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Karma in Chinese / Japanese...

Buy a Karma calligraphy wall scroll here!

Start your custom "Karma" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Karma" title below...

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Karma
  2. Shadow of Karma...
  3. Karma - Cause and Effect
  4. Wheel of Karma
  5. Karma Connection
  6. The Karma/Fate/Destiny...
  7. Everything Happens for a Reason
  8. Destiny / Fate
  9. Everything Happens for a Reason
10. The Mysterious Bond Between People
11. Destiny / Fate
12. Evil Cause, Evil Result
13. Reincarnation
14. Fate / Opportunity / Chance
15. Optimism / Happy With Your Fate
16. The Noble Eightfold Path
17. Predestined Love / Love by Fate
18. The Red String
19. 6. Right Effort / Right Endeavor / Perfect Effort
20. Reincarnation / Transmigration of Souls


Karma

Single character for Buddhist Karma
China
Japan gou
Karma Wall Scroll

業 is the simplest way to express the idea of Karma. 業 is the Buddhist concept of actions committed in a former life affecting the present and future.

Out of the context of Buddhism, this Karma character means one's profession in life, trade, occupation, business, study, or career.

The Karma definition applies to both Chinese and Japanese for this character. This also works as Korean Hanja as Karma; although the meaning can vary depending on context (my Korean dictionary gives the definition of profession/occupation).


See Also:  Buddhism

Karma

Transliterated personal name
China kǎ mǎ
Karma Wall Scroll

卡瑪 is the most common transliteration to Mandarin Chinese for the name Karma.

Note: This sounds like Karma but does not have the meaning of Karma in Chinese. See our other entry if you are looking for the Buddhist idea of Karma.

In fact, if your name is Karma, I strongly suggest that you use a word that means Karma, rather than this one which sounds like Karma (meaning is more important and universal in Chinese/Japanese/Korean).

Karma (of your past lives)

China sù yè
Japan shukugou
Karma (of your past lives) Wall Scroll

宿業 is the Buddhist concept of Past Karma. To put it simply, it's the sum of all the good and bad from all previous lives (and perhaps earlier in your current life). This term is not commonly used outside of the Buddhist faith (you'll have a tough time finding a non-Buddhist Asian person that knows this word).

Other ways to translate this: "The karma of previous existence," "The karma remaining from prior existences," or simply "Former karma."


See Also:  Buddhism

Shadow of Karma
Dogged by Karma

China yè yǐng
Japan gou you
Shadow of Karma / Dogged by Karma Wall Scroll

業影 is a Buddhist title that literally means "Karma Shadow."

It figuratively means karma dogging one's steps like a shadow.

It's similar to the western idea of, "karma is a bitch."

Karma - Cause and Effect

China yīn guǒ
Japan inga
Karma - Cause and Effect Wall Scroll

因果 is a label that is used inside and outside of the Buddhist faith to speak of Karma.

Along with the meaning of Karma, this word can be translated as "retribution" or "chain of cause and effect."


See Also:  Buddhism

Wheel of Karma

China yè lún
Japan gōrin
Wheel of Karma Wall Scroll

業輪 is the Chinese and Japanese Kanji for "The wheel of karma." This wheel is the metaphorical Buddhist mechanism that turns people into the six paths of transmigration.

Karma Connection

China yǒu yuán
Japan uen
Karma Connection Wall Scroll

This means: related; brought together by fate; same karma; those who have the cause, link, or connection.

This is a common word in Chinese but usually only used in the context of Buddhism in Japanese.

Buddhists will say this refers to those that are influenced by and responsive to the Buddha.

The Karma/Fate/Destiny
that Brings Lovers Together

China yīn yuán
The Karma/Fate/Destiny / that Brings Lovers Together Wall Scroll

These two characters mean, "Destiny that brings lovers together." It can also be translated technically as, "Predestined matrimonial affinity" (wow, talk about taking the romance out of this word - that was from the Oxford C-E dictionary).

Basically, this is talking about the fate (or karma) that brings a husband and wife together. I would translate this as "Together by fate" or "Joined by destiny" but in the context of marriage. You could use this for non-married lovers but the first character has a suggestion that this refers to those that are married.

Everything Happens for a Reason

China wàn shì jiē yīn guǒ
Everything Happens for a Reason Wall Scroll

The first two characters mean "all things" or "everything."

The middle character kind of means, "in all cases."

The last two characters create a complex word that can be defined many ways such as, "karma," "cause and effect," "fate," "every cause has its effect, as every effect arises from a cause."

Keep in mind, Chinese grammar is a bit different than English, so trust me that this makes a natural proverb that means, "Everything happens for a reason" in Chinese.

Destiny / Fate

China mìng yùn
Destiny / Fate Wall Scroll

These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck." You can also say that it means "what life throws at you" or "your lot in life" because the first character contains the idea of "life" or "living."

This version is really only used in Chinese. There's another version with just the characters reversed that is more universal. In fact, just skip this one. The opposite character order is better.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Japan monogoto ha subete riyuu ga at te okiru
Everything Happens for a Reason Wall Scroll

This is a work in progress. We're still trying to decide the best way to express this in Japanese. If you order this, we might have a discussion about the best version that fits you. Here's how the characters break down by meaning (keep in mind, Japanese grammar and sentence construction is very different from English, so it doesn't make complete sense in English)...

物事 = things, everything
は particle
全て all, the whole, entirely
理由 reason
が particle
あっ be, exist, have, take place, happens
て particle
起きる to occur, to happen; to take place (usually unfavorable incidents)


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

The Mysterious Bond Between People

The invisible force that brings people together forever
China yuán
Japan en
The Mysterious Bond Between People Wall Scroll

緣 / 縁 is a complicated single character. It can mean a lot of different things depending on how you read it.

In Japanese, it can mean fate; destiny; a mysterious force that binds two people together; a relationship between two people; bond; link; connection; family ties; affinity; opportunity; chance (to meet someone and start a relationship). It can also mean "someone to rely on," relative, reminder, memento, or the female given name, Yori.

It's basically the same in Chinese, where it's defined as cause, reason, karma, fate, or predestined affinity.

In Buddhist context, it's Pratyaya. 緣 / 縁 is the concept of indirect conditions, as opposed to direct causes. It's when something happens (meeting someone) by circumstance, or a contributing environment. Instead of a direct cause or act, it is a conditioning cause without direct input or action by the involved people.

Occasionally, this character is used in a facetious way to say hem, seam, or edge of clothing. In this case, it's the seam that brings or holds the clothing together.


縁Note: Japanese will tend to use the variant of this Kanji shown to the right. If you want this version (and are ordering this from the Japanese master calligrapher), click on the Kanji at the right instead of the button above.

Destiny / Fate

China yùn mìng
Japan un mei
Destiny / Fate Wall Scroll

These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

This is often defined as "a person's fate" in various dictionaries.

These two characters can be reversed (written in either order) and yield roughly the same meaning.

This particular character order happens to be more common in old Korean and less common in modern Chinese.


See Also:  Good Fortune | Good Luck

Evil Cause, Evil Result

Meaning: You reap what you sow
Japan akuin akka
Evil Cause, Evil Result Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb means, "Evil cause, evil effect" or "Bad causes bring bad results."

The English equivalent is probably, "Sow evil and reap evil" or more commonly, "You reap what you sow."

Note: This is also considered to be a Buddhist phrase encompassing the idea of karmic retribution.

Reincarnation (Buddhism)

China zhuǎn shì
Japan ten sei
Reincarnation (Buddhism) Wall Scroll

轉世 is the Buddhist idea of reincarnation or transmigration.

Other definitions of this term: "Attainer of Nirvana from within the desire realm," "A practitioner who enters directly into Nirvana from the desire realm, without traversing the form and formless realms. One of the 27 kinds of Hinayana sages," or simply, "to return again to this life."

轉世 is also a Japanese title but the first Kanji was slightly simplified after WWII. Just let us know if you want the modern Japanese version when you order.


See Also:  Buddhism | Rebirth

Fate / Opportunity / Chance

Buddhist idea of Fate
China yīn yuán
Japan in nen
Fate / Opportunity / Chance Wall Scroll

因緣 is the Buddhist concept of a chance meeting or an opportunity that presents itself by fate.

Sometimes this is used to describe a cosmic chain of events or cause and effect.

It also is used to describe predestined relationships between people - and sometimes married couples (although if you want one about marriage, try this: Fate / Destiny of Lovers.

因緣 can also be translated as origin, karma, destiny, affinity, connection, and relation. This all depends on context - seen alone on a wall scroll, this will be read with a "fate / chance" meaning by a Chinese person, or a Korean person who can read Hanja.

The more complex definition of this word would be, "Direct causes and indirect conditions, which underlie the actions of all things."

This concept is known as nidana in the original Sanskrit. Also sometimes presented as hetupratyaya (or "hetu and prataya") which I believe is Pali.


Note: Japanese will tend to use this version of the second Kanji: 縁
If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, expect that you'll get this version. However, this word often carries a negative connotation in Japanese (bad things happen), as it is used that way in a certain Japanese idiom. Therefore, this may not be the best choice if Japanese is your target language.


See Also:  Buddhism | Opportunity

Optimism / Happy With Your Fate

China lè tiān
Japan raku ten
Optimism / Happy With Your Fate Wall Scroll

樂天 is about being optimistic and also making the best of whatever life throws at you.

This word is hard to define. One dictionary defines this as, "acceptance of fate and happy about it." There is one English word equivalent which is sanguinity or sanguinary.

You can also say that this means, "Be happy with whatever Heaven provides," or "Find happiness in whatever fate Heaven bestows upon you." 樂天 suggests being an optimist in life.

Note: This is sometimes a given name in China.


楽 Please note that Japanese tend to write the first character in a slightly-different form (as seen to the right). Let us know if you have a preference when you place your order.

The Noble Eightfold Path

Ashtangika Marga / Astangika-Marga / Atthangika Magga
China bā zhèng dào
Japan ha sshou dou
The Noble Eightfold Path Wall Scroll

八正道 is a complex set of steps that Buddhists much take to cleanse karma, achieve enlightenment, eventually cease the cycle of rebirth and live in a state of Nirvana.


If the idea of 8 separate wall scrolls plus this title is too much for you, we can custom-arrange all eight of these concepts on a single wall scroll. Just post your request on our Asian calligraphy forum, and we can discuss options.

Note: This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people.


See Also:  Buddhism | Enlightenment

Predestined Love / Love by Fate

China qíng yuán
Predestined Love / Love by Fate Wall Scroll

This Chinese word means predestined love, or love affinity.

This can be the fate, karma, or bond that brings two lovers together.

The Red String

Thread of Lover's Destiny / Fate
Japan akai ito
The Red String Wall Scroll

This literally translates as, "the red string" in Japanese but the real meaning is much deeper...

In Japanese culture, it's believed that fate, destiny, or karma joins lovers by an unseen string, tied around one little finger of each. This is how soul mates fine and are drawn to each other.

6. Right Effort / Right Endeavor / Perfect Effort

Samyag Vyayama / Samma Vayama
China zhèng jīng jìn
Japan sei shou jin
6. Right Effort / Right Endeavor / Perfect Effort Wall Scroll

正精進 is one of the Noble Eightfold Paths of Buddhism. Right Effort, along with Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration constitute the path to Concentration or Perfect Thought.

Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake in each moment, the effort to overcome laziness and defilement, the effort to make each activity of our day meditation. This concept is about pursuing wholesome things that promote good karma.

Another definition: Cultivation of what is karmically wholesome and avoidance of what is karmically unwholesome.


This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people.


See Also:  Buddhism | Enlightenment

Reincarnation / Transmigration of Souls

China lún huí
Japan rin ne
Reincarnation / Transmigration of Souls Wall Scroll

輪回 / 輪廻 is a universal word in Japanese and Chinese that expresses the Buddhist idea of "reincarnation," "transmigration of souls" or "the eternal cycle of birth and death."

In some context, this can also mean "karma," and others will say it represents "samsara."

The first character means wheel, ring, turn, circle, loop or rotate.
The second character can be thought of as a suffix meaning "-times." This second character can also refer to something that revolves, returns, goes back, or a counter for the number of occurrences of some event.
Together the sum supersedes the parts and it means reincarnation. But knowing the seeing the essence of each character may help you understand some of the meaning behind the word.


廻Shown to the right is the more common way to write the second character in Japanese. It's an alternate form of this character in Chinese (so neither way is technically wrong in either language). If you select a Japanese calligrapher, expect that is will look like the Kanji to the right.


See Also:  Buddhism | Rebirth




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Karma
gou / goyè / ye4 / ye yeh
Karma 卡瑪
卡玛
kǎ mǎ / ka3 ma3 / ka ma / kama k`a ma / kama / ka ma
Karma (of your past lives) 宿業
宿业
shukugou / shukugosù yè / su4 ye4 / su ye / suye su yeh / suyeh
Shadow of Karma
Dogged by Karma
業影
业影
gou you / gouyou / go yo / goyoyè yǐng / ye4 ying3 / ye ying / yeying yeh ying / yehying
Karma - Cause and Effect 因果ingayīn guǒ / yin1 guo3 / yin guo / yinguo yin kuo / yinkuo
Wheel of Karma 業輪
业轮
gōrinyè lún / ye4 lun2 / ye lun / yelun yeh lun / yehlun
Karma Connection 有緣
有缘
uenyǒu yuán / you3 yuan2 / you yuan / youyuan yu yüan / yuyüan
The Karma/Fate/Destiny / that Brings Lovers Together 姻緣
姻缘
yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan yin yüan / yinyüan
Everything Happens for a Reason 萬事皆因果
万事皆因果
wàn shì jiē yīn guǒ
wan4 shi4 jie1 yin1 guo3
wan shi jie yin guo
wanshijieyinguo
wan shih chieh yin kuo
wanshihchiehyinkuo
Destiny
Fate
命運
命运
mìng yùn / ming4 yun4 / ming yun / mingyun ming yün / mingyün
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.

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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as Karma Kanji, Karma Characters, Karma in Mandarin Chinese, Karma Characters, Karma in Chinese Writing, Karma in Japanese Writing, Karma in Asian Writing, Karma Ideograms, Chinese Karma symbols, Karma Hieroglyphics, Karma Glyphs, Karma in Chinese Letters, Karma Hanzi, Karma in Japanese Kanji, Karma Pictograms, Karma in the Chinese Written-Language, or Karma in the Japanese Written-Language.