How does the Karma system work?
There is three kind of karma (karams)
1) The actions that we are currently.
2) The actions we did previously but we have not suffered the consequences of those karma yet.
3) The actions that we did previously and we have been ordained by Vaheguru to suffer those in this life.
Let us take an example of a bank account. Say prior to your birth in this life, you had total of 100 karma outstanding i.e. you haven’t suffered consequence of 100 karma yet. At that point assume that Vaheguru ordained that since 100 karma are impossible to payoff in one lifetime, he decrees that you have to reap the fruits of 25 karma out of 100 karma.
The 25 karma that have been written on your forehead for this life cannot be changed and the gurbani pankitis like“ਲੇਖੁ ਨ ਮਿਟਈ ਹੇ ਸਖੀ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰਿ ॥” (“The inscription inscribed by the Creator Lord cannot be erased, O my companions.”) refer to these kind of karma (called Pralabhadh Karma).
The 75 karma outstanding and that have not been decreed by Vaheguru, are called Sanchit Karma and these karma are the first ones to burn when we do naam abhyaas. Pankitis like “ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਾਟੈ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ॥”” (The shabad of Guru destroys tens of millions karma), pertain to these kind of karma.
The Pralabadh Karma (25 karma) cannot be erased but the effect of those karma can be minimized through baani. There are many saakhis to prove this. One of the saakhis is where Sooli (death by hanging) was changed to just a sool (small cut in foot) because of sangat of Guru Nanak Dev jee.
Based on our Pralabhad Karma (25 karma) we are put in situations and our reaction in those situations make up for our vartamaan karma i.e. the karma or actions that will determine our future. For example, based on our Pralabadh karma (25 karma) say you become poor and have lot of debt. One is poor because of his or her karma but if because of the situation arising from Pralabadh karma, we start stealing or do other kind of sinful karma, then we will be building bad karma. We don’t have any control over Pralabadh karma but we have freewill on how we are going to react in this situation.
People talk about kismat, taqdeer or bhaag. Kismat, taqdeer of bhaag is nothing but our past karma. Our present condition is the direct reflection of our past karma. If one is rich, one is because of good karma in the past but most of the times, rich people end up in hell because where they become rich or king because of good karma, there they also commit a lot of sin when they become king or are at other places of authority. These bad karma done in the intoxication of authority or money leads them to hell. Our Tadbeer (present karma) shape our future just as our past karma shaped our present. In reality all that we have is present. Past is a dream and future is also a dream. The past was enjoyed or suffered as present and the future will be enjoyed or suffered by us as present So really all that exists is this moment of present. Everything else is now a dream.