Of all the powers a person can imagine possessing, the power of choice is the most substantial. In other words, free will. But it is also the most difficult to practice.

In the world we live in today, human beings are plagued with choices. Starting from the milk you choose for your coffee to the satin on the cover of your pillows, the choices are umpteen. While it can sound like a luxury, the act of deciding for yourself does not come easy.

The matter of focus is not the long queues at Starbucks being blocked by indecisiveness over the choice of coffee, but it is the responsibility and accountability that a person has to take with every choice they make. Our choice reflects in our action and that action is bound to receive a set of reactions either equal or opposite; sounds familiar? Newton’s third law of motion.

But Sir Isaac Newton’s law is constructed to explain the motion of insentient things. Thousands of years before the time of Sir Newton, a similar concept was explained in the Hindu Scriptures of Veda in the name of Karma. While pop culture has defined karma in the most simplistic terms: what goes around comes around. This is undeniably rooted in the biblical concept ‘as you sow, you shall reap’. The actuality of the term karma runs much deeper than that.

The literal meaning of Karma is ‘action’ or ‘to act’ and this action is the reaction to a choice that was previously made in the mind. It might not be quite possible to cover the many descriptions of Karma assigned by different schools of thought. Karma is often used to instigate fear in humans to follow a set of rules in society upon failing which there shall be repercussions, mostly in the form of re-birth. Hence it was considered better to follow the rules than to be born again as a lowly life.

But is that the truth? Is karma just a tool to make men fall in line?

“Manasa, Vacha, karmanah”, is a popular phrase in certain "Hindu" and "Buddhist" scriptures, which loosely translates as ‘thoughts, speech, action’. In this line of thought, a man’s choice begins with his thoughts, gets converted into speech, and later into action. Aligning thoughts, words, and actions to fulfil one’s duty in life is the key consistency expected from a person in an ideal society. Here’s a new word: duty or Dharma.

Dharma was a term easily explainable in the Vedic periods, for in that era, a man’s duty was intrinsically bound to his birth. The caste or community a person was born into defined the duties to be performed. So if the thoughts, speech, and actions were to be aligned to the duty that was predefined at birth, was there ever a choice to be made in the first place?

But the world is not what it was back then, we have come a long way and concerning the current living standards, the closest possible definition we can give dharma is the commitment to the work we do and our relationships. So, yes. There are choices to be made.

Karma and Dharma are two innately entwined threads that tie a man’s actions to his duty, which bears a result, whether desirable or not. The more we delve deeper, the more these threads untangle themselves.
In contrast to popular belief, Karma is not the result of an action performed, but just the action that was or has to be performed. In other words, it is simply the sowing that has no connection whatsoever to reaping. It explains the complex relationship of control over the future.

We believe that our decisions and actions today will have an impact on our future. It most definitely will, but may or may not be the kind of impact we hope to receive. What’s in our control is only to make that choice and do what needs to be done to corroborate that choice. The decision we make in the present is the only control we have over the future; the result it brings is not in our power.

The true meaning of Karma is only to act without anticipating a particular reaction. A person who wields the power of making a choice at the moment and acting upon it without being burdened about its effects on him in the future is a Karmayogi. He lives in the present and accepts the results of his actions in the future as it unfolds.

Karma teaches us about the limited control we have over our fates but emphasizes the immense power we possess in choosing our actions in the present. The ability to choose for oneself is the greatest power we can ever hope to have, but it also comes with taking responsibility and being accountable for the aftermath.

Coming back here in a full circle, "make a choice": is it as simple as it sounds?