“Karma (devanāgarī: कर्म) is a Sanskrit term that “action” or “deed.” In in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religions karma refers to a law that regulates causes and effects.”
Theosophy, Spiritism, New Age
The idea of karma was popularized in the Western world through the work of the Theosophical Society. In this conception, karma was a precursor to the Neopagan law of return or Threefold Law, the idea that the beneficial or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself.
In a general sense, however conceived, the law of karma implies that we live in a universe of moral order as well as one of physical order — a just universe, in other words. That seems to imply some sort of cosmic intelligence, not merely the impersonal, mechanical action of matter. But since it is hardly possible that all karmic reactions could occur in the same human lifetime, it is said that REINCARNATION is a twin doctrine with karma. In theosophical literature, these twin doctrines can be traced respectively to the Second and Third of the Three Fundamental Propositions in The SECRET DOCTRINE of Helena P. BLAVATSKY. It is the combination of these two doctrines which are invoked by theosophists to explain apparent injustices and inequities in one’s personal, family, or environmental circumstances. Furthermore, karma functions not only at the individual level, but also at the level of groups. These might be termed clan karma, national karma, racial or ethnic karma, etc. So it is an extremely complex law. There are said to be three kinds of karma: saṇchita karma or the accumulated karma of all previous lives; prārabdhakarma or ripe karma which is now set in motion in this life; kriyamāṇa karma or present karma that is being created in this life.
The law of karma is sometimes considered to be a kind of fatalism, but that is a misunderstanding of the law. We must face the consequences — good or bad — of our past actions, but when those consequences occur, we are free to deal with them creatively or uncreatively, i.e., reactively. In the latter case, we just perpetuate the energy which brought them about; in the former case, we resolve the problem and dissipate the energy. In other words, as Blavatsky has explained (cf. SD I:639), karma implies DESTINY, rather than FATALISM; it is self-imposed rather than foreordained and fixed. Of course, the less aware one is of one’s own nature and of the law of karma, the more like fate it will appear to be.
The Law of Karma is not the Law of Retribution, as one would surmise as one reads the current books upon the subject; that is but one aspect of the working of the Law  of Karma. The Law of Cause and Effect is not to be understood as we now interpret it. There is, to illustrate, a law called the Law of Gravitation, which has long imposed itself upon the minds of men; such a law exists, but it is only an aspect of a greater law, and its power can be, as we know, relatively offset, for each time that we see an aeroplane soaring overhead, we see a demonstration of the offsetting of this law by mechanical means, symbolising the ease with which it can be surmounted by human beings. If they could but realise it, they are learning the ancient technique of which the power to levitate is one of the easiest and simplest initial exercises.
The Law of Consequences is not the inevitable and set affair which modern thought surmises, but is related to the Laws of Thought far more closely than has been believed; towards an understanding of this, mental science has been groping. Its orientation and purposes are right and good and hopeful of results; its conclusions and modes of work are at present woefully at fault, and most misleading.
Karma is but the condition of the choice.