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Dharma Movie Review: Karma Ghost
Haunted By Karma's Ghosts

See the short film (4 min) here: 
More details of the film below this review.

[This review makes sense only after you have seen the film.]

Karma Ghost is a darkly humorous story about the accumulative effects of bad karma. Don't take this film literally, but it's an engaging alternative depiction of karmic mechanics. Karma does not operate by Karma Ghosts of course- it's a natural law that operates by itself, just like no one rules the law of gravity. Here are some reflections on the film-


1. There is a scene where Pete gets "blinded" by 2 invisible Karma Ghosts. This metophorically illustrates us being blinded by karmic ignorance, which can propel us to create fresh bad karma.

2. The scene where Pete steps into the doggie poo and kicks the dog represents the interactive clashing of two beings' bad karma- where both condition each other's suffering. Sadly, Pete furthered his bad karma by retaliating.

3. Every time a character burns up or exhausts his specific karma, the respective Karma Ghost takes off its karma-labelled shirt. But almost as soon as that happens, another Karma Ghost hops on when Pete does another nasty act. Likewise, every moment we intentionally think, say and do somthing, fresh karma is created- for better or worse. In Pete's case, all he created were bad karma, thus, no "Good Karma Ghost" hopped on him.

4. What Pete did throughout the film was create a string of karmic traps for himself, accumulating into his tragic "grand finale." Are we like him at times too?

5. Vic's review at the end of the film on the law of karma is not exactly karmically correct. For example, he says "Step on a cockroach and you might lose your foot." Karma does not necessarily magnify effects- especially if good karma was also created, which might dilute the bad effects. Vice versa can happen too- karmic seeds can grow given the right conditions.

6. Vic says the law of karma is like Newton's third (not first!) law of "ethics", where "for every action, there is an equal and cmplementary response." Well, that's just a very rough analogy- for the law of karma is much more complicated and subtle, with many unphysical (mental) factors difficult to calculate.

7. Vic also says karmic effects can take place in the form of mysterious accidents. This is not totally true in the sense that there is a cause for every incident that we encounter, even though seemingly beyond our control. Sometimes, "mysterious accidents" happen to us due to unmindfulness in the moment, which conditions the ripening of past karma. Without conditions, causes do not bear effect.

8. Vic also says if there is the law of karma, there should be "precise and immediate accuracy." This would mean Hitler shouldn't have grown up to do so much evil, for example. Well, karma created does not always bear immediate results. As above, only when the conditions are present in good time, do karmic causes ripen into corresponding effects. In the mean time, these karmic seeds are latent, never gone- though their future fruits' "bitterness" can be "sweetened" with repentance and active creation of more good karma. In this sense, karma is very fair indeed.

For more information on the law of karma, please see

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Sundance Online Film Festival
Audience Award Winner 2002

Karma Ghost

A darkly humorous story
about the accumulative effects of bad karma.

Director: Billy Blob
Producer: Billy Blob
Writer: Billy Blob

A story about karma, and a guy named Pete who is stumbling through life spewing discontent and anger on everything he comes in contact with. Eventually, Pete's collective bad Karma begins to plot against him.