First, the meanings, according to a dictionary:
dharma: noun Hinduism,Buddhism. 1. essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one's own nature. 2. conformity to religious law, custom, duty, or one's own quality or character. 3. virtue. 4. religion. 5. law, especially religious law.
karma: noun 1. Hinduism,Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman. Compare bhakti(def. 1), jnana. 2. Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation. 3. fate; destiny
Beyond the "definitions", the origin and background of each word is also fascinating. I've found through the years that my personality type (according to Meier's Briggs) is often a "fence sitter" and this is so true about myself. I truly can see, understand, and show empathy on both sides of an issue.
It seems that "dharma" is our moral fiber, our duty to do what's right for ourselves, family, community, and the universe, while on this earthly plane. And "karma" is what results - our "reward" or "punishment" for the quality (or lack of it) of our character and virtue. Both words are nouns, however, karma is the end result of an "action" word, or a verb. Dharma is ... what it is (sorry, I detest that word but, here it applies). Our "dharma"might be described by an adjective; no verb or action words need apply.
These words are used in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
As one website put it, "One's dharmic path in the next life is determined by their past karma." And, another says, "Regardless of the religion, the tenet is the same ... ‘be kind to your fellow men and you will eventually receive an award.’"
Read more: Difference Between Dharma and Karma | Difference Between | Dharma vs Karma http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-dharma-and-karma/#ixzz1bLsIHAnp