Karma is a Sanskrit word that means “action.” Buddhists believe that Karma refers to the actions of our body, speech and mind. Every action we perform leaves an imprint, on our subtle mind, and each imprint eventually gives rise to its own effect. An analogy for this, is to liken our minds to a field, and performing actions is like sowing seeds in that field. Virtuous actions sow seeds of future happiness, and non-virtuous actions sow seeds of future suffering. The seeds we have sown in the past remain dormant, until the conditions necessary for their germination come together. In some cases this can be many lifetimes after the original action was performed.
The actions of living beings are never wasted, even though a long time may pass before their effects are experienced. Actions cannot simply vanish, and we cannot give them away, in an attempt to avoid the consequences of our behaviour. Though many do try. Individuals will try to make excuses to justify their poor life choices; or attempt to shift responsibility onto another. This type of denial is common, and while it may ease their conscience, or give them some respite from feeling guilt for what they have done. It will do nothing to avoid the future karmic repercussions of their actions. Seen from another perspective, we often feel that our negative experiences in this life-time, are inexplicable and undeserved, and that there is no justice in the world. In reality, however, most of our experiences in this life are caused by actions we committed in past lives.
The Buddhist philosophy of Karma, describes how our actions are impure because our minds are contaminated by the inner poison of self-grasping. They believe that this is the fundamental reason why we as human beings experience suffering. Suffering is created by our own actions – it is not given to us as a punishment. We suffer because we have accumulated many non-virtuous actions in our previous lives. Although there are countless different actions of body, speech, and mind, all are included within three types: Virtuous actions, non-virtuous actions and neutral actions.
The source of these non-virtuous actions are our own delusions, such as anger, attachment, and self grasping ignorance. For example: The main cause of sufferings of poverty, is the action of stealing. The main causes of being oppressed – are looking down on, beating, or abusing people who are in a inferior or vulnerable position. Or despising others instead of showing them loving kindness. To suffer from being separated from friends and family, are actions which arise from – seducing other people’s partners or purposefully alienating loved ones and friends, from their families and friends. As we cause others to become isolated from those they care for. So too will we suffer a similar fate. This is karma at work.
How are we able to to rid ourselves of negative karmic potential? To avoid having negative thoughts and behaviour, that will lead to negative actions. To do this you need to learn to understand where your weaknesses lie, and what causes them. This requires a lot of self honesty and observation. It is rare that negative behaviour comes out of nowhere. Look back on your life, try to see where it’s roots may lie. If you have carried forward deep seated issues from your past, that make you unhappy now. Take action to resolve them. Either through self analysis or therapy. The root of all action comes from the mind.
Karma is a divine system of justice. Where our every thought, word and act is recorded. Nothing can be hidden. So even if a man or women gets away with committing an illegal act in the eyes of the law. Or no one else ever finds out about it. They cannot avoid or hide what they have done from spiritual justice. Can you imagine what it would be like, if we lived in a world, where everyone believed, in the cause and affect of karma? How much safer, more peaceful and loving a world it would be. A better place for everyone to live in. Karma, the Law of cause and affect is there for our benefit. To help us grow and evolve as human beings. To fulfil our highest, divine potential.