Karma and Samsara – Action, Causality and Rebirth?

At the core of Buddhism lies two teachings – Karma and Samsara. Karma, in Sanskrit translates to deed or action. It also the Law of Cause and Effect. It states that goodness begets goodness and evil begets evil. On the other hand, Samsara is known as rebirth or reincarnation. But in Sanskrit, it translates to aimless wandering. Like being forever lost in a circle of birth, rebirth or redeath.

How Does Karma Affect Our Lives?

Karma is the universal Law of Cause and Effect. It states that for everything that we do, there will always be a return of such action. Even doing “nothing” begets something.

Karma has also been scientifically state by Newton’s Law stating that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. So in essence Karma is a Universal Law that governs all things and not just humans.

Karma is the effect, while Kriya is the action or intention. This means that not only action give effects but also intentions. Intentions have a cosmic energy in them and hence they cause certain types of energies to be released with them.

Immediate Karma or Delayed Karma?

The Law of Karma indicates two effects of every action one is IMMEDIATE or PHALA and INTERNAL or SAMAKARA. Phala basically affects the person in the same life or immediately. Samakara affects the person internally which hence eventually affects him and the future events that will occus in his life and future lives. This is more likened to sowing seeds which take time before the “harvest” comes.

In essence karma states that there is no such thing as destiny

We are not controlled by others but we are generally affected by our own intention and thoughts and actions on given aspects we are faced with. When we think of good or moral acts, we tend to act morally and thus we live morally and thus our lives become good. On other hand, if we think of wicked thoughts, our actions will become evil and thus bad things will come to us. For no good thing arises from a bad intent or action and nothing bad will come out of kindness and goodness.

Karma in Present Day

Karma, being a universal law is transcendental and is applicable to any time or generation, be it in the time of the Buddha or in our present day.

Many people in this day and age think that they must not be “too good” because good people are often victims of folly of others, but in truth, the goodness one sows is always repaid. A lot of times we may not see the effect of Karma but when it happens, you will be surprised.

1. Karma and Love

Karma affects our relationships. When we love truly with no expectations we feel good things happening. However possessive love causes us to be jealous. Jealousy causes pain and suffering in our hearts and thus with this bad intent, we suffer now. A jealous love now, may also affect future relationships. If you have sown seeds of anger and possessiveness, you may be bitter in the future.

You must remember that love cannot be controlled and that to love is to accept and to allow the other person grow.

2. Karma and Family

The way we interact with our family affects our future. If we do not care for our children now, how can we expect them to care for us in our old age? But we should never expect anything from anyone; we should never demand love and fealty.

Be a good parent and you will raise a good child. This child will then be a good person. Be a neglectful parent and you will have an evil child. This child will grow angry and hateful and will hurt others.

Be kind to your old parents, to set an example to your children. If you care not for your aging mother or father, you cannot ask your child to care for you.

Be careful at how you treat your family members, each word or deed you put in their hearts will sow a seed that may turn good or bad.

3. Karma and Your Finances

Karma affects your money, career and your future. Be selfish with your money and money won’t comeback to you. Help others who are in need and you can know that in someway you will receive help either in this life or the next. Do not envy, for envy sows hate.

Do not desire money too much. Money is a number and numbers never end. If you devote your whole live to earning money you will learn that you have lost time for your family and friends. But work hard to gain a good and stable future. Karma works in every thing we do.

Karma and Samsara – How to Be Free From Rebirth

Life is full of suffering. This is not a pessimistic thought. It is the reality. Our bodies feel pain and our hearts get broken and we go through many things in life. Even happiness is never permanent and is always fleeting, making us feel like a mouse running on a wheel chasing things on and on.

Karma is the law the ultimately determines if you become subject to Samsara. Samsara is the process of aimless wandering in life, both in this plane of existence on in another. Samsara is commonly known as REINCARNATION.

Karma states that one must have the Right View, Right Intent and Right Action and follow the Eightfold Path to free oneself from rebirth. It also states how we will be reborn just in case we do not receive enlightenment. There are six possible types of rebirth that you may acquire:

1. to be reborn in heaven like realm or as a god (Deva)
2. to be a demigod (Asura)
3. to return as a human (Manusya)
4. to be born as an animal (Tiryak)
5. to be reborn as a ghost (preta)
6. to be reborn in a hellish realm (Naraka)

Good deeds result to better Karma which in turn results to being born in a better state. Evil actions results in being born in Evil forms or states.

However in Buddhism, Buddha has taught us of Annata or the Law of No Self or No Soul. Buddha states that there is no Atman or soul and what get’s reborn is our karmic energy. This is much like how science deems the transference of energy. Buddha has also taught us about Annica, which means Impermanence. Since there is nothing permanent a soul does does not get reborn from realm to realm, body to body but it is the energy that gets reborn. Our aim is to be removed from such a cycle of being reborn.

This may be difficult to understand since we are conditioned to view things through our persona or identity but in essence it makes sense even through science.

The Process of Reincarnation

Reincarnation has been viewed differently in different religions and schools of philosophy in India. Some say that you get reborn right after death, other say that it take 49 days to be reborn. Some even state that we get reborn in a particular state of the six types of rebirth depending on our merits.

There is also a process called REDEATH. Redeath means from being in a heavenly state, you die and be born in a lower state. The aim of Buddhism is to find Mokha or freedom as well as Nirvanan from the endless process and cycle of rebirth.

If you do good deeds your bad deeds do not get overshadowed. Not everyone is given an equal piece of heaven because we are all different in our acts and intent. The goal is to do more good actions moving forward to attain a better reincarnation or be liberated from the process of Samsara.


Read more to find out the Three Universal Truths Taught by Buddha

You may also read about the basic teachings of Buddhism by reading about the Four Nobles Truths and the Eightfold Path.


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