The Law of Karma
(Cause and Effect)
When we look back, we become a pessimist and if we look ahead, we can become an optimist. As a
pessimist we see only the difficulty in every opportunity. As an optimist we are able to visualize the
opportunity in every difficulty. We can apply the law of Karma to transform our negative attitude
into positive attitude using the correct framework. We may be able to appreciate that our present
difficulties are the creation of our past unintelligent actions. It is up to us to realize our potentials
by seeking the opportunity to create a better future. The law makes us to be aware that we are the
masters of our own destiny.
As it is, we are bound by our own past. At the same time we are free to act as we will. Freedom and
bondage seem to coexist in all of us. We are like the driver of a train. We can drive the train to
wherever we please (free-will) but our movement is restricted by the tracks (destiny) laid down
already. Both free-will and destiny play an important role in every action. Free-will is an
independent variable and destiny is dependent and it is binding. The independent element is the
purushartha or self-effort. The dependent element is the prarabdha or destiny. We are free to
choose our action but every action is also subject to the influence of self-effort and destiny. We
should recognize that the consequence of our action depends both on the self-effort and our
destiny. Our present destiny or fate is the result of our past actions in the past. Our prarabdha is
the sum total of our past purusharthas.
Our destiny is the effect caused by our past self-effort. If our self-efforts in the past have all been
positive, our present destiny will be positive. If they have been negative, our destiny will be
negative. Our destiny is proportional to our self-efforts.
Destiny is comparable to the bank balance. Savings in the past will result in positive balance.
Borrowers will have negative bank balance. Still the earning capacity is independent of the bank
balance and we always have the option of changing the bank balance from negative to positive.
This is the law of economics.
The law of karma uses the same common sense principle. If we use purushartha (self-effort) to our
advantage we rise and if we abuse it, we fall. The law is infallible.
It is important to know that our effort creates our destiny. We fail to understand this rule and
attribute our success or failure to God. God is only the substratum of all activities. God has
nothing to do with the mode of activity. God helps those who help themselves. This is the law of
nature. When we put in effort, when we fully deserve anything, we get it. But without effort, without
deserving we will never get it. There is a saying "First deserve and then desire." Vedanta says,
"Deserve and do not desire." If we really deserve, objects reach us of their own accord. The law is
unfailing. It never happens that we richly deserve something and we are denied. This is a
misconception. If we fail to achieve our objective remember that we do not deserve it. It only
confirms that something has gone wrong with our effort.
1. Essentials of Hinduism, by V. Krishnamurthy,
Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi, India
2. Vedanta Treatise, by A. Parthasarathy
Vedanta Life Institute, Bombay, India (1984)
3. Sources of Indian Tradition, Volume I
By A.L. Basham, etc.
Columbia University Press, New York