I have been a staunch follower of the Buddha's words for the past 1.5 years. I do believe in the Buddha in so far as the Denial of God, Creationism, Destiny is concerned but considering the events in my life and what I see around, I am now absolutely sure that there is no Karma nor Rebirth.

In my own life experience, I was married about an year back, arranged by my family according to the traditions. Obviously I did not know the Girl before marriage nor had any sexual relations with her. It so followed that after marriage following a few days of sex with me she went ahead and had sex with her boyfriend (her friend close to her before marriage).

What followed was - She obviously found him to be more suitable for her sexual desires and immediately after that she started mentally irritating me and abuse followed. She did other stuff (like creating fissures in family) and ultimately left me after a few months. Now she is extremely happy and posting happy messages and photos in social networking and abusing me happily. The marriage laws in my country are pro female and I cannot do absolutely anything.

But the fact of the matter is that she is extremely happy (both sexually and otherwise) while I feel cheated and wronged.

Further I do see in my country in India due to a hierarchical Caste system, extremely poor people made to clean others toilets etc and pick trash due to their birth. I just spoke to an old man (about 65 years old) who told me (while crying) that he has been doing this job (cleaning toilets and picking trash) for 45 years and he is not allowed to do any other work except this and there is nobody to help him because the traditions in the country are like that.

I would like to ask you for those who believe in Karma: Where is Karma acting?

  • Hello Saurav and welcome to Buddhism.SE! We've put together some information to help you get started here.
    – Robin111
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 9:36
  • Hi Saurav and welcome to Buddhism SE.
    – user2424
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 10:50
  • The basic concepts of buddhism like the eight percepts and many other things can be considered as buddhas words. You have to remember that buddhism was revived by king asoka after the death of buddha , So as in ever religion there may be additions of thoughts along with the passage of time. Buddha new this and thats why he said- you have test everything for reason before going ahead. So you don't have to be blind follower ,you choose what you beleive is proper for you.
    – jathin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 13:21
  • @saurav If you are still on stackexchange, please see this link, it may guide you. buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/14202/…
    – Rhonda
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 22:26
  • Karma is your action, Some actions lead to good vipaka(result) , others lead to bad vipaka and others lead to neutral vipaka & don't worry about rebirth because rebirth happens right now. You never noticed these cyclic patterns within what is going down? That's Rebirth.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 7:08

11 Answers 11


The failure of your marriage could be due to a past bad Kamma you have done. But it is also a result of you giving the chance for that past bad kamma to come into fruition. There are 4 factors affecting the results of past Kamma. Payoga Sampatti is one of them. It means skillfulness, diligence and intelligence. You can use this to avoid the results of certain past bad Kamma. You probably could have avoided such a heartbreak had you at least got to know her as a friend for about an year and studied her character. Even in proposals, you can do that, after both families agree. You didn't have to marry her immediately.

You should stop focusing on the girl who left and use your Payoga Sampatti to do a better job in the future when selecting partners. Focusing on her will likely create hatred in your mind and make your situation worse. If she has done wrong, she will suffer for it in the future. But your situation will not improve whether she suffers or not. She could be enjoying life now because of her past good Kamma, her own Payoga Sampatti and Upadi(good looks) Sampatti.

In case of the old man, one is born into a low caste because of the following reasons:

There is the case where a woman or man is obstinate & arrogant. He/she does not pay homage to those who deserve homage, rise up for those for whom one should rise up, give a seat to those to whom one should give a seat, make way for those for whom one should make way, worship those who should be worshipped, respect those who should be respected, revere those who should be revered, or honor those who should be honored. Through having adopted & carried out such actions, on the break-up of the body, after death, he/she reappears in the plane of deprivation... If instead he/she comes to the human state, then he/she is low-born wherever reborn. This is the way leading to a low birth: to be obstinate & arrogant, not to pay homage to those who deserve homage, nor rise up for... nor give a seat to... nor make way for... nor worship... nor respect... nor revere... nor honor those who should be honored. -Cula Kammavibhanga Sutta

  • Nope ! Nope ! Low birth and low caste are entirely different thing ,a low birth is somebody doing despicable things ,low caste is a class division .I suggest you edit the post . If person born into a lower caste if he is working as a doctor ,he is not a low person ,your deeds decide your caste . If a high caste person does some despicable deeds he is low birth. buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/lifebuddha/2_24lbud.htm
    – jathin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 13:14
  • @jathin, you got it mixed up! It takes good Kamma to be born in a certain social grouping that is considered as high born. In ancient India, Brahmanas and Kshatriyas were considered high born whereas Shrudras were considered as the lowest. Buddha was only talking about the unjustful criteria used to define these castes. But it is what it is. If you are born in low caste, you will go through hardship no matter how unfair it is. Commented May 31, 2015 at 15:10
  • There is no mention of the word caste here accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.than.html The Buddha said: By birth one is not an outcaste, By birth one is not a Brahmin; By deeds alone one is an outcaste, By deeds alone one is a Brahmin
    – jathin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 16:00
  • Brahmin by birth means the Brahmin caste Commented May 31, 2015 at 16:15
  • @jathin 's quote "not by birth is one a brahman" seems to come from the Vasala Sutta. In that sutta the Buddha is addressing someone who is (conventionally) a brahman ... I'm not certain what the Buddha means when he says "not a Brahman", but perhaps he's implying that a real Brahman must at least speak and act accordingly, and/or that a real Brahman (for example Sopaka/Motanga) is someone who (because of deeds and not because of birth) is then reborn in the Brahma realm.
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:09

Karma means action. We act through body, speech and mind. What you are experiencing now is the results of past actions in this life and possibly previous lives. If you have aversion towards the feelings and mental formations you experience now then that is a new unwholesome karma that is being created by reacting to the results of the past karma. I have tried to draw a picture of it. See illustration. You might have to zoom in.

What im trying to show in the picture is that the way you react to the situation now will condition future results. So if you react in an unwholesome way now it will lead to future suffering. An unwholesome way of reacting would be to identify with- and take ownership of the mental formations or feelings of anger, sadness, irritation. It would be unwholesome to dwell in them and thereby providing them further fuel to burn.

If you react in a wholesome way, e.g. to accept it, learn from it and move on you will create wholesome results for yourself.

Best way to deal with this would be to do insight meditation and observe the feelings and mental formations that arise in the mind due to the situation you are finding yourself in. Insight meditation will give you insights into how these phenomena occur and exist.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Maybe you could do up this drawing in Word or Paint or something? Gimp is free and easy to use... Commented May 31, 2015 at 19:48
  • @Bhante. I did it in a program called ithoughts.
    – user2424
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:02
  • I feel like maybe it is just an issue of phrasing (in terms of temporality), but this answer and others on here may be neglecting a subtlety of the Buddha's teachings on kamma; namely, that actions in the present contribute to one's experience in the present. Again, maybe this is what you intended but I feel like clarity about this could improve this and other answers in this thread; e.g., maybe one is treating one's wife harshly and that is why she leaves. Cf. accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.021.than.html & accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.101.than.html
    – Adamokkha
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 12:59
  • 1
    @Adamokkha Lanka's answer mostly agrees with what you said: it says that present (i.e. post-marriage) karma is important. Can you point to anything in his answer that you would change, suggest any specific changes? Perhaps the pink box in the lower left of the diagram, instead of saying only, "Marriage ending is the results of past karma", say, "Marriage ending is the results of karma from before and during the marriage". And maybe the top left box, "Past and present karma conditions [etc.]". And maybe quote e.g. from the references you gave, about the importance of the present.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 22:53
  • 2
    @Adamokkha. Thanks for the suggestion. Im happy to make an edit to my answer if it can be a bit more specific what needs to be edited and if its in line with the content. Remember you can also yourself post and answer to OP's question if you feel this answer and others are neclecting to mention something regarding kamma.
    – user2424
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 10:09

You assume your marriage ending and the man cleaning the toilets is bad karma, why?

Is it not possible that your marriage could have lasted for many years ending with your ex-wife killing you for some reason, so karma could have intervened...my point is, you don't know for certainty whether or not the karma was good or bad. But you do know how you are preceiving the situation because you are experiencing pain and suffering...but that doesn't mean your interpretation of the situation is correct or accurate.

As for the old man cleaning the toilets, firstly, do you know karmically if the old man was to go a different path in life, that in fact each other path than the one he is currently on, each other path would lead to instant death? So, it is possible that his karma could be keeping him alive!! It's possible. But again, we have another person who is preceiving the situation as negative and in doing so, is causing himself the pain and suffering.

Secondly, you don't believe in karma, and yet, you are going through a really tough time in your life, and then, all of a sudden karma connects you with a man who has a life of cleaning toilets. From my point of view, it's possible that karma is showing you something very important, that is... life may seem bad for you now, but... you could always have been born into a life of cleaning toilets!!

It's your negative interpretation of the objects, people and events around you which are causing your own pain, it's you holding those thoughts in your head, which is leading to your pain and suffering, you, no one else!!Even though, it is definitely possible that karma could be trying to save you and the old man, and if you and the old man viewed it that way, i guarantee your pain and suffering would instantly disappear!!

I hope i have helped!



I don't know about (and cannot talk about) kamma from any previous life.

I believe though that people's intentions and actions have consequences during this life, at least. For example if one is greedy or angry then that causes suffering; and if one can renounce greed and anger then that's conducive towards the ending of suffering.

I suspect that Hinduism (not to mention Buddhism) sees a link between Karma and caste. For example, this article Karma in Hinduism claims that:

Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.7 distinguishes between good birth such as birth in a spiritual family, i.e., (brahmin caste) ... Thus, the doctrine of karma comes to explain ... even differences between members of the same species, such as humans.

It has also been argued that Karma has a role in Hindu society as a whole. When one abides by their caste duty good Karma is earned and vice versa; and the Karma one collects is reflected in the next life as movement within the Caste system. The promise of upward mobility appealed to people, and was made plausible through Karma. This effectively "tamed" the lower castes into passive acceptance of the status quo. Thus, the Karma doctrine discouraged actual social mobility.

I don't think I have a supernatural ability to see past lives or to know how they affect this life.

Instead I see the four noble truths as being true for everyone, applicable to everyone, in this life.

Actually I recommend this short article: The Taste of Freedom. It suggests as an experiment, imagine a prisoner: is he free? Take him out of prison, give him a middle-class lifestyle: now is he free? Make him a great king: now is he free?

I think that the point of Buddhism is to acquire freedom (e.g. freedom from suffering i.e. cessation of dukkha, and also freedom meaning autonomy) somewhat regardless of our circumstances.

In this article, Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote, talking about the Dhamma's being "universal",

the Buddha placed no restrictions on the people to whom he taught the Dhamma. He held that what made a person noble was his personal character and conduct, not his family and caste status. Thus he opened the doors of liberation to people of all social classes. Brahmans, kings and princes, merchants, farmers, workers, even outcasts — all were welcome to hear the Dhamma without discrimination, and many from the lower classes attained the highest stage of enlightenment.

Within the wider Indian society the Buddha did not attempt to abolish the caste system, which, it seems, had not yet developed into the complex, oppressive system it became several centuries later. However, he flatly rejected the orthodox brahman view that a person's class status was an indication of his intrinsic worth. Within the Sangha, the monastic order, he completely disregarded all distinctions of social class, declaring,

Just as the waters of the four great rivers flow into the ocean and become known simply as the water of the ocean, so when people of all four social classes go forth as monks in my teaching, they give up their social status and become known simply as disciples of the Buddha.

I'm sorry that your marriage hasn't worked out in the way you hoped it would. Romantic relations are often like that, even notoriously like that.

I'm sorry too for the man you talked about, who was crying. I was told a story yesterday evening, of an Englishman:

An old labourer 85 years old remembers his hard life in Suffolk. "There was nothing in my childhood, only work and no games. One day a year I went to Felixstowe with the people from my church ... that was my pleasure. But I'd forgotten one thing: the singing, there was always singing then ... in the churches, in the fields, in the trenches during the war. So wasn't telling you the truth: I did have pleasure, I had singing."

  • Maybe you shouldn't be thinking about marriage or remarriage now; but if you do, this topic was about Buddhist suggestions for choosing a suitable marriage partner.
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 16:21

Rebirth is the evolving of the consciousness from one life form to another through kamma(skilful and unskilful action).

Someone who wakes up in the middle of the night for just an hour and sees that there is only darkness, comes to the conclusion that there is no such thing as light, is making a simple statement based on a very limited time period. Not knowing what happened before and could happen after.

The Buddha has seen his own previous lives and the lives of many beings appearing and disappearing in one world after another.

What we experience now is the results of previous kamma, yourself and the old man. Is it not possible that you have been cruel in a previous life and the old man wicked, that such events are happening?

The gist is skilful actions now and forbearance of the results of previous kamma.


Your desire for this woman and for sex and pleasure, and your feeling cheated that these things were not fulfilled, this is where Karma is acting. Your disappointment in the way things are, feeling they ought to be someway else, leading to your sadness that they aren't the way you feel they ought to be, this is where Karma is acting. Any time you come to be at odd's with the way that reality is, creating these states of mind thinking or feeling that you'd like something else to be, or even that the way things are is good and you enjoy it, this leads to your suffering and this is where, as you say, Karma is acting.

And if you want to understand this for yourself, meditate. I would suggest if you can, undertake a meditation retreat.

*vipassana, insight meditation, that is


Your actions have results don't they? Karma is your actions and your actions always have results even if you aren't aware of the results. We are reborn because we want to exist. If we stop wanting to exist and let go of everything then we attain Nibbana. If one practices "seeing things as they are" (Vipassana or Mindfulness) as well as concentration and virtue, then one will slowly start to notice one's experiences repeating over and over again. It can really seem to get ridiculous all the things that happen again and again during meditation. We begin to see that experiential phenomena are dying and becoming reborn over and over again very quickly. We must meditate to truly understand rebirth. We can't read our way to this understanding. We must have a little faith that the more we are mindful, the more we understand rebirth as the Buddha taught. Metta: )


As a practitioner and a longtime meditator, I think the idea of karma can and has most certainly been used to justify abuses and injustice. In my limited understanding, truths communicated by the concept can coexist with misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and abuses of the idea to justify or explain away the oppression of women, minorities, etc. and to justify socially-constructed phenomena or societal mores as a kind of absolute, which they are not.

For myself, I currently view the concept as a kind of "skillful means"--a conceptual aid to meditators and practitioners that is open to interpretation--and not an "absolute truth." My saying this has its roots in my own study, state of understanding, and practice of Buddhism. And "skillful means" means that the idea is ever-changing. I'm aware that in Buddhism it is said that karma is not absolute truth. I think that is a good thing to keep in mind.

Stephen Batchelor, to my knowledge, has written about karma in an intelligent, open-minded, and critical way. You might want to check out some of his books. In addition, you might want to read Buddhist teachers like Chogyam Trungpa and Dzongsar Khyentse, among many others. In my experience, Buddhist teachers never make any simplistic statements about karma or judgments like "because so-and-so was bad in a past life, he was born as a poor man."

Karma is a way of understanding the world, and I think in some of its manifestations can and has been culturally conditioned. Seeing events in terms of karma could be compared to seeing events in terms of God's judgment in theistic traditions; both can be speculative approaches to understanding why things happen the way they do, which ordinary people can never completely understand except that, as Buddha said, "This is because that is." In other words, a skein of causes and conditions is behind everything that exists, and that skein of causes and conditions can be looked into and, to a greater or lesser extent, understood. What matters most is that the understanding, I think, be personal.

As for bad events happening to one, it is often said that practitioners will experience obstacles, sometimes even moreso than non-practitioners. In my experience, I often feel that fixating on trying to understand events in terms of karma can and often is a form of being absorbed in myself. (I say this in a non-critical way--everyone wants to know why bad things happen to people.) I would say please extend kindness to yourself and then to others. Thinking critically is important, but it's not necessary always to speculate on karma. I think trying to practice kindness, openness, and so on in negative situations can be far more important, depending on the situation.

Finally, please know that my answers are simply efforts at understanding and in no way reflect a claim to absolute truth or authority. I apologize for any mistakes, and please know that I think it's always important to think for oneself, and Buddhist teachers as well as the Buddha himself emphasized this. I have responded here simply because I think of the same issues as you do. Perhaps it would be best to concentrate on being the best person you can be in every situation, for everyone's sake. That's what I try to do, anyway. I wish you all the best. May we all be held in compassion.


I would like to bring forth the views of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, regarding Kamma.

For those of you who do not know him, here is a wiki article about him.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar

Here is the link regarding Rebirth and Kamma from his book 'Buddha and His Dhamma' http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_buddha/04_02.html

The full book can be accessed here http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_buddha/sectionmap.html

  • Can I ask you to summarize a little, and/or to direct-quote (e.g. copy-and-paste) the most relevant paragraph or two (perhaps from the introduction or conclusion) -- even if only, at least enough to show that the contents of those links include an answer to the question, encourage people to read the links, and to direct them to whatever specific place within the linked content best answers the question (in case they will not read the whole of what you linked to)?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 11:50

If you don't believe in karma, there is no point explaining what happened to you in karma theories in Buddhism. So below are some Logical reasons to believe karma and rebirth .

Karma : If there is no karma , all the people will be same in every way. But when you look at the society you see a huge difference between people. Some are born extremely poor while some are born extremely rich . Some die inside the womb while some live over 100 years old. So there are billions of differences like this . There is no other thing to explain this other than karma.

Rebirth: When hypnotizing some people tell about places they have never seen or never heard of and they actually exist. Also some kids talk in foreign languages even though they don't even have heard a word in that language. Also some people are born to do things , when the same amount of training given to few people, some people do exceptionally well . Again also when you hypnotize someone to tell about where they were before born in this life , most people can see where they lived in their past lives .

So above reasons are the logical reasons to believe in karma and rebirth. What we do comes along with us . If you plant rice seeds , you ll harvest rice . What you harvest is what you have planted. So in the same way what you/others do will affect you/them in the future in a good or bad way . Ps: It is not necessarily happen in this life . May be 100 births after this the consequences can happen.


Karma is action or intent based on desire. And also accumulated Karmas lead to rebirth. In India people get married for fulfillment of sexual desires which society does not allow if you are a bachelor. You are a guy who cannot love and in return cannot get love and therefore jealous. If she has moved on so can you. Where is Karma coming into picture? Have a heart first and become generous. Meditation can help you reach there. After that contemplate on Karma. If you go deep in Meditation you can see your past lives and Karmas. Just do not rely on theory of Karma, see it, experience it. Religion is about practice it is not an intellectual affair. Unfortunately majority of people read/write about Karma but few gets to a point of experiencing it. Please do not be one of them. Live your life well and meditate and you will get your answers.

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