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Karma Unfolded

Updated on March 22, 2013


This Hub is in response to the question posted by Jeff Berndt, “Can you explain the concept of Karma?” The link to the question itself as well as the responses received is given below.


What I Have Come to Believe About Karma

I did not grow up with the concept of karma. I grew up attending a small Baptist church where my Grandmother drove her 1974 brown Monte Carlo every Sunday. My parents were married in that church, but after their divorce I only attended in the summer when I was visiting my father. I have many memories of sitting in the back of that Monte Carlo and driving to Sunday school with my Grandmother, her consistently thanking the Lord for all the green lights she encountered along the way. My father however instilled in me that I should seek my own truths, and not that my Grandmother was wrong, but that she sought her truth, and her truth she found in that small Baptist church.

While my truths I am still discovering, I have however along the way come to believe that there is rhyme and reason to the universe, and that as a requisite for being a part of that universe, we also have to bear the consequences of what we create. The idea that these consequences, or karma, worked on the notion of right and wrong seemed plausible. If I do something because I believe it is right, then good consequences will follow. If I do something that is wrong, then in turn somehow I will be wronged. But having read before that karma works in a manner where the values that we have assigned to right and wrong are inconsequential, it instead acting on intentions and consequences, was always something that I had questioned. As certainly there is a difference between right and wrong, and why wouldn’t that carry over? If I have done something 'right', how could it possibly be construed as 'wrong'? But whose ‘right’ is it?

If a person moves forward with an action believing that it is utterly and completely the ‘right’ thing to do, but if that ‘right’ thing has the consequences of wronging someone else, then the final outcome of that move is ultimately an adverse consequence that will in turn roll back around to its creator. It does make the concept a bit more involved than simply just acting because you believe you are doing the right thing, and then expecting to be rewarded with good consequences. But as Jewels noted in part of her response to this question: “...cause and effect, right and wrong, intentions and consequences. Right and Wrong - by who’s standards and are the consequences of a good intention satisfactory to the giver and receiver; both or neither. And who is the judge that balances the negative and positive karma ledger?”

This would seem to give the impression that you really need to have a complete sense of what you are putting into the universe before you do so. But it would become very overwhelming very quickly if one was to be in a constant mode of considering the implications of every move they were to make at every moment, and what the possible implications could be. I believe that is where intentions and motivation also come in. If your intent and motivations are genuine and seeded with the resolve of decency, then you are moving with good purpose, and I think that you are also then drawing that good back onto yourself in doing so. To move with greed, lust, anger or deceit would do the opposite.

What you put in is what you get out. This gives us the notion that by our every move we are creating. We are shaping the world that surrounds us every day, simply by being in it. And if your thoughts and actions consider the good will of yourself and others around you as you move, then that good will has no other option but to return back to you. If on the opposite hand, your motivations are of ill will, then that is what you yourself will eventually receive. To treat others as you yourself would want to be treated can hold no greater meaning, as the universe can only return to you what you have instilled in it. So who then balances this ledger and by whose standards are the consequences of good intent measured?

I would argue that there is no ledger per se. I think that once an action has been performed, the effects are instantaneous. What’s done is done and all that is left to do for those involved is react. Instead of a ledger, I would more describe it as a continuous chain of reactions. Those reactions and the ripples they create as they travel to the edge of their pond and back, will eventually return to envelop the architect that set them in motion. What they envelop their architect with may depend on several things. My guess would be the intent of the action, how the action was received as it traveled, and what the consequences of the action were. And how much time that trip can take may vary greatly as well. Some will contend to instant karma, while others say that it can take a multitude of lives to balance karmic obligations.

But if in my argument there is no karmic ledger to balance, by whose measuring stick then are these actions judged? Who measures the difference between intent of good will versus one of ill will? Well, I would argue that we do. As we are in a continual state of creating the existence that surrounds us, we are also ultimately the receivers of those creations. We create, we receive, we judge, and then we act on those judgments. If someone helps me, or passes by and decides not to, who else is going to judge their action towards me but me? In turn, if I decide to help someone, who is ultimately going to determine if my effort was really of assistance, the receiver of that assistance. From the moment the action begins, those who receive its effects are its judge.

I believe we are all intertwined and we are all the architects of our own existence; however this is an existence that we all share, and that is what I believe karma is. It is a way to hold us accountable for what we contribute in to that existence. And being an existence that we share, I think we are all ultimately the judges of how we are faring. Are we creating with good intention, where good encapsulates an outcome that is good for others, good for the moment and good for ourselves, or are we moving forward with motivations that more resemble the thoughts and actions of being self-absorbed? I think karma will tell us.



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    • quicksand profile image


      8 years ago

      I guess we sow what we reap from a previous haul and this process goes on until the seeds have reached perfection. But how did the seed get contaminated in first place? Huh? I dunno!

      (: --- Wide Smile ---:)

      Cheers! :)

    • CBartelmey profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado, United States

      MizBejabbers thank you for commenting and I will definitely look into those individuals and see where it leads me. I appreciate your mentioning them.

      Stessily thank you as well for commenting and for your kind words, and a coffee percolator, interesting. I don't drink coffee so I am completely unfamiliar with how those operate, but sounds like it was a worthy explanation.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      CBartelmey, Karma is a vast ocean, and your willingness to gain an understanding of it is admirable. My advisor, a brilliant Sanskrit scholar and folklorist, always equated karma with a coffee percolator for me. At the time it seemed to be rather a simplistic explanation, but, with the passage of time, I glean more and more facets from that not-so-simplistic analogy.

      Your presentation is well thought out and well presented.

      Appreciatively, Stessily

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      9 years ago from Beautiful South

      Very nicely done. You say that you've never had any formal training in metaphysics, so I highly recommend it. I think you would take to it like a duck to water. It is so fascinating and goes as deep as you want to pursue the subject. I am glad that you mentioned the "lives" because karma goes deeply and carrys over from life to life. The good we do in this one will carry over to the next one, and vice versa. One of the reasons we are not to judge other people is because they may be paying off a karmic debt from the past. I do agree that there is such a thing as instant karma.

      On your last statement that “we haven’t had any real movement forward as far as our spiritual traditions go for quite some time.” There are some really good spiritual movements going on right now, but they are not in churches because the churches don’t believe the scripture that says that all things will be revealed in the end times. You might enjoy checking them out online, but be careful because there are also some real crackpots, too. (Some legitimate ones are Andrew Cohen, Lightworker, Earth-Keeper, these people are highly spiritual and don’t demand your money or try to brainwash you. Then you can jump from there to some really good spiritual discussion forums. Some of these might acquaint you with good groups in your area.)

    • CBartelmey profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado, United States

      Neil, thank you for commenting, and that thought has crossed my mind as well; that we haven't had any real movement forward as far as our spiritual traditions go for quite some time.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      9 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Great hub -- I Love this line "a requisite for being creators within that universe, we also have to bear the consequences of what we create." We are creators with more power than we can imagine..... traditions that raised mankind's consciousness to the point it is today, well those traditions are long since past the time to throw them away. Kindergarten is over... time to move forward.... and you are moving well... good hub! Thanks!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      9 years ago from California

      Thanks :)

    • CBartelmey profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado, United States

      Tireless, thank you for commenting, and yes, I do tend to spend a lot of time contemplating. I went back and read your Hub 'The Challenge Be Still'. I was drawn to the title because that is something that I myself can find trying. I love your opening, “I want to be in control when I care; when I don't care you drive. More than one of my hubs says , "Go, do,find what works". I am a fixer.” That has a lot of resonance with me. I also love the fact that you are a traveler, as that is one thing that I myself would love to do more of. I am going to follow you as well and I look forward to following you on your journeys. Best.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      9 years ago from California

      You have spent a long time contemplating karma. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    • CBartelmey profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado, United States

      Mr. Happy, I have never formally studied metaphysics, but the topic is one that I am continually contemplating. I went back and read your article and I agree, it is strange how things can sometimes fall into place. I would also contend that those instances are never written by chance.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings once again,

      I actually stopped here to begin with, earlier today because of karma. It was in your title.

      "Karma is karma" - I remember I was probably not even ten years old when I heard that for the first time. I had no idea what it meant but it was such a confident statement that it remained imprinted in my mind. As I got older, I began trying to decipher that statement and with time, Karma explained itself to me.

      I posted an article a couple of years ago here titled "On Kafka and Karma". Karma is a very real part of my life. It acts fast with me. I get fried quick when I am careless, as I should because I should know better.

      I see Karma as needed to teach us lessons in Life. Mistakes are lessons we yet have to learn but when our path has heart, our Karma rewards us. It can be an incentive of sorts too, I guess.

      This was a great read. I especially like your analytical thought process and that You also venture into explaining the abstract. Did You ever study metaphysics? Just curious (I am very curious by nature ...).

      All the best for now! : )

    • CBartelmey profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado, United States

      Mr. Happy - thank you so much for your comments and for the welcome. That was a beautiful car, white leather too. I believe she got got offers quite regularly from those who wanted to purchase it, and yes, I do agree that my father is a wise man who has taught me a great deal. I appreciate your comments and I am glad that you enjoyed it thus far.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      1974 brown Monte Carlo - What a beauty ... Love it.

      "My father however instilled in me that I should seek my own truths" - Wise man in my opinion.

      "as a requisite for being creators within that universe, we also have to bear the consequences of what we create" - You just nail them one after another. Haha ... awesome!

      This article is too good for me to finish it now as I am in a bit of a hurry. Thus, I will return later. Nice write though!!

      Welcome to Hubpages too! All the best.

    • multifunctions profile image

      Sanjay Sapre 

      9 years ago from India


    • Jewels profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Great hub. It's good to get some depth into this topic. Not all is as it first seems and this is one subject that is often taken on the more shallow level.


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