“It’s the quality that makes sure
you’re going to pay close attention to what you’re doing, close attention to your
intentions, close attention to the results of your actions—as in the passage where
the Buddha’s instructing Rahula, his son. Before you do something, he tells
Rahula, ask yourself, “What’s the intention here? Why am I doing this? Is it going
to be an action that leads to suffering or not?” Only if the intention looks good
should you act on it. Then, while you’re acting, you check the results of your
action. After the action is done you check again, because some results are
immediate, other results are long term. So conviction in karma focuses your intention
at the right spot and it gets you asking the right questions. Heedfulness
gives urgency to your investigation. And the two of them together lead to
discernment.” – Thanissaro Bhikku
The concept of Karma has been used and misunderstood over the years. It’s simple yet complex in the same breath. Depending on your culture and upbringing, this word can mean different things to you. Most people can agree with the simple notion of what goes around comes around. And I believe that’s a great start to understanding the dynamics of karma.
I grew up with the notion that an all mighty and powerful god was in control. He was omnipotent and had all power in his hands. The key to life was to serve this god and in return, you would be blessed. Simple right? This concept works for a ton of people so there is no doubt that there is merit in it. However, for myself, it started to create some misunderstandings about power, control, and what I actually could do to change the situations in my life.
In the counseling and therapeutic world, we tend to focus on the individual. Believing that the person in the mirror holds all power to change their stars and destiny. It’s not so much of an independent, I can do everything in my own way of thinking. It’s more of you hold power in your perceptions of the world, therefore putting you in the driver seat of your actions. This concept to me is quite powerful. It’s the belief that we are the heirs to our own karma.
When you truly think about it. We don’t own much but our actions and our words. Everything else is subject to the laws of your land. Own a house? The government can take that. Own a car? The bank could take that. You see where I’m going with this? What we truly have control over is our actions. We are the heirs of our karma.
It isn’t much you can do about the karma of a past life. What you should instead focus on is the karma of your life for today. What you do in this present moment determines actions and results for later. It’s not as quick of a turnaround as most people think. Some karma takes years to unfold. With the recent #metoo movement we are seeing some of the chickens coming home to roost with unskillful actions from so-called powerful men who thought they were entitled to women’s bodies and privacy. If anything the results of that karma will aid in people understanding the importance of consent and workplace etiquette. Where women can strive to have a career without the fear of being approached by co-workers or even worse their bosses.
If you learn anything from this post is that in 2018, let’s look to discern our life with what isn’t skillful actions. What are we trying to cultivate? You can’t grow roses by planting seeds of greed, entitlement, and rudeness. Enjoy 2018 and please spread some love and kindness while you’re at it. Happy New Year! Metta. 🖤