Quoted from Samyutta Nikaya I (227):
"According to the seed that's sown,
so is the fruit ye reap therefrom.
Doer of good will gather good.
Doer of evil, evil reaps.
Sown is the seed, and
thou shalt taste the fruit thereof."
From a wise friend's blog, Pacific Islander, we got into the discussion of karma. Simple it may seem, but the intricate layers of meaning, and complex field of karmic force, are yet to be understood, and explained by human.
Many of us see karma as 'reaction' upon one's 'action', harvest of our good deeds, comeuppance upon our bad deeds... This is a very common misconception, if not, violation of meanings of karma. We treat the subject too lightly and we simplify it to just like any other physic laws. Although there are some people's effort to categorize the karma into various types, like supportive karma, obstructive karma, destructive karma, etc, the truth is, we still have not completely fathom the idea of karmic interaction, and cannot explain it just like a subject in school.
Definition ot Karma includes "action, doing, word, deed, thoughts, etc". According to Buddhism, there are two types of existence - current existence and transient existence. The first one refers to the form of being currently, although not permanently, existing, such as human, animal, self. The second one constitutes of the fleeting form of mental and spiritual processes which are forever changing, being transient and impermanent. This leades to the five Aggregates in Buddhist teaching - Matter, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation, and Consciousness. Karma is a process that happens in these entities. Some see it as the result of actions for past life, some treat it as the reaction of our actions, some say it is just a fleeting moment of process, the moments we think, we act, and react.
Classification of karma is hard. Not only we need to take into account of the various types of good/bad karma, we need to realize that there are far more complex interaction among the karma, the cumulative effect, supportive effect, or sometimes, annulling effect. We have to take into account the factor of time of the effect to take place, be it immediate, subsequent or even indefinite. And from some books, karma study even involves the many planes and dimensions of the karmic consequences, the forms and fields the karmic processes take place. Sometimes, karma is treated as some kind of reserve, where good and bad karma decide the content of the reserve as a whole in a cumulative way; but sometimes, an action is independent of the others.
With such intricate net of Karmic conditioning, there might be questions whether it is worth studying, or even worth believing. It is, and it should be. Though the workings of Kamma surpasses our understanding, it provides a teaching of moral and spiritual responsibility for us. The fact that the Law of Kamma does not operate with mechanical rigidity allows us to have a moment of choice to rise above our bad karmic past, instead of being doomed to predestination and definite fatalism. Also, even for good people, there might be a bad karmic past which has not reaped yet, somewhere from past moments/times/lifes. It is with wisdom, and mindfulness, that we can understand the very transient moment, and make our choice.
I still don't know how to explain karma, and I admit I still do not understand karma; but by writing these down, I hope I can arrange my thoughts and have a better understanding about it. Karma, is not just a religious or philosophical topic, it is in the many moments in our life, it is the unseen force that revolves around us, senseless, tasteless, colourless, formless, yet, it is there.