Biblical Karma

Sanskrit word (Karma)

The word Karma is thrown around casually in today’s culture. Although the textbook Hindu definition is often not applicable to the circumstances where the word is applied, most of us get the general gist of things: what goes around, comes around.

While the concept of karma is most often referenced in context of the Hindu tradition, there is actually biblical text that echoes this Vedic truth in the Christian text’s book of Matthew.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Matthew 18:23-35

There are references to Karma in some form in Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Falun Gong (Asian-origin religions) as well as Hinduism, and as highlighted above – in Christianity. There are also many references to the concept in Judaism. Consider the following.

Mishnah Pe’ah 8:8

Whoever does not need to take [gifts for the poor] but takes, will not die of old age until he becomes dependent on people. And whoever needs to take but does not take will not die of old age until he supports others from his own. About him it is stated: Blessed is the person who trusts in HaShem, then HaShem will be his security. [Jeremiah 17:7] And similarly, a judge who renders a true judgement according to its truth. And anyone who is neither lame, nor blind, nor crippled, but makes himself as one who is, will not die of old age until he becomes like one of them. As it is stated: He who seeks evil, it shall befall him. [Proverbs 11:27] And it is further stated: “צדק צדק תרדוף– Justice, justice shall you pursue.” [Deuteronomy 16:20] Similarly, any judge who takes a bribe and perverts judgment will not die of old age until his eyes grow dim. As it is stated: You shall not take a bribe…for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, etc. [Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19]

Mishnah Pe’ah 8:8

When the same or similar concept is repeated across cultures and time, it’s a good idea to sit up and pay attention. Whether we are using the term according to textbook definition or not, the concept of karma is something we need to pay attention to, or suffer the consequences.


Mishnah: 1st major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions.

I know that “karma” is very real and have witnessed it – in my own life, when I’ve not been wise – and in the lives of others when they’ve been intentionally mean to others, and to me.

The general concept of karma needs to be better understood and more widely taught in society. It’s an ancient principle and one that, sadly, many are missing in their basic understanding of the human experience.

Imagine what a nicer overall experience living in this world could be if everyone – especially those in positions of power and policy-making – would take heed of these ancient truths, and act accordingly.

“… anyone who is neither lame, nor blind, nor crippled, but makes himself as one who is, will not die of old age until he becomes like one of them. As it is stated: He who seeks evil, it shall befall him.”

Imagine what could be if this was the concept pondered before every political decision or legislative act… (“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”). And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner’s Path

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