Tag Archives: karma

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Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and “one body,” will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labours is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another. Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement. Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time.

— Thomas Merton – No Man is an Island

One Body

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The equilibrating law of karma, as expounded in the Hindu scriptures, is that of action and reaction, cause and effect, sowing and reaping. In the course of natural righteousness (rita), each man, by his thoughts and actions, becomes the molder of his destiny. Whatever universal energies he himself, wisely or unwisely, has set in motion must return to him as their starting point, like a circle inexorably completing itself. “The world looks like a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself. Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty.” — Emerson (Compensation). An understanding of karma as the law of justice underlying life’s inequalities serves to free human mind from resentment.

— Paramahansa Yogananda – Autobiography of a Yogi

The law of cause and effect

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Restraining yourself
And loving others
Are seeds that bear fruit
In this life and beyond.

[…]

No killing and no stealing,
No abusing and no lying,
No slandering, swearing, gossiping,
No coveting, resenting or fixating:

These pristine acts
Are ways to practice
That ripen as beauty and pleasure
Here and elsewhere.

— Nagarjuna – Verses from the Center – Acts

Acts

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Do you think that the flame on the candle is going down only in a vertical direction? If you think so, then you are following the flame in time. You may also think in this way about your own life span: that it is going in a linear direction and that one day it will end. You may think that you were born on a point on a vertical line, a point you may call 1960. You may think that you will die on a point somewhere farther down on that line, which you may call 2040. All you can see is yourself moving in time like the candle. But you are not just moving in a linear direction.

You might think that the flame is just going down. You might think that the candle will die. In fact the flame is going out in many other directions. It is giving out light all around itself to the north, south, east and west. If you had a very sensitive scientific instrument, you would be able to measure the heat and light that the candle is sending out into the universe. The candle is going into you as an image, as light and as heat.

You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment.

— Thich Nhat Hanh – No Death, No Fear – Pages 121 and 122


This text is illustrated by this example following the text above on page 122:
This morning you said something unkind to your child. With those unkind words you went into her heart. Now you are regretting what you said. It does not mean that you cannot transform what you have said by admitting your mistake to your child, but if you fail to do so, those unkind words may stay with your child for a long time.

You are like a candle

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Buddhist monks gathered together in Bodhgaya under the Bodhi Tree of Enlightenment.

All mistakes that occur
And all the various kinds of wrongdoing
Arise through the force of conditions;
They do not govern themselves.

These conditions that assemble together
Have no intention to produce anything,
And neither does their product
Have the intention to be produced.

— Shantideva – Verses 25 and 26 / Chapter 6 of the Bodhicharyavatara

The world and its beings are full of aberrations. These various and varied aberrations are the result of dependent originations of phenomena. Causation means both, the main cause and the conditions for a resultant consequence to happen. The seed buried in the earth is the cause and the soil, the sun, the rain are the conditions which cause it to germinate and to become a plant as a resultant consequence. Anger and all the other afflictions, and the whole panoply of negative actions motivated by them – killing, stealing, and so on – are brought about by circumstances. They are not independent or self-governed. Therefore, there is no use exhibiting anger at others’ faults. When no physical object is present, the experience of seeing (on the part of the eye consciousness) does not occur. The same is true mutatis mutandis with hearing and all the other senses. And when there is no seeing or hearing and the like, there is no engaging in positive or negative deeds. Therefore, although anger arises on the basis of the coincidence of an object, the sense power, and the sense consciousness, the gathering of these three conditions does not itself intend to produce anger in a given person’s mind. And the resulting anger is not an entity that regards itself as produced by such conditions. In all of this, there is no trace of an independent, autonomous agent.

— This commentary is compiled by a combination of the Parmanda Sharma and Kunzang Pelden Commentaries

Causes and Conditions

Interdependent Origination

Standard

“The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet.”
— Paul Ehrlich

Pottery Square - Bhaktapur - Nepal

She smiled at a sorrowful stranger.
The smile seemed to make him feel better.
He remembered past kindnesses of a friend
And wrote him a thank you letter.
The friend was so pleased with the thank you
That he left a large tip after lunch.
The waitress, surprised by the size of the tip,
Bet the whole thing on a hunch.
The next day she picked up her winnings,
And gave part to a man on the street.
The man on the street was grateful;
For two days he’d had nothing to eat.
After he finished his dinner,
He left for his small dingy room.
He didn’t know at that moment that he might be facing his doom.
On the way he picked up a shivering puppy.
And took him home to get warm.
The puppy was very grateful
To be in out of the storm.
That night the house caught on fire.
The puppy barked the alarm.
He barked till he woke the whole household
And saved everybody from harm.
One of the boys that he rescued
Grew up to be President.
All this because of a simple smile
That hadn’t cost a cent.

— Barbara Hauck (from “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul”)