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Syndicated Columns

On karma and dharma

Posted December 30, 2006

Q. What is the difference between karma and dharma? -- M.M., Boca Raton

A. The following explanation was excerpted from the Kauai Hindu Monastery.

In Hinduism, karma literally means "deed" or "act" and names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction.

Karma is a natural law of the mind, just as gravity is a law of matter. Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will, creating his own destiny.

The Vedas tell us that if we sow evil, we will reap evil; if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness.

Karma refers to all our actions and their parallel reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determine our future.

It is the interplay between our experience and how we respond to it that makes karma devastating or invigorating. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate reaction.

When God created the universe, he endowed it with laws to govern creation. Dharma is God's divine law on every level of existence: the cosmic, religious and moral laws which bind us in harmony.

Related to the soul, dharma is the mode of conduct most conducive to spiritual advancement, the right and righteous path.

Dharma is piety and ethical practice, duty and obligation. When we follow dharma, we are in conformity with the truth that instructs the universe, and we abide in closeness to God.

Dharma is to the individual what normal development is to a seed -- the orderly fulfillment of our inherent destiny.

May you be blessed with good karma and right dharma in the New Year!

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