The more I study and meditate upon karma the more I am convinced that it is a physical thing and not a moral one.

The universe is a massive interweaving assemblage of gears and wheels and shafts and cogs. By doing this simple action (we'll call it "X") you create a rippling of reactions as a direct result. These are the primary reactions then secondary then tertiary and so on.

Thus the momentum imparted from the original action resulted in countless other effects. And the momentum or propensity of the actions to continue in that general direction is in my opinion the true nature of karma.

Not some altruistic ideology that frowns upon immoral actions and exacts a eventual penalty just for that reason. Now, granted, the ill effects on others from those type of negative actions may create its own karmic momentum. But so many see karma as some sort of cosmic police force and that just isnt the case. At least not as I see it.

Would someone agree or set me straight?

6 Answers 6


O! Bhikkhus, it is volition - cetana that I call Kamma, -cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami

Karma is always mental. But the consequences(Vipaaka) are both mental and physical.


It is true that its not a good bad thing ..... BUT it actually almost sits on definitions of good and bad one on one

What you said is said in almost all places that talk about karma in buddhism and its always in this funny way

they start very bold in stating on how karma is not about good and bad but just the law of karma the way things are .... but than if you continue to read you see that good is almost one by one the same as wholesome and same with bad and unwholesome

*** no one is punishing you (also said almost everywhere that they talk on karma) but you will be "punished" not on purpose when you will receive the effects of your action

it has differences like for instance meditation is considered wholesome karma - and can be considered even better karma than donating money for example

giving money for example is good cause its letting go of attachment - also it developes metta --- which are things which will benefit you

edit : but karma can be unfair (like real life police actually) some stuff you do can be very little and have great effect and huge stuff you do have a tiny effect

what is said for sure is that an unwholesome (akosala) action has bad results and good action good results .... when the time is right (i belive you heard about comparing karma to seeds

the unfair part of karama can be different than good and bad which is if you give 40 you might get 20 or get 4000000 its not tit for tat

  • I really appreciate this answer because showing me this is a consistent disagreement tells me I am on the right path.
    – Kauvasara
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:26
  • just to be clear what you said is right .... but also to view it as some king of police seems right to me .... so i agree with you and those people who say its like a police lol
    – breath
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:31
  • ohh another thing i forgot and will add as edit now
    – breath
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:32

You are right in using physical things to explain karma. But reasoning can only get us this far. Reasoning does little to eliminate sufferings. The main wish of the buddha is to have everyone be free from sufferings and be enlightened. Since buddha has seen karma being responsible for sufferings he teaches us not to create karma. And since there many types of karma, there are many different teachings - 84,000 of them. Thus besides besides explaining karma, we must know that we should not create them.


Karma can be simply explained using the Newton's 3rd law : "Every action has a reaction which is equal in magnitude & opposite in direction." These actions include, thoughts, words & physical actions. Through the way we do these actions, we alter the momentum of the force that we emit in doing them. The return is always even equal to the depth of our intention in doing it. That's why Lord Buddha has asked us to remind the good thing we do in our life over & over again. It will increase the depth of our intention in doing it & increase the momentum of the return we get.

  • I'm not sure that's accurate, it might apply to physics, but kamma seems a bit more complex. I don't think every karmic action has an equal reaction, and I believe karmic actions plants the seeds for future results, that may or may not ripen.
    – m2015
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 16:15
  • @m2015 Yeah that ripening or not ripening is based on the depth of the intention. Even though some karma wave off when attaining arihath, there are still some karma which gives the result. As for an example "Seevali Thero" never lacked dhana. Buddhism is purely science, I just took a simple approach to explain the fact.
    – Amaani
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 6:40

The word karma literally means action, and action is motion, so it is of physical nature, it is the play of energy. Things (forms) exist as long as they act (inner-motion), and the process is either conscious, or unconscious. Therefore, human birth is of extreme importance.


physical thing and not a moral one

Karma is created as part of the Dependent Origination Process due to craving and clinging. In the Since it is part of this process it is neither physical nor moral. In this context becoming is the karmic component. in the context of the 5 Aggregates the Karmic component is included in Formations which is not physical but mental. But morality is positive karma (gives results which is felt as being pleasant when experienced) an immorality is negative karma.

universe is a massive interweaving assemblage

The interactions are complex which only a Buddha shall know for sure. Having said this the universe is a complex interaction of many factors.

immoral actions and exacts a eventual penalty just for that reason

Immoral action does have penalties but there is no law giver. The next moment is conditioned from this moment with the input of fabrications created through volitional actions. Each moment has so much state built in, it is like a granary with abundance of seeds which can germinate at any moment to give results. Much of the this state is transferred from moment to moment. By staving each moment of input you can stop the accumulation of karmic seed.

  • 1
    Please do not take offense. I am still trying to digest this one. Your answers come from a pure canon perspective and that is highly appreciated ... but as a layman it takes me a bit to decipher them. It's cool, I really appreciate the different angle as it helps me broaden my perspective. Thank you! I will keep working on it!
    – Kauvasara
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 13:39
  • No offence taken. Hope it provides food for thought and pointer for further learning. Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 13:43

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