Present Karma

Garden Flower with Morning DewMindfulness

Mindfulness can be described as keeping in mind certain things. For example, it can be to keep aware of one’s thoughts, words, and actions. And, in the context of the book, Insights into Karma, this would relate to minding one’s karma.

Mindfulness has been described as a clear awareness of the present moment. A person is open to and accepts the way things are in the present with kindness – without trying to manipulate or change things. The result is a greater ability to dwell in harmony and peace with the present. In daily life, mindfulness contributes to a peaceful, stress-free mind. It is cultivated through personal practice.

To practice in daily life, the first step is to establish a regular, daily meditation practice. We quickly learn that this takes discipline – it’s simply not easy to set aside time each day for meditation. Yet, no one can do it for us. With many techniques and traditions available, we can each find one most suitable for us. However, the regularity of practice is what brings about a transformation. Otherwise, we end up continuing to act out the various patterns of our conditioning.

Practicing Mindfulness

Venerable Thubten Lhundrup describes the practice of mindfulness in this way:

By practicing mindfulness we can become discerning about the thoughts we let into our mind. More importantly, we can check our motivation for carrying out an action. What are the consequences of the action? Is it an action that will create happiness or suffering for others and myself? Is the action motivated by the thought of cherishing myself at the expense of others? Is there a more skillful way to handle this situation?

If we can develop mindfulness, we begin to take control of our mind rather than be controlled by it. Less stress, improved concentration and a feeling of more control over our lives are all possible if we make the effort. (Thubten Lhundrup, Ven., Practical Meditation with Buddhist Principles (Heatherton, Victoria, Australia: Hinkler Books, 2004), 45.)

Certainty of Karma

Mindfulness, then, makes us more aware of the certainty of the law of karma – how our positive actions can only produce helpful results, while negative actions can only produce negative outcomes. The reverse is never possible. This awareness, continues Lhundrup, involves “the willingness and motivation to investigate, analyze and identify the positive or negative, constructive or destructive influences and states of mind.”

It is crucial, therefore, to be aware of our actions and to understand their consequences. Lhundrup adds:

This is not an easy process. It takes great effort to be diligent and maintain a virtuous mind. It is said that it is not possible for a negative thought to be in our mind at the same time as a positive thought. Considering this, we need to consciously cultivate the positive thoughts and swamp the negative ones, outnumber them, rather than fighting them and getting frustrated when they dominate.

With the practice of meditation, we can familiarize our mind with appropriate thoughts. Meditation also allows us to contemplate the teachings of the Buddha and to relate them to our own experience. This is the way to transform mere intellectual knowledge into profound, life-changing realizations.

Thus, through mindfulness, with meditation, we can develop a positive state of mind, marked by peace, happiness, and well being. We can also counteract our own anger, unhappiness, and other negative states of mind.

A positive frame of mind is our responsibility to cultivate and then to maintain. We need to be discerning and discriminating with the input our minds receive via the Internet, television, videos, newspapers, magazines, and other people. Many of the influences are negative; fewer are positive. Continually guarding our minds to minimize the harmful effects is vital.

Understanding how the law of karma works, together with mindfulness, we can confidently begin to create the causes for future happiness, rather than simply fall prey to continued misery. Lhundrup adds that “while there may be a considerable delay between the action and its karmic result [although there is also an immediate result in the moment of an action], we can experience profound changes in our lives by modifying our actions.” Indeed, a more peaceful mind, greater contentment, less worry, less stress, and deeper happiness – all these are possible, as well a more profound love and compassion for those close to us and for all living beings. We thereby create happiness not only for ourselves, but also for all those we come into contact with.

Furthermore, with mindfulness we become aware when internal, underlying intentions of attachment or aversion arise. These mind states quickly begin to destroy our peace and contentment, like a sudden squall destroying the tranquility of a lake. It would be interesting to observe the mind to monitor how often peaceful or deluded mind states arise.

With mindfulness, external problems no longer have the same power to disturb our mind, unless we react to them with anger, ill will, or hatred. If these are not present, we would have no delusions, and even our enemies could not destroy our peace of mind.

In the Majjhima Nikaya it is stated this way:

Buddha spoke thus once to his disciples: The words of men to you can be of five kinds: at the right time or at the wrong time, true or false, gentle or bitter, profitable or unprofitable, kindly or resentful.

If men speak evil of you, this must you think: ‘Our heart shall not waver; and we will abide in compassion, in loving-kindness, without resentment. We will think of the man who speaks ill of us with thoughts of love, and in our thoughts of love shall we dwell. And from that abode of love we will fill the whole world with far-reaching, wide-spreading, boundless love’.

Moreover, if robbers should attack you and cut you in pieces with a two-handed saw, limb by limb, and one of you should feel hate, such a one is not a follower of my gospel. (Quoted from Juan Mascaró, trans., The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection (London: Penguin Books, 1973), 21.)

Finally, it is through our consciousness that we have feelings. And, it is with feelings that we can we experience the ripened effects of actions. Non-virtuous actions result in unpleasant feelings; virtuous actions result in pleasant feelings. . . .

Source: Excerpted and adapted from Insights into Karma: The Law of Cause and Effect by Alexander Peck.

This topic is further developed in PART 2: PRESENT KARMA of the book under the following headings:

  • Karma Mindfulness Checklist
  • Guarding Our Karma
  • Immediate Karma
  • Karmic Creation of Our World
  • “We Are in Charge”
  • Karmic Awareness    
  • Present Karma
  • Creating Negative Karma
  • Memories
  • Happiness and Misery
  • Interacting with Others
  • Cause of Our Unhappiness
  • Reaping the Fruit of Actions
  • Fairness in a Moral Universe
  • Dream Analogy
  • Personality
  • Relationships
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Responsibility  
  • Greater Assurance
  • Creating Right Causes
  • The Law of Abundance
  • The Law of Attraction
  • The Law of Manifestation
  • Interfering with Others’ Karma?
  • Alert and Watchful
  • Mental Health   
  • Problems Not External
  • Ripening of Karmic Seeds
  • Thought Transformation
  • Resolve to Change
  • Uncertainty of Life
  • Peace amidst Problems
  • An Elegant Spirit
  • Compassion     
  • Response to Enemies
  • Accepting Others
  • Responsibility toward Others
  • Care and Consideration of Others
  • Avoiding Indifference
  • What Is Needed: Compassion

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