So according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary,“Karma” is “the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person”. Even though this “force” has an abstract and maybe even a “spiritual” meaning in some religions, I truly believe in the concept (besides being an agnostic).
The term Karma doesn’t have a specific time in which it was first used or a specific author who came up with the term, but it is first registered in a Hindu scripture in Sanskrit called Bhagavad Gita, which was probably written between the fifth century BCE and second century BCE. In this sanskrit, Karma (referred as Karma Yoga) has the idea that human beings should comply with their dharma (religious duty), while they maintain themselves separated from the bad or good results of such activity.
Later on in books such as the Bible, the book of Genesis refers in different verses about the phrase “…as you sow, you shall reap” similar to the western quote “what goes around comes around”, first used in Eddie Stone’s Donald writes no more in 1974.
I can personally describe Karma as life’s way of being: Do good and you shall receive good; Do bad and you shall receive bad. Defining something as “good” or “bad” really depends on various factors such as: the society, country, religion, customs or personal view of things; but I consider some things “Universally good” or “Universally bad” that are independent from the above factors mentioned mainly because of our human conditions and qualities. For e.g., helping an elder cross the street may be considered “universally good”, just as mugging a person in the street may be considered “universally bad”. So, speaking in terms of Karma if you’re a person that helps elders cross the streets or are a good friend/brother/sister/father/mother, you will have good and positive effects of life over you; on the contrary, if you’re a person that take advantage of people, neglect your child or cheat on your spouse/fiancee/girlfriend/boyfriend, you will have bad and negative effects of life over you. In this I truly believe.
Now the word “Schadenfreude” is a German word used in the English vocabulary. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it means: “a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people”. This feeling could be used in situations as simple as walking down the street with a friend and he or she trips; in some occasions it may seem as a funny thing so we laugh at the minor trouble. Other situations such as a person feeling happy or laughing while knowing that someone they know got murdered, may not seem so “sane” or “normal”.
I consider that having Schadenfreude is normal (up to a point) in the majority of people. I personally have laughed a few times after my friends trip a step while walking, or felt happy when Ariel Castro, the kidnapper of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in Cleveland, Ohio was sentenced to 1,000 years in prison; but the main cause of my Schadenfreude is watching when Karma finally gets its way.
I’ve had some people in my life who have resorted to being hypocrite, hurt my feelings, talk behind my back or treat me wrongfully. I usually take time to really get to know a persons true colors, since I tend to expect the best in everyone; and I also have a difficult time in trying to discern a persons intentions. Since I believe in the “do good and you shall receive good”, I don’t resort to vengeance or in “paying with the same currency”; I prefer in just letting go (early or late into the relationship) and leave the rest to Karma or life (as I usually refer to Karma). Since I like to do good and receive good, I tend to keep it that way so that Karma would never deem to encounter.
Like the time the first guy I liked broke my heart and treated me like crap, and later on I knew that he has been a failure in his career, I tend to feel kind of “relieved” or “proud” that Karma has finally done it’s work. It may sound a bit “sick”, “evil” or “disappointing” but I’m a human and I’m not perfect nor “godlike”.
I guess everyone has felt Schadenfreude at least one time in their lives. I’ve felt it, especially when life comes and delivers the good or bad actions and values that you’ve harvested throughout your lifetime.