KARMA: Intention, action and effects Part 1
Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning “action”. The law of karma refers to the sequence: cause (intention) produces action which induces effect. Every good/bad volitional thought or action will bring a certain good/bad result in the short or long term future. If my thoughts or behaviors are motivated by greed, hatred or delusion, I am planting the seed of suffering for others and myself.
On the opposite, when our acts or thoughts are motivated by generosity, compassion, love and wisdom, they are creating the karmic conditions for abundance and serenity for self and others. The concept of karma or action is based on basic moral and ethical principles and it is found in every religion.
“We reap what you sow “ says the Judaic/ Christian and Islamic scriptures.
In this presentation I will address only the individual karma but there is also a general one.
An analogy from the physical world will explain the concept of karma or action:
If you plant an apple seed, the tree will grow apple and not oranges. And once the seed is planted and left alone, nothing will induce the tree to produce oranges.
So, Karma is just another fundamental law of nature: action from cause A will produce effect B. In Zen Buddhist, karma specifically refers to volition that is the primary intention and motive behind the thinking with or without its action. Our motivation behind our action determines and controls the consequences or effects.
Therefore we can see the enormous responsibility we have to become conscious and paying attention to the motivation and intention that precede our actions. If we are unaware of our motives or don’t assess them properly we may act on them and create the conditions of future suffering.
When does the law of karma apply?
As far timing s concerned , the law of karma can be understood in many levels, which indicate the vast scope of its implications in our life. Karma law is affecting all living beings any time not only during our “ current” life but also our previous and future ones. If one believes that our genuine life’s duration is timeless and endless with an infinite number of material birth and death cycles, as Tibetan Buddhists believe, bad volitional thoughts during previous lives may affect our current lives or ,even, our future ones if the effects did not occur already. Many see this as pretty gloomy stuff.
mportance of paying attention to our mind- generated intentions.
It is critical to always read our mind regarding the volitional intention of the thought and before any action. When we experience a mind state of comprehension, generosity, compassion and love not only the future effects will be positive but, at the same time, feeling of joy appears. On the contrary, when we experience a negative state of mind of greed, hatred, in addition to negative future results, we will experience the painful negative energy sooner or later.
Beside affecting me, can my intentional thoughts influence others?
Yes. It is called general karma. This is the topic for a next presentation on the law of karma and its diffuse impacts.
Our direct understanding of how the karmic law is working positively or negatively in each moment of our life is a strong motivation to develop skillful and permanent awareness of our motivations behind thoughts and actions. This is why the practice of mindfulness meditation is important that is to pay attention to our thoughts. If we are able to assess properly and efficiently our hidden ego-driven motivations that is to control our negative and detrimental ones, we will experience a sense of wholeness, peace and serenity.
If we live in a way that is out of harmony, moral and ethical ground, we, then, will experience dissonance, confusion and suffering at different degrees not only for self but also on others..
I will talk about general karma in the following weeks.
Very best to all