The problem with the Eastern philosophy is that it has been introduced first to the Western civilization mainly by religious missionaries that had first contact with the Far East.
That first impression was thus colored by the Christian thought and dogma.
Karma is still to this day translate and understood as some sort of “Divine retribution” to our acts thou most recently a more accurate translation was made. In this new version, Karma is explained as “your own doing.” This second translation is a little bit more accurate in the sense that it takes the Divine intervention out of the equation –Karma has nothing to do with God -but it is too vague and incomplete.
The difficulty of the translation lays in the fundamental difference in the way the East sees and understands the universe and the way that we in the West see and understand the universe.
In the western civilization we have a scientific approach. We have a Newtonian model of the universe where action and reaction, cause and effect are a mechanical chain of events. In the East the view is Metaphysical. The universe is not seen as mechanic but rather organic. See INDRA’S NET https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra%27s_net Action and reaction, cause and effect, particular and general, micro cosm and macro cosm are just sides of the same coin. They define each other, coexist and act together simultaneously from the individual to the universal.
OK Let’s get down and dirty: John was a bully in high school and for 4 long years has terrorized Nate.
John never finishes college and gets a job at a company where Nate is now a manager and John of course is his subordinate.
To an Easterner this will be Karma. The fruition of John’s core values carried through his actions.
To a Westerner is just bad luck or the most, the law of unintended consequences in action.
BTW Karma = The law of unintended consequences, is not a bad translation.
The difference is that the Easterner understands that even if John didn’t get that job under Nate he will never the less suffer the consequences of his doing, in another place and another time, but that will not be a matter of chance. Karma is not an accident; it is the only possible outcome.
To a Westerner Karma is still not the supreme law of the universe and we still believe that somehow can avoid it. It is only in the Western civilization that you can have the cake and eat it too.
Hell is paved with good intentions but what drive the Karma is the principles of our actions not our intentions. Let’s us take another example of Karma in action; WAR
War It is not defined by our declared intentions: Peace, Stability, Democracy, Prosperity etc. etc.
War can be defined by the principle of dominance and control = bad Karma or by the opposite; Freedom = good Karma.
Control and dominance through brute force is always a bad idea. Love at gun point is always “rape” no matter what. Just look at what war as brought humanity so far.
The principles of freedom and harmony on the other hand are always good. The only true love is unconditional love.
So the lesson is: Your actions guided by bad principles. Greed, deceit, control, envy, ignorance, selfishness etc. will always result in a bad outcome no matter what the intention, excuse, for your action may be. Remember KARMA is the law of the universe even if you live in the Western hemisphere.
And for those who didn’t get it yet KARMA = KARMA