Today we will learn about Karma and the importance of action (embodying the teachings in our every day lives).
Buddhism places a great deal of importance and power in our hands. Believing and knowing that our lives are shaped by us and not some external force or deity.
We look into and investigate how our lives, our current condition, is the result of causes. Causes that have been initiated by us. That whatever results we may be experiencing, “good” or “bad” are the results of past thoughts, words and deeds.
And that if we want to have a “better” life we must cultivate thoughts, words and actions that are skillful and are based in compassion and wisdom. Skillful behaviour that helps to bring happiness and peace not only to ourselves but to others as well.
Knowing this gives us hope. A power, strength and confidence that we have some control, some kind of input, some kind of say in regards to the results we experience.
And with this new found hope and confidence we diligently craft our thoughts, words and actions in such a way that we become a blessing to the world. Small daily actions over time lead to stunning results.
Master Thich Thien-An in his book Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice, presents us with an interesting question to go deeper into the Law of Karma, “Sometimes we know someone who is virtuous, gentle, kind, loving and wise and yet his life is filled with troubles from morning to night.”
So if we believe that “good” acts lead to happiness and “bad” acts lead to suffering what about this situation?
The fruits of our Karma don’t necessarily ripen in this lifetime. Our Karma may come to bear in this or future lifetimes.
A person may enjoy prosperity in this lifetime even though their actions are unskillful. Also, a person who is skillful in this lifetime may experience troubles and hardships because of bad karma from a previous life.
The Law of Karma binds together past, present and future lives through the course of your transmigrations.
Our lives work out the karmic seeds in our storehouse consciousness. The shape of our lives are not predetermined by fate but are moulded by our own will through our volitional actions or karma. Therefore we see the importance of skillful thoughts, words and deeds and see how the power of these can be felt for lifetimes – good or bad.
“A bodhisattva is concerned with what he does (cause), but not about what he receives (effect). A common man worries about what he receives, but not about what he does.”
~ The Buddha, in the Avatamasaka Sutra
Master Thich Thien-An sums up Karma beautifully with the following:
“The theory of karma in Buddhism thus teaches that man is the creator of his own life and his own destiny. All good and bad that comes our way in life is the result of our own actions reacting upon us.
Our joys and sorrows are the effects of which our actions, both in the distant and the immediate past, are the causes. And what we do in the present will determine what we become in the future.
Since man is the creator of his own life, to enjoy a happy and peaceful life he must be a good creator, that is, he must create good karma. Good karma comes ultimately from a good mind, from a pure and calm mind.
When we sit in meditation, we produce a pure and calm mind; this is the cause. And from this pure and calm mind comes a calm life, a peaceful life, a happy life; this is the effect.
Meditation is not simply a form of mental relaxation. It is something more. It is a way of transcending our finite ego-selves, of realizing our True Self which is Non-Self, of finding the ultimate reality that lies within, of creating better thought as the indispensable foundation for building a better life and a peaceful world.”
The Way of Action
Our practice is not just confined to the cushion. All our life must be infused with practice. All wisdom that is gleaned from our studies, our meditation, our discussions must in some way be transformed and embodied in us. In how we live our lives. In how we interact with the world and the people in it.
All aspects our lives are a chance to meditate, a chance to practice, a chance to embody what we are trying to achieve.
We are all interconnected. We all exist in an interwoven matrix of life. We cannot function in an isolated way. Understanding our interconnected nature and how karma unfolds we begin to see how our thoughts, words and actions have an impact, not only on ourselves but on others and the world around us.
We seek to be a blessing in peoples lives. Not so that we may be known as great, charitable, kind. We show up skillfully, compassionately, wisely – just because. Even if no one is watching.
Our deeds don’t have to be grandiose. It is motive not magnitude that influences the outcomes of our deeds. If we drop our calculations, our cunning, our conniving and just act in a meaningful way, in ways that help alleviate suffering and help bring happiness that is a great deed.
The way of the Buddha is not complicated and can be summed up as, “Commit not a single unwholesome act. Develop a wealth of virtue.Tame, transform, and conquer this mind of ours. Peace. Compassion. Wisdom. This is the essence of the teachings of the Buddhas.”