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A Note on Karma

To facilitate the understanding of my views on psychology and ethics I split causality into two forms.

For any person, consequences flow from what he does. Traditionally this causality is called karma, but I need to qualify it. So I call it moral karma (or moral causality ).

Traditional expressions of moral causality are :
as you sow, so shall you reap ; an eye for an eye.

In the moral perspective, good experiences are traditionally viewed as being the reward for previous good behaviour ; bad experiences are punishments for the bad things that the person did in the past.

However, karma contains both moral and psychological components.
The moral component creates boundaries to the person's behaviour ; boundaries are needed in order to contain the psychological confusion that life creates in the person. These boundaries are the justification for moral rules.
The psychological component of karma can move the person beyond these boundaries.

Psychological causality operates differently from moral causality. It operates within the mind of a person, and is based on the process of abreaction. Abreaction is a dialectical process. So I also call psychological causality by the names dialectical causality or dialectical karma, or psychological karma.

So the two forms of causality I call moral and dialectical.

When we encounter a difficult situation which frustrates us in some way, then usually we either act out our frustration, or else we repress it into the subconscious mind. Repression is not an effective solution in modern times, since the high stress levels of Western civilisation ensure that the process of abreaction will throw the contents of the subconscious mind back into conscious awareness sooner or later. These two ways of handling difficult situations produce the two forms of karma.

When we express our responses by acting them out, we generate moral karma.
When we repress our frustration and then re-experience it later via abreaction, we are experiencing dialectical karma.

The two forms of karma arise from these two ways, expression or repression, of handling good and evil (or the lesser opposition of goodness and badness). Goodness and badness represent judgements, and such judgements are contextually relational (or ‘relative’, in the traditional meaning of ‘relative’). We make judgements according to how we experience situations.

However, abreaction complicates these issues. Good and evil have different meanings to the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The difference is this:

Good and evil might be relational in the conscious mind, but they are treated as being dialectical by the subconscious mind.

The laws of abreaction are deterministic in their operation and dialectical in their mode of functioning. In my view, dialectical karma is psychological in its orientation and is patterned on the way that the subconscious mind works, since much of the content of the subconscious mind creates psychological determinism – and karma (whether moral or psychological) is just another name for determinism.

Hence karma becomes dialectical in its functioning when it mirrors the subconscious mind,
and moral (or relative) when it reflects the conscious mind.

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A more detailed explanation of karma is in the article Causality and Metaphysics, on my website A Modern Thinker. For the address, see References & Links page.

This site was put on the web in Autumn 2002.

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