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.
Duncan December 5 1993
Buddha Shakyamuni said, the law of cause and effect is extremely obscure. Although you can give the basic idea behind the law of cause and effect, inevitably there will be cases which will be obscure. If we were to try to conceptualize regarding any one karmic situation, it would be very hard to understand all of the dynamics of any one snippet of reality.
There is a story of Buddha Shakyamuni and Ananda doing their walking and begging. Coming to a particular village, the Buddha made a comment about the situation of that village that was appearing at that very moment. He said, if they only had a larger vision of what was happening, the interactions and dynamics, they would be greatly shocked. For there was a woman breast feeding her child and cooking fish. An old man was beating a dog. Ananda was intrigued and enquired about the Buddha's comments for he saw a family scene which seemed quite normal. The Buddha replied that recently there had been deaths in the family. The fish that is now cooking was her husband who had just been killed by a bandit. Due to the force of his karma he was reborn in a lake and had been recently caught and sold to the woman as food. On her breast is a young baby who was the bandit who had killed her husband. He had been caught in the act of running away and had been killed in turn by the villagers. Then he had been reborn as her baby. The grandfather was beating a dog which was his wife who had been recently reborn as a dog!
In Tibetan there is a saying, look upon the mother who feeds her greatest enemy as she eats her husband and the grandfather beats his wife! In more recent terms it is inconceivable of how the dynamics are, but the general idea is that we all have very intricate karmic relationships. And, it is not an easy thing to understand the dynamics of any particular karma we have.
Yet, one should appreciate that if we are together at this time, there is some dynamic of karmic relationships because we do have friendship. We have a central thing we are meeting on. It is possible we have one or many lifetimes together from previous lifetimes. Maybe we have made a promise, you are a friend of mine, I would always like to be with you! In fact they say that sometimes twins are an example of two people with a very close attachment to each other.
Karma is a very obscure presentation to understand in detail. Jet the general idea is that we do establish relationship with certain individuals. We can establish positive relationships which lead to good happiness in the future. Generally in the sense of if we have positive intention in our heart, that creates positive relationships with other individuals. With that positive relationships, positive feelings such as love, compassion, kindness, friendship, create causes for us to experience happiness in future lives. Negative feelings from insecurity, ill will, fear, whatever, because of their selfish hurtful intent, create suffering for us in future lifetimes. It is possible in future lives to meet those people we have either positive or negative karmic relationships with. We do have some kind of binding with them as individuals due to the previous relationships. Then again, it could be many lifetimes before we meet those individuals due to extra ordinary karma in our own heart.
For example, being born into one racial group for a period of lifetimes, then due to causes, maybe saying a lot of prayers and such, wishing to be born into the Western paradise which is a very Buddhist thing, brings them to Vancouver Island! The thing is, from concepts or ideas, things happen!
To finish the law of cause and effect, it is said, as individuals, the important thing to recognize is that we create now the future we will experience. And in that, the essential causes of our existence is our morality. In the Buddhist point of view, the definition of morality is the not causing harm to other sentient beings. There may be other definitions from other traditions, but from the Buddhist point of view morality is the conscious abstinence of causing harm willfully to other sentient beings. With that intention, we create the cause of being born human. And if we are very moral and strict in our morality, we can create causes to be born among the angelic beings the Buddhists call demi gods or even higher god realms. This is not heaven but is a heightened state or a very blissful existence. That is the cause of pure morality.
The other facet is generosity, the state of mind wherein one has generous feelings of sharing with other individuals. Whether food, wealth, shelter. Giving rides to others! All those areas of generosity are said to be the cause of felicity, wealth, or prosperity in future lifetimes.
In reflection on the law of cause and effect, it is not that you create an activity with the thought that you are doing it because you want to be reborn as human, that type of morality or generosity will not really create good karma. The real cause of karma is where the nature of your being is generous. For example, when you see something needy, you want to help it. If you see an animal that is hungry you want to feed it. When you see a person who is hungry you want to get some food. When you see someone who is cold, you would like to give them warmth. When there is a movement of your heart, that is the cause of generosity. That is the creation of real generosity.
And similarly morality, if in your heart feeling you do not wish to cause harm to someone, that is what is going to really create karma in that, if you put that forward to, alright, you die, and then you are in the intermediate state as sort of an entity, and if the quality of your being has generosity, has affluence in the sense of that you have a generous spirit. And you also have a moral spirit, you have a sense of goodness about yourself. A sense of goodness which is created in relation to others. That will magnetize you to your future parents.
Isn't it obvious. When you walk in a group of a hundred people, you might spend twenty minutes walking around, but then you start to gravitate toward certain individuals you feel attracted to. People that dress similarly, act and talk in the same way as yourself. People that you just feel comfortable with. In that way, we can see in regular life we will see that we will be drawn to certain individuals. People we feel friendly towards. That kind of magnetism or attraction that we feel, in an intermediate state, is so much more perceptive to us because we have a spirit body. At that point the quality of your being, you being a real generous person, you being a real moral person, will be the true cause for you to take rebirth. Being born into a family that has good morality. Because the nature of your spirit and the nature of their actual environment are similar, there is a real magnetism.
Regarding the law of cause and effect, from a Buddhist standpoint, the two most important aspects of karma to be created, is the aspect of having a true heart felt morality and generosity. The only other thing which would be good to have is a sense of universal attitude in that one recognizes that oneself and all sentient beings are really equal in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. And with that type of recognition that would cause you to be a more altruistic individual. And the karma created fro altruism is considered very special because the mind set is more universally minded. BEing conscious of not only ones own needs, but those of there as well.
One final comment, I saw something awhile ago from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was talking about the violence in the world. It exists. And he said he thought it was so humorous. He said it was a sad commentary on the human race. He felt great compassion for Iraqi Leader because it was the western countries that set him up with all the weapons he had. Then they went in and raged war on him. And Sadam Hussain was a victim of the west in that he was supplied so lavishly beyond his thing. The Dalai Lama said the negative karma of the west victimized Hassain.
For this evenings meditation we will do a meditation on Buddha Shakyamuni.
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