Buddhist Karma & Emptiness

Ok. I had a thought that I would share some of what I have read/learned with you guys. Like everything else if you don’t believe in what I say here it doesn’t bother me any, take it or leave it. This is just what I have learned from what little time I have spent so far studying Buddhism. Some of this I learned in the Yoga Sutra classes I took, some I got from the book The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach and some of it others have explained to me when I asked. Keep in mind this from Tibetan Buddhism and there are many kinds of Buddhism.

I do have to say here though don’t feel bad if it takes a while understand some of this. Some of you may get it right off the bat and some of you might be more like me and it will make sense one day and the next day be really confusing…it has taken me weeks to actually get my head around it.

First I guess I will talk about Karma. Apparently it is a lot more complicated that just doing something good to have something good happen to you and so forth. That is actually a very simple way of looking at it. This is the way I understood it from my studies…You build up karma, good and bad, from this life as well as past lives and the way it works is this: Everything you do, say, think, even dream is logged in your subconscious as good or bad karma (yes the Buddhists even think your dreams can give you good/bad karma). Everything you do and think will make an imprint, good or bad, that will come back later on you. However…the intention is the key here. Thinking something bad will not leave as big an imprint as actually doing something bad. But the imprint is still there none the less. So, you want to think lots and lots of good things even if you can’t actually do them!

Now, here is the tricky part…the good and bad karma will line up to happen to you, like planes on a runway, it was explained to me, however when Karma happens to you…it isn’t in the order you accumulated it. The worst of the Karma will happen first…for example, if you kill someone in this life, that karma will happen before the lies you told in a previous life….HOWEVER the longer the little things wait to manifest the bigger they get like a seed…they start off small but the longer it takes for them to get to the front of the line they grow bigger and bigger…so by the time they get to manifest, instead of a little seedling karma…you have a huge tree!

So, now you are asking now how do people who seem to be horrible people always have good things happen to them? Well, they have wracked up so much GOOD karma (perhaps in a past life) that they are just living off of that. Which is bad, as karma is like a bank account…if you use it all up and don’t put anything back into it you are screwed.

You you might be wondering (I know I was!) how would you know what to do make certain good things come to you? Well, first off you have to want it not just for yourself but for others. You want to do good things for others just because you want to as well as getting something in return (because then the imprint is bigger and better things will happen!). There is a correlation of what you do to what karma does to you. If you give out money, money will come to you. If you are nice to people, people will be nice to you. If you are annoying…people are going to be annoying to you…if you hurt someone phyically, you will suffer problems with your health (and yes, abortion is considered hurting someone in this just in case anyone was wondering). So What to do??

Well, first off stop being annoying! LOL Then realize that even if you start being nice to people now…it is going to take time to burn off the bad karma you have already logged in. But, doing good now might help offset some of the bad stuff where you get to see it manifest as a seed instead of a tree! 🙂

Also, according to the Buddhists, they don’t believe as the Christians do in that you have to give the shirt off your back to get something in return. Just thinking of giving money logs some good karma, though it isn’t as good as actually living…but as I said before it is the INTENTION that is important! Actually wishing you could help someone with money because they needed help with money and hating that you can’t help (maybe you just don’t have the money to give) is more powerful than just a fleeting thought…and giving what you can is more powerful than just thinking it. However, you don’t have to give $4 out of the only $5 you have (or whatever currency you use!)..that isn’t the point…the point isn’t so much the amount (of course that does play a small role) but the INTENTION that you wanted to give more. Hence, wishing you really truley could help someone but can’t is actually pretty strong for the most part and you should always think good things!

Following so far?

Ok, so now you are asking me about emptiness and what the hell am I talking about it for. Well, for the Buddhist, emptiness isn’t like “I am so depressed I feel empty”…it is actually more about infinite potential. Kinda like when Stacey went to Texas and went looking for land, I bet she was looking at the potential of the land…what it COULD BE. So, that you say is pretty easy to understand. Well, yes and no.

According to Buddhist tradition, everything is “empty”. Meaning everything can be many things or nothing. What?! I will try to explain simply at first…take a pen for example. You know it is a pen because you were told and taught it was a pen and you use it to make marks on paper. BUT, to my 15 month old son, it is a toy…something to chew on or throw or poke with. That is emptiness. A pen is actually nothing…only what we perceive it to be, hence infinite potential. A prison inmate might see it as a weapon, a dog sees it as a chewie.

Here is another way to look at it. Let’s say your boss at work is a butthead. Maybe he yells at you for no reason. Maybe he just calls too many useless meetings. Or maybe he is just out right annoying to be around. However, to his wife, children, mother, etc.…he might be the model husband, father, son, etc.… So, he isn’t really annoying or a butthead…you just PERCIEVE him that way. He really isn’t a model anything…those other people just PERCIEVE him that way. Hence infinite potential…emptiness.

So, now you are wondering what all this has to do each other. Well, I explained Karma. I explained “emptiness”. Karma comes from our perceptions of the “emptiness” of others. What?! Well, lets take another look at that annoying boss. He is calling yet another useless meeting and you never get anything accomplished as well as not getting any work done because you are at the useless meeting. You are starting to get frustrated and angry. Then you start thinking of bad things about your boss…maybe him getting hit by a bus or eaten by a shark on his next deep see fishing trip…see where I am going? The anger and frustration are making karmic imprints in your mind where they are going to sit until they come to fruition.

Oh no! So how to fix it? First off you have to recognize that you are seeing your annoying boss as annoying because karma dictates it. (??) Maybe you were annoying to someone in your past (life) and now it is coming to fruition from your boss. Sounds like a catch 22 huh? Well first off…do not get all stressed out and angry when he calls a useless meeting. THEN, try to find the good in the situation…maybe you should try to come up with something to make the meeting productive, talk to annoying boss and ask him if you can set up the meeting…

Last, they say, that the best way to help log in some good karma time is to just realize that you are only human and you are actually going to think and do some not so good things…but you need to do some good things to offset those bad things! The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach has some strategies in it…but basically meditate to keep your mind clear and if you can’t DO good things at least THINK good things as thinking also logs in some good karma as well and try to keep bad thoughts out of your mind or at least out of your actions.

**Note: The place that was giving the Yoga Sutra classes apparently has classes all over the world as I was looking at a schedule and one was being held in Ireland…so if anyone might be interested in taking any of their classes go to the website http://www.yogastudiesinstitute.org/ and take a look at their schedule and see if one is going to be near you…you might even be able to contact them to set up a class in your area if there isn’t one. My instructor there was Lama Marut whose website can be found in my blogroll. 😀


1 Comment

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One response to “Buddhist Karma & Emptiness

  1. P

    Hello! I got here to your blog from “Can blogging decrease depression?” discussion: http://pistolpete.wordpress.com/2007/03/20/blogging-depression/ very helpful exchange of words to me, tough subject but you’ve made it a pleasure to read (go for it, writer! 🙂

    I would like to ask you, please, if you had followed the “instructions” of Geshe Michael and Lama Christie’s Spiritual Partners talks… then you met your husband? If so, could you talk a little about it? Many thanks, P

    [Sandy: I am glad you enjoyed it! I did not know about Geshe Michael even remotely when I met my husband. I wasn’t told about him or taught anything about Buddhism until after we were married. It was the minister that married us that started teaching me and telling me about Geshe Michael and Buddhism. 🙂 }