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.
Nov 14 93
To continue on the law of cause and effect.
As we are presently creating the product of what we will become, as we are the product of what we have been, it is always important to have a positive motivation in thinking not only for the benefit of self but also for the benefit of others, I am going to listen to the teachings and try to gain some realizations. So on the basis of this positive motivation then, the teachings of the law of cause and effect.
It is said that for the fundamental tenants are based on the activities of body, speech and mind. Regarding the activities of these, those of the mind are the most important because they establish the activities of body and speech. But still it is important to recognize the different levels of action.
It is said that these rules originate from Lord Buddha. When the Buddha was around, people would ask to be ordained as a nun or monk, and the Buddha would do so. It is said that miraculously their hair would fall out of their head and golden robes would appear around their body. First, there were no rules for monks or nuns, but as time passed, they started to do things wrong, so the Buddha started having to say you can't do this or that. Initially it was thought that people should have been more intuitive as to what they should or should not do. But rules had to be put in place.
The first to be identified are regarded as the three negative actions to be abandoned. In regards to killing, we should try to abandon killing. In another way it is to try to abandon causing harm to others. With that thought in mind, the basic point is not to be involved in killing another human being. Secondarily is that of killing animals.
The second non virtuous actions of body to be abandoned is stealing. This is taking what is not freely given. In that respect, if something is in the possession of another person or under the ownership of another, if it is not freely offered, it should not be taken. It is said that this rule came from the time of the Buddha. There was a monk who wanted to do very strict meditation. With that in mind he went to live in the forest by himself. He would fast then go into town and beg for alms. The forest though, was a very vicious place. Creatures would make trouble. He decided he would like to protect himself from being eaten, so he built himself a little lean too to do his meditations in. Yet one day the kings foresters came across this hut. When questioned, the monk said he was a mendicant, a practitioner of the Buddha, and meditating. They accused him of cutting down the king's forest and brought him before the king. The king then accused him of being a thief and had him thrown in jail. At that point it is said the Buddha intervened for the monk and the king then released the monk. Then the Buddha said if something is not freely offered, it is not to be taken. And that is how the first precept was made.
The third non virtues of body is committing adultery. It essentially implies to if one has intercourse with one who is owned or committed to another person, if a person goes out of their way to mess up a relationship and does so, then that is committing adultery.
There are four non virtues of speech. To lie, to slander, to have abusive speech and idle chatter. Then there are the three of mind. To have ill will, covetousness, and to have heretical views which includes things such as racism and prejudice.
From a buddhist stand point they move from the heaviest to the lightest of actions causing the least effect. So if you kill someone, that is a heavy karma. If you steal or commit adultery, it is fairly heavy. Lying and abusive speech and slander are of lesser harm to others. Of course ill will and covetousness are something we do to ourselves within our own mind and so are considered the softest. But of course, it refers to that they only remain in that realm because obviously, if you have ill will, and then were to kill someone, you have allowed your ill will to move into a very heavy action.
So it is said that when one looks at the law of cause and effect, it is said that to the best of our ability we should try to abandon these actions as they cause harm to others. And that is the underlying tone to morality from a Buddhist point of view. If it causes harm, it is to be considered non virtuous. And harm can be both to others and also to oneself. So there is no morality or ethics which does not apply to that content.
The law of cause and effect is really the energy we create when we do any activity. In that regards, the idea behind the activity is what fuels the activity. The way we go about doing it and the energy we expend is part of the karmic creation of any activity. The completion of the activity has to be there in the sense that one says, yes this is done. And finally there has to be a sense of satisfaction of having done it. Those four facets are what makes strong karmic activity.
If for example we have a kind heart and see a situation where something needs to be done which is beneficial, then the motivation is kindness. The activity is being helpful. In seeing the activity completed, you have the completion. And once completed if there is an innate or natural happiness which arises, not a calculated ne, but just a natural sense of that is nice! in that sense, the karma has become a full karma which is complete. If you want to help someone who refuses, there is also a certain amount of karma, but if you had been able to complete it, it would have been a stronger karma. Or if someone else interferes and you are distracted, then also you have not completed the activity. Details like that give an idea of what gives force to any activity. If we think of anything we do, with that motivation go about the deed, and then leave, there is karmic activity. If there remains a good feeling inside yourself, wanting to be helpful, then the activity becomes quite powerful in it's completion.
We are the product of a lot of activities of the past. Previous life times karmic energy plays upon the things we are involved with. So in that understanding, we have an option to change. Or to create new karma or productive karma for the causes of happiness. Not that we need to be overly calculated with it, but just to be conscious of having a really good feeling about something we are going to do is really a help and assistance in creating good karma. And as we become more natural to positive activities, they become more non calculated. Often people have a lot of problem when it is said one should try to be a kind and virtuous person. And then in their mind they think it is too calculated. That is stiff! But it actually shows a lack of familiarity with that type of activity. Or maybe a previous lack of awareness that one is acting in that manner. Once one moves into being compassionate, compassion is a recognition of another's suffering. If that arises in the mind strongly, then one has moved away from being too artificial about one's activities.
So in regarding love or compassion or activities along those lines, the real fuel is sincere and authentic feelings from inside. If one becomes very conscious of an activity, and thinks I am not that authentic about it, then they should relax a little bit, maybe try to come from a position where you really have feeling about what you are doing. Then the activity again becomes very pure and authentic in it's creation.
This evenings meditation will be on Buddha Shakyamuni.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
All Rights Reserved