On the Subject of Karma
A disciple and Master are walking along a narrow path in the shady hills.
The Master smiles.
- Master, in the Dharma, how is Karma manifested?
- What do you mean little one? Karma is everywhere.
- Well, I mean, what happens if you do something that affects
the Karma of someone. For example, you stop someone from killing,
or you teach something that benefits a lot of people.
- This is a very difficult subject. Karma is a basic law of
action and re-action. When a ball strikes a wall, it bounces
back and leaves some energy where it struck. And in the same sense, doing good and doing bad leaves you with Karma that will come back to you.
- What do you mean come back?
- Well, when you throw a ball out, you exerted energy to give the
ball momentum to leave your hands. That energy came from you.
So something has to replenish the energy that you lost. In this
simple sense, you would eat to get back energy to the muscles that
were used to fling the ball. But the law of Karma deals with actions
that affect others. If you send out Karma, a replacement Karma
must come back to fulfill the energy you gave out.
- I see. But how does it come back exactly anyways? If for example
I stop someone from arguing or killing each other. How does it
- This is very complicated. But be assured, everything is resolved
in the end. As a simple example. Suppose you send out Karma that
prevented a conflict (killing, arguing, etc). If you had never sent
out that Karma, the killing and arguing would have happened as it
should. But because you intervened, the karma that was supposed
to be the driving force of the killing and arguing got dispersed,
and will come back to you (the person that originated the Karma
that stopped it).
- That is scary. Does that mean I will end up killing and arguing
with other people?
- Not really. But you may be placed in a situation that offers you
the opportunity to see in their eyes the reasoning behind the conflict.
And you will be offered the opportunity to proceed with the killing and
arguing (to fullfill the original Karma), or take your own advice
(the advice you gave that stopped the conflict in the first place).
If you took your own advice, then good Karma will come to replace
what you took on from them. Similar to how you stopped them from having
the conflict in the first place. If you DO kill or argue
(in this simple case), then the original Karma is fullfilled, as the
original conflict gets passed on, but in this case from your end.
- Wow, so you should take your own advice when you give them out.
- Yes, that is why they say "Do not judge, lest ye shall be judged".
If you totally understand a situation and can really help out,
then do so. But if you condemn a person for doing something in a
certain situation, then you better be sure that what he did was
wrong, because you may be put in a similar situation to be judged.
- I see. But what about good Karma? In the original example, what
happened to the good Karma that was gaven to the people who were in
- This is why it is so complicated, and you should not worry about
Karma in your daily lives. Just do good, and everything will take
care of itself. In the original example, the Karma that they
receive will be passed on, as they have this extra good Karma they
have to give out. In the example, the person who gave out the
Karma (if he or she didn't pass on the conflict), will end up receiving
good Karma in return in another form. This is why they say, "what
goes around, comes around" (good or bad).
- Isn't it possible to hold in Karma all the time?
- Yes, you can. But because you do, Karma will come to you to replace
those that you hold. It is important that the person who decides to
do the work of Buddha must be able to judge wisely and have good
self discipline, because if he decides to spread good Karma, he must
be able to withstand the Karma coming back to him. (Hold in the bad
to replace it with the good).
- But why do some masters shun any activity in the world?
- Precisely the point. Some masters are reluctant to participate in
the world because they know their actions can cause great Karma.
Some masters become like a mirror to light. Karma (good and
bad) passes through him (or gets reflected) to others around him.
They are not affected by people's actions, thus are not affected
by Karma directly. They go through the world like whispers of the
wind, but you will notice them because of their mirror like
qualities. Some masters take on the world's suffering, and this
takes great self-control and discipline. This is why most masters
have said they experienced hell and back before reaching their
current state. Their values had to withstand the test of time and
the Karma of others. Someone with a wrong set of values will end up
creating more bad Karma for others and himself. Some masters exist
simply to try to spread good when appropriate, as Karma is a very
difficult thing to judge.
- So what kind of master are you?