Karma: A philosophical achievement of human mind worth appreciating

Indian philosophical ideas have two typical enemies, Babas who force-link them modern physics and rationalists who force-define them as retrograde and unscientific mumbo-jumbo.

As a philosophy is exploration of the reality inside the mind that is completely unlike empirical exploration of reality that science indulges into, it is better to look at any philosophical idea as a precursor to a scientific idea.

Indian philosophical heritage is full of such interesting explorations that need to be appreciated for the daring propositions made, and one that is really interesting is that of Karma.

Not that I have a really great sympathy for Karma concept to explain Interactions between life and reality fully, but I always find it as one of the most misunderstood concepts that needs attention, and surely, intellectual appreciation.

(Btw, I HATE Fritjof Capra and other linkers of oriental philosophies with western physics as I believe both to be emerging from two opposite ends of investigation of the universe by mind. So, this is not an attempt to validate Karma theory with modern physics, but just an exploration of the idea within its premises).

Theory of Karma makes certain interesting presumptions. It looks at a Jeeva as an eternal form with free will. Reincarnation in a bodily form is just a result of free will based choices made by the Jeeva.

Karma can be best looked at as a river flowing in a fixed direction defined by the innate nature of the universe.

A Jeeva has a choice, a free-will to choose the direction of swimming, but the direction of the river of Karma remains eternally fixed.

So, if a Jeeva chooses to swim against the nature/direction of this flow, it earns it bad Karma; if it’s act is in-line with universal flow, it results in good Karma.

Karmic equation of total output resulting from good and bad Karma has a sort of vector like quality with some cancellations taking place between good Karma and bad Karma. Reincarnation is often an output delivery point where account is partially settled, but the resultant can arrive at any point of time regardless of which body “you” are inhabiting.

So, a Jeeva never ceases to exist, and is always swimming in the river of Karma in some form making choices that may or may not be aligned with the flow of the river. The reality as we see it, plays out as a complex interplay of freewill based decisions of Jeevas interacting with a river with a fixed flow.

Even if we have questions about scientific validity of the idea, it is far more important to realise that this concept is proposed in an era where life could have had many more survival challenges for one to muse over something as intangible as nature and functioning of universe and reality.

If nothing else, that is worth admiring, especially because western ideas that we are now using to relate with the nature of universe are great in explaining reality (as they have an applied contribution to technology), but they can lead you to look at the universe as an impersonal uncaring place that has no qualitative response to your free will.

Universe may or may not be caring, but if we humans opt to choose that it is uncaring, we too, may see no real point in caring. And then the universe will get a lot worse to live in it. At least for us.

This brings forth a deep question about science.

Should science be for the sake of furthering science or for the sake of furthering humane-ty?

If we are to live, what would be a universe of choice, a Karmic one that responds to our acts or an uncaring one?

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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