The bedrock of the Buddha’s first teachings
Some people think karma is fate. “It must be my karma,” they sigh, resigning themselves to some calamity. But karma doesn’t have to be bad. It can be good. And we make our own karma. Every thought, feeling, and deed sows a habitual karmic seed in our mind that ripens into a corresponding positive, negative, or neutral experience. Anger and jealousy manifest as painful, unhappy experiences. Selfless, joyful thoughts and feelings flower into wondrous, fulfilling experiences.
So we don’t have to resign ourselves to “our karma.” We control our karma. Every moment is a new juncture, a chance to improve our way of thinking and thus our circumstances. This principle of interdependent causation is the bedrock of the Buddha’s first teachings, the four noble truths.
– Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes
Countless rebirths lie ahead, both good and bad. The effects of karma (actions) are inevitable, and in previous lifetimes we have accumulated negative karma which will inevitably have its fruition in this or future lives. Just as someone witnessed by police in a criminal act will eventually be caught and punished, so we too must face the consequences of faulty actions we have committed in the past, there is no way to be at ease; those actions are irreversible; we must eventually undergo their effects.
– 14th Dalai Lama
from the book “Kindness, Clarity, and Insight”
The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive.
April 15, 2018
Whether we assign blame to others or ourselves, the negative emotion that accompanies blame is unskillful. Blame entails not only assigning responsibility for an unwelcome consequence, but also imputing malice or evil intent to the one performing the act.
The law of karma, as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni, lies beyond all concepts of human morality, right and wrong, good and evil. It is merely the understanding that causes produce effects. Gravity does not intend for us to fall and hurt ourselves when we trip; fire does not intend to cause us pain when our skin is burned by a flame.
When water comes in contact with a surface, that surface becomes wet. We do not blame the water for making the surface wet –that is its nature. Similarly, when our wrong views (ignorance of the nature of self and all phenomena) and afflicted emotions (attachment, aversion, and indifference) lead us to act in unskillful ways, there is no question of guilt and blame.
The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive. When we understand that there is a relationship of cause and effect between our actions and the consequences we experience, we are liberated from victimhood. We are no longer subject to a random universe where evil befalls us without rhyme or reason. We are free to make our own way.
We do not study the law of karma to learn the specific reasons ‘why’ something happens. That exercise is futile. We understand the law of karma in order to make the determination to place positive, skillful causes in the continuum of our experience from here onwards.
The law of karma, of cause and effect, is not meant to lead us to recrimination, guilt, and blame. On the contrary, it is the acceptance of our capacity to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, and embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”