A key idea of Buddhist philosophy is the law of karma; this doctrine holds that the actions which one performs in life are directly connected to one’s future destiny. Many people who belive in karma belive that there is a likewise belief in the world of physical science which holds that for every action there is an equal reaction. The belief that a person’s actions impacts their future destiny extends to later lives because the Buddhist religion recognizes reincarnation: the idea that a person lives many different lives and comes back to earth in another form after death. In fact, many Buddhist regard “karma as integral to reincarnation. A persons karma depends on how he conducts himself in life. He can be resurrected as an insect if he’s been bad, but if he’s been good, he slips into an everlasting state of painless pleasure,” (“What Is ‘Karma’?,” 2005, p. NA).
The idea of reincarnation and the achievement of a “state of painless pleasure” are viewed to take place over thousands if not millions of lifetimes. By the laws of karma, all actions one takes in their rpesent life will affect future lives just as past actions in past lives impact any given life in the present: “karma states that one’s state in this life is a result of actions (both physical and mental) in past incarnations, and action in this life can determine one’s destiny in future incarnations,” (“Karma,” 2004).
Un lie Christianity which posits a judging God and a reward of everlasting life in heaven or damnation in hell, karma is regarded by its believers as “a natural, impersonal law of moral cause and effect and has no connection with the idea of a supreme power that decrees punishment or forgiveness of sins”; karma applies to everyone and is an extension of the natural universe which everyone inhabits. (“Karma,” 2004)
Karma. (2004). In The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
What Is ‘Karma’?. (2005, March 26). Manila Bulletin, p. NA.