Kamma means both good and bad mental or volition. ‘Kamma is volition’, says the Buddha. Kamma is not an entity but a process-action, energy, force. Some interpret this force as action-influence. It is our own actions reacting on ourselves. The pain and happiness that man experiences are the results of his own deeds:- speeches and thoughts reacting on themselves, our deeds, speeches and thoughts produce our prosperity and failure, our happiness or misery.
Since Kamma is an invisible force, we cannot see it working with the physical eyes. Kamma in its more general sense means all skillful and unskillful actions. Kamma is neither fatalism nor a doctrine of predetermination. The past and the present influence the future in this life or in the life to come. It has a cause first and effect afterwards. We therefore speak of Kamma as the law of cause and effect. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness or misery. We are the architects of our own fate. To understand the law of Kamma is to realise that we or ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and our own misery. We are the architects of our Kamma. Buddhists believe that a man has every possibility to mould his own Kamma and thereby influence the direction of his life. Man is not a complete prisoner of his own actions; he is not the slave of his Kamma nor is man a mere machine that automatically releases instinctive forces to enslave him. Nor is man a mere product of nature. Man has within himself the srength and the ability to control his Kamma. He is mightier than his Kamma and so the law of Kamma can be made to serve man. Man does not have to give up hope, effort, and intelligence in order to surrender himself to his Kammic force. To off-set the reaction of any bad Kamma that he has done previously, a man must do meritorious deeds and purify his mind, rather than praying, worshipping or performing religious rites.
Although Buddhists believe that man can eventually control his Kammic force, they do not believe that everything is due to Kamma. They do not ignore the role played by other forces of nature. According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes or natural laws ( Niyamas ) which operate in the physical and mental worlds:
- The seasonal laws (Utu-Niyama) related to temperature, seasons and other physical events
- The biological laws (Bija-Niyama) related to seeds and physical organic order
- The physical law (Citta-Niyama) related to the processes of consciousness, or to the nature of consciousness which recognises objects etc
- The Kammic law (Kamma-Niyama) related to the law of Kamma, (good deeds and bad deeds and their results)
- The Natural laws (Dhamma-Niyama) related to certain events: the general law of cause and effect, causality conditionally and unconditionally
And another special feature in the Buddha’s Teaching is the law of Faith is a meritorious deed. The Buddha did not encourage his followers to have mere faith in anything without proper understanding. One day a group of people named Kalamas, told him they had been considerable troubled by many ‘Holy men’ all of whom taught a different way, all of whom said their was the only way, and any other was wrong. The chief of the Kalamas asked Buddha how he could know which was right and which was wrong. The Buddha advised the Kalamas:-
- Do not believe in traditions merely because they have been handed down for many generations and in many places
- Do not believe in anything because it is rumoured and spoken of by many
- Do not believe because the written statement of some old sage is produced
- Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that because it is extraordinary it must have been implanted by a supernatural being. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conductive to the good and benefit of me and all, then accept it and live up to it.
Buddhism is not merely a religion, but a true life of good living. Buddhism is the religion of salvation from evils by enlightenment. it is also a spiritual commonwealth. In fact Buddhism has gone beyond the limit of religion. Buddha was the product of a long evolution of virtue and good deeds of mental training and development and noble resolutions extending through countless, ages and culminating in a being higher than the supernatural beings.
In order to see Buddha’s true purpose in spreading his Teaching let us consider his advice to the Arahantas before sending them out to spread the Doctrine, he advised them in this manner:-
”Go forth., O Bhikkhus, on your journey, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, the benefit, the bliss of gods and men, proclaim the Dhamma, the doctrine; preach a life of holiness, perfect and pure.”
According to this advice, the Buddha wanted to teach the people the difference between good and bad; he wanted to show them how to lead a happy, peaceful, and righteous life, but he never advised his disciples to convert people into Buddhists whenever he advised his disciples either to do something or to keep away from something, he always asked them to think not only their own welfare and happiness but also the welfare and the happiness of others. He said; ‘ If it is good for you and others then do it. On the other hand if it is bad for you and others do not do it.’