Karma (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Hinduism has many different definitions of karma, some making karma appear quite deterministic. A clear classical description is found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (c. 200 B.C.E.. 200 C.E.) (sutras II: 124 and IV: 7). This description has been widely influential and makes room for free will. Every time one does an action or thinks a thought, a memory trace or karmic seed is laid down in one's unconscious. There it waits for circumstances conducive to it sprouting forth as an impulse or predisposition to do the same action or think the same thought again. This impulse is not mechanistic in nature, rather, it simply predisposes a person to do an action or think a thought. Through the use of free choice one decides either to go with the karmic impulse, in which case it is reinforced and strengthened, or to say "no" and negate it, in which case its strength is diminished until it is removed from the unconscious. Karmas can be either good or bad as defined by Hindu scripture. Good actions and thoughts lay down good karmic traces in the unconscious for the predisposing of future good karmic impulses. Evil actions or thoughts do the reverse. Karmic impulses do not disappear at death but are carried forward into the next life as one is reborn (sasra).
See also DETERMINISM; HINDUISM
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, trans. J. H. Woods. Harvard Oriental Series, Vol. 17. Varanasi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1966.