Today the idea of karma is not restricted to the teachings of Buddhism and the practices that predated the Buddha. The modern usage of the word karma describes the interrelatedness of actions, thoughts, feelings, and results. Jon Kabat-Zinn has written that karma is “the sum total of a person’s direction in life and the tenor of things that occur around that person, caused by antecedent conditions, actions, thoughts, feelings, sense impressions, desires.” In this view, karma is less like a fixed destiny and more like an “accumulation of tendencies that can lock us into particular behavior patterns.”

One’s current circumstances are, therefore, not thought of as pure accident. Rather, our present is a result of our past actions and present doings–or karma. We are all responsible for our own happiness and for our own misery. We create our own heaven and hell, so to speak.

Fundamental to this idea of karma is that when we do good deeds, we plant seeds that will flower into positive experiences in our future. We can, therefore, willingly change our karma going forward starting with the present moment. These principles form the basis of karma as we know it today. When we do good deeds, we sow good seeds and create positive future experiences for ourselves and others.