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The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.
Hafiz Shirazi

This trope covers incidents where:

  1. The word karma is used more or less "correctly" per its original meaning.
  2. A concept is introduced into a story or a story element that is essentially identical to karma, even though it's not called that.

For cases where the term karma is not used "properly", see Call It Karma. Frequently paired with the spiritual concept of Reincarnation.

This page originally read "Describe Karma here." Yikes! Of course that's also the whole point. Karma is a complex spiritual concept whose disambiguation is perhaps best left not to TV Tropes or Wikipedia, but to actual religious study.

Originally, the term Karma was a Sanskrit word for a rather specific spiritual concept, but over the centuries the word has been borrowed by countless languages, cultures, subcultures, religions, works of fiction, and even video games. Over time the word has evolved to such an extent that many who consider it to be part of their everyday vocabulary are unfamiliar with its original definition.

While explaining the original meaning of Karma in a single paragraph is almost certainly oversimplifying it, the principle goes something like this:

  1. Actions have consequences.
  2. Divisibility is an illusion. All things are one. It is more true that we are a piece of the universe than we are individuals.
  3. Acting out of love makes the universe a better place, while malign motives degrade it.
  4. When you hurt someone else, you're actually hurting the universe at large, of which you are a part.

Therefore, when you commit an evil act, you are in a sense harming yourself and not just others.

Its most common and simplest definition (perhaps too simple) is "If you do something bad, it'll come back to bite you in the ass."

Karma has also been equated to Equivalent Exchange and Newton's Third Law of Motion: "For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction."

Note that Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism have different views on karma. In Hinduism, there is "good" and "bad" karma; in Jainism there are also two types of karma, with the goal to remove all the "bad" karma then the "good" karma to achieve perfection (becoming a "siddha"); while in Buddhism all karma is bad and the goal is to achieve enlightenment (becoming a "buddha") and thus escape from its bonds.