Living with Karma and the Dao, by Xavier McCormack

In Laos and Cambodia, Karma has a profound influence over countrymen and city goers. Karma is the spiritual principle of cause and effect where the intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. It is specifically found within the relationship between culture and religion. Culture is passed down through certain karma experiences and religion that explicitly possesses and controls the way Karma is directed. Buddhists also tend to carefully think before they act due to the fact that karma is the result of a person’s past efforts.

One example of how karma can affect a Buddhist’s life is a story that our guide Keasar told Sam and I. Keasar was at a family gathering of some sort for a Cambodian Holiday, when he realized that no one had given prayer, a blessing, or invitation to his brother who had just passed away. This mishap led to the sickness of his son the very next morning and continued to be sick for the rest of the week. Keasar believes that this was a result of karma from neglecting his brother. Luckily his brother forgave him after going to temple every day that week. Overall, this occurrence prompted Keasars new dedication to always respect and welcome the deceased during important events.

Another point Karma infers is that if you do good you live good. I remember San our temporary guide for Vientiane, Laos explained something that he as a Buddhist believed: “If someone, a loved one, does not matter… is in trouble or struggling in anyway, one must follow through with what one is doing. For if you live in the present moment and finish your duty with positive karma you will be rewarded in the future with positivity and virtue (what goes around comes around). One cannot help someone else in a different circumstance because then you would not be living in your own presence but someone else’s.” This equal balance of give and take is also similar to the Daoist belief, Yin Yang in that they both are ways in which people approach certain decisions with a given philosophy.

Yin Yang has this way of describing the universe and life as an equal balance of dark and light or good and bad. Also within this philosophy people tend to believe that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, very much like Newton’s 3rd Law; however, it is more in context if justifying reason. Just like karma where people justify their most righteous path with every decision they make. Overall, forcing people to become more aware in the present then think about the future.