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Karma

The meaning of «karma»

Karma (/ˈkɑːrmə/; Sanskrit: कर्म, IPA: [ˈkɐɽmɐ] (listen); Pali: kamma) means action, work, or deed.[1] The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect):[2] Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths.[3][4]

The philosophy of karma is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Indian religions (particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism),[5] as well as Taoism.[6] In these schools, karma in the present affects one's future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives—one's saṃsāra.[7][8] This concept has also been adopted in Western popular culture, in which the events which happen after a person's actions may be considered natural consequences.

The term karma (Sanskrit: कर्म; Pali: kamma) refers to both the executed 'deed, work, action, act' and the 'object, intent'.[3]

Wilhelm Halbfass (2000) explains karma (karman) by contrasting it with the Sanskrit word kriya:[3] whereas kriya is the activity along with the steps and effort in action, karma is (1) the executed action as a consequence of that activity, as well as (2) the intention of the actor behind an executed action or a planned action (described by some scholars[9] as metaphysical residue left in the actor). A good action creates good karma, as does good intent. A bad action creates bad karma, as does bad intent.[3]

Difficulty in arriving at a definition of karma arises because of the diversity of views among the schools of Hinduism; some, for example, consider karma and rebirth linked and simultaneously essential, some consider karma but not rebirth to be essential, and a few discuss and conclude karma and rebirth to be flawed fiction.[10] Buddhism and Jainism have their own karma precepts. Thus, karma has not one, but multiple definitions and different meanings.[11] It is a concept whose meaning, importance, and scope varies between the various traditions that originated in India, and various schools in each of these traditions. Wendy O'Flaherty claims that, furthermore, there is an ongoing debate regarding whether karma is a theory, a model, a paradigm, a metaphor, or a metaphysical stance.[12]

Karma also refers to a conceptual principle that originated in India, often descriptively called the principle of karma, and sometimes the karma theory or the law of karma.[13]

In the context of theory, karma is complex and difficult to define.[12] Different schools of Indology derive different definitions for the concept from ancient Indian texts; their definition is some combination of (1) causality that may be ethical or non-ethical; (2) ethicization, i.e., good or bad actions have consequences; and (3) rebirth.[12][14] Other Indologists include in the definition that which explains the present circumstances of an individual with reference to his or her actions in past. These actions may be those in a person's current life, or, in some schools of Indian traditions, possibly actions in their past lives; furthermore, the consequences may result in current life, or a person's future lives.[12][15] The law of karma operates independent of any deity or any process of divine judgment.[16]

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