Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Jhampa Nov 1,88
We started off a few weeks ago with becoming more aware of human potential. Tonight will be about karmic evolution.
The objective in bringing about a transformation for oneself involves becoming more holistic in looking at ourselves in the sense of having an idea or a belief such as this is how the world is or this is how I would like to think about it and this is why I act this way. We all have a belief system. Whether it's one we are conscious of or one in which we just act, not think too much, whatever it is, we do have a belief system. But it is important to think about how we believe the world is. And see if we go inside ourself, does that hit a resonance, do I feel good about that? Because if we get that we are much more authentic about ourselves, we have more confidence in ourselves and our decisions, and others do not bother us as much. We don't get shifted just because their opinion changes.
Maybe right now we are in politics. We have free trade is good, free trade is bad. Well if I hear a good speaker I sort of get shifted a bit. If I hear a bad speaker that is down on it, well I think that is right. So I don't know too much, but just maybe because I don't have confidence about what free trade is all about. But I do know about myself personally and so in regards to personal decisions I can make fairly clear decisions.
Same thing for yourselves. Having an intellectual belief system and then trying to make it deeper with meditation and actually if one is a very good meditator one can gain direct experience which is beyond this intellect, beyond the concepts and such. Where your ideas and beliefs actually can be validated, or even be seen as consummated. Something very powerful, experience for yourself as personal.
Karma is always interesting subject. I want to talk on it for the next two sessions because the idea is so interesting. When people say I have good karma or I have bad karma or I am doing my karma yoga. There is all these funny words. Karma has all sorts of connotations. The way it is presented in Buddhism and then reinterpreted for westerners, I think it is very good to think of it as energy as in if you have a good perspective you are involved in good karma. i.e. your energy in the type of attitude you have, the feelings you have are productive of good karma. And you sort of feel fairly good about yourself. Bad karma is just a negative head space where you feel down and out, life is lousy and you do various things which cause harm for yourself, make yourself unhappy or make other people around you unhappy. So it is energy. It not sort of like I did three good karmic deeds today and five bad karmic deeds today and some kind of lump, like a brick, that I broke white bricks and black bricks. That is a really simplistic idea of karma. Karma is the energy you create. And you can create very powerful energy, weak energy depending on the objects that you interact with, your own feelings about it and such. So karma should be looked at as being activity.
Like right now we are all involved in karmic activity. You are all karmicly listening and I am karmicly talking, but where am I coming from and what are you feeling as you sit in the group, you know. That is sort of your own karma. And this one action, and you could say it is an action, it has a beginning, it's going to have an end when I finish, but that means that there is a certain amount of energy.
You came into this with a certain amount of energy. As you sit and participate and I sit and participate, we create a certain amount of energy. And then when it finishes there is some energy created. And that is the karma that you get from it. And so in this lifetime you are the evolution of the various types of energy created. And if you have a positive perspective, you have more decent good karma. If you have a negative perspective, sort of small minded, uptight, you create that sort of karma and you are the product of the way you have made yourself. It's always important to feel, to realize your own responsibility in what you have produced in yourself.
That is sort of an overview, trying to clear away some of the misunderstandings sometimes people have with karma. What I wanted to talk about tonight was rebirth because karma implies continuity as in we all have the time that we were born, how we were brought up, and we are at this point in our life, how many years have passed away. So we have that many years behind us. We can say we have sort of created or evolved ourselves to a certain level. But in karma, it's sort of why did I start my life the way I did? Why was I put together with my parents? Why did my parents do what they did? Why was it that when I was five years old I felt this way about life and when I was older this and that? These questions come about.
Well, karma isn't sort of a one lifetime shot from a Buddhist perspective. It is a continuity of previous lifetimes energy coming into this lifetime and meets with this lifetimes experiences or people and such, and it changes, it grows, whatever happens. And at the end of this lifetime, your karmic statement that you have about yourself goes to the next lifetime and interacts with those. And if you think of it as energy, you can see that energy can get changed by circumstances a bit. I am thinking of a light bulb. You have a hundred watt light bulb. In the next lifetime you have a forty watt light bulb that is red, then it's green, a Christmas light! Like each time the electricity, energies, is the same and is just going to energize, but the way that it comes out, whether it's brilliant or dull, shadow free, or whatever, that is like the circumstances of each lifetime. But there is a way to develop a certain type of rebirth you take.
Let's talk about the rebirthing. We are all at this moment in our life at a certain point. What happens if we die. And then what is the intermediate state? And then how do we take the next rebirth? This is interesting material. I always enjoy talking about it because it is fun. I found that, I can't say I've seen my previous lives, in vivid technicolor, nor have I been able to see what my future life will be, but this information I find interesting and it seems to apply for me personally, so I like sharing it.
We all have a certain energy right now. We are happy about what we are doing with ourselves, we have a certain feeling or we are unhappy with what we are doing right now. O.K. All of a sudden we breathe out and can't breathe in any more and we die. That's it. Death, they say, is like one breath away. And it really is, you know, all you have to do is breathe out and not breathe back in, and you're dead. Let's just say we die right now.. Alright. What we are, how we have been thinking the last little while and also how we have been building up to that moment is the energy sort of statement we have when we go into the intermediate state.
The intermediate state is almost directly equivalent to dreams. They say if you want to know what your after death state experience will be like, it will be something equivalent to how you dream. Only thing, the circumstances will be much more powerful because if you have amy awareness that you are dying, obviously you are going to think about what it is all about, is there a big blackness on the other side, or is there life on the other side. If you are irreligious, or have no particular belief system, you sort of wonder. If you have a belief system, well then you have hopes that you might meet an angel or a buddha or whatever is to be met on the other side. That you will meet some good spirits or something. Like that is the sort of thing. So there is a little difference from just the regular dreams, but it is equivalent to the dream state in the sense that you will have certain visions. You will have a certain experience. Those experiences will be very much determined by your previous lifetimes energy.
You might meet with people that you have to work things out with still. So lets say you die. You will have a certain period of just adjusting and you work out a few things like whatever your psychological state is, you carry from your previous lifetime, we work out for a little while, but that will be forgotten. It will sort of die away. It will not become a main object because you have lost your body and your body is the main reason why you identify with a certain thing, like being what you are and such. But that is no longer there. So you have a much more free form state. How you think and feel creates the astral body that you have in the intermediate state. As the sort of previous lifetimes memory fade a bit, and it can take a few days or a week or two, because you are continuously in this dream state, then the more deeper energy you have about yourself starts to predominate. If you have a deep identity with being a woman, then you will have feminine astral body. If you have a deep identity as being a make, then a male body. Then actually a few other things come in.
For example. If you are unbelievable chauvinistic or feminist, and have heavy negativity about the opposite sex, you could be in that opposite sex form because your mind was so fascinated with that form. Let's say if I am a heavy chauvinistic bastard, then I have a lot of put down on women and such, and so I have a karmic connection with women, negative connection, a lot of energy. In that sense I could create for myself, because karma can work that way, that I'd have to take a woman's rebirth. You can almost say psychological. You can psychologically set yourself up. If you are an even keeled sort of person, then chances are that your rebirth will be on the instinctual side as in being male or female. If you have a strong intellectual belief system, there is options for you to take the opposite body because you psychologically set yourself up for that. Nobody decides. Because it's the way you look at the world and look at the opposite sex and such.
Within a week you have got the sex that you are going to be in the next rebirth and you have also got all the magnetism of what your previous lifetime was with you. We talked about energy of previous lifetimes. So in the intermediate state, you don't have particulars. Like for example, I like blonde women, and I am identified with being a carpenter and this and that. That sort of energy dies down. There is a basic energy I am identifying with. I am a male. I have a certain a certain social level that I like to functioning at. I like being with working class people. Or maybe I'm a high class person. I have lived an affluent life, been generous and such. So I have that energy with me.
That energy, which is like a magnet, magnetizes my being towards a certain type of rebirth. That's why they say that rebirths are particular. The way that you act in this lifetime, and you know what you were in your previous lifetime. If you look at the way you act in this lifetime, you will know what your next lifetime will be like. So the actions of this moment show what you were and what you will become. In that sense, how you identify what social level you are comfortable at, and other things like that, dictates what kind of energy you are going to have in the intermediate state and then what you are going to magnetized to. What that comes down to is your future parents.
So you are basically a free spirit floating through the astral realm sort of bopping around having fun. You are magnetized to a certain type of people, if average people, then you are magnetized to that area. If you are uncomfortable around affluent people because it's not your sort of type. Unless you have some special connection for wealth, i.e. you have been very generous, you won't feel comfortable in that environment so your astral body won't go there, it will go to where you feel comfortable. They say people who live very violent lives will most likely be reborn in a war zone because they have a very vicious energy and they will look for vicious places. It's sort of their natural affinity to it, they are magnetized to it. If you have a very peaceful life, you will look for more peaceful parents to have, also of course a more peaceful country to be in. These sorts of connections.
Anyway you are a spirit. You are drawn according to the magnetism of your personality to the couple or to a woman or man that you have an affinity with. And also there is a sense that they are going to produce a child. That couple that you come across have sexual interest in them self and that is attractive to you. That energy is very attractive. You are drawn to them, they are going to be young and fertile and in some way have the potentiality to produce a family, and you and perhaps other spirits hang around the area, so to speak. There is a certain sort of energy that happens. They say that if you have a male body what happens is you are very attracted when they have intercourse, you are attracted to the member of the opposite sex. It's interesting! In the Buddhist texts it talks all about this basic Freudian thing.
So as a male spirit, generally you would identify with the male side of the sexual act and it is sort of as if you are attracted to the mother, or vise versa if you are a female body. That is the general way it sets itself up by the way that you see the interaction. In that way they say you identify with it, and at the moment of intercourse you become aware that there is somebody else there. Like you are having a sort of like a dream, and in the dream you think you are making love with this person and in the middle of that you suddenly realize that there is somebody out there, i.e. the person actually making love with this other person. And they say that destroys your astral body, it breaks up the astral body. With that then, the astral body dies and you are reborn into the semen and the ovum. In Buddhist concept they say life begins at the moment of the fertilization of the semen and egg. From a Buddhist perspective, you have a sperm and an egg come together, and then to make it actually a sentient being, there has to be your spirit energy that enters into that and then it becomes fertile. You have that situation, and then of course, there is the nine months of being in the womb.
In the texts they say a male child will grow to the right side as it develops it turn so it faces back towards the mother. A female fetus faces with the head to the left side of the mother and then turns. Then of course you take your rebirth.
Now we will come back and talk about karma. You are very very young and have karmic potential, i.e. you have a lot of energy and a lot of things that you were involved with from previous lifetimes. That energy is there as potential. It doesn't mean it is a guaranteed trip. It doesn't mean that because last lifetime you were a librarian who loved reading books, that you are going to immediately have that opportunity. It is in potential. What happens is, you have a mother and father who are the ones calling all the shots for our childhood. So you have all of their energy, all of what they project on you, how they live their life, how they interact with you, working on you. It's like a field with all sorts of seeds or potentials within it. The parents are going to put a lot more energy in one area than another. It is their nature. So you as an individual will ripen from whatever potential you have but also be more influenced a lot by the parents. You can't say that karma is a closed thing. Like my karmic energy right now is interacting with all of yours. If you are all nice to me, I feel really good and I expand and feel positive. If you all attack me then I feel negative. Different things change. My karma changes because of the interactions with you!
Same thing with you and the work environment that you have, your home environment and things. Those interactions are always changing you. And so you are always a changeable being. So as a baby growing older, you are continuously under the influence of your parents. You have your potentiality in a few areas, and then you have your parents interplay with you. Then, if we get subtle on the level of karma, that actually even the genes of the mother and father will develop or suppress certain potentialities of previous lifetimes so it is a very intricate thing, the evolution of karma into this lifetime. It is not only physical, not only genes, it's much more the genes, the personality of the parents, your karmic potential all together, a holistic picture. You can also include your peers, brothers and sisters, your community, the social group that you identify with and all that develops certain potentiality.
So when you are a teenager or about twenty, you might have some strong karma from a previous lifetime start to surface because you have your own personality then, your own decisions, but it has to come to the filter of what you have been subjected to or involved with as you have grown up. That is karma in the sense of our experience of karma until we become an independent person and such. That is all I want to deal on tonight because it is quite a bit of material.
In meditation there are two styles. Quietude meditation where you just relax, become more in touch with yourself and develop concentration hopefully with no intellectual stimulation. As you learn how to become more relaxed, comfortable with yourself and in the sense develop more concentration. The second style of meditation which is complimentary to that one is intellectually delving into some realm of thought. As we have lots of time to think about things, it's better generally speaking for us just relaxing and being peaceful with ourselves.
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