Karma is action, its cause and effect. There is no uncaused action, nor action without effect. The past, the present, and the future are linked together as one whole. The icchā, jñāna, and kriyā śaktis manifest in the jīvātmā living on the worldly plane as desire, knowledge, and action.

“Man is verily formed of desire. As is his desire, so is his thought. As is his thought, so is his action. As is his action, so his attainment.” These fashion the individual’s karma. “He who desires goes by work to the object on which his mind is set.” “As he thinks, so becometh,” Then, as to action, “whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap.” The matter is not one of punishment and reward, but of consequence, and the consequence of action is but a part of it. If anything is caused, its result is caused, the result being part of the original action, which continues, and is transformed into the result.

You experience happiness for the good acts and misery for evil ones. Karma is of three kinds—viz.

  • Samcita-karma—that is, the whole vast accumulated mass of the unexhausted karma of the past, whether good or bad; which has still to be worked out. This past karma is the cause of the character of the succeeding births, and, as such, is called samskāra.
  • The second form of karma is prārabdha, or that part of the first which is ripe, and which is worked out and bears fruit in the present birth.
  • The third is the new karma, which man is continually making by his present and future actions, and is called vartamāna and āgāmi.

The embodied soul (jīvātmā), whilst in the samsara or phenomenal world, is by its nature ever making present karma and experiencing the past. By his karma, a Jiva may become Siva. Karma is thus invisible, the product of ordained or prohibited actions capable of giving bodies.

Nasmastat karmabhyo vidhirapi na yebhyah prabhavati.
Salutation to Karma, over which not even Vidhi (Brahmā), prevails.

It is either good or bad, and altogether these are called the impurity of action. Even good action, when done with a view to its fruits, can never secure liberation. Those who think of the reward will receive a benefit in the shape of that reward. Liberation is the work of Śiva-Śakti and is gained only by brahmajñāna, the destruction of the will to separate life, and realization of unity with the Supreme. All accompanying action must be without thought of self.

With the cessation of desire, the tie which binds man to the samsara is broken. According to the Tantra, the sādhana appropriate to an individual depends on his karma. A man’s tendencies, character, and temperament is molded by his saṃcita karma. As regards prarabdha– karma, it is unavoidable. Nothing can be done but to work it out. Some systems prescribe the same method for men of diverse tendencies. But the Tantra recognizes the force of karma and molds its methods to the temperament produced by it. The needs of each vary, as also the methods which will be the best suited to each to lead them to the common goal.

The pervasive temptation to oversimplifying the Law of Karma from the collision of the irresistible force of humanity’s innate need to comprehend cause and effect with the immovable object of karma’s extreme reluctance to divulge itself to humans. Gahana karmano gatih (“karma runs indescribably deep”): The simple Law of Cause and Effect sets into motion such a near-infinity of past, present, and future ramifications for each purposely performed act that it effectively precludes a complete description of the entire karmic slate of every living being.

There is no lack of competing explanations of causation, for any cogent explanation of cause and effect, including those of physics, chemistry, and biology, can function as a theory of karma. We could even elucidate into a theory of karma some psychological conjecture which details how specific events in the past influence an individual’s present and may shape his or her future. But scientific causation notions are crimped by their materialism, which limits its cause and effect observations to the physical dimension only. Psychological theories are similarly limited to the domain of psyche. A truly efficacious model of karma represents a system of causation relevant to all conceivable states of existence, to anything that can be named.