Many of us believe in karma, for all those who do not; you can go to the section "Empty or definite" and gain an understanding of the alternate concepts.
As already mentioned, the contents of this website are mainly based on the concepts of Buddhism. Hence, let us try to understand how karma plays the most crucial role in shaping our lives and inducing the situations in our life which define our life condition.
Karma is created by thoughts, words or actions. We should never live under the false impression that if we only think wrong or evil against someone, but not act on it; we did not create any karma. Even if we think negatively, we definitely create karma; though it is not as severe as putting it into action.
From the moment a life is seeded in the womb of the mother, two gods namely "Samanam" and "Samagotra" rest themselves upon the left and right shoulders respectively of the being and they are mainly responsible for recording all the karmic occurrences of this being. We might deceive others and believe that we pulled off a misdeed or misaction cleanly without any trace. But, we should never forget that we will never deceive these two gods and the karma we created will definitely get recorded in the accounts of our karma.
The accounts of our karma always hang upon our lives and strike us with undesirable results when we least expect them. What we usually face as bad or unwanted circumstances in our lives are nothing else, but the effect of some karma which we had created ourselves in our own lives.
Our life revolves around the principle of "Simulteinity of cause and effect". If you desire someone you hate to fall sick, you create the karma which manifests as sickness within one of your loved ones. If you cause pain to someone, your own karma will manifest as pain within your own life.
Therefore, we need to stop blaming others, situations, circumstances and everything else for our sufferings. Instead, we need to realize that what we are experiencing is the effects of our own karma and people/things we are blaming are just pieces on the board which are responsible for delivering us to the effects of our own karma. In this regard, Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa had explained very beautifully and can be found in his "kathamrita". He had explained; if you point a finger at others, you fail to realize that at-least three of the other fingers are pointing to yourself and the fifth finger points to the infinite. In other words, for all the sufferances of our life; others have hardly 20% contribution while at-least 60% of the reason is our own karma (thoughts, words, actions) and the remaining 20% could be me, environment, people or anything else.
According to Buddhist principles, we all have ten levels of consciousness. Our five senses constitute the first five levels of consciousness and are primarily responsible for transmitting signals to the higher levels. The sixth level of consciousness is responsible for combining the signals received from the lower levels of consciousness into something meaningful. Every individual constantly makes use of these six levels of consciousness through their daily actions. The seventh level of consciousness is termed as "mano" in Sanskrit and it means our inner mind, which helps us distinguish between good and evil. While the 6th level (logical mind) concludes whether an action will cause heat, cold, sickness, pain or some other external feeling; our seventh level enables us to prevent ourselves from creating wrong karma by refraining from negative thoughts, words and actions.
The 8th level of consciousness is termed as the "Karma Storehouse". It is here that all our karma (good or bad) gets stored. The heavier the load of negative karma onto here, the more sufferings we are sure to experience in our life. It is impossible to shake off the effects of our karmic burden. There is no way around it as well. If we have it in our karma, we are sure to face the effects of it.
Buddhism believes in rebirth while many religions, practices and Philosophies do not. If you have difficulties believing in it, please refer to the section "empty or definite". According to Buddhism and many other Philosophies, the 8th level of consciousness is indestructible and is carried forward to the next lifetime. Hence, if the weight of karma is not emptied in this lifetime, we are sure to take it forward to our next lifetime and continue bearing the consequences of it. That answers a very common question people have "we have not done anything wrong, so why am I suffering so much". It is most likely that if you really have not caused any negative karma yet in this current lifetime, you are suffering the effects of karma brought over from your previous lifetime(s).
Let me explain with an example. Buddhism has certain prefects which define what effects one is sure to suffer if he/she creates a certain karma in their life through their actions. For instance, if someone is cheating on his partner and having relations with the partner of someone else; this is how the cycle of karma is created in his/her life.
The 3rd precept states: "Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi". In other words, we should learn to control our lust instead of succumbing to our desires and committing grave karma in our lives. Our partners are defined as "param sakha". If we disrespect them and cheat on them, we will constantly encounter fake people in our current life and will have such a partner in our next life who will constantly cheat on us. Such would be the situation, we would know it, yet will have nothing to do about it except for suffering.
Along with the 3rd precept, such a person also violates the 2nd precept which states "Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi"
It means I will not steal from someone. But, he has stolen the partner of someone else. The consequence is as defined: He will not be able to save for long any of his favourite possessions. He will try throughout his life to safeguard his favourite possessions to no avail and suffer from it.
Additionally, the person is most probably also violating the 4th precept which states "Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi". This means, "I will not lie to anyone". But, he will most probably be lying about the illicit relationship to his partner and most people. As a consequence of violating this precept, he will not be trusted by anyone in this lifetime or in his next lifetime(s). Everyone will doubt him throughout his lifetime. He will not achieve any success or happiness in life because no one will trust him/her with anything.
Bhagwat Gita (Canto-5, Chapter-26, Page-20) also clearly writes about such a karmic action:
"yas tv iha vā agamyāṁ striyam agamyaṁ vā puruṣaṁ yoṣid abhigacchati tāv amutra kaśayā tāḍayantas tigmayā sūrmyā lohamayyā puruṣam āliṅgayanti striyaṁ ca puruṣa-rūpayā sūrmyā"
yaḥ—any person who; tu—but; iha—in this life; vā—or; agamyām—unsuitable; striyam—a woman; agamyam—unsuitable; vā—or; puruṣam—a man; yoṣit—a woman; abhigacchati—approaches for sexual intercourse; tau—both of them; amutra—in the next life; kaśayā—by whips; tāḍayantaḥ—beating; tigmayā—very hot; sūrmyā—by an image; loha-mayyā—made of iron; puruṣam—the man; āliṅgayanti—they embrace; striyam—the woman; ca—also; puruṣa-rūpayā—in the form of a man; sūrmyā—by an image.
A man or woman who indulges in sexual intercourse with an unworthy member of the opposite sex is punished after death by the assistants of Yamarāja in the hell known as Taptasūrmi. There such men and women are beaten with whips. The man is forced to embrace a red-hot iron form of a woman, and the woman is forced to embrace a similar form of a man. Such is the punishment for illicit sex.
We have seen until now as to how karma governs all the situations, joys, sufferings, successes and misfortunes of our life. We have also observed how it is created as "cause" and how it is manifested in our lives as "effect". We have also seen how it is carried forward in our present life and onto our next lifetime where it continues to wreak havoc even without our knowledge of it in the next lifetime. Hence, it is very important that utilize every opportunity of our life to expiate negative karma out of our life and accumulate good karma.
Our thoughts, words and actions create both negative as well as positive karma. So, we should make all effort through our life and thoughts to create as much positive karma as possible in our lives. We should think positive, practice unbiased compassion towards everyone and above all, treat our elders with lots of love and respect. The blessings obtained from elders accrues to a lot of positive karma. It is only obvious that we will create lots of negative karma in our lives. But, if we accumulate enough positive karma, we can easily balance the effects of the negative karma in our lives.
As humans, we are prone to making mistakes; no one is perfect. So, we keep accumulating negative karma in our life even if try our best not to. Hence, we need to change the way we think, act and live. This takes time and if one can be patient, determined and perseveres on this path of his/her own "human revolution", one should eventually reach a life state where he slowly starts accumulating much more positive karma in life than negative karma.
In order to know how you can achieve your own "human revolution", please continue to read the remaining sections of this website where it has been tried to explain everything in detail. Wish you the best on the path of eliminating the negative effects of karma in your life...