Karma is the idea that, roughly, good stuff is balanced by bad stuff. You kill someone, in your next life you come back as a beetle. Lately this has come to mean good deeds being rewarded in *this* life by good things happening to one. People who put this down to our generation's declining attention span are almost certainly right. I regard instant karma as the ultimate extension of this idea, and try to live as though it were a physical law.

A system on Slashdot determining how much the moderators and meta-moderators like someone. Nobody had a problem with it until they started calling it Karma. Now all sorts of lamers run around accusing people of being karma whores.

That probably would never have happened if it didn't have a cool name like Karma. After all, "good-posting-history whore" doesn't have the same ring to it.

The Sanskrit word "karma" simply means "action" or "activity" and by itself implies no moral structure to the universe whatsoever. It occurs in such compounds as:

  • karmiya = useful
  • karmapatha = course of action
  • karma-vacana = stating the matter
  • karmika = worker

A type of currency in the Sushi Girl comic by TAVICAT. It is, like other kinds of karma, increased by doing good deeds and generally being a cool person. This is possible by the scientific/spiritual process of Karmic Engineering. By this system, mall rats and others who love to shop try to be very good people so they can have extra cash for the weekends. A sort of New Age version of Santa Claus is watching you.

karma - an individual's past actions can affect one's future lives or reincarnations.

The word karma refers to both the action itself and the resulting effects. This doctrine first appeared in the Upanishads, which accompany the sacred spiritual Hindu texts, the Vedas. The Chandogoya Upanishad states:

"Those whose deeds in former lives were good get desirable lives such as those of Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), or Vaisyas (merchants and farmers). Those whose lives are bad get lives such as those of Candalas, dogs or swines."

And in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, it says:

"A man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad. He becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds."

However, the philosophy of karma is a bit more complex. The idea of karma is rooted in that of transmigration, that each life is just a link in a chain of successive lives. The karma in the last life determines the success in the next. This is used to explain the inequality of people in society (the caste system).

The theory of karma instructs that the atman (self), whether a person or an animal or even a god, has existed without a beginning as the location for one's experiences and deeds. Any action which is done during a life produces traces which carry the atman along with them. When an atman dies, after a brief time in heaven or hell, the karmic traces from the past life manifest and determine the three futures of the self: human, animal or god. They also determine the longetivity of the next life and the experiences that self may encounter. After determination is complete, these karmic traces are completely removed, only to be replaced by new ones acquired during the next life. Thus, one cannot improve one's status in a given life, but only through reincarnation, live a better subsequent life. The only way to end this cycle is to perfect oneself until you have reached the highest state of god (Bramha) and leave the cycle of birth-life-death.

These ideas are also part of the doctrine in Buddhism and Jainism. Bhuddists view karma as simply cause and effect. Jains see karma as a substance that also produces the chain of birth and death.

paraphrased from: The Dictionary of Global Culture, Kwame Appiah & Henry Gates, Jr.

Your Karma on everything2 is calculated as your total number of blessings minus your total number of curses.

To find out what your Karma is you should check out the SuperDoc "Golden Trinkets" You should see some little line, and a number on the page. Example:

Every day, the gods see you and are glad -- you have collected 2 of their Golden Trinkets...

The example above means you'd have a Karma rating of +2.

If you don't see something like that chances are you havent accumulated any Karma yet. Don't worry! You'll get them, just be cool, contribute to E2 when you can. The gods will notice.

Ed note: There's a bit more to it than that. When a god grants you votes or C!s, that goes in the "blessings" column as well.
(Hinduism, Sanskrit)

Duties prescribed in the revealed scriptures (sruti); fruitive actions, for which there is always a reaction, good or bad.

Here are some more sanskrit compounds which feature karma:

Karma is intimately linked to the wheel of existence. A person continues through a process of birth, life, and death as do all living things. If the metaphor of a point system is used, the goal is not to get the most points so you win. The goal is to get off of the wheel of existence entirely, and the way to do that is through balance.

This is a difficult concept for Westerners to wrap their brains around, since we are conditioned from birth to think of everything in terms of winning and losing. The "karmic goal" is not to win or lose, but to simply be balanced. Using the point metaphor, you get off the wheel by having zero points; no positive, no negative. If taken further, this presents other interesting philosophical questions, because zero in mathematics is a very tricky a complicated thing.

Once removed from the karmic wheel, the self is able to see though Maya (the veil that shrouds truth) and see the universe as it really is. This is, in one sense, enlightenment. The various yogas are simply paths that can all lead to this ultimate goal.

The Jainist concept of karma is like Hindu karma in that they are related both to one's situation and actions and also to their effects in one's life.

Jainism has eight different flavors of karma:

Mohaniya (delusion)
Jnana-varaniya (knowledge)
Darasna-varaniya (vision)
Antaraya (natural qualities)
Nama (body)
Ayu (lifespan)
Gotra (social standing)
Vedniya (pleasure and pain of the body)

They are all related to the soul. Jainism refers to destroying one's karmas in order to proceed towards perfect knowledge, power, and bliss, eventually becoming a God. In destroying the first four karmas, one uncovers the natural qualities of one's soul; the last four are related to the body of the soul. Those who destroy all eight karmas are called Siddha.

One can destroy only the first four karmas and still (or already) become a God, being called Arihantra. This is known as attaining keval-jnana. If one then establishes a Jainist religious order, one becomes a Tirthankara, also known as a Jina or Nirgrantha; otherwise one is simply "ordinary-kevali." The founder of Jainism, Mahavira, was a Tirthankara.

On #everything, karma can be given in positive or negative chunks by adding "++" or "--" after a word in CowbotNeal's presence. Phrases can be put in parentheses. You cannot give yourself karma. (Well, not in the usual sense, anyway. You can certainly earn it.)

To check the karma of a word or phrase, say "karma foo" in CowbotNeal's presence. You can say "karma me" to check your own karma.


A list of karma scores (possibly outdated, possibly live) is available at http://yogafrog.blockstackers.com/karma.txt; a quick Perl sort-by-length brings us some interesting tidbits.

Karma Records

Highest karma: jm (1015)
Lowest karma: cops (-1139)
Longest string with a karma rating: prosecutors did not seek indictments for the murder of luke and paul, but could do so later if they are not satisfied with the verdicts in this trial (1)
Longest string with a significant karma rating: george foreman's lean mean fat-reducing grilling machine (27)

Other amusing karma stuff

The concept of karma, understood through the perspective of Buddhist thought, is, essentially, a system of cause and effect. Everything done, said, and thought has consequences. These consequences have consequences, and so on, creating an intricate web of inter-related inertia.

A common over-simplification of the matter is to say that 'bad' deeds are 'punished' and 'good' deeds are 'rewarded.' In some sense, this is true: a life filled with good deeds will be karmically 'beneficial' in that little negatively-based karma will accrue. The good karma that is created may very well result in an improvement of circumstance (in this life or the next).

But what is a reward, and what is a punishment? For the sake of this example, let us consider a man who has spent his entire lifetime in a state of mindful compassion. Many people have suffered less because this man has existed. As a consequence, he is reborn at a "higher" level of existence, a better life, sometimes refered (misleadingly) as that of a godlike being.

While such a situation might be pleasant, it is transient, finite, temporary, and an illusion like every other perception. But while existing in such a fashion, a being would be very unlikely to perceive of him/herself as suffering (duhka) and would cling to the fabric of such an existence so strongly that samsara (the cycle of life, death and rebirth) would be an invisible, inescapable prison. Eventually, when it is too late, he/she will suffer from the realization that death is inevitable, that all the pleasure and good fortune will be lost, that transitory pleasures have no substance in the end, it is too late. The opportunity to follow the Eightfold Path is lost.

In the Buddhist perspective, the following of the Eightfold Path (right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration) is the only way to be free of samsara, the nature of which is duhka, and to enter a state of nirvana (enlightment during life), and eventually paranirvana (enlightened state after death). Therefore, karma, whether good or bad, is undesirable because it is the force that propels future lives.

A useful metaphor for understanding how karma works is to imagine the balls on a pool table. When one ball strikes another ball, the first stops while the second begins moving. Accordingly, when one life ends, the karma from that life creates the momentum for another life that must deal with the past karma while creating karma anew. There is no reincarnated soul, but rather it is the sum of a person's actions that is carried forward into the next life, resulting in an improvement or deterioration of the person's life circumstances.

Of course, according to Buddhism, the "Middle Path," the ideal rebirth is as a human in modest circumstances. Anything more and a being would be too distracted by pleasure to practice Buddhism; anything less and the ignorance and/or suffering would be insurmountable. By following the Eightfold Path (over one or many lifetimes), a human being can achieve perfect balance, extinguishing previous karma while creating as little new karma as possible, eventually removing oneself entirely from the cycle of suffering.

There is a common misconception surrounding karma. It really has nothing to do with a karmic bank of good and bad deeds. This is because any deed you do can have a wide range of effects. If you looked at that with the outdated version of karma, it would leave you very confused wouldn't it?

The idea is that you have chosen your experience; you don't have to experience what makes you feel uncomfortable or shut down, you can choose to send a situation into a new direction at any time. The concept of Karma will challenge a person's way of looking at the world previous to incorporating it into their lives. A time when you feel like life is not fair, when you fantasize about a knight in shining armor or a sudden windfall of prosperity and happiness. Karma is meant to teach that life is not about luck, and that you are not powerless in the face of upheavals. Every experience has something teach you, you are to learn how to create experiences that make you feel fulfilled. In other words, you can achieve what ever type of happiness you can imagine. The law of Karma as well as all other spiritual laws come into a person's life at the right time. They are meant to get you back on track to a life of purpose and happiness.

The karmic bank idea is essentially useless, and I'm not sure how karma could be confused. For example, you help an old lady carry her groceries across the street. Don't expect to experience some sort of reward in the future. It would be foolish to add up deeds like this into a bank inside your head. You are simply wasting your time and are selfishly motivated. The karmic effect in this situation is the inner happiness you feel.

You can judge whether or not you are on the right path by assessing your happiness and behavioral patterns. If karma is going to be understood and used in a persons life than it needs to be broken down into something you can understand and use throughout your day. It needs to be applied to the moment that you're in. Otherwise how can it be grasped?

Kar"ma (?), n. [Skr.] Buddhism

One's acts considered as fixing one's lot in the future existence. Theos. The doctrine of fate as the inflexible result of cause and effect; the theory of inevitable consequence.


© Webster 1913.

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