as possible on the causative end because you will own the effects at the other end. In a simplistic way these are the ingredients that lead to temporary karma.

Of course the karma metaphysicians refer to usually suggest a much larger impact but this is the simplest explanation I could think of to show the beginnings of karma. Karma will become a multi-article subject in this series, but in western terms the concept of Karma is simply the law of cause and effect, which by itself is not that difficult to understand.

Marilyn Muir