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Controlling Karma

Can you (or should you) Control your own Karma?


A Reader recently Wrote


I am thinking about your discussions about Karma. I would like to contribute my thoughts.

The idea of karma, in my life, serves a profound function. My interpretation of it is simple, I see it as simply cause and effect. I do not ask whether or not my actions will “bring me back” as a cow or a goat etc but instead look into myself for guidance in the immediate moment (loving kindness). Animals serve me as a contemplation, metaphors for themes that emerge in my life (vengeance, hate, indifference, joy) during my meditation practice.

Whether a person is Buddhist or not everyone knows that harming another person is bad (one of the precepts). When I harm someone else, I feel bad and I see that the other person (sentient being) feels bad. The consequence of my action (harming someone) is instant, this bad feeling may manifest in a more protracted harmful way or a more subtle way, who cares I know that there will be a consequence. Conversely, when I am good towards someone else there is a more positive outcome within me. Karma happens, like gravity.

Buddhism’s idea of Karma never even enters my mind, if I have harmful thoughts (intention) it is the first step to doing bad things; as simple as stepping on a beetle. Thought leads to action. True enlightenment is the absence of intention.

Buddha was not looking for disciples; they came to him. Things were not written down (warm hand to warm hand). I don’t think that he cared if I became enlightened or not. But he did care about my well-being through his expression of compassion, kindness, and wisdom. I care about the well-being of others. Buddha guides me.


My Response:


Excellent letter!

Karma is there; there isn’t anything you can do about it. You cannot know if you are coming back as a human in a better position, or as a cow. You can’t revolve your life around ideas of karma. As you said, follow the precepts, show loving kindness and compassion for others, do no harm, help when possible, and karma essentially takes care of itself. As you said, it’s a lot like gravity, a force of nature that you just have to accept, not try to control.

We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about the precepts. For the most part, the precepts deal with the ‚ÄúRight Action‚Äù portion of the Eightfold path. Much of what you said involves ‚ÄúRight Intention‚Äù and ‚ÄúRight Mindfulness.‚Äù ALL of these are important to not only understand, but to practice in our everyday lives.

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