Laura Romaniello / Art Director

Benajil Rai

Multimedia Director

The word ‘KARMA’ is very popular on social media like Facebook and Instagram these days. I always wonder how. It is used by many pages with motivational quotes. If you type ‘hashtag’ and search word Karma you will find millions of posts and quotes about it. This surprises me because the term ‘Karma’ is a religious ideology. It’s interesting to see that the idea of Karma is being taken less as a religious ideology and more as a self-awakening wisdom about our actions and reactions in today’s culture.

When I searched the word Karma on Instagram I found an interesting post about it. It was posted by an account called inspirationstation365. The post was about nine laws of Karma. The first law was “The Great law.” It means whatever we put into the universe will come back to us. The second law was the “Law of Creation”; which explains that life does not happen by itself, we need to make it happen. The third law called the “Law of Humility; which means one must accept something in order to change it. The fourth law was the “law of Growth”; which says when we change ourselves our lives follow suit and change accordingly. The fifth law which was the “Law of Responsibility” states, “We must take responsibility for what is in our lives”. The sixth law was the “Law of Connection”: “The past, present and the future are all connected.” The seventh law was the “Law of Focus”; this means we cannot think of two different things at the same time. The eight “Law of Giving and Hospitality” which states, “Our behavior should match our thoughts and actions. And the ninth law the “Law of Here and Now” meaning, “One cannot be present if they are looking backward”.

It is interesting how all these laws have similar ideas on how my grandmother used to teach me about Dharma (religious and moral duties of an individual) and Karma in my culture.  Being born and raised in Nepal which has a large population of Hindu and Buddhist, the idea of Karma was definitely associated with the religion. The word Karma is a Sanskrit word (an ancient Indic language of India). In Hinduism and Buddhism, Karma indicates the cycle of cause and effect — each action a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future. And as both the religion believe in recantation, Karma also means the actions of a person’s previous life affects his/her present life and the actions of a present life affect his/ her next life. Growing up with my grandmother who is very religious and spiritual, I was always told to do Dharma (worship god, prey, take fast and serve and help people) so that I can get good Karma in my future or in my next life. I was also warned not to lie, steal, harm others, and basically not to do any work which is immoral that can cause harm to myself and others. She always used to say, “How we think and treat others or what we do will decide our Karma.” These beliefs shaped my morals and ethical behavior and ways of living especial from the laws of Karma mentioned above.

Along with the religious beliefs about Karma, I also came across many other related taboos. Many people in Nepal believe that if somebody has a poor financial situation, incurable disease, or are handicapped, they say Karma is treating them this way because of their bad deeds from their past life. Similarly, before Nepal became a Federal Democratic Republic country in 2007, we had a Monarchy. Our King was considered as a god and respected and worshipped by all. So then, my grandmother used to tell me that Kind was born as a king because he did good deeds in his past life. So, Karma is rewarding him with a better life. And when I came to the U.S. it was interesting to know a western perspective on Karma. My roommate said she used the word ‘Karma’ once and one of her family members said to her that she was worshipping a Hindu god, and told her to stop using it. But in my view, the idea of the term ‘Karma’ is more than just a religious ideology; It is a truth about our actions and the reactions.

The idea of Karma, the cause and effect theory is exactly like a proverb, “As you sow, sow shall you reap.” It works in a practical world. We get what we do in our life. Our life rewards us according to our works. While being practical, if we work hard and do well in exams, we get A as a result, that is Karma. And the vice versa.  So, I think, the whole idea of Karma the rewards or punishment that our life gives based on our works and effort. And I think it is all about encouraging people to become a good human being with compassion, kindness, mindfulness, responsibility, creation, and growth.

Benajil Rai can be contacted at brai@kscequinox.com