As a Baha'i, I have always tried to believe in the harmony of science and religion and wanted to see the two sides of the given concepts. The law of karma is one of them and I wanted to see a scientific explanation for it. In my years of stay in India, I could see the effect of this belief on people and how it made them conscious about their actions. For those who have not heard about it, it is a concept familiar to Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and many other religious traditions—essentially that every action has a consequence; that good actions will inevitably have good consequences.
Most people believe in this law, which basically states that the intent and actions of any individual will influence his or her future. That's a wonderful thing because any concept that makes us think about the consequences of our actions will help us become better people—which in turn will make the world a better place.
In a scientific sense, the closest I came to compare the law of karma was Newton's third law of motion. Simply put, this law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton proposed it in order to describe the laws of physics in the material universe—but it also expresses the truth of our spiritual reality. In fact, karma and Newton's third law both express the same thing, and when combined together, they express something even more profound—the essential harmony of science and religion.
The Baha’i writings explicitly endorse that harmony.
Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and cannot be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One wing is not enough. – Abdu’l-Baha
According to the basic Sanskrit definition, karma simply means “action.” In essence, everything
We do create a corresponding energy that comes back to us in some form or another-or, as the common phrase says, "what goes around comes around." Newton's third law states: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction". We know that physical force, when applied, will cause a reaction, and that no force or energy vanishes into nothing.
These two laws may explain why all the religions and philosophers have universally agreed on the concept of the Golden Rule, which has been expressed in different wordings in many religions. What one puts in, whether physical or spiritual, that same energy will eventually come back. The Golden Rule makes us aware of our actions.
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. – Buddhism
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. – Christianity
This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. – Hinduism
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. – Islam
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it. – Judaism
So to me whether I look at my actions through Newton’s law, the law of karma, or the Golden Rule, the conclusion becomes very clear. All of those immutable laws tell me that I should be very considerate and mindful with my actions because they always have consequences. In a sense, I create my own happiness, misery, or my hell and heaven.
Badi Shams is a Baha’i and a mystic at heart whose field of interest is in economics. He has published a compilation "Economics of the Future", and also more recently the book "Economics of the Future Begins Today". He is retired from the educational system. You can read more of Badi's materials on his website www.badishams.net
You can read more articles on our interfaith website, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
Photo of children by Annie Spratt on Unsplash