Karma and Samsara
Karma means in literal translation: acting, doing, to affect, the deed. It does not mean a self-fulfilling destiny.
Karma is the law of cause and effect from the Buddhist view. It means that every action has an effect according to the nature of the action. Therefore beneficial actions have beneficial effects, and vice-versa.
This chain of cause and effect takes place in such a complex form that particular single outcomes cannot necessarily be traced back to particular singular actions. All that can be determined is healthy seeds bring healthy fruits and vice-versa.
This means we ourselves are the ones that determine our conditions. Essential for the karmic effect are our actions and attitudes, what our intensions are when we go about our deeds.
We ourselves are responsible for our actions and therefore also for the effects we produce. We have no “third party” whom we can ask for absolution for our unwholesome deeds. Our only effort therefore must be dedicated to beneficial deeds in the here and now.
As long as this cycle of cause and effect remains our “self”, the self produced through our existence, remains in a continual cycle of becoming and passing away. This process is referred to as a conditional cycle of existence, otherwise known as “Samsara”, meaning to move in a cycle. Liberation from this cycle of existence is possible. The complete liberation is known as Enlightenment.
When we mindfully observe the changes and happenings in our lives, we can find this law of effect also in the short cycles of this existence and not just over many lives.