Karma and dharma

Two aspects of the law of cause and effect

February 1st 2011
The moment you act, you inevitably activate certain forces, which will just as inevitably produce certain results. This connection between cause and effect is the initial meaning of the word karma. It was only later that it took on the sense of payment for a sin committed. So you could say that karma (in the second meaning of the term) manifests whenever an action is not totally inspired by divine wisdom and love – which is the case most of the time. But human beings make attempts and need to practise. Their attempts are clumsy, imperfect, but it doesn’t matter – they have to mend their ways, put right their mistakes, and of course they struggle, and they suffer in the process. You will say, ‘Well, since we can’t help but make mistakes when we act and then we have to suffer to make amends, isn’t it better not to do anything?’ No, you have to act. Obviously, you will suffer, but you will learn, you will evolve, and one day you will no longer suffer. When you have learned to act well, when all your actions and all your words are inspired by kindness, purity and disinterestedness, they will not entail any ‘karma’ but will attract beneficial effects. This is called dharma.