From the onset, the definition of karma in the West, is flawed.
Most people believe that the “law of karma” is a binding formula somehow enforced by cosmic authority, or perhaps due to a closed looping of energy exchanges in the universe.
Based on astrika, the Philosophy of Yoga, karma is “a neutral, self-perpetuating law of the inner cosmos, much as gravity is an imporsonal law of the outer cosmos“. In fact, it has been said that gravity is a small, external expression of the greater law of karma.
Likewise, many believe that karma assures that every act will eventually return to the doer in an EQUIVALENT way. So that good will be returned with good, evil with evil.
Again, karma is IMPERSONAL; it is the way we interpret it that applications such as positive (punya) or negative (papa) become meaningful.
Karma is NOT “the moral law of cause and effect”. It does NOT “encourage doing good, loving deeds and shunning evil or harmful, destructive actions”. And more than anything else .. it is NOT the Christian formulation of: “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
These are Western interpretation of Indian Philosophy; a topical (and lazy) understanding of a complex idea.
To elucidate, karma is 3fold:
-sanchita, “accumulated actions”, or the sum of all karmas in this life and past lives.
-prarabdha, “actions begun, set in motion”, or that part of sanchita that is bearing fruit and shaping events and conditions of the current life, including the nature of one’s bodies, personal tendencies, and associations.
-kriyamana, “being made”, or the karma being created and added to sanchita in this life by one’s thoughts, words, and actions, or in the inner worlds between lives.
Now, for these three, there are likewise three modes of resolution.
-kriyamana is only resolved by not being attached to the fruits of action (hence, why it is NOT like the Christian rule).
-prarabdha is resolved only through being experienced and lived through.
-sanchita is mostly inaccessible, being burned away through the grace of a realized being (guru, through diksha). (I am a diksha yogini, my karma has been burned off through the discovery of the innermost universality of existence.)
Again, and this is important for the Western mind: Karma is individual and IMPERSONAL. The idea of a moral and/or evil karma is not found in this idea. The idea of God in Hinduism is not responsible for evil; good and evil rise and fall in accordance with the flow of karma operating through the myriad of sentient beings. Various karmic routes, intersecting and crisscrossing each other – together with the natural laws and powers – provide causal explanations of the facts of evil. The moral obligation / dilemma remains on the soul (for itself and others) to eliminate evil by improving the karmas in any given life. It is not God’s role to eliminate suffering nor grant freedom from sin, but the responsibility of the individual.