I see karma as the consequences of our actions. Often people have a very negative association with the word, but I see it as neutral. Our actions affect our consciousness, those around us, the world, and there’s no negative value judgment to that – it’s the way of the world. And we do feel the consequences of our actions. A teacher and friend recently said, Thoughts become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character. Character becomes identity. Karma is the cultivation of character.
That’s the personal side. I do struggle with the impersonal side of karma, the idea that if you steal money, you will unjustly lose money later in this life or the next. I prefer to see things more vaguely; doing harm puts one in a situation in which harm more easily occurs, at the same level of the harm done but not the exact same actions. There’s no ‘eye for an eye;’ simply a person who does harm puts himself in a bad situation.
This picture illustrates karma in a rather terrifying way. A person who is an animal killer and flesh eater will experience what it’s like to be born and live in an animal factory, a product on the assembly line meant only for death and consumption. I do believe that non-vegetarians will terribly experience the consequences of that character – but that non-vegetarians can also be great loving devotees of God. Hopefully that’s the step where in the next life they will be vegetarian devotees.