Planning for the Future (last and part five)

Using a proactive approach, three important elements identify why some people do not have enough karma to practice spiritual development. If we first think about karma itself, we can see how it comes from internal causes ripening, external conditions, as well as unusual clues.

Internal causes are from ingrained, fixated habits, as well as previous actions ripened from the effects of similar actions performed previously. There are also “wild cards” such as blessings of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, who are members of the enlightened community alive in more subtle realities and are committed to rescuing living beings from suffering states.

External conditions might include a supportive or unsupported environment that we live in, our health and body in general, as well as pressures of responsibilities of work and family. It also includes the presence of spiritual opportunities, even though we might need to travel to participate.

Unusual clues to create more spiritual karma are serendipitous events, easy to overlook but noticed and responded to with an inner eye, your heart and inner senses. For example, you might see a Buddhist monk on television and your heart jumps in response. A tree swaying in the breeze might stimulate another kind of remembering, which feels like a spiritual moment.

There are many who posses a very good inner nature, very kind people, people who are very intelligent, yet who do nothing about spiritual development, even with good karmic potential. Perhaps he or she is watching TV right now with no idea that this might be a problem. Maybe they never even heard about the possibility or importance of inner development. They could pass the Dalai Lama himself on the street, and not recognize him, feel anything, or have a connection to transformation potential touching them. We must overcome these and similar obstacles to develop our capacity for spiritual expansion, beyond the ordinary goal to feel good. One, or all of these three elements identifies issues for someone who is low, devoid, or skewed in spiritual causes and conditions.

1- A lack of time to create the karma that is needed
2- A lack of interest
3- A lack of knowledge

Lacking Time

Another definition of proactive is controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens. We can actually fix some things, such as a lack of time. Right now, you do have time, especially by comparison, to someone for example has already passed away. It is how we use our time now rather than waiting until life is almost over to begin thinking about spiritual values. We have an obligation to be proactive while still in a stage of life where we can find time for important things, even though we are busy! By making use of good business values, such as
simple time management principles, use our time wisely, and reflect upon what is most important. There are no specific demands to abandon activities that are meaningful, but we can certainly examine how we use our day. Some might even think, ‘This activity is a total waste of my time, I'm going to stop and use that time for spiritual life. Then, even if I am not fully capable, my Buddhist karma will come and grab me, and hang onto me!

Make time for meditation. If you are already doing meditation, make more time for meditation. Meditate on your lunch hour. Sit in your car and do some prayers. If you are not meditating at all, then definitely do make time for meditation.

Lacking Interest
The second point is a lack of interest. Another dictionary definition for proactive is: Acting in advance with an expected difficulty, or anticipatory.
Spend time with others who are interested in spiritual subjects in a relaxed and happy way without competitiveness. This is not hard but quite enjoyable.
Join a group that meditates regularly.
Go out for coffee with someone who is interested in spiritual subjects.
Get your father, partner, children, or your sister to start meditating so you can have community. Then when you get up in the morning, there they are, your spiritual community that influences your interest as well.
Read. Change the reading materials.
In order to develop karma for spiritual subjects, think about the difficulties you and others have but not while you are in manifest suffering. It is easy to dwell on the pain of conflict and the damage it does when you or others are suffering, however, there is a completely different reaction to suffering if the mind is calm and more meditative. The abstract and objective view gained in quiet contemplation lifts the discriminative faculties to understand the real nature of suffering. That will tremendously awaken a dormant interest in spirituality and further expand spiritual karma.

On the other hand, only thinking about the suffering during painful events can be a trauma-induced kind of meditation. That will actually decrease interest in learning about spiritual subjects because of associating suffering with trouble and forced introspection.This might lead to avoiding meditation because you might accidentally think about what you do not want to think about, and isn't that where most people are? We need time to think skillfully and quietly about the logical dilemma of suffering. This is how it is done in the Tibetan system. When cool and calm, it is not an emotional subject; it is a reasonable, logical process to slowly discover the existential dilemma of life.

Make decisions to change. It will definitely increase your interest in developing that karma. Keep images of enlightened presence, such as Buddha images and other inspiring images, nearby. Why? Because the inner eye often can see what you do not see. Many dharma students tell me that they keep a Buddha image or picture at work. While they are on the telephone, their inner eye (or some say the subconscious mind) is looking, looking, looking. Have you ever found yourself gazing at a Buddha image, without realizing that you were doing so? That was your inner eye, connected to a more subtle level of mind. There is a great need for more karmic interactions by having more clues of enlightened presence in this world. Those sensitive enough can even feel the inner eye seeing that image and resting feeling that this is a wonderful place to be. This world has the presence of the Buddha and the teachings. Karma, karma, karma.

Lacking Knowledge
Lastly, there is a lack of karmic connection to spiritual development due to a lack of knowledge. There is more than one level and method of receiving a dharma education. We definitely need to come into closer contact with the dharma by listening or attending teachings where dharma is spoken in person.

Spoken dharma as opposed to written dharma reveals the blind spots to help gain new understanding. Become involved in discussions as well as listening to teachings rather than exclusively reading dharma. Have you ever looked at a page, and later realized that you saw only half of what was written? By reading dharma, we might miss certain words, phrases, and concepts because of a lack of supporting perceptions to process what we are reading. On the other hand, it is not quite as easy to overlook ideas when presented in the spoken dharma, especially in front of a lama teaching and facilitating inner and outer dharma simultaneously. With effort, we can hear concepts for the first time; however, without spiritual karma, usually we can only see what is already familiar.

Nevertheless, read about the life of the Buddha and his teachings, or at the very least, go to the movie! Go see Milarepa. Go see Little Buddha. There are many wonderful Buddhist movies and documentaries. In addition to reading about the life of the Buddha and the Buddha's teachings, it is also important to read or listen to modern day Buddhist teachings relating the struggles of daily life with spiritual development.

The Great Path will not abandon the karmically unskillful, or busy modern person. Each century holds a new adaptation of Buddhadharma that can be part of your planning for your future. We have ordinary precautions for the safety of our retirement; now let's practice long-range preparations for the great Journey to perfection, our actual home.

Comments

  1. The movie "Milarepa" from Neten Chokling will be presented to the independent cinema in the city where I live. An occidental lama from the Kagyupa lineage (wich I follow) will entertain a dicussion after the film show. Great for all the people of this city !

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