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If you have ever surfed the browser, chances are you have come across the word KARMA, a five alphabet word. On the surface, it appears simple. However, it is not. The word has become an integral part of society; from pop culture to the spiritual world, the word is used and glorified.
For instance, take the famous phrase ‘Karma is …’ (you know what it means).
However, the word has a much more intense meaning than it appears now. The word is a complex concept that exists in different eastern philosophies (Indian primarily) and religions.
Karma (कर्म) means the action. All of the actions of the individuals are known as Karma in Indian religions. Moreover, this doesn’t carry the notion of karma as it seems now. This raises a question of the reality of karma as a concept; the answer can be traced to its roots of it and origin of it.
Origin of Karma
Karma originates from Hinduism and Buddhism, referring to the idea that a person’s actions have consequences that determine their future circumstances. Moreover, karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. The Indic religions heavily emphasize it with slight differences.
In Hinduism, the concept is tied to the belief in reincarnation, which is thought to be a driving force in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. According to it, a person’s actions in this life will determine their fate in future lives, and the law of karma governs this process.
In Buddhism, the concept is tied to the belief in reincarnation, but rather, it is seen as a natural law that governs the consequences of a person’s actions. According to this, every action a person takes affects the world, and the consequences of these actions will inevitably return to the person who performed them.
In Jainism, karma is closely related to non-violence and the belief that all living beings have an inherent value. Jains believe that the consequences of one’s actions, whether good or bad, will ultimately come back to the individual in the form of positive or negative experiences.
Overall, the concept of karma is intended to encourage people to be mindful of their actions and to strive for ethical behaviour, with the belief that this will lead to positive consequences in the long run.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the goal is to accumulate good karma and avoid negative karma to attain a positive rebirth and eventually reach enlightenment, a state of spiritual awakening and understanding.
Nevertheless, karma in Hinduism is primarily related to an individual, while in Buddhism, it is a cosmic law that affects the world. Karma has influenced Eastern traditions and is often seen as a central principle of these belief systems.
Furthermore, it is also a key concept in western spiritual and philosophical traditions, where it is often used to explain the cause and effect of events and circumstances in the world. However, most of it comes only recently because we have a distorted understanding of karma. But how? The answer lies in the story of its spreading.
Karma: From East to West
The concept of karma has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy and religion, and it has played a central role in Hinduism and Buddhism for thousands of years. It has been introduced to the Western world through the spread of these religions and the influence of Eastern philosophical and spiritual traditions on Western thought.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, karma became more widely known in the Western world through the work of philosophers and scholars interested in Eastern spirituality and religion. This includes figures such as Paul Carus, who wrote extensively about Eastern philosophy and religion, and theosophists like Helena Blavatsky, who popularized the idea of karma in the West.
In the latter half of the 20th century, it became even more widely known and embraced in the Western world, partly due to the increasing popularity of Eastern spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation, which often incorporate the concept of karma into their teachings. Today, karma is familiar to many people in the Western world and is often used more broadly to refer to the idea that actions have consequences.
However, this spread somewhat restricted the meaning of karma to the greater mass, and only elites have somewhat inherited the true meaning of karma from the spread.
In modern usage, the term “karma” is often used to refer to the idea that the consequences of a person’s actions will ultimately come back to them, either in this life or in the future life. Today, the emphasis of karma is its explanatory nature of why certain events happen to certain people.
In online communities, the term “karma” is often used to refer to a system of voting or point-based rewards that reflects the perceived quality or usefulness of a person’s contributions to the community. In these contexts, users can gain or lose “karma points” based on the perceived value of their contributions, which can then be used to determine their standing within the community or to unlock certain privileges.
Karma in its Roots
The concept of karma has transformed over the years. However, we can draw a definition for karma depending on the perspective.
In the philosophical realm, karma refers to actions having consequences. This belief is often associated with Eastern religions and has also been adopted in Western philosophical and spiritual traditions.
In metaphysical terms, karma refers to the belief that every action has consequences that extend beyond the physical realm and impact a person’s being’s metaphysical or spiritual aspects. This belief is based on the idea that every action has an energetic or vibrational impact that ripples out into the universe and influences the individual’s future experiences and circumstances.
In spirituality, karma is the conjunction of philosophy and metaphysical definitions. Because of both metaphysical and philosophical perspectives, the concept of karma is attracting the interest of major scientists who have shown keen interest in the scientific justification of karma.
This might sound like something out of the blue, and indeed it is. The idea is intriguing, whether or not karma can be proved by science.
To find that out, we first have to understand what requires proving phenomena scientifically.
How to Prove Scientifically
Currently, karma is more or less a concept in philosophy and religion, and like every other philosophical concept, it isn’t shown in practical life. However, the metaphysical terms of karma (which states that the entire world is connected) align with some famous world occurrences, such as the butterfly effect.
Because of it, we need to look at whether karma exists beyond philosophy and can be given scientific validity.
Scientists systematically gather data and evidence through observation, experimentation, and analysis to prove an occurrence. This process often involves developing a hypothesis or a proposed explanation for an occurrence and then designing an experiment to test the hypothesis.
The experiment results are then analyzed and compared to the original hypothesis. If the results support the hypothesis, the occurrence is proven. If the results do not support the hypothesis, the hypothesis is revised or rejected, and the process is repeated until a consistent and reliable explanation is found.
The scientific method is a systematic and objective approach to understanding the natural world, and it is an important tool for establishing the validity of scientific theories and discoveries. It is based on the principles of empirical observation, logical reasoning, and critical evaluation and is designed to minimize biases and subjectivity in the pursuit of knowledge.
Science & Karma: Close Relation
The concept of karma is a spiritual and philosophical idea that is not directly addressed or tested by the scientific method. As such, it is not considered a scientific concept in the traditional sense. However, some scientific theories and principles may be similar to karma.
Because karma resembles a central law of science, one example is the idea of cause and effect, a fundamental principle in many scientific fields. This principle states that events or phenomena have a cause and that these causes can affect other events or phenomena. In this sense, karma could be seen as similar to the idea of cause and effect in that it suggests that actions can have consequences that can be felt in the present or future.
In the various theories of science, the central idea of karma is to live out. For example, in conservational laws (law of conservation of energy/mass), it is mentioned that neither mass/energy can be created nor destroyed. Rather, they transform. Similarly, in the Karma concept, it is supposed that the doings of a being is carried out through entire life and rebirths.
The doings of one (good or bad) will come back to the individual, making him suffer/enjoy according to his doing.
Another area where the concept of karma may overlap with science is in the study of psychology and the role that our thoughts and actions play in shaping our experiences and outcomes. Some psychological theories suggest that our beliefs and attitudes can influence our behaviours and outcomes, which may be similar to the idea that our actions can have consequences according to karma.
Overall, while karma is not a scientific concept in the traditional sense, there may be some ways in which it intersects with scientific principles.
Challenges for Karma Being Proved
If karma and its concept are this closely aligned with science, then why it isn’t proven by science yet?
Well, the main problem with karma is all of the explanation it offers is nothing more than a hypothesis because we lack evidence or even a hypothesis proving the phenomena of karma. In addition, we also lack the results that can be claimed as the occurrence of karma.
To prove any phenomenon scientifically, we must first approach it from the scientific method and develop a hypothesis. Then we must consistently obtain the results under control situations so they can be explained according to the hypothesis. Then only we can assume the scientific validity of a hypothesis.
However, the challenge in the case of karma links from the concept itself because the concept of karma isn’t explained clearly, and the logic behind it is intertwined with many logical fallacies.
To be proved by the scientific method, we first require a clear-cut hypothesis behind any phenomenon without contradiction. However, in the case of karma, the hypothesis is itself entangled in various logical fallacies.
The first fallacy in the concept is associated with the logic of free will and the karma effects. In simple terms, the fallacy challenges the free will of any criminal. Instead, it blames every crime as the result of karma and fate. However, various sects of eastern religions answered this fallacy in different ways.
The next challenge in the hypothesis is psychological indeterminacy. Or, to put it simply, this concept refers to the unclarity of one’s future because of assuming that the future is a result of one’s karma.
The next issue that comes with karma is the idea of the transferability of karma. The variety in the various traditions of karma seems to be somewhat transferable. Nevertheless, the same claim is rejected by other schools of thought in Indic religions.
Hope for Future
However, in recent times, the construction of a hypothesis seems possible because the scientific fields have gone beyond physical terms. For instance, in Quantum mechanics, the absurd concept of abnormal behaviour of particles of electrons according to the observer’s presence is true. So why can’t it be a metaphysical concept?
Especially in recent times, many scientists have. Shown a keen interest in how similar the philosophical, Eastern philosophy and modern science are.
In his book “The Tao of Physics,” Fritjof Capra described the similarities between modern physics’ ideas and the Upanishads’ teachings. Werner Heisenberg, in his book “Physics and Philosophy,” talks about the philosophy of the Upanishads helped him to see that the classical conception of space and time was not the only way of comprehending the world.
Therefore, the interest of scientists tells us how even philosophy is closely related to science. Therefore the idea of proving karma in scientific terms has some hopes.
However, science doesn’t have any scientific method (tools) to gauge/analyze paranormal activities.
The beauty of science lies in expanding nature; with every approaching day, it is accumulating more and more concepts and innovating new scientific methods. We are now inventing methods for utilizing quantum (Quantum computers). Therefore, the hope for karma getting explained by science still lives on.
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