Grace & karma

  • Sumo

A quick thought about grace and karma. Definitions are not hard to find for each. Those below are from (OK, I changed it to English spelling. I can’t seem to write ‘favour’ without the ‘u’.)

Grace: the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God.
KarmaHinduism, Buddhism the principle of retributive justice determining a person’s state of life and the state of his reincarnations as the effect of his past deeds.

It strikes me that grace and karma both share a humility and a confidence. They are humble and confident, however, in different ways. Karma relates these primarily to the individual. Grace considers these primarily in relation to God.

  • To one in trouble or suffering, karma humbly says: I do not know what you did.
    Yet with confidence adds: I do know you deserve it.
  • Grace says: I do not know the way of God here.
    And: I do know God is in control for his good.

If I have this right, many consequences flow. And it helps explain the practice of different faiths. I suggest, for example, that Christianity has a history and reputation for compassion that is not the same as for Buddhism. On the other hand, Christianity always faces the question of theodicy – justifying the ways of God – that is not an issue for the believer in karma.

Both of these fit the ‘humble confidence’ sayings above, I think.

What do you reckon? And can you think of other outcomes of these different views of justice and reality?