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.
July 28, 1991
It is important in any karmic activity that has it's result, to recognize that an effect will be generated for us, so to bring the best effects, we should motivate correctly as it establishes the experience we have. So with the thought that, not only are we working for our own benefit, but also we will try to help others around us to the best of our ability. With this attitude, we accumulate good karma, because, one, we have the aspiration for our own increase of qualities, and also, we include others in our motivation which brings greater results for ourselves.
Last week we talked of three areas to be conscious of when we talk of karma. One's personal self, the activity one will do, and the person that one relies upon or interacts with in any activity. With this, you can actually improve the type of karma you create for yourself with your awareness of what you are doing. For example, if I interact with this one object, there is karma being created, energy being created. But if we do interact with the wish that the interaction is in an exaggerated scale, for example to do things with one object thinking we are doing it for many objects, there is more karma being created. It is a simplistic idea, but the mind is broader than thinking of me and this one interaction.
In a more realistic realm, I think I want to be happy, so I motivate towards the activity I think will help me be happy. So being more positive, trying to be more open minded, trying to be kind hearted with others, are considered to be good motivations. But if in that you said, I am trying to be happy and nicer, that has I the subject and I the object of what I would like to become as a person. But if you think of the karma created, it is not as good as it could be, especially when things get in the way of me as getting to be a better person, then, big hassle, and unhappiness. Rather than that, maybe we should go back into our mind and think, I like to be happy, but so does everyone else. Whether it is a dog, a cat, people I live with, or the animals that live around me. All want to be happy too. With this in my mind, all I have to say is just as I would like to be happier and a nicer person, the basic motivation, if we expect and wish others to be nicer too! Suddenly karma, the subjective, objective and the activity involved. Subject, the same. Action, same thing. But Object, suddenly is far greater because it is everyone you could conceive of.
In Buddhism, altruism, although it does not mean that one has a to cut one's arms and legs off for sentient beings, from one's mind side, is very important. Attitude from a Buddhist perspective would say may I bring all sentient beings in all realms, into happiness, and may I separate them from suffering. If you can work in this way, the karma is more powerful and will bring you greater results for yourself, it will move you into a greater position as time passes. It is merely a matter of applying yourself to that. If you do it skillfully, one does not have to do it in a phoney way. Just as others want to be happy, so do I, and in that way I can be realistic that I aspire to try to make all sentient beings happy. It does not mean that I can do it, but I can understand and relate to that all sentient beings want to be happy and relate to them on that level. Thus I can have a sincere and pure thought regarding them.
That is one way to be conscious of motivation. The karmic effects as time passes with application of motivations along these lines, although we are stuck with our self concerns, we will actually be evolving. After one, two,five ten years into this sort of attitude, at some point there will be definite results for us. We really will be broad minded, happier and more contented, and actually more capable of making others around us happy because it is natural, guaranteed. If you put energy into karmic activity, it will bring about it's results for you.
That is a simple overview of motivation and includes the general context for last night's talk which was karma.
The only other thing I would like to touch on is that there is two ways to work on one's self. In being conscious of karma we spoke of the ten non virtuous actions. Three regarding body, four regarding speech and three regarding mind, and that they are what causes us suffering and unhappiness.
You can work on the self trying to purify negative imprints with various purification practices, or you can apply yourself to positive actions. Doing things for others for example. And this is considered extremely positive. And when there is great need involved such as illness, they are a special object. If you with good motivation try to do nice things for those people, there is better quality karma created, particularly if they are at a disadvantage.
In working on yourselves, if you deem it to appropriate, you can reflect on the negative traits you possess such as lying, or stealing. But the point is, you become conscious of a particular trait which hassles you, you can apply yourself to purify that trait by consciously recognizing that trait termed confession which is actually making an open statement about yourself. Being open to the fact that one has this negativity, two, one can reflect and turn one's mind away from such negativity.
Let's take slander. Maybe we slander one person to another, thinking in some way we will acquire more power or influence with our friends if we can slander everyone else so our friend will become close to us. Whatever the cause of slander is. We start to become conscious that slander is not a good thing to do, people start to realize that we are small minded and picky and negative, always looking at other's faults.
Secondly, with that we ourselves, in our meditation would then say, I am conscious that I do slander, and I do not like the type of person I am becoming because I slander. With that you are starting to turn your mind from slander. Third thing, is meditating on the quality of oneself and all other sentient beings. Just as I wish to be happy, so others wish to be happy. Just as I do not like to suffer, so others do not like to suffer. With that reflection we realize what is the point of slandering others. That person wants to be happy like me, and maybe they do have faults, abut there is no benefit from slandering them.
There is no benefit in calling down someone. Their faults are obvious. Rather we should put out positive energy. Say something nice about the person, recognize their positive qualities, or if we can, try to draw forth positive qualities with our own interaction with them. And that is a more constructive thing to do. If what you say affects the audience, then you are going to guarantee that everyone hates that person and will not overcome their problems.
First, we have to recognize we have it. Secondly, we move into the disadvantages of it. Then we should apply ourselves to a technique which definitely turns us away from that negativity. Finally, we should dedicate ourselves to not getting caught up in that negativity. And one important point is to be realistic. If you have a strong habit pattern, then do not say from now on I will not do it. Because you are lying. Tomorrow morning you will get up and do it again. So instead say from now until one hour from now, I will not say anything bad about someone. Maybe for an hour you could control yourself. Within that scheme you have positive control and are developing conscious awareness. If you don't, there will be negative results. First, you are going to lie because you are not saying a true prayer that can even be slightly realized. Secondly you will become disheartened because when you realize you are doing what you just said you are not going to it any more, you will feel depressed. So what is the use of that? And finally, you may become disheartened, you may reject all of the teachings thinking I am always going to be this way, and then you really turn your back on possibility for positive growth. And this we should avoid, putting ourselves into the extreme of pessimism. So try to be realistic in the purification of negativity.
Another way we can work on negative things is to ignore the negative things you have and just try to be a nicer person! That is the other side. To try to construct ones self in as many positive positions as one can, to be positive. And although one does not address one's own short comings, one is definitely putting oneself in a positive direction. I would recommend this style of practice, is that sometimes if we reflect on our negativity, we get quite depressed because we think we are hopeless. And if we try to apply ourselves to being more spiritual, we get depressed because we think it is a long hard road and we get unhappy. So if our mind does that sort of activity, it is better not to reflect on negativity, rather, aspire to positive qualities and in that the mind stays happy and we can maybe accomplish something good about ourselves.
This is a little on the law of cause and effect. Principally, motivation is very important, try to be as positive as you can. In regards to the process of being a more positive person, you can do it in two manners, one by reflection on negative traits and apply yourself with determination to turn away from those activities as I described, or secondly, you can just work in a positive manner with yourself, a positive attitude, and work from a real position, from your own self, your own wants, your own desires and wishes to be free from suffering. If you can touch base with that, you can understand other people. That they want to be happy, that they don't want to suffer. From there is a real basis for love, compassion and empathy. Those emotions are very positive and will bring positive responses within you.
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