The Power of Karma (part eight)

Those who possess a mind of virtue often do not notice negative behaviors in others, which is a tremendous blessing. For instance, a person might say something just awful, but virtuous ears automatically close, "What? Did you say something to me?” Even standing close by, he or she cannot hear negativity very well because the karma and mind of virtue cannot experience it. They have little supporting perceptions to be alert to negativity! Do you know someone like this? Has it ever happened to you? What a blessing.

Student: How can we experience a virtuous sense but still avoid the judgments associated with it?

Rinpoche: What possible judgment would you make against your own virtue?

Student: I might judge my virtue to be the best of the virtues.

Rinpoche: Oh I see. This sounds like competitive virtue. I do not think it qualifies. I believe there is even a phrase for this: Holier than thou. Nope, that would not be virtue. We can all recognize someone acting holier than thou like wearing a sign, but others are secretly laughing. Even though they might nod their heads and say, "Yes, brother, you certainly know what you are talking about," really they are laughing at the pretentiousness. In the Buddhist bodhicitta commitment vows to attain enlightenment, it is against the spirit of awakening to pretend that we have enlightened qualities when we do not. A virtuous person delights in clean, pure, and stimulating fun in a very direct manner without pretentiousness or excessive seriousness.

Now we can review the various categories of karma as they are taught in the Tibetan monasteries as well as to interested Buddhist students anywhere they gather to study and learn. There is individual gross and subtle karma, and manifest group karma. On a subtler level, we also experience group karma to perceive our illusory surrounding environment in a somewhat similar way. It is actually amazing and terribly magical!

As long as we do not have a defect in our eye, brain damage, or skewed mental functions, we will each see the trees in their natural colors and shapes and the summer days wet grass as green. We might look together at the hills and the colors of the sky and each one of us sees it similarly enough to describe and agree on its location, and colors without adding too much personal agenda to that description. We do share a common karma because we are human beings with human bodies. We also live in the human realm, and therefore, we have an even subtler human karma that causes individual karmic consequences and personal karmic events to be experienced. We require this environment in order to undergo what we are prepared to experience.

Let us say we had accumulated the causes and conditions or karma, to live in the god realm and not in the human realm. In that case, our human karma is useless because the god realm cannot use our environment. It would not be suitable to support the causes and conditions that a particular living being has acquired in the past. God realm bodies are different, the way they behave is different, and their primary mind is different. They are also alive in a way that we cannot perceive as they exist in a more subtle realm. In general, they do not perceive their environment in the same way that we do, so their interactions with their world uses different dynamics and skills.

Look around you, and see your own personalized environment. You will notice how your body is shaped, how your body reacts to temperatures and so forth. This is how we interact with our environment as a human being, using the five human senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and consciousness or awareness.

We call what we perceive outer phenomena. Your body is part of outer phenomenon. Whatever surrounds you, interpenetrates you, and creates the body, everything that you are, all arises as a result of your personal need to have a suitable habitat. So there you are, right in the middle of your own personal karmic habitat. Whether you like it or do not like it, there it is. However, that is not to say that it is going to last. You might be presently living in a place you hate and that does not feel right, and two weeks later, you could be living in a fancy mansion, or conversely, you could be living in a mansion, and two weeks later you could be living on the street. This human environment can be very changeable, so we do not think, "Oh, I got it good now, because I finally got the white carpet clean and it is going to stay clean."

Another aspect of karma is that it is definite. One example often used is a Buddhist analogy of the farmer who purchases corn seed and plants it in his tilled field. The sun comes out and shines on his crop, the rain comes down and waters the corn, and then he changes his mind; he does not want corn, instead he wants wheat to come up. He goes to the edge of the field, and shouts, "You will not come up as corn! You will come up as wheat!" What do you think? Will it become wheat? It will not. He has created all of the suitable causes and conditions for corn, and he cannot change corn into wheat just by wishing it to be so. When all of the inner grounds and conditions come together, the result will occur. Not just come together, but also because they are ripened, the event must occur!

Buddhist inner scientists have worked on solving this and other dilemmas that bring pain to so many. They have developed ways to prevent bad karma from ripening. One is purification practice using mantra recitation, prostrations to the Buddhas, strong regret, and so forth; another important method is meditation. Nevertheless, through meditation, you are not actually trying to change your karma, but you are trying to change yourself. Your karma is attached to your ordinary you, therefore the direct means is to stop using an ordinary defective mind. You need to find a better way to be yourself by spiritual development, instead of using you and your karmic load. All things considered, the train of karmic events will be hitting you in whatever number of days, weeks, or years that will be difficult to endure. If we do not want to experience what is coming down the track, it is only reasonable to want to avoid what we have already accumulated, in other words, the roots and circumstances.

The higher tantric view discovered the only effective method is to discontinue the energetic signature to which the karma is attached. That means inner transformation, the internal life force and inner dynamics becoming new and unattached to old karmic patterns, even though the human being remains alive after the enlightenment experience. The event of transformation to the awakened state is the definitive end of ordinary karma. To be continued…..

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