Science has explained that when any object exerts a force, it is met with an equal and opposite force. The collision of these two forces result in a movement. The study of this movement is largely carried out by physicists, most notable of whom gave us our 3rd law of motion: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The application of this law extends beyond observable actions, such as a fish swimming in water, but affects our thoughts and has an implication in reincarnation.
The notion of reincarnation assumes that each life is a progression of the soul and the Law of Karma is the equalizer of that notion. Like Newton’s law, the Law of Karma is a law produced by cause and effect. Actions we perform initiate reactions from other people, nature, or from ourselves. Reactions can be observed within minutes, days, years, or lifetimes. Once we initiate an action, it is recorded in our ‘karmic bank account’ and considering the intent and outcome associated with our action, we receive either good or bad karma.
A boy jumping on the ground is a movement resulting from his jumping force; this force, coupled with the force the ground exerts to push him up results in his movement upwards; this is the law of motion. Intention is a major factor when assessing the karmic value of an action. Him jumping into the middle of the street to save a child is entirely different from him jumping over a fence to get away from the police.
People say that karma is ‘a bitch’. Yes. She is the bitch that bites back, but why? Because we make it so. It is the man himself who prompts his suffering; every act, word, and thought has a rippling effect; it is this rippling effect that produces karma. So the cause(us) creates the effect (the outcome) and the outcome (the effect of the initial action) acts upon the initial cause (us.) Let me give you an example: when I was in law school I had a professor who after grading one of my first assignments predicted that I would fail out of her class and made other hurtful remarks. Several months later she was diagnosed with cancer. Thus, she (cause) was rude and inappropriate which (effect) made myself and others doubt our own abilities. Then she received a diagnosis of cancer (effect) which produced the same anguish and doubt (cause) for her. I’m not certain if this was a genetic limbo or the karmic hand, but I do know she will ‘reap what she has sowed.’
Every time we think, speak, or act we create an observable or unobservable effect. We unleash an energy into the universe and that same energy finds its way back to us in some form; hence the saying we reap what we sow. Sourced from the Bhagvad Gita, past Karma predetermines four main aspects of our lives: our birth family, our income level, our education level, and our physical appearance. Just these four factors have a very strong influence on our lives, and then, in addition, we struggle with karmic reactions daily. Although Karma does not eradicate free will, the Vedic texts do tell us that ‘actions are guided by the Law of Karma and free will is very limited.’
Hinduism believes that all souls are eternal and are stuck in this vicious cycle of rebirth: samsara. Every life is not only a progression of our soul, but is determined by past karmas; good karma elicits good fortune while bad karma results in misery and misfortune. Although this is far from the complete understanding of Karma, I am not here to preach or promote Hinduism; I am here to heighten the awareness of YOUR soul and internal power. So act consciously because the love, hate, manipulation, or compassion you give to others is what you will get back; in this life or the next.
Please visit http://hinduism.iskcon.org/concepts/103.htm for more information on karma.