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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Power of Karma (part five)

We experience the effects of and participate in group karma in many different ways. Because every country has a government that mandates laws such as traffic laws or civil responsibilities, we must conform to the rules or suffer the consequences. In addition, we participate in national or regional reputations for similar likes and dislikes, our shared accent, or being of a rough or gentle nature, simply by being born in a particular place. We are treated as a group rather than as individuals.

Group karma might also include being treated well or badly according to our gender, or race, something that we have no control over in our participation. In addition, all humans alive at this particular time experience their world together under the sun and stars of astrological influence or cosmic events. They also suffer calamities and natural disasters as groups without regard to personal collections of virtue and non-virtue that might make them immune to harm as individuals.

Tibetans sadly acknowledge that their situation in Tibet was due mostly to group karma. There were inner causes of interactive dynamics as well as conditions that came together or ripened, for example, the voracious Chinese habit of invading other countries. We Tibetans used many methods to prevent all of the causes and conditions from coagulating so that the terrible events that were prophesied could not occur. In that way, we were able to hold away the final ripening of this group karma for many years. Did you know that? There were many, many rituals done for years to prevent the loss of Tibet to China from occurring. However, toward the end, we could only defer it. We could not stop it because the causes and conditions were that powerful. They just kept coming together and coming together.

In situations such as Tibet, we looked at it with a Buddhist perspective as objectively as possible, and said, "We Tibetans had the karma to lose our country." You know, in my just previous, I was Tibetan. I know I do not presently appear that way as I am in an American form now, but it has not been that long since I was Tibetan. However, we Tibetans do not really want to be blamed for the loss of our country. It is not even fair to be blamed for gathering the causes and conditions on an individual basis for a group result.

Group karma arises by other mechanisms. Therefore, it is complex to track the energetic arisal of a group karmic event, so you cannot truly say that Tibetans had the karma to lose their country. That would logically follow that each Tibetan produced individual karma that gathered into a complexity that caused us to lose our country. This is not nice, and it is not true. It is also not very nice to say that losing Tibet was a good thing because now Buddhism is so many places in the world. Various Western people told me this in my just previous life to cheer me up when I felt so sad for the Tibetan situation that was still happening. It was painful to think that so much suffering would come about for the good luck for others to enjoy the dharma.

We do not blame others for their suffering karmic consequences, whether we judge that to be non-virtuous karma, neutral karma or group karma. Of course, it is possible to gain enough inner development to discern how karma works, but it is not that easy to fully understand the intricacies and interconnectedness. However, it is very easy, requiring no education or meditation skills to judge and condemn others. For example, Lousy Yogi sees someone behaving badly and pronounces, "Oh, that one has such bad karma. This and this is going to happen to him after he dies!" This wrong thinking person would not actually go so far as to curse him, but does not feel shy to acknowledge that fellow will probably go to hell. This is not a good thing to do! We must instead make effort to acknowledge that people can change. To be continued….

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Power of Karma (part four)

Both you and I, as well as everyone else, does not want to experience anything bad, isn't that so? We only want to experience the wonderful and positive in life, and we absolutely do not want to suffer. We, as well as all living beings, hold this baseline commonality; none wishes to suffer and seeks happiness and comfort. The nature of the smallest creature has this in common with every living being.

However, strangely enough, we are continuously experiencing what we do not want to meet, yet what we desire is not that easy to get, even with effort! If that were not so, for example, I could just go to a Lamborghini car dealership, and say, "
I have no money but I want to have that red one over there." They would say, "Of course, our pleasure." It would certainly be a different world if we could have everything we wanted. Since we want happiness more than anything else, we should be able to get it. If a red Lamborghini makes me happy, why shouldn’t I have it?

On the other hand, it seems that what we do not want comes to us automatically. We do not even need to request nasty situations to come. Nevertheless, we will have to beg and beg and beg Santa Claus for our darn Lamborghini, and still it does not come. What we do not want comes to us even though we are running the other way. This does not seem fair, does it?

There must be something more going on than our desire for happiness and avoidance of suffering. If we could get everything we wanted, we would not be disturbed in our mind, because we would not experience any negativity. Our every wish would be fulfilled, and we could never become angry, only happy all the time. We would only be experiencing positive events and that would be so very pleasant! However, the difficult situations we are experiencing do not arrive from the outside world, they come from the mind itself. I hope that does not unduly frighten you although it is pretty scary. We carry the seeds of difficulty hidden right within our own mind.

Now, this is the interesting part; there are two different attitudes that Buddhists hold regarding the responsibility for unhappiness. The first we use for others. We view the difficulties and suffering of others with compassion and empathy and never, never use the teachings of karma to punish or blame them!

The second attitude we hold for our own practice and it is extremely important to gain not just understanding but feel “in our bones” the responsibility we have for our own suffering state.
There are general principles associated with the correct reasoning.
1- We do not meet with events that do not come from causes.
2- Causes and conditions must come together.
If the causes and conditions do not ripen together, we will not experience a result.
3- Our perceptions influence whether we judge an event to be positive or negative.
There are some people, who even while experiencing a bad situation, see or understand that negative circumstance as positive or as a challenge. They could acknowledge it as a difficulty but still hold a view seeing it as a necessity for their own growth, isn't that so? This is a dharmic way of looking at it. Perhaps everything that we experience is actually there to help us learn.

However, as we accumulate the causes and conditions that are ripening from previous actions to experience events, some are truly dreadful and negative. No matter how much positive spin we try to apply, we know that this is an awful situation, isn't that so? We can only admire the advanced practitioners so capable of adjusting their thinking that they could go to the hell realm and find that best perception of positive spins; to work for the benefit of all sentient beings wherever we find ourselves. On the other hand, for beginners, it is quite ok to acknowledge that perhaps at very high levels of inner development, one could do that, but again, that is not so easy. Therefore, we should have the option of identifying the truly negative events that we experience as really rotten!

In general, however, in our every day life, we have choices to look at events even as they are occurring, and we can see them as being something that gives us a lot of trouble and a big difficulty, or we can see them as causes for achieving our goals of patience, understanding and preparation for enlightenment. We do have choices. To be continued…..

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Power of Karma (part three)

We learn about the positive effects of prayer for both our own needs and to advocate for others. We want the magical events that seem to be outside of ordinary experiences such as an answer to a prayer, synchronicity, or divine appearances in meditation. That would definitely be a kind of amazing and magical happening. Just when life is moving along in a predictable manner, magic strikes! We want it to be that way. We want the surprise of magic in our life!

However, within the context of the boring, the predictable and the ordinary, magical events are taking place continuously within your own mind, causing you to perceive the world, yourself and others in ways that are not actually how they exist in reality. As human beings, we perceive the world as though it was real, but it is like a fantasy, a magical display. Events, experiences, as well as the arisal, occurrence, and dissolution of karma are self-constructed magical creations. The magical qualities of our life are the actual ordinary experiences that are not perceived in reality.

To be unaware of this important dynamic between past and present actions and future events has become normal in this world. So, let us express the meaning of karma in another way. Karma is the self-induced, magical bond that holds ordinary beings to suffering cyclic existence. This form of karma is facilitated by the accumulation of our belief in what we are, in how we expect to react to our world, and everything else that influences us in both our innate and conscious statement of “who I am.” This combined with the original hypnotic innate view that continues to take the transitory to be permanent acts as a magical charm to experience the result like an unexamined template for living.

Personal karma is a template that holds the individuals worldview. Because the karmic charm is strong, the world cannot be perceived in its actuality. This magical bond has so far held you to cyclic existence, even before your birth and after death. That means uncontrolled birth, death, and birth, without choices. You simply are who you are, and you are reborn without having options. In a world of seeming unlimited range of preferences, suffering cyclic existence is the very thing that you would not choose voluntarily.

By living a virtuous and careful life, you would naturally think, 'I have done many good things in this life. I have many friends. I also can produce witnesses to affirm that indeed, I have been a good person. I have never done anything bad!' However, from a Buddhist practice benefit, it is possible to also think that there might have been causes lurking inside, pressuring us, and waiting for suitable conditions to arise. In this way, the cascade from cause to actual event emerges from a seed state to full stinking flowering, created in previous lives. How can we be so certain the unhappy karma that we are enduring, might not be a leftover from some unresolved conflict from the past or earlier in this life? You know, even in the best of lives, somewhere deep inside, when we are honest with our self, there is a feeling of unresolved conflict and lack of closure. On the other hand, with all the good things in your life, will the potential for meeting the same nice conditions come again in the future? Can we be so certain that we will get such a wonderful life in the future as right now?

Karma is powerful, binding living beings to the wheel of samsara, the cycle of births and deaths. This is karma. The unappreciated magic of our ordinary karma, combined with our experiences and how we react to those experiences, is another layer of mistaken identity created in the individual personality. To be continued…..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Power of Karma (Part two)

There are many “baby Buddhism” explanations of deep principles of Tibetan Buddhism available. The “accessible” information stream is very easy and smooth with practically no effort needed on the part of the curious. “Do good things, and do not do bad things.” However, I do have confidence in your intelligence. The explanations of karma commensurate with the shift to inner quantum physics realities logically would be more complex than perhaps a small sign on a store shelf telling us, “stealing is bad karma.” You might even think, ‘Why am I being fed simplistic beginner concepts when I am completely capable of understanding more complex strategies?'

However, in the real world, a relationship with a teacher or mentor evolves on both sides. The more you interact with the teacher, and the lama begins to trust and appreciate your ability to understand, the more he or she will, with a professional ease, touch points of perceptual errors that need to change. In that way, we go from the very simple explanations to very complex explanations, and then we reverse the intricacy to another very easy form after you have visited and accomplished the complexities. This means that you are then capable of simplifying in a new way. That is not baby Buddhism, all right? To practice at a higher level, one must return to simplicity and not just use aphorisms that we hear come from a high level practitioner as the very method of our practice.

Returning to our discussion of karma, we might be currently experiencing either happiness or sadness. It is important to know that whether we are perceiving events as good luck or bad luck, or neutral events, what is actually happening is the arrival of the results of previous actions by experiencing them, followed by the dissolving of previously gathered karma. We then forge new karma by the energy of the expended actions assembled along with any applied perceptions that will stimulate more karma. There is an energetic push or arisal from subtle mind, causing the experiencing, and dissolving the energetic pent up karma in a special kind of energetic closure. We are exhausting the karma that created the event, as well as producing a fresh karma to bring about the identical or very similar result in the future.

Neutral karma, however, is like filler activities. For example, events such as walking or eating soup, without special likes or dislikes toward the actions are neutral. Those actions arise more in response to conditions than inner causes. For example, simply by being born into the human realm, with a human body and mind, we are necessarily interacting with our world in a kind of mechanical way, not thinking or judging or planning. We do not have virtuous thoughts or particularly negative thoughts, although we could be in a bad mood generally and find that everyday non- important activities become a source of boredom or actual suffering.

In Buddhist practice, a vast untapped resource of virtuous karma that we will need to for gaining suitable causes and conditions in the future is by transforming how we participate in neutral karma functioning. We can change our perceptions from mindless existing to a more skillful gathering of positive virtue by binding our futile concerns for our self to benefiting the more valid needs of others in compassionate concern. To be continued….

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Power of Karma (part one)

Karma is an important subject, however, everyone is already an authority. Each one of us are equal experts in karma, casually using and disposing karma without taking time off. Everybody knows the meaning of karma as it is used in everyday life: a warning to be good, or else! I have seen a small sign in stores next to their most valuable objects, "Stealing is bad karma.” Even many Christian churches use the word karma like an English word because of common usage. On the other hand, perhaps there is more to this Oriental concept than the common meaning.

The word karma is from the Sanskrit, an early classical Indian language. It is still considered a sacred language because of its use in ancient religious philosophy, commentaries and texts of early Buddhism and Hinduism as well as sacred mantras of deities. In Tibet and elsewhere, mantras and sacred verse are still recited in Sanskrit by the empowerment of the holy syllables.

In Tibetan, karma is called ley, but means exactly the same thing. However, there is no single word in English adequately describing karma. We can use the more exotic Sanskrit word, karma, but the simple meaning is cause and effect. It is as natural a law as gravity, one that completely dominates our lives in an unseen manner. We construct it, both consciously and unconsciously, while experiencing it continuously. We might think that we wish to do a particular action because it is good karma, as if that was good luck, or not do something because it will bring reciprocal bad karma on us. Most intelligent people will avoid what we identify as bad karma situations, using careful logical discriminations to avoid trouble and would rather look for what would cause them to encounter good karma that bringing benefit. This is very easy to understand. However, it is actually more complicated because karma is experienced continuously, in different ways, on different levels of our being.

To have a human life is to enter into symbiotic relationships with our own karma. With almost mathematical precision, causes and conditions have arisen in this, or previous lives. Right now everything that you are, including your physical health, and the state of your relationships with others, are all due to your own actions (deliberate behaviors or spontaneous reactions). These are the energetic residues causing you to endure what you are presently experiencing. Due to that new karma that has come without your intellectual permission you will continue to have mixed karma. That means you will continue to experience both good things (when others will be kind and you will have good connection and rapport) and then you will experience people who will do very bad things to you that might cause you to retaliate. Karma gives us no peace at all and will continue to haunt us until we experience a fresh and definitive awakening similar to the Buddha 2600 years ago.

Until then there are three types of karma we will experience: Good, or virtuous; bad, or non-virtuous; and neutral karma. In addition to these general categories, useful for gaining knowledge of the natural laws of karma, there are our personal gross, subtle, and very subtle levels of mind which is how we experience karma.
What we experience in our lives comes from various combinations and levels of complex activity stimulated by karma.

Gross karma has the illusory appearance of coming from outside toward us. It seems as if the actions of others and our reactions to them are happening in the exterior world. However, what we experience actually comes from the more subtle and very subtle levels of our being connected to a gross mind and body senses. For example, let us say that someone rushed in the door and began shouting at me. Even though it appears as though they are actually doing that, in energetic reality, there is no way for that to happen unless my subtle and very subtle levels of my own mind facilitate the entire process by making the other person an agent of my own karma.

To heal from the confusion regarding cause and effect, it is possible to develop powerful and profound transformative experiences and realizations based on understanding karma at very deep levels. While meditating, it is possible to have a subtle understanding of the nature of our own karma from a place inside where activities and events of our life blossom. Then we can see how the force of previously created inner causes meets outer stimuli or conditions. Because of the density of the vibration level of the human realm and the seeming solidity of the world around us, confusion arises when subtle levels that produce denser manifestations, arise without recognizing them.

In that way, to someone really wishing to know the nature of karma, appearances seem to negate inner spiritual understanding. Identifying with the grosser levels of mind, subtle appearances do not make sense, and you might think, 'Oh, this solid world must be the real one and not my inner senses because now I cannot understand what I thought I understood in my meditation.'

However, if you are alert inside and have developed
some clarity, in addition to the ordinary experience of your world through your five outer senses, your subtle mind is also experiencing a panoply of events and activities surrounding you in a subtler way.

If you have clarity from inner transformation, alerting of more subtle levels of mind makes the experience of life like a delightful controlled explosion. Awareness by unawakened inner and outer senses although rooted in karmic causes and conditions, can still be alive on more than one level of mind simultaneously, experiencing stimuli. If you are not confused by the range of experience of the inner and outer senses, you will be able to clearly be alive on more than one level of your being without conflict.