“As you sow, so shall you reap” – Jesus stated the law of karma quite succinctly. He had no intention of getting away with wrongdoing but instead pointed to a higher spiritual rule: your actions today define your future tomorrow.
Regardless of whether an act is deemed good or bad, this higher rule can’t be sidestepped. Those who think it can have not looked deep enough. All past actions have a way of coming home to roost. This dynamic turns out to be more important than identifying sin.
What, then, would forgiveness of sin amount to? How do you redeem your soul? Finding the answer is a life challenge. A redeemed soul sees itself as new and unblemished. To reach this state of innocence would be impossible according to the law of karma, for the cycle of sowing and reaping never ends.
Unlike sin, karma grips us even in the case of accidents and inadvertent mistakes – regardless of circumstances, an action is an action and has consequences. The problem is further complicated by the fact that each person performs millions of actions in a lifetime, and these develop on all levels. Emotions and intentions are both tied in.
Is a man virtuous who gives money to the poor out of a selfish desire to save his soul? Is it right to marry a woman who is carrying your baby even if you don’t love her? The parsing of good from bad becomes extremely complicated, and the doctrine of karma makes the calculation harder rather than easier, because the mind can always find some tiny detail that was overlooked previously.
It can take a lifetime to solve this riddle, but in theory at least the answer is simple: you redeem your soul by turning to God.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).