What the law of karma teaches


The law of karma is a fundamental concept in some Eastern philosophies and religions. At its core, karma suggests that every action — whether physical, mental, or emotional — produces a corresponding effect, influencing our future. It is often summarized as “as you sow, so shall you reap.”
The law of karma emphasizes personal responsibility for our actions, thoughts, and intentions. Positive actions tend to yield positive results, while negative actions bring negative consequences. There is no escaping the consequences of our actions, which may be felt immediately or experienced later. Later here includes subsequent lives, because it is the soul that performs actions through the body and experiences the results thereof. The immortal soul is the living being that thinks, speaks, feels, and acts; the body is the physical medium through which it functions. The soul carries with it a record of all its actions, so it can experience the results thereof at any point of time in future.
Knowing this encourages ethical behaviour, and promotes kindness, compassion, and mindfulness in our actions. It also teaches us that adverse experiences might be the result of our past actions, helping us accept and reconcile with them, learn from our mistakes, and evolve spiritually. In addition, we can aim to create a better future for ourselves by cultivating positive actions and intentions.
While the law of karma offers us a guideline for personal development, if we are not careful, it can cause us to be callous, harsh, and judgmental. When we know that everyone is experiencing the consequences of their actions, we can sometimes look at the misfortunes and hardships of others and tell ourselves, “They have surely done something to deserve this”, and turn our back on them.
We may be right about the cause of someone’s suffering, but are we doing what is right? What kind of karma are we creating when we condemn someone who is already suffering? Is this what the law of karma teaches us to do? Surely not!
One of the lessons of the law of karma is not to judge others for their karma – if we do that, we too will be judged harshly. Being benevolent is one of the best kinds of karma. A benevolent soul does not look at who is wrong, whose fault it is, and who deserves to be punished. They know that the one who has been wronged and one who has done wrong, both are in need of empathy and good wishes. It is the energy of goodwill and love that brings transformation and healing in souls, so that is what benevolent souls give. To rise above the karmic story of someone, see them as a brethren soul, and help elevate the quality of their consciousness and actions is, perhaps, one of the highest forms of karma.
B.K. Atam Prakash is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.