Via Culadasa and Matthew Immergut for Elephant Journal
Karma: that word that gets thrown around a lot.
People talk about “good” karma versus “bad” karma, or “your” karma versus “mine.”
But despite the term’s popularity, it seems like everybody has a different idea about what it actually means. If karma is truly one of the Buddha’s most important teachings, as he himself repeatedly emphasized, then to follow in his footsteps, we need to be clear about its definition.
The Problems with “Agricultural” Karma
Probably one of the most popular misunderstandings about Buddhist Karma is the idea that everything that happens to us is our karma. If we win the lottery or have an attractive partner, it’s because we performed good deeds in the past—we have “good” karma. If we get hit by a truck or our partner cheats on us, it’s because we misbehaved and have “bad” karma. And, of course, what we do now will determine our future results. Let’s just call this the agricultural view of karma: we reap what we sow.
So, what’s wrong with this idea? Well, whether we’re Buddhist or not, it creates lots of intellectual problems.