Do you believe in karma?

Apropos of a debate I was having with a co-worker, who said that most people believe in ‘some form’ of karma. To define our terms, karma meaning the idea that committing good actions result in good things happening to you and bad actions result in bad things happening to you.

Personally I think the idea is wishful thinking, way too many assholes get away with being assholes for me to put too much stock in the idea.

Poll incoming, included the traditional idea with the supernatural/transcendent aspect of the universe, or God if you prefer, has a hand in it, and the idea sans any supernatural elements, i.e. in a ‘what comes around goes around’ type deal.

No, if it is meant to be some actual force operating in the universe. But if you are doing good things for others, reciprocity often comes into play, but I wouldn’t call that karma. Of course, I’m an atheist, so I don’t accept the idea of any supernatural forces.

ETA: I posted before the poll was up, and I don’t understand the difference between options 3 and 4.

I know I managed to misspell transcendent in the poll, that’s got to be karma coming back to bite me in the arse for not believing in it.

3 is if you believe in what you call ‘karma’ but it has a different definition than the one in the OP, 4 is if you believe in it but it has aspects to it that I hadn’t thought of (i.e. you don’t want to call it supernatural/spiritual/transcendent but don’t want to rule it out either).

I think of Karma as just another word for Consequences. If someone does bad and immediately gets caught, I call it Instant Karma.
I don’t believe in Karma in the Metaphysical sense.

I’m not certain your co-worker is wrong depending on what “some form” means. I think very few people in their rational minds believe in any “formal” sort of karma complete with a cycle of reincarnation and all the works. But many of us, in our guts, feel that there is some sort of justice in the world: that good will eventually be rewarded and evil will eventually be punished.

People answer polls from their rational mind so it will be no surprise when the overwhelming majority of skeptical, rationalist dopers say that they do not believe in karma but still, in their hearts some of us (not me really-too much of a pessimist) hope that they will succeed and their enemies will fail because justice.

I love schadenfreude, but do not mistake it for “karma”.

A random kindness to a stranger is a lovely gesture, but it is done for its own reason, not to build ‘points’ on some karmic scoreboard.

But it is a cute idea, and it’s fun to attribute random acts to it.

Pretty much this.

I know many people who for example complain that their children don’t visit as much as they’d like, but if anybody has heard them say anything nice about those same children I’d like to know. Said children are never at a healthy weight: they’re fat, or they’re too thin, or they’re gaining weight, or they’re losing weight too fast. Their children are unruly, they don’t dress well, their careers aren’t succesful enough. So… why the hell would they want to visit? Bonus points if the person complaining has similar complaints about their own parents or parents-in-law being always so negative and so horribly critical.

This, coupled with the reciprocity mentioned earlier.

This. Or the phrase I use is “the effect following from the cause.”

Which I don’t think about in any woo-woo sense. If you habitually fail to pay the parking meter, that occasional parking ticket is “karma”. Fail to pay the ticket on time, and the escalated fine is “karma”. Nothing woo-woo about that, is there?

Treat other people like dirt, and you build up their (and others’) resentment toward you. When you find yourself being treated less than kindly on their account by people you’d never encountered before, that “karma” is also not woo-woo but a simple case of what you sent out coming back.

People usually talk of the seeds of karma or karmic seeds, the idea is seeds need water to grow, the water representing emotion. If your a total psychopath you can do anything and reap no karma.

The problem with believing in a karmic philosophy is it promotes a mindset that other people deserve their misfortune.

Good people tend to hang around other good people. So the probability of good things happening to these people is higher than someone who is an asshole that hangs around other assholes.

So basically, it’s a numbers game.

That would involve conflating “karma” with “justice”.

There was a local TV news item on last week about a “safe ride” volunteer who let a rider with “noplace to go” sleep overnight at his house, waking up to find his TV and his neighbor’s van (to which he had the keys) missing. The guest, it turned out, was a known car thief. This was all terribly unjust. Surely no-one would assert that the warm-hearted volunteer deserved such misfortune. Yet it could not have occurred without his own prior actions.

So. Not “justice”. Certainly not. But “karma” all the same – and with a different, more innocent guest, an entirely different outcome would equally have been “karma”. Just as not getting a parking ticket is sometimes the “karma” of failing to pay the meter. Some consequences aren’t ironclad.

(The volunteer was given a new TV set, the van was recovered, the thief was later caught. Now that’s justice, at least in progress.)

If you act like an asshole and do shitty things from a social perspective your bad behavior may catch up to you and you could become a social pariah if your reputation begins to precede you, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as some cosmic karmic force that monitors your behavior and makes bad things happen to you.

I believe in Ironic Karma. It’s not some magical force, well not exactly, but somehow or another the less you’d like to face the karmic consequences of your actions the more likely they will occur, and something like Murphy’s law, at the worst possible time and place.

There’s no scientific evidence for Karma, so I don’t believe in it.

People who tell you Karma is true usually rely on personal anecdotes, which are subject to confirmation bias.

“Karma” is simply a social/philosophical version of a Universal Truth: take an object and put it in an environment, and there will be an inevitable dynamic between the object and environment.

Examples can be found in Physics, Economics, Sociology, and, yes, Religion/Philosophy.

As sentient beings, we have the ability to take charge of the dynamic and “choose” to make it positive and benign, or negative and malevolent. With Cause and Effect, the dynamic “breeds” an observable effect.

Yes, but no. I don’t believe in the Hindu definition, and I don’t believe in the universe rewarding people for good deeds. I do believe that good actions will often lead to good things - not because the cosmos give a damn about you, but being cool to people makes them want to be cool to you. So I believe in that kind of karma, but there’s no hocus pocus involved.

Basically what everyone else said.

Though I am a theist and I believe in a concept similar to karma as defined by the OP, much like this post outlines, I don’t think it requires any sort of spirituality to explain it as a general law of interaction between human beings. We’re social animals and we tend to favor people that are like us and/or people that we see as being generally moral and upstanding individuals. As such, like this post points out, generally good or bad people are more likely to surround themselves with like-minded individuals and they will then tend to be treated in accordance with the attitudes of those that surround them.

Similarly, society as a whole takes notice of situations that deviate from the expectations of this social law. When we see a story about some unfortunate fellow, there’s often an outpouring of generosity toward that individual. I see crowdfunding campaigns often about some person who comes across as a generally good person in an unfortunate situation and it’s not uncommon that those crowdfunding campaigns are not only successful, but often raise quite a bit more. And on the opposite end, when people that are reviled for their behavior come across bad situations, society tends of have some schadenfreude, or when they succeed, some people go out of their way to dig up dirt or show where they’ve gone afoul.

It seems to me that as our world gets more and more connected, with the ubiquity of social media, someone can become essentially untouchable overnight. Hell, wasn’t there a story not too long ago about a woman who made a poorly thought out tweet, got on a plane, and had lost her job by the time it had landed?

And that’s not to say that there aren’t people who still defy this. After all, there are still stories of good people who just have shit rain on them constantly, or the crappiest people who get all sorts of positive circumstances in their favor. But, at least in my experience, these are more outliers. We here about them more often than they actually occur, probably precisely because their stories grab our attention. And, again, the funny thing is, in our modern world, it seems that fewer and fewer are “getting away with” being in violation of this social law.

So, I see karma, at least in the sense described the the OP, not so much as a spiritual law, but a social one that’s evolved as a necessary part of keeping order. Without it, there’s nothing to keep the sociopaths in check. How could civilization ever have evolved without us having morality and a means of enforcing that so that we can lwork and live together? That is, it seems more or less like an emergence of moralism on a societal scale.

But, again, none of this requires some sort of spiritual scoreboard where good deeds gain points and bad ones lose them, it’s really just a matter of how society judges our situations or understands our reputation and whether that jives with what we feel that kind of person deserves.

We are a social species and, as such, the way we treat others affects the quality of our own lives. At a minimum, if you go around treating people badly it changes your character and has a substantial effect on your interactions with all people and you end up not having any trusted and trusting intimates and end up lonely and hostile and cynical and so forth. On top of that, the other people in your environment are also, of course, members of a social species, and will take your prior behavior into account in their future dealings with you; the ones who prefer to treat other people nicely will avoid you and be wary of you, the ones who sometimes treat others harshly and sometimes kindly will not pull any punches when dealing with you, and you’ll end up disproportionately involved with other people who treat people harshly as a general rule and as an attitude. Then there’s formal reaction such as law enforcement and formal disinclusion and so on— you’ll be on the receiving end of more of that official sanctioning as a consequence of your behaviors.

Good God no. Good things happen far too often to bad people to believe in it even a little.