Karma Happens

Karma Happens July 10, 2014

Something that came up in our discussion group from a while back is that karma means only action and it is indifferent to good action v.s. bad action. All actions have karmic consequences, even the good ones.

It is these natural results that keep us tied to this world because we must experience those results, whether good or bad.

Karma attaches to us for both good actions and bad actions, but the goal is to have none of it attach.

Sri Krishna’s instructions in the Gita (which we will begin studying together once we finish the Katha Upanishad) are towards surrendering the results of all actions, no matter whether we think they are good actions or we think they are bad actions. We turn them all over to the Gods.

It isn’t only sort of seeking forgiveness for mistakes, it’s seeking grace for every action we take.

When we do this, it really frees us up to move on to the next action, the next thing that must be done.

The consequences will still occur, but we won’t be so invested in those consequences. We won’t feel it as hard. It will be easier to move through the consequences and experience the next thing.

I’ve been seeing these t-shirts and bumper stickers online that say “Karma Happens: Live Life Accordingly.”  I think I must disagree. The suggestion there is that we should do good action because we fear bad consequences from bad actions. I say we should do good actions for the sake of good and we should surrender the consequences of all actions to Sri Krishna.


Karma is still going to happen no matter how you live your life. It doesn’t judge, it just is.

What we are seeking to do is not to be on a constant high from good consequences that are the results we wanted. Rather we are seeking to be balanced and to not get all our joy out of “good” karmic consequences because inevitably there will be experiences we see as “bad” and if the good effects us a lot, so will the bad.

We are not striving to get and build up and hoard more and more “good” karmic consequences. Because we’ll still be stuck! It will be a prettier prison, perhaps, but still a prison.

Freedom comes from doing what is needed when it is in front of you and surrendering the results back to the Gods.

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  • azbycx zaybxc

    One aspect of the Karma which i have not understood is “Pitru Paksha”

    why people perform Pitru Paksha if everything depends on the karma.People believe sins of their ancestors will be washed off by performing this.really?


  • azbycx zaybxc

    one aspect of the Karma which i have not understood is “PITRU PAKSHA”

    people believe by performing this their ancestors sins will be washed off.really?

    • Ambaa

      That’s an aspect that I also have not been able to understand as of yet. I hope to someday get some clarity on how that works.

  • DudeFromDC

    Hi Aamba,

    I am an avid reader of your blog, but haven’t commented yet. When I saw the title of this topic; I couldn’t help myself not to share my thoughts on it. As a native hindu or born hindu ( I am not sure whats the term for “us” these days); I grew up listening to stories from the epics, puranas and upanishads and to me all of these stories talk one way or another about dharmam, karmam and karmabhalam. Karmam and karmabhalam are crunched into karma in the West. Karmam means action and karmabhalam means the result of the action. The point I was trying to make was that I don’t believe karma happens. I guess the haziness in the understanding of karma is because of the more important aspect of the equation is not factored in, dharmam. A close transliteration of dharmam would be duty or responsibility, thought its far more complex than that. In India (at least where I am from and I am certain in most other parts) dharmam defines your karmam. Your actions will be validated against your dharmam and the karmabhalam will be good or bad based on that. To put that into perspective, we all are citizens of one country or another and we are bound to obey the laws of the land. In other words, its a citizen’s dharmam to abide by the laws. Any actions against the citizen’s dharma will apparently have a bad consequence (bad karmam, bad karmabhalam). So dharmam depends on the role you play in your life. One is a father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, a friend, a neighbor, a citizen, a soldier, a govt employee and leader etc etc and each role has its own set of dharmam. Same karmam can be performed under different roles. You may donate one of your kidneys to your parents or siblings or children but you may not do that for your neighbor or a friend for obvious reasons. But you can definitely do that but that action need not give you any good result (good karma). A soldier who kills most people is a hero while an average joe attempting such an action would be a serial killer. One of the best examples would the “Aswathaman is dead” story that was blogged a few weeks back. That blog missed one important point though. Yudhistir was chosen to tell that lie because he is the epitome of dharmic living. There was not a single action from him; up until then, that defied his dharmam (although I never understood how staking your wife while gambling is in accordance with a husband’s dharmam). Thats the only reason Dronar fell for the lie. And the reason why Yudhistir told the only lie of his life is thats the only way Pandavas could defeat their guru. Same is the case for Lord Krishna who urges Arjun to kill Karna who was trying get his chariot out of the sand and was unarmed. Its against the rules of the war to take aim at an unarmed warrior.
    Jeez, I have been rambling on… Sorry about the long post. Its just my understanding (and that of my parents and grand parents 🙂 ) of the whole thing and was not trying to say that the blog was wrong.

    • Ambaa

      Thank you for adding your persepctive! I’m so glad you commented!

      I have kind of slid into using the word karma the way the west does. I guess it makes it easier to communicate with the people around me who have grown up with the word karma meaning more than just the action itself.

      I was taught that the word for the results of actions was “sanskara.” I don’t know if that’s accurate because I was raised in a Hindu-based cult but not with direct contact with the guru who was advising it.

      I like the concept you bring up of dharmam defining karmam. I struggle with whether actions are good or bad (my favorite line of Hamlet: “Nothing is good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”) Dharma gives a filter through which to define action and that’s really helpful!

      I did leave out that aspect of the Aswathaman story. I think I may need to do a whole post about the paradoxes of the Mahabharata. Or what appear to be paradoxes. It’s a difficult thing to process and understand the actions of The Mahabharata!

  • Agni Puthra

    A picture shared in fb.
    Does karma really work like this?

    • Agni Puthra