The Sanskrit word karma means "actions" or "deeds." As a religious term, karma refers to intentional (usually moral) actions that affect one's fortunes in this life and the next. Karma (or kamma in Pali) is a concept common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but interpreted in different ways. This article focuses specifically on Hindu beliefs about karma.
The concept of karma or "law of karma" is the broader principle that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, action and reaction, in which one's deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Karma is thus a way of explaining evil and misfortune in the world, even for those who do not appear to deserve it - their misfortune must be due to wrong actions in their previous life.
In Hindu texts, the word karma first appears in the ancient Rig Veda, but there it simply means religious action and animal sacrifice. There is some hint of the later meaning of karma in the Brahmanas, but it is not until the Upanishads that karma is expressed as a principle of cause and effect based on actions. (Source: ReligionFacts.org)
Step 1: Explain Karma to Your Family. Explain to your family members/companions what karma is all about—i.e. that all actions have a reaction. Any negative actions, thoughts, or deeds will result in a negative action at some point in the future. And, conversely, that positive, actions, thoughts, and deeds will result in a positive action at some point in the future.
Step 2: Consider Your Karma. Think about the past 24 hour period. Identify 10-15 things that would likely result in positive karma (i.e. good thoughts, actions, and deeds). In other words make a list of the good things you or the good thoughts you had during this period. This list might include warm feelings toward a family member or colleague, helping someone in need, or perhaps even something fairly simple like recycling a can instead of throwing it out. Also consider any deeds or thoughts you have had that are likely to result in negative karma. This could include obvious things like saying something you wish you didn’t to a family member or colleague, gossiping, lying, or having negative thoughts about someone. It could also be less serious, like wasting food, gasoline, or electricity. In doing this part of the LEE you should each create a simple T-Chart that looks like this.
After you have completed your lists, share your lists. Then discuss with one another whether you think you have earned more negative or more positive karma during this time period? Consider why you might have more positive than negative or negative than positive.
Step 3: Let’s Try it Again! Now that you have actively thought about and discussed your karma, your job is to attempt to have a day where you get as much positive karma as possible and avoid all negative karma. If you did your first 24 hours on a school day, this should also be done on a school day. If the first 24 hours was on a weekday, you should do the second 24 hours on a weekday. Regardless of whether it’s a weekend day or a weekend day you should try to do as many positive actions and think as many good thoughts as you possibly can. Remember though, you must stick to your planned or normal routine! There is no need to, shower everyone you know with gifts or write them love poems. As you go through your day, keep a list of positive and negative actions/thoughts.
Step 4: Discuss your results. As you did with the first 24 hours, you and your family members should discuss your day. Were you successful? Why or why not? Were you able to avoid negative karma? Why or why not? How did you act differently when you were considering the karmic consequence of your actions? Were you surprised by the amount of karma you gained?
Step 5: Write about your experience. Tell me what happened during steps 1-5, then tell me what you learned from this experience. Have one of your parents write a paragraph or so about their experience as well. This should be about 2 pages or so (Typed Double-Spaced) and should contain a specific claim that is underlined.
PDF Version of Karma LEE