In the theory of karma in Buddhism and Hinduism, how do you tell how much more bad karma you need to pay off?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A.

As far as I have understood, there is no definitive way to ‘measure’ one’s good or bad karma. And so, there is no definitive way to know what’s in store for you either.

There are many things we do in life that may seem perfectly alright to us. And of course we do have justifications for every action or thought we indulge in. But we do not know how one of our actions (that might have seemed to be perfectly justifiable to us) might have deeply hurt another individual. And if our actions are against the laws of righteousness, then we can be sure that we will have to pay it back.

Similarly, we might do some simple deed that may go a long way in piling them points on our ‘good karma’ chart. It may be something as simple as helping an aged person to cross the road, or giving your seat on a bus to a pregnant lady, or feeding a hungry stray dog on the street. It could be anything. A simple deed that makes the heart of another person smile. One doesn’t always have to spend a fortune on charity or something likewise to do good.

And just because you do good after committing a spate of heinous deeds, that does not serve as a cancellation for all the ill you have done. No. Whatever you have done, you will get the returns for it before you leave this earth. The punishment one receives for one’s bad karma though could be just ‘reduced’ in intensity by doing plenty of good deeds.

I don’t know if this is written in our scriptures, but there is a saying in my native language about how in this age, each person receives their karma-phalam (fruits of one’s karma) in their current birth itself. Earlier it was like you do something bad in this birth, you pay for it in your next birth. But this is the Age of Kali. Crime and punishment happens during the span of a person’s lifetime itself.

I could quote a hundred examples for this, but that would mean going a bit personal into deep, dark secrets of several people I know. Not going there. But I have been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to actually witness several people paying back in equal measure for something evil that they said or did much earlier. So I have every reason to believe in this cycle.

If you know of something bad that you did to intentionally do harm to another individual, you can be sure that you’re going to have to pay for it some day in some way. Try to think of every evil deed you did or hurtful words you uttered. This could serve as an approximation of what’s in store for you. And then you have all those things that you don’t even remember that you said and/or did.

Tell you what…just don’t think about it at all. For what will be…will be. 🙂

In the theory of karma in Buddhism and Hinduism, how do you tell how much more bad karma you need to pay off?

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