Karma is a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Taoism and means action, work or deed. It is commonly understood as the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Thus, good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering. Karma is also closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Asian religions. In these schools, karma in the present affects one’s future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives – one’s Samsara.
Before delving into alternative understandings on this topic, I want to make it clear I have very limited knowledge about Eastern religions and my intention here is not to discuss one of their concepts, that of karma, from an expert perspective. Instead, I intend to challenge the common-sense understanding of the concept of karma (that is, that the sum of a person’s intentions and actions in previous existences decides their fate in future existences) and present an alternative interpretation to this Natural Law.
I formed my opinion about this topic while studying the book Heaven and Hell, from Allan Kardec. There, the idea of action and reaction, or karma, is extensively covered and presents an interesting twist from strictly religious texts. Kardec was a French educator and scholar interested in studying spiritual phenomena from a scientific perspective. His texts indicate the ideas presented by multiple spirits, collected through mediums, compared and observed for reason and consistency. In many occasions, this kind of approach allows us to step out of our common paradigms to consider new ways of seeing things – then we can make better informed decisions from a richer vantage point! So, let’s explore a few points made in this book:
“Notwithstanding the diversity of the kinds and degrees of suffering which imperfect spirits undergoes, the penal code of the future life may be summed up in the three following propositions:
1. Suffering is a condition of imperfection.
2. All our imperfections and all our misdeeds (which are the practical outcome of those imperfections) find their appropriate and necessary adjustment in their own natural and inevitable consequences – just as every excess is corrected by the malady which is caused by it, and as idleness is corrected by the disgust of life to which it leads – without the need of any special sentence being passed on each particular fault of each individual.
3. All human beings have the power of freeing themselves from their imperfections through the exertion of their individual wills; all human beings, therefore, are able to avoid the sufferings that are the consequence of those imperfections and to ensure their future happiness.” 
The excerpt above presents a subtle but strikingly different perspective as compared to the popular view of the law of karma. More precisely, we have a more rational perspective. If in the common sense conception of karma we have FACTS (past actions) determining future life conditions (CIRCUMNSTANCES); in this alternative interpretation, we have moral imperfections (CIRCUMSTANCES), as the cause of future fortunate or unfortunate life conditions (CIRCUMNSTANCES). Our actions are then a natural and logical result of our moral development, a reflection of our state of consciousness. Therefore, assuming we are in a development path as individual consciousnesses, or spirits if you prefer, it is the imperfections of character (CIRCUMSTANCES) not yet corrected that cause suffering and future unfortunate life conditions (CIRCUMSTANCES), not FACTS themselves.
In further details, we can exemplify this logic by considering a hypothetical poor deed taken by someone. It is natural to expect that this flawed deed is the result of that person’s moral flaw(s). It is possible that realizing the erroneous action, this person regrets it and implements self-actualization, ridding itself from the CIRCUMSTANCES that motivated the original deed and not incurring in error again. In this process it is also natural to expect that acknowledging its error; this person might apologize for it and seek reparation of the harm caused. However, it is also possible that although realizing the erroneous action, this person chooses not to seek self-actualization, keeping the same moral imperfections (CIRCUMSTANCES) that will soon lead it to make similar mistakes and suffer in this process. As this person is actually an eternal spirit in its development path through multiple existences, it will soon realize that it is imperative to rid itself from those moral imperfections. If this process is performed in the non-physical realm, when that spirit is planning its next incarnation; it is logical and natural that it CHOOSES (and not God imposes) to include on it physical conditions, certain life CIRCUMSTANCES that will “push” it to confront the very same moral imperfections not faced and dealt with in the past. This logic eliminates the idea of punishment (for past deeds) and shifts the focus from actions (FACTS) creating life CIRCUMSTANCES to states of consciousness, or moral attributes, (in other words, CIRCUMSTANCES) leading to life CIRCUMSTANCES.
The question of number 975 of The Spirits’ Book, also from Allan Kardec confirms the rationale provided above.
“975. Do inferior spirits understand the happiness of the virtuous?
‘Yes and that happiness is a source of torment for them. They understand that their own deeds deprive them of it. It also leads them to seek a new physical existence to shorten the duration of that torment when death frees them from matter, if good use is made of this existence. It is on this basis that they choose the appropriate trials to atone for their faults. It must be remembered that spirits suffer for all the wrongdoing they have done or which they have been the voluntary cause, all the good that they might have done and did not do, and all the evil that has resulted from failing to do the good they might have done.’ When errant, it is as though a spirit emerges from a fog and sees the obstacles that stand between it and ultimate happiness. Therefore, it suffers more because it understands the full extent of its culpability. There are no more illusions for it. It sees things as they really are.’ 
And in the same question, Kardec provides the following comments:
“When errant, a spirit sees all its past lives at a glance and foresees the future promised to it. It understands what it still needs to do to reach that future. It is like a traveler who having reached the top of a hill sees both the road it traveled, and what it still has to travel to reach the end of the journey.” 
From Heaven and Hell, we find many additional excerpts that further support the explanations provided to this point. I have selected a few to supplement this article.
“Every imperfection of the soul produces its own inevitable share of suffering; and every good quality produces, in virtue of the same law, its own natural, certain, share of happiness. The amount of a spirit’s suffering is thus exactly proportioned to the degree of its imperfection; and the amount of a spirit’s happiness is exactly proportioned to the degree of its intellectual and moral advancement.” 
“The good, or the evil, that we do is the result of the good or evil qualities possessed by our spirit. Not to do all the good which we have the power to do is evidently the result of imperfection on our part; and, consequently, as every imperfection is a source of suffering, a spirit suffers, not only for all the evil it has done, but also for the good which it might have done, but did not do, during its earthly life.” 
“A spirit suffers through the evil that it has done, in order that, its attention being concentrated on the consequences of that evil, the spirit may better understand its imperfections, and be led to amend itself.” 
“The duration of a spirit’s correction depending solely on its own delay in working out its own inner reform.” 
Now, to finalize – I have selected an excerpt that gives us food for thought and sufficient elements to be discussed in a new article (part 2). After all, when things start getting clear and comfortable, it is time to learn some more, right? For now, I leave you with the text below and the promise to explain it in greater details in a future article! But, before you go, let me know your thoughts on this topic or how you like or dislike this article – and why! It’s always good to know how texts such as this touched other people’s lives!! Share your perspectives!!
“Repentance is the first step towards improvement; but repentance, alone, is not sufficient to deliver the wrongdoer from the consequences of his or her wrongdoing; to effect this result, atonement and reparation are also necessary. Repentance, atonement, and reparation are the three conditions necessary for the effacing of a fault and the suppression of its consequences.” 
Take care and keep up with the movement to AWAKE this planet!
-  Kardec, Allan. Heaven and Hell.
-  Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book.