Karma – cause and effect

To meditate on karma is to relflect on our actions. The sanskrit word karma translates literally as action and implies the results of those actions. It is the process of cause and effect and the way that we create our quality of experience. Essentially we become what we do.

Thus virtuous karma results in happiness, while non-virtuous karma results in suffering. Our karma creates our future in broad terms, though the intricacies of this process of creation are very difficult to fathom. Karma is not cut and dried in that many factors, which can involve a mix of virtue and non-virtue, will determine the outcomes. We therefore have a great opportunity to limit the effect of negative karma and bring more and more good into our lives just by knowing about karma. This will speed us along the path to enlightenment.

Creating a great future

Enlightenment is the perfect benefit to oneself. It is also the greatest benefit you can give to others. To get there we need good karma. We need to act in accord with virtue.
Our actions will then be congruent with the result we wish to create. In each moment we are mindful to do the best we can: to be joyful, relaxed, peaceful, and patient. Be loving, friendly and compassionate. Be as understanding and forgiving as possible. In this way we are able to bring enlightenment into our actions right in the present moment. The present moment is the cradle of action, the cradle of karma wherein the future is born.
 
In every moment we can act in three main spheres: the sphere of the body, the sphere of speech and the sphere of the mind. We thus create karmas of body, speech and mind. Every thought, every word and every physical movement is then a karma which produces a future of its own.
 
There are limitless karmas and categories of karmas. But the significant ones are the ten virtuous karmas and the ten non-virtuous karmas. These are listed below.
 
The first three lines refer to karmas of the body. The next four to those of speech and the final three are karmas of the mind. When we meditate on karma we will reflect on both the positive and negative. By regretting the negative karmas we will purify them, at least to some degree. Through reflecting on the postive karmas we know what to do. We will have more enthusiasm and energy for virtuous karma.

Ten positive karmas to cultivate

Preserve life – heal others, rescue life

Generosity – find ways to give, contribute

Ethical relationship – avoid excessive desire

Truthfulness – aim to be beneficial

Praise – extol the good in others

Harmonious speech – bring people together

Contructive speech – build good relationships

Non-attachment – be content and rejoice in what you have

Love – view all through the eyes of love

Right views – know karma and the two truths

Ten negative karmas to avoid

Killing – taking any form of life

Stealing – taking that which is not freely given

Sexual misconduct – sexual relationship with another’s partner

Lying – deliberately deceiving others

Harsh speech – any form of abuse

Divisive speech – disharmony, splitting people up

Gossip – malicious and pointless speech

Coveting – grasping for others’ possessions or qualities

Malice – harmful or hurtful intent

Wrong views – believing what is false to be true and vice versa

The dynamics of karma

 
Karma becomes stronger or weaker depending on the intensity of virtue or non-virtue. Killing motivated by strong hatred is a strong negative karma. The killing by a soldier whose motivation is to protect his country or family is weak by comparison. Giving motivated by strong love or compassion is a strong positive karma. If giving is just  from a sense of obligation it is weak.
 
Karma becomes stronger with repetition. In this way gossip can become a very strong negative karma because it is so easy to repeat.
 
It is not possible to predict when karmic results will arise. Could be in this life or the those that follow. It is definite, though, that each action will bring its particular result. The cause and the effect are always congruent.
 
The result of killing is a short life in future. The result of healing and preserving life is a long, healthy life.
 
From stealing comes loss. In contrast, the result of material giving is plenty.
 
The result of sexual misconduct is unhappy and temporary relationships, whereas ethical relationship brings harmony.
 
Lying causes us to be deceived. The result of truthfulness is non- deception.
 
The result of abuse is that others abuse us, while from praise, others praise us.
 
From divisiveness comes loneliness, while from harmonious speech comes supportive friendship.
 
The result of gossip is confusion. From constructive speech we gain clarity of intent.
 
From coveting comes poverty, while non-attachment brings effortless resources.
 
The result of love is happiness, but from malice comes fear.
 
From wrong views come all the problems of samsara. In contrast from right views come all good conditions, happiness and enlightenment.
 

As you sow, so you reap

 
Thus in light of karma nothing is accidental. If we are experiencing a particular result, it is only because we have created the cause. Also what we experience is not someone else’s fault and nor is it inflicted upon us by a creator. In fact, what we experience, good or bad, is the result of our own actions.
 
This truth can be both good and bad news. It could be bad news because there is nobody else to blame anymore. The good news, though, is that our present experience is the result of our own karma. Our own karma is something we can change by ourselves. We can make our future the way we would like it to be. It is within our power to change anything.
 
So, if people abuse you, make a great and consistent effort to praise others. When unloved, make an effort to love others. If people deceive us, then we make greater effort at truthfulness. If we are too poor make a contribution, find a way to give. Any misfortune then can become the impetus to a positive action. That action can be aimed to overcome the misfortune.
 
Whatever we would wish to create, we should act to do so. Do not expect an immediate change of circumstances. But, by knowing which karma will produce the result, we have done all that we can. Karma is not a fixed unchanging destiny as some think. It is that actions have consequences. If we don’t like the consequences, then we change our karma, we act in a way conducive to the results we want.