Hinduism and Buddhism on the value of karma


Hinduism and Buddhism – their differences have created Buddhism to look like a result of a philosophical rebellion against Hinduism, and irrelevant of whether it is or not, they have many similarities and difference in their outlook to life.

The key one that can be noticed is karma. The idea of karma is present in both the philosophies, and their calculations of karma too have a similar approach. For example, if you X helps someone by making a donation it is said bring good karma back to you. However, the key point to be noted here is the reason and intention behind that donation.

Was the donation made look down upon someone? Was it to help someone in need? Or as a sign of redemption from previously performed sin? If it was to help someone, why did X chose that person alone, and help in a particular way chosen. How were the means chosen, and by whom?

Buddhism, has the answer in samkhara. For example, everything you are experiencing while reading these words, falls into your experience of reading this article. May be you are feeling hot, maybe you are eating, or listening to music in the background. Everything that creates an experience is called Samkhara. Samkhara are experiences that contribute to culminate into karma. Assuming X donated some money to redeem oneself from a previously performed sin, one must wonder whether the process of understanding the cause and effect of sin in pondered, and meditated upon.

Without which the karma would have no value.

Hinduism, on the hand looks at bhaav, which is the emotion behind our actions. Not to forget that bhaav does fall under the many aspects of samkhaara. The bhaav behind every action determines with which intention and with how much awareness it was performed. When there are biases and profits attached to actions, no good karma can result from it.

Therefore, the Gita says in the 3rd Chapter, Verse 19 –

tasmaadasaktah satatam kaaryam karma samachara |asakto hyaacharankarma paramaapnoti puurushah ||

(Therefore) You must always fulfill all your obligatory duties without attachment. By performing actions without attachment, one attains the Highest.

Thus the aspect that Hinduism and Buddhism both understand is the value of karma through our perspective. Our tainted vision can cause us to take part in tainted actions, causing negative karma. Thoughts are nirgun niraakar and thus can’t be measured, but they are what hold the real of value of karma, even before the action manifests.

The beauty of both these philosophies is that they understand the value of karma through intentions, samkhara, bhaav, and lack of biases.

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