Napa Valley Insight Meditation Message Board › Karma: Readings for Sept 11th NVMG meeting
At this Wednesday’s meeting we will focus on the concept of Karma and how it can help provide guidance for our lives. This is really a very big subject, that is open to a lot of misinterpretation in the west, but this week’s reading from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book (Wherever You Go, There You are) does a nice job of laying out the basis concept.
You can download a copy of the reading by clicking on the link below:
Please print out a copy and bring it with you to the sitting.
Karma is a sanskrit word that refers to the relationship between cause and effect. Our karma arises from each of our conscious intentions, thoughts, word or actions. Karma is part of a broader framework in Buddhist philosophy known as wise view or wise understanding.
The idea embedded in the concept of Karma is that each moment of our lives is not determined by bad luck or chance but is a consequence of our previous thoughts, actions and words, as well as external conditions (which we cannot control). What happens in our lives is determined by an unbreakable relationship between our “intentional” actions and the consequences of those actions. Intention is the key word here.
The teaching of karma has to do with the place of choice in our lives. It is understanding that the choices we make in the present moment have a direct effect on our future happiness and the happiness of those around us. If we are guided by generosity, ethics and wisdom, then the results of these actions will support our freedom and happiness. If our actions, speech and thoughts are determined by greed, ill will and delusion, then we will continue to intensify the suffering in our lives.
Thich Nhat Hanh uses the analogy of our minds as storehouses. In our storehouse we have different seeds – seeds of love, mindfulness, concentration, hatred, jealousy, greed, delusion, etc. Whichever seeds we water will bloom and grow into plants. If we act out of anger repeatedly, we are watering the seeds of anger and will have a huge, blooming anger plant. The same is true with kindness. If we consistently meet our angry plan with kindness, the angry plant has nothing to nourish it and begins to wither and die, the loving plant begins to thrive.
In other words, when we let go of unwholesome behaviors and cultivate wholesome behaviors we decrease our future suffering and increase our capacity for happiness; i.e. we change our karma. Or as one Vipassana teacher, Ruth Denison, put it, “Karma means you don't get away with nothing, darling.”
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the reading. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.