Karmic Incentives & Consequences: Is it YOU or FATE?!


  • (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
  • informal
 destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Have you ever wondered if your thoughts or actions bring about any karmic incentives or consequences? I believe it depends on you and your perception on life. Are you someone who believes everything is based on fate, or the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power? Basically, if you believe in fate, you agree that things are destined to happen or turn out in a particular way, no matter what actions you or someone else makes. And on the other hand, you might be someone who believes that your fate, or karma, is directly determined by your thoughts or actions. For example, if you steal something from a store, something special might be stolen from your possession.

As I have been working on the next phase of my life and making the decision to implement a change of pace and place, I have been considering my own personal karmic incentives and consequences. I have been struggling with my thoughts to determine whether or not I believe that the experiences that I am experiencing are directly based on my thoughts and actions, or if they are indirectly based on the fact that my fate has already been predetermined and I am simply just living the journey that I have been destined to live.

First, I used rationale. The reality is that there is good and bad in everyone… Even the kindest person can find himself or herself feeling anger, guilt or regret. Even the kindest person has a breaking point where they can no longer handle their own experiences or the not-so-kind people that they might be subjected to dealing with on a daily basis. And even if this kind person doesn’t act on their initial feelings like many others do, their thoughts are inevitable. So does this kind person not deserve any bad Karma because they did not act on their feelings or wish any “bad” on someone else? If that is the case, why do so many bad things happen to so many “good people”?

And visa versa… even the cruelest person could have their moment of sincerity, kindness, and compassion? They might give a homeless person on the street the change they received from their early morning coffee purchase on the way to their successful, corporate job. Some might say they were being vain and that coffee change didn’t mean anything to them, so they weren’t really being sincere, kind or compassionate; they (the ‘cruel person’) just didn’t prefer to have loose change moving around in their corporate suit. If this is the case, why does it seem as though many ”bad people” get away with so much?

It was important for me to consider why it is that those who appear to be good and kind (and they really may be that) seem to get a pass in their “weak” moments. And why does the ‘greedy’ corporate man seem to always be judged and expected to be nothing but insincere when they are doing something kind. Whether or not they didn’t want to keep that change in their pockets, there are some people who bypass the homeless (some who really want to eat and not buy alcohol or drugs), thinking, “if they didn’t want to be homeless they’d work harder”. So the bypasser doesn’t think that homeless person deserves their loose change. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, there are many homeless individuals out there who do really want the money for drugs/alcohol, but that’s not really the point, is it? It’s the thought behind the mind of the giver.

If I am a person who does not have much integrity or tends to make unethical decisions on a consistent basis, yes, I may be deemed immoral and others may feel that I deserve to reap karmic consequences because of how I have treated others. But the reality is that many people who do “bad things” tend to get away with a lot, or more than one would think they should.

It was important for me to consider this because it helped me to come to the conclusion that considering that we are all capable of good and bad, none of us is better than the other or deserves to pay for our actions for the ‘rest of our lives’ (this does not include consequences such as contracting HIV/AIDS because a person chose to intentionally play with people’s hearts and sleep with as many partners as possible without using protection OR the person who decided to take up a profession of robbing and after being shot by the store owner they were left paralyzed) based on the ridicule of others, especially if we are making a mends and trying to be better. We all deserve to suffer the consequences to our actions, then we also deserve the opportunity to forgive ourselves, be forgiven by others, and move on with our lives as we attempt to make more moralistic decisions. But another reality is that, our world is just not like that. Our world is cruel, unforgiving, tough, rough, and sometimes too much for many of us to bear (i.e. resorting to drugs, alcohol, traumatically or fatally hurting others or ourselves).

This conclusion then brought me to believe that our karma isn’t really based on our actions. For example, imagine the little boy in your 3rd grade class who was bullied because he was scrawny and awkward, and his parents couldn’t or wouldn’t help him. He was bullied all the way through high school, until he grew some and his handsome features appeared. The life of this boy could have gone several ways. He could have considered using drugs/alcohol to numb his pain, or even killing himself. Or the bad karma that others put out could’ve in turn resulted in good karma for him and he could’ve turned into an all-star athlete. How is karma determined? What if the boy decided to go down the negative route and started using drugs, and thus, he began stealing from his parents and hurting others physically/emotionally in the process. Maybe even became a felon himself.

Yes, society would blame this boy for his own actions. His family would be disappointed in him and possibly disown him. Is this what this boy deserved? He was just a boy. He was lost. He was not given proper guidance. He was neglected and abused himself and just put out what he was given. Yes, we all have the will to make our own choices. Sometimes we may or may not be aware of what the best choice is and if we are even making a bad decision. And let’s say, after he turned bad and began to hurt others. The people that he hurt… they then began to try to seek revenge on this boy. One might say that is what the boy deserved. That was his karma for others to seek revenge on him. But what about the people who began to seek revenge? One might say they were justified in acting in this inappropriate, bad karma-like manner. But now they are just as bad as the boy or the kids who bullied him. Do they now deserve to reap bad karmic consequences? When you intentionally do something to someone (even if it is based on hurt feelings and the things done to you), is that when you deserve karmic consequences or do you get a pass during that ‘moment of weakness’?

Have you ever wondered if your thoughts or actions bring about any karmic incentives or consequences, or if the things that happen to you (good or bad) are solely based on fate and the predetermined destiny already chosen for you? I believe it depends on you and your perception on life. I believe karma consists of both our thoughts/actions and our predetermined fate. Karma is a powerful term whether or not you believe we have any control over its existence in our lives. Now, I think it is important for me to consider how karma (actions/thoughts and predetermined fate) affects the future of our physical and spiritual (i.e. where will we go when we die?)

As I told you before, I have been considering Buddhism, so in a future post I surely intend to do some further research into the term Karma and the religion of Buddhism, in order to further expand on my personal experiences and opinions. Please share your thoughts. Have you experienced any karmic incentives or consequences? Do you think those incentives and consequences were based on your thoughts/action or predetermined fate, or both? Do Tell Nicola…