|Karma Doctrine: A Scientist’s Perspective|
By Dr. Subhash Jain
The doctrine of karma is the most misunderstood topic in the field of metaphysics. This lecture is an attempt to understand the laws that govern the consequences of our deeds. I will begin with a description of the three main reasons for the misinterpretation of the karma doctrine. The first reason is that karma has more meanings than one, which leads to confusion. This confusion will be addressed by using different words for different meanings of karma.
The second reason is that not all consequences of deeds are governed by the karma doctrine. Two types of consequences of deeds will be identified: visible consequences and invisible consequences, which are respectively controlled by man-made laws and natural laws. I will argue that the karma doctrine is based on natural laws and controls only the invisible consequences that are universal and eternal. The invisible consequences affect the attributes of the mundane soul and living matter. Species of karma that affect the different attributes of the soul and living matter will be recognized.
The third reason is lack of understanding the fruition process of karma. We daily experience the effects of others’ deeds, but they affect us through fruition of our karma. I will argue that others’ deeds are the instrumental cause of fruition of our karma and we pick the instrumental cause of fruition of our karma. The role of others’ deeds on fruition of karma will be explained using illustrations.
Finally, I will argue that the assertions, that the vedanīya karma determines the means of happiness and misery and the gotrakarma determines the family status, are not consistent with the karma doctrine. The result of fruition of our past karma depends not only on our karma, but also on the instrumental cause of fruition of our karma. We are morally responsible for our deeds, because we are choose the instrumental cause of fruition of our karma.
*Subhash Jain is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA. He is the author of a book entitled ‘Rebirth of the Karma Doctrine’ published in 2010 by Hindi Granth Karyalay, Mumbai.He is keenly interested in delving into the nature of reality, has studied the Indian philosophies, the Karma doctrine in particular, for 15 years, and has published several articles in magazines and journals, including the Jain Journal.