I was wondering if helping others who are suffering prevents them from receiving their karmic dues.

For example, if Person X caused great suffering to others, then according Buddhism, his Karma will come back to haunt him in the same life or a next life. Now suppose, he does suffer in another future life but a Good Samaritan rescues him before all his karmic debts are paid. The Good Samaritan improves his karma account with the good deed but he has still rescued someone who still has a debt to pay to society.

How can one justify helping others in this case? I'm not trying to find fault with Buddhism.

3 Answers 3


Karma is not meant as a punishment or retribution or debt to be paid which you are not to interfere with. It is complicated with many interactions. The environment has to fall into place for its results to be seen.

If the environment can influence the effects of Karma, it can be eradicated or changed in some cases. Since Karma is complex you you cannot say for sure.

By helping others your can help lighten the burden of their Karma and in some cases counteract the bad Karma altogether.

Also this is the good Karma for the person doing it.

  • Thank you! I did hear from a monk that suffering has multiple causes some of which is not tied to karma like acts of nature. That makes sense what you wrote.
    – pmagunia
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 4:41
  • Yes. This is Niyama Dhamma. There are 5 Niyama of only 1 is Karma. Also see some my previous answer on Niyama Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 5:01

In the present moment we may have the opportunity to understand, support or help another fellow human in the spirit of compassion. To behave compassionately towards another in the present moment can only improve life for ourselves and those around us. If all our actions cause a reaction we should endeavour to live our lives more skillfully and with compassion.
I was very touched recently by a reading on Gratitude. "Any goodness that we encounter in the world is a gift from people now and in the past - a handful of people we know by name, and millions of others who's names we will never know. For their countless acts of generosity, we owe them our deepest gratitude. Our job is to take the lantern from their hands and carry it a little farther down the road."


The ideas in your question are your own. They are not related to what the Buddha taught.

The Buddha taught if suffering was caused by actions performed in the past, we would be helpless.

Those who fall back on past deeds as the essential truth have no desire to do what should be done and to avoid doing what should not be done, nor do they make an effort in this respect. Since they do not apprehend as true and valid anything that should be done or should not be done, they are muddle-minded, they do not guard themselves, and even the personal designation ‘ascetic’ could not be legitimately applied to them. This was my first legitimate refutation of those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view. AN 3.61

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