The word “karma” comes from the Sanskrit word “karman”, which means “action”. In the context of karma, “action” refers to both our physical actions and our mental actions, such as our thoughts, words, and intentions. All Hindu, Buddhist, sikh, Jain and all Indian philosophies believe in the law of karma.

Karma has two common meanings, first action or work or duty, and second causation-the law of karma emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior and the idea that one’s actions have consequences, both in this life and in future lives. Karma remains the moral context for many people in the East.

There are many different ways to understand and interpret the concept of karma. Some people believe that karma is a way of balancing the universe. Others believe that karma is a way of learning and growing. Still others believe that karma is a way of achieving enlightenment. Oftentimes, karma may be seen as a form of cosmic justice or moral law. Hindus believe in Karma yoga as one of the ways to realize God.

No matter how you understand it, Karma can be a powerful concept that can have a profound impact on our lives. By understanding karma and the karmic law of cause and effect, we can make choices that will lead to a more positive and fulfilling life.

Although the concept of karma is often associated with Eastern religions, variations or similar concepts of karma can also be found in other religions and belief systems as we can see in the following quotes.


“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

— Galatians 6:7, Bible


“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

— Quran 13:11


“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

— The Analects, Confucian text


“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

— Dalai Lama


“He is unaffected by Karma, although engaged in action, who has yoked himself to the way of Yoga, whose mind is purified, whose self has triumphed and whose senses have been subdued, and whose self has, indeed, become the self of all beings. Although acting he remains unaffected by Karma.”

— The Bhagavad Gita (5:7), Hindu text


“If you do good, know that the good will return to you. If you do evil, know that the evil will return to you.”

— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching — The Bhagavad Gita (5:7), Hindu text


“As one plants, so does one harvest. O Nanak, contemplate the Naam, the Name of the Lord, and you shall be released from bondage.”

— Guru Granth Sahib

To learn more about other common themes across religions, visit us at uef.org/weekly-wisdom.



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