Karma is like a crop.
I had a chat with a friend who asked what is karma? I explained that it was an equal and opposite force to what we put out with our energy. If we put a good action out with thought, speech or action, at some time an equal good action will return to us.The same happens if we do evil, it will return to us in the future, if not this life, then in a future one. To further explain, I used the analogy of having two big oil storage tanks in our pocket, one is filled with good karma the other with bad karma. When I was asked which has more, I said it depends on which one we choose to fill one drop at a time. Continuing the discussion, we reached the enlightenment discussion. He asked what happens to all our bad karma, once we reach enlightenment, and I explained that as we put it in the tank, so must it come out. So before we reach Nirvana, the tanks must be emptied. If we only have good karma left, we will have a content and peaceful life, if we have bad karma then we must go through any sufferings to eliminate the bad karma. I realize that this is a simple explanation, however he understood karma better, and that is a good start for any of us.As I become more knowledgeable, I will be able to hold more exhaustive discussions, use better analogies, and delve deeper into the mechanics. However as Buddha taught us, we need to make sure the message is understandable to the listener. It is only when someone understands, can they think about it, test it, see if it fits, and if they choose to adopt it.Explaining chaos theory to most 5th graders will just get you a puzzled look, explaining it to me will get a lot of questions. 🙂