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I am just beginning to embrace Buddhism. I am still struggling to get my head around some of the concepts. That said, I find that when I explain something in my own terms, using analogies, I tend to increase my comprehension of it. I've put together this explanation of karma, and wanted to throw it out there to get your thoughts, corrections, etc. Thanks in advance.
Every behavior, emotion, and thought generates karma.
These karmic effects can be felt "locally", i.e., within this lifetime, or will impact future rebirths.
With respect to them impacting future rebirths: it is as if we are throwing a football to a player on a football field; the football represents our consciousness - an impersonal, "not me" consciousness - and throwing it represents our death and the rebirth of that consciousness, and it being caught by another player (which could be another human, or a fish, or a deva, etc.). represents that impersonal consciousness arising in another sentient being (and being one of the 5 "heaps" or aggregates that comprise that being). Karma would be akin to who catches the ball (a fish, a human, a deva, a preta), the spin we put on the ball, the speed and angle at which it travels, the distance it travels. Whatever catches that ball, i.e., inherits that impersonal consciousness (that was once 1 of the 5 aggregates comprising me) is affected by the spin, angle, speed, and distance with which it was thrown. That is the karmic effect impacting upon rebirth.
Now, the ultimate goal of the Dharma is to end all suffering, which seems to also be the equivalent of ending all karma. So...if that happens....then what? When one reaches Nirvana, what happens to that impersonal consciousness that will NOT arise again because it has been pulled free of samsara??