Is there any karma at all

Today karma can be anything, above all it is a term with a mobilizing effect. An American automobile manufacturer is promoting the "Fisker Karma" as the first electric luxury vehicle with a range extension - "with the freedom to charge or refuel". So it's about elegant acceleration, about a resource-saving way of getting through life, about the latest hype. But what, here you go, has that got to do with karma?

Relatively little, if you look closely, but others also use the magic word to advertise: a drone by GoPro is called that, a jazz album by Pharoah Sanders and a farewell song by Alicia Keys. "I believe in karma and fate. Everything in your life is fixed in advance," said Madonna once in an interview. And it brings together two things that don't belong together.

But what is it really about, what does karma mean? In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, karma simply means that everything has cause and effect. Not only every action, but also every word and every thought has a karmic potential according to this tradition.

In Buddhism, karma can be many things at the same time; for the Dalai Lama, for example, it is the principle that keeps us all trapped in this cycle of existence on this earth, because we create new karma with every action, whether good or bad. "Some people misunderstand the concept of karma," explains the Dalai Lama in his book "The Way to Happiness". "They interpret the teaching as if everything were predetermined, as if there was nothing that an individual could change about it. The term karma or action stands for an active force; it means that future events are in our own hands."

But how does individual action affect the happiness of the individual? And - the most important question for many seekers of meaning - how can you influence your karma positively, if at all? One possibility is not only one of the doctrines of Buddhism, but is also found in the Bible: You can do something for yourself by helping others.