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.
Feb 17 91
I would like to continue with the law of cause and effect.
As our experience of reality is based on how we set ourselves up in the long term and each day, and how each day sets up the week, the month and year, we should be conscious of our motivation and have it do the best things that it can. Therefore we should be conscious of our mind, and out feelings. If we move from our own feelings into our motivation, then the motivation is powerful. In saying we should be motivated for the benefit of sentient beings, it is wonderful. I could give you good ways to generate an altruistic feeling which could or could not be connected to you as an individual. But more important, is to touch base with your own feelings, your own sufferings, and your own wishes for happiness. The more you touch base with those, the more authentic your practice becomes. In Buddhism it is important that one works from one's own position and that one does not just assume what the teacher says as being the ultimate truth. It is important that we take the teachings and apply them to our own experience and find them within ourselves to the best of our ability.
Some teachings may seem foreign or unrelated, and so it is said in the texts that if you do not understand something, either question it but do not reject it out of hand. If you do not understand it, then postpone until a later date. Do not reject it as being completely unrelated. You could end up being short handed on your side for something which might be of benefit for you or your practice as time goes on.
If we touch base first with our own emotions in regards to being altruistic we will find we have feelings of unhappiness or discomfort or such, then obviously we turn to something to find a solution. The best solution is the one we find within ourself because we can be confident that solution will be appropriate for ourselves. Regarding altruism, all it requires is to realize that as much as we suffer, so others suffer. As much as we experience confusion, so others experience confusion. And in that way there is a direct linkage of empathy. From there we can have an empathy which is love and can develop into a very deep love. And in that way it is not foreign to have a sense of altruism. It is not based on some wonderful bliss and may God be blessing everyone! It is just based on a true reality of experiencing suffering the source of which is often how we set ourselves up. In that way we become more conscious of our own unhappiness and move into realizing others suffering. In that way we have an authentic love and empathy.
In the desire for happiness, we all want to be happy. We all want to attain the things we desire. We all want to be free from the things which make us unhappy. And in that way others are completely equal. Others do not have a different reality in a general sense than self, and in that way we can develop an altruistic feeling. Our meditations then become more powerful because we move out of the principle cause of suffering which is self cherishing.
Karma is not a fixed lump. It is far more complicated and is more like the weave of a carpet. There is no one particular factor that can be identified but there is a certain weave and pattern to things. There needs to outer circumstances, inner cause or way the mind works, and when these two connect, karma is created. It has already been created and is being created in every moment. In that way one should be more conscious of the fact that how one interacts with things, one should be careful not to create a negative or limiting conscious perspective. Rather, one should try to put oneself in a conscious position where one is accepting of what is happening around oneself or if one is capable, one should go beyond that and do something positive with the environment one has around us.
According to the kadampa tradition, one should take everything and turn it to one's path. This identifies one's spirituality or ability to become a more enlightened person as the capacity to handle situations as they arise. So to the best of our ability we should try to take the experiences we have and use them in a positive way so we grow and in that way become a better person. Your practice then becomes very terrific! It is beyond what is done just a a certain time or location and is a full on event in all moments.
Cause and effect is not a small individual thing, not like at this moment I have a small motivation and that is sort of cause and effect. Cause and effect is playing in all moments, all of what has taken place up to now, all which has happened in this lifetime and is part of my experience of my reality right now. There is the particular type of mind I have at this moment and how it is setting itself up in the sense of motivating itself. And then there is the world around me and how it reflects back to my mind. All of these together are part of the karmic creation at any moment.
Of those, we have the most control over the immediate moment and our immediate conscious perception. Thus we can relate to the karma coming from the past, that karmic imprint or energy habit pattern. Then there are the surrounding circumstances. Those two are always interacting very strongly.
We need to develop the consciousness which is aware of the karma we are creating, how we deal with the habit patterns within and the circumstances around. With those two you have control of conscious experience. So to the best of our ability we should try to utilize that to it's fullest. Trying to develop a positive attitude, trying to be more conscious of our karmic creation of each moment so we start to develop a more positive response with reality and leave off the negative, limiting, suffering states of mind. Therefore karma should be understood in the immediate moment as the main point where we have control. We have to accept previous habit patterns which influence us and we have to learn how to deal with circumstances with which we come into contact.
Outside of that there are the traditional teachings on the law of cause and effect. But the main point is to be conscious of our karma in the immediate moment and to do our best to get a handle on it so we can do well in each moment. This ties back in with our motivation which we started with. It is all interconnected.
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