Law of Karma: Explained.

In one of the previous posts, we explained in detail the notion of predestination.One of the important arguments for predestination is the Law of Karma. In this post, we will be explaining in detail the whole concept of the Law of Karma in detail.

  • What is Law of Karma?:
    • Law of Karma in general or layman terms can be put as -” As you sow, so shall you reap”.
    • So, essentially, it is a law of justice in the life of human beings.
  • If it is a law, then there needs to be a legislator and a regulator. Who is it?:
    • As commonly believed, this regulator/legislator is GOD.

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  • If Law of Karma is valid, then why do we see good people suffering and evil people thriving well?:
    • This is one of the strongest argument against the Law of Karma.
    • The defence so given by the proponents is that the law is not just applicable to this life but to all the lives of a human being.Thus, the notion of rebirth(to be explained in a later post) is central for the validity of the Law of Karma.
    • A human being who is doing evil deeds in this life in thriving well due to his good deeds of the previous birth.
  • Does Law of Karma define our destiny?:
    • As we understood in a previous post on Predestination, Law of Karma governs our destiny to a considerable extent.
  • Is Law of Karma consistent with free will?
    • This is also one of the common objections against the Law of Karma–> If everything is determined by the Law of KARMA, then the human beings do not have free will.
    • One extreme view would uphold that, yes, human beings do not have free will.This includes Western Philosophers like Baruch Spinoza and Indian Philosophers like Ajivikas.Other strike it down as absurd.
    • However, a balanced view has been explained on the basis of an analogy of “a horse tied to the pole with the help of a rope.” The horse could do whatever it wants to within a defined limit, that is, the radius of the rope and not beyond that. So, this radius signifies the limit to which we can do anything we want to in our life based on our free will. Beyond that, destiny plays its role.
  • How our desires get fructified on the basis of Law of Karma?:
    • This also can be understood with the help of a real life example.
    • Consider your desire to be a resume for a job. There are certain prerequisites for the job. If you fulfill those, then you are qualified for the job else your application is liable to be rejected. So, the need is to have those basic minimum requisites.
    • Now, apply it to your desire and fruits. Corresponding to every desire of yours there is a certain minimum level of karma required. If you have those, then, you will be able to accomplish your desire else not.
  • What is the significance of the Law of Karma?:
    • It motivates us to do good deeds so that we get good fruits in future, thus, promotes moral values among the believers.
  • What could be the negative consequences of the belief in Law of Karma?
    • It may induce a sense of irresponsibility as people would do away from accepting their mistakes.

What is Predestination?

Predestination is an often debated spiritual/philosophical topic. In our lives, we often come across different views regarding our destiny. While some say- “Everything is written and whatever is meant to be yours will come to you when the right time comes”, others give an anti-thesis to this view by saying – ” You are the creator of your destiny and if you want something, you have to work hard in the direction needed to achieve the same”.

Due to the powerful prevalence of both thesis and antithesis, destiny becomes a difficult conundrum. In this article, we will try to solve this conundrum through objective views and bring about a synthesis of the two views.

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The Proponents(Thesis):

The proponents of the doctrine of predestination often uphold that our life is a pre-written script in which more or less all the events are already being decided by the “omniscient” God. (Here the word “omniscient” itself signifies predestination as the God if omniscient will know for sure the past, present,and future).

Here we take into consideration few of the objective facts.

  • The Holy Bhagwat Gita says:

vedaham samatitani
vartamanani carjuna
bhavisyani ca bhutani
mam tu veda na kascana

Translation:

” O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows”.

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This gives and indication towards the predestination as the God(Krishna) says that he knows the past, present as well as the future . 

  • The Bhrigu Samhita:

The Bhrigu Samhita is an ancient text written by Saint Bhrigu, a proponent of Vedas. It is said that, this book has the script of our lives(not everyone’s though) and gives us the information of what has happened and what is yet to happen in our lives. There are a few who read this Samhita. (Disc.: We are not taking the responsibility of the objectivity and authenticity of it ;)).

  • Islamic notion of “Maktub”:

Maktub or Maktoob is an Arabic word means “it is written”, that is, whatever is about to happen in our life is already “written” by the Almighty and thus, cannot be changed.

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  • The Christian notion of Infralapsarianism:

It holds that predestination logically coincides with the preordination of Man’s fall into sin.That is, God, predestined sinful men for salvation. Therefore, according to this view, God is the ultimate cause, but not the proximate source or “author” of sin.

  • The Law of Karma:

The Law of Karma can be simply presented as: “As you sow, so shall you reap”. It is sometimes analogically presented to us as” if you dig a hole for someone else, you are likely to fall in the same”. However, LoK is not an instantaneous law but is said to be applicable till we live in this world. Here, living does not just mean one birth but multiple births that we take on this earth through repeated cycle of birth and death till we are “liberated”. (Rebirth and transmigration would be discussed in a separate article).

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It is said that our fate is determined by our “karma”. This seems logical enough when we look at the disparities like rich and poor and the fact that some are born rich and some poor. LoK also holds good for other major aspects our life.

  • Others like Astrology, deja vu, a sudden unfolding of events in our lives without we being unaware of their happening are also few of the proofs of predestination.

So, it is a justice ridden law which determines our destiny.

The Opponents(Antithesis):

  • If everything is predestined, then:
    • I have no free will:
      • This is one of the most logical contradictions to predestination. A human would become a “pre-programmed Robot” or a “puppet” in the hands of the God if everything he does is/was meant to be done. If this is so, then humans are not liable for any wrong decision they make, This will make the humans “irresponsible beings” and they will never accept their own mistakes. God and Destiny would become the objects of imposition
    • I should not work:
      • as the destiny would come to me even if I do not work. Such a notion would induce fatalism in the society and would annul the productivity of the people.
    • I should not apply my brain willingly:
      • as my actions(which are going to decide my future) will come out “automatically” with the Almighty’s grace and destiny’s play.
    • I should not pray:
      • as if God cannot change what He had already written, By changing something that He had written, He would contradict himself and become limited like humans.

The Synthesis:

Yes, we can say that a number of things in our life happen as they were or are meant to happen. For example, our birth in a family rich or poor, our health at birth, our death etc.But, it would not be sane to say that “everything is predestined” as this would threaten our freedom and also leads to fatalism and irresponsibility. Here, we could abide by the view that although major events may be predestined, it never strips us of our free will. We always have the right to make a choice, say, a choice regarding education or career among others. Now, the results of the actions which follow these choices are sometimes in our favor while sometimes against us.

Here, we could account for the role of predestination which is often called “luck factor”. But this follows only after appropriate action from our side.Just take an analogy: “We can’t get water out of a well without making a minimum required effort to get it.” Similarly, we can’t find/get success without basic minimum efforts to get it.