THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
61. Living Beings Have Developed Minds
62. Mindfulness and Calmness
63. Cause and Effect
65. Karma of the Body
66. The Karma of the Mouth
67. The Karma of the Mind
68. Ten Evil Actions
69. Karma Process
70. Who is Responsible for Our Karma?
61. Living Beings Have Developed Minds
Living beings in this realm have sharp or developed minds, capable of weighty moral and immoral action than any other living beings. The human realm is a mixture of both pain and pleasure, sufering and hapiness. Bodhisattvas always choose this realm as their last existence because it offers opportunity for attaining Buddhahood. The human realm is one of the six destinies (gati) within cyclic existence (samsara) into which beings may be born. The sentient thinking being in the desire realm, whose past deeds affect his present condition. Man occupies a very important place in the Buddhist cosmos because he has the power of decision. Human life is a mixture of the happy with a good dash of the bitter. Today there is ceaseless work going on in all directions to improve the world. Scientists are pursuing their methods and experiments with undiminished vigor and determination. Modern discoveries and methods of communication and contact have produced startling results. All these improvements, though they have their advantages and rewards, are entirely material and external. Within this conflux of mind and body of man, however, there are unexplored marvels to occpy men of science for many years. Really, the world, which the scientists are trying to improve, is, according to the ideas of Buddhism, subject to so much change at all points on its circumference and radii, that it is not capable of being made sorrowfree. Our life is so dark with aging, so smothered with death, so bound with change, and these qualities are so inherent in it, even as greenness is to grass, and bitterness to quinine, that not all the magic and power of science can ever transform it. The immortal splendor of an eternal sunlight awaits only those who can use the light of understanding and the culture of conduct to illuminate and guard their path through life’s tunnel of darkness and dismay. The people of the world today mark the changing nature of life. Although they see it, they do not keep it in mind and act with dispassionate discernment. Though change again and again speaks to them and makes them unhappy, they pursue their mad career of whirling round the wheel of existence and are twisted and torn between the spokes of agony.
According to Buddhist tenets, the life cycle of a sentient being begins when the consciousness enters the womb, and traditionally this has been considered the moment of conception, another life cycle begins. The Eastern ancient said: “Man is the most sacred and superior being,” however, to Buddhism, any living being’s life is precious and of the same value. That is to say no being’s life is more precious than the other’s. According to the Upasaka Sutra, Buddhism agrees that in all living beings, man is endowed with all necessary faculties, intelligence. Buddhism also agrees that conditions of human beings are not too miserable as those beings in the hell or the hungry ghosts. To Buddhism, human life is difficult to obtain. If we are born as human beings with many qualities, difficult to attain. We should try to make our lives meaningful ones. Besides, human beings have intelligence. This precious quality enables us to investigate the true meaning of life and to practice the path to enlightenment. Devout Buddhists should always remember that what rebirth we will take depends on our present actions and habits. Thus, our purpose in this very life is to attain liberation or enlightenment, either becoming liberated from cyclic existence (Arhats), or becoming fully enlightened Buddhas. Most of all, we should be able to take advantage of our precious human lives to live to the fullest, moment by moment. To achieve this, we must be mindful of each moment, not being in the here-and-now when we act. According to Buddhist point of view, we have precious human lives, endowed with many qualities to attain. Because of this, we can make our lives highly meaningful. We often take our lives for granted and dwell on the things that aren’t going the way we would like them to. Thinking this way is unrealistic and makes us depressed. However, if we think about the qualities we do have and everything that is going well, we’ll have a different and more joyful perspective on life. One of our greatest endowments is our human intelligence. This precious quality enables us to investigate the meaning of life and to practice to advance on the path to enlightenment. If all of our senses, eyes, ears, mental… are intact, we are able to hear the Dharma, read books on it, and think about its meaning. We’re so lucky to be born in an historical era when the Buddha has appeared and taught the Dharma. These teachings have been transmitted in a pure from teacher to student in lineages steming back to the Buddha. We have the opportunity to have qualified spiritual masters who can teach us, and there are communities of ordained people and Dharma friends who share our interest and encourage us on the path. Those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that cherish religious freedom aren’t restricted from learning and practicing the path. In addition, most of us don’t live in desperate poverty and thus have enough food, clothing and shelter to engage in spiritual practice without worrying about basic material needs. Our minds aren’t heavily obscured with wrong views and we are interested in self-development. We have the potential to do great things with our present opportunity. But to appreciate this, we must develop a long-term vision for our cultivation because our present lives are only a short one. Devout Buddhists should always remember that our mindstreams don’t cease when our physical bodies die. Our minds are formless entities, but when they leave our present bodies at the time of death, they will be reborn in other bodies. What rebirth we’ll take depends on our present actions. Therefore, one purpose of our lives can be to prepare for death and future lives. In that way, we can die peacefully, knowing our minds will be propelled towards good rebirths. The other way that we can utilize our lives is to attain liberation or enlightenment. We can become arhats, beings liberated from cyclic existence, or we can go on to become fully enlightened Buddhas, able to benefit others most effectively. Attaining liberation, our minds will be completely cleansed of all disturbing attitudes. Thus we’ll never become angry, jealous or proud again. We no longer feel guilty, anxious or depressed, and all our bad habits will be gone. In addition, if we aspire to attain enlightenment for the benefit of everyone, we’ll have spontaneous affection for all beings, and will know the most appropriate ways to help them. Also another way to take advantage of our precious human lives is to live life to the fullest, moment by moment. There are several ways to do this. One is to be mindful of each moment, being in the here-and-now as we act. When we eat, we can concentrate on eating, noting the taste and texture of the food. When we walk, we concentrate on the movements involved in walking, without letting our minds wander to any other thoughts. When we go upstairs, we can think, “may I lead all beings to fortunate rebirths, liberation and enlightenment.” While washing dishes or clothes, we think, “may I help all beings cleanse their minds of disturbing attitudes and obscurations.” When we hand something to another person, we think, “May I be able to satisfy the needs of all beings.” We can creatively transform each action by generating the wish to bring happiness to others.
62. Mindfulness and Calmness
A calm attitude at all times shows a man of culture. It is not too hard for a man to be calm when things are favorable, but to be composed when things are wrong is hard indeed, and it is this difficult quality that is worth achieving; for by such calm and control he builds up strength of character. It is quite wrong to imagine that they alone are strong and powerful who are noisy, garrulous and fussily busy. According to the Anguttara Nikaya, “Emptiness is loud, but fullness, calm. The fool’s a half-filled little tin box; the sage, a lake. The man who cultivates calmness of mind rarely gets upset when confronted with the vicissitudes of life. He tries to see things in their proper perspective, how things come into being and pass away. Free from anxiety and restlessness, he will try to see the fragility of the fragile. According to Suttanipata, quiet mind… go on, in fortune or misfortune, at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.” The immediate benefits of mindfulness are purity of mind, clarity and happiness. They are experienced at the very moment that mindfulness is present. Absence of afflictions is purity. Because of purity come carity and joy. When we have a mind that is pure and clear, we can advance in the path of cultivation and practice with deep contemplations. In our daily life, unwholesome mental states are unfortunately more frequent than wholesome ones. As soon as greed, aversion and delusion enter the consciousness, we start to create unwholesome karma, which will give results in this life as well as in the future. Rebirth is one result. With that, death becomes inevitable. Between birth and death, a being will create more karma, both wholesome and unwholesome, to keep the cycle turning. Therefore, heelessness is the path that leads to death, rebirth, and death, and rebirth. It is the cause of death in this world as well as in the future life. Thus, Buddhism considers mindfulness like fresh air, essential to life. All breathing beings need clean air. If only polluted air is available, they will shortly be afflicted by diseases and may even die. Mindfulness is just this important. A mind deprived of the fresh air of mindfulness grows stale, breathes shallowly, and chockes upon defilements. In fact, afflictions are actually much more dangerous than the epolluted air. If a person dies from breathing polluted air, the poison will be left behind in his or her corpse. But the taints of the afflictions carry forward to the next life. The Buddha taught in the Satipatthana Sutta: “The first cause of mindfulness is nothing more than mindfulness itself.” Naturally, there is a difference between the weak mindfulness that characterized one’s early meditative efforts and the mindfulness at higher levels of practice, which becomes strong enough to cause enlightenment to occur. In fact, the development of mindfulness is a simple momentum, one moment of mindfulness causing the next.
63. Cause and Effect
Some people believe in Christianity, and according to the Christian, the theistic position that man’s destiny is basically determined for him by God. God determines if a man deserves heaven or hell; he may even decide each man’s earthly destiny. Some other people believe in fatalism that each of us has a fate which we cannot change and about which we can do nothing. They believe that ‘Whatever will be will be.’ In this philosophy the agent that determines destiny is not a God, but rather a mysterious impersonal power called ‘Fate’ which transcend our understanding. Still some other people believe the exact opposite, they believe in indeterminism: everything happens by accident. They believe that if man is lucky, he will achieve happiness or success; if he is unlucky, he will suffer or fail, but whatever he receives, he receives not through any process of determination but by accident, by sheer coincidence. In Christianity, the Christian worships God and prays to Him in order to obtain forgiveness from the results his evil actions hold out for him. Buddhism differs from Christianity in that it sees the root cause of all evil in “ignorance” and not in “sin”, in an act of intellectual misapprehension and not in an act of volition and rebellion. As a practical definition of ignorance, we are offered the four perverted views which make us seek for permanence in what is inherently impermanent, ease in what is inseparable from suffering, selfhood in what is not linked to any self, and delight in what is essentially repulsive and disgusting. According to the Karma Law in Buddhism, the present is a shadow of the past, the future a shadow of the present. Hence our action in the present is most important, for what we do in the present determines the course of our future development. For this reason, Zen practitioners should always apply their minds to the present so that they may advance on the way. According to the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth, the causal relation between action and its results holds not only with regard to the present life but also with regard to past and future lives. This universal law of cause and effect is non-negotiable. Just as we cannot run away from our own shadows, so we cannot run away from the results of our actions. They will pursue us no matter where we hide. Besides, the Buddha also taught that negative or unwholesome mind creates negative or unwholesome thoughts (anger, hatred, harmful thoughts, wrong views, etc), speech (lying, harsh speech, double-tongued, etc), as well as deeds which are the causes of our sufferings, confusion and misery. Unwholesome or negative mind will destroy our inner peace and tranquility.
Catholicism contradicts itself with the words in the Bible: “Ye shall reap what ye shall sow” and the theory of forgiveness through the gace of Christ or God. The sentence “Reap what you sow” is precisely in accordance with the natural law of karma, while the grace of forgiveness completely denies this law. But in Buddhism, no one can forgive a person for his transgression. If he commits an evil deed, he has to reap the bad consequences, for all is governed by universal law and not by any arbitrary creator. According to Buddhism, the pain or pleasure resulting in this life from the practices or causes and retributions of a previous life. Therefore, ancient virtues said: “If we wish to know what our lives were like in the past, just look at the retributions we are experiencing currently in this life. If we wish to know what retributions will happen to us in the future, just look and examine the actions we have created or are creating in this life.” If we understand clearly this theory, then in our daily activities, sincere Buddhists are able to avoid unwholesome deeds and practice wholesome deeds. Every action which is a cause will have a result or an effect. Likewise, every resultant action has its cause. The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept within Buddhism governing all situation. Buddhists believe in a just rational of karma that operates automatically and speak in terms of cause and effect instead of rewards and punishments. Every action which is a cause will have a result or an effect. Likewise every resultant action has its cause. The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept within Buddhism goverining all situation. Buddhists believe in a just rational of karma that operates automatically and speak in terms of cause and effect instead of rewards and punishments. It’s a fundamental principle for all living beings and all things that if one sows good deeds, he will surely reap a good harvest; if he sows bad deeds, he must inevitably reap a bad harvest. Though the results may appear quickly or slowly, everyone will be sure to receive the results that accord with their actions. Anyone who has deeply understood this principle will never do evil.
According to Buddhism, every action which is a cause will have a result or an effect. Likewise every resultant action or effect has its cause. The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept within Buddhism governing all situations. The Moral Causation in Buddhism means that a deed, good or bad, or indifferent, brings its own result on the doer. Good people are happy and bad ones unhappy. But in most cases “happiness” is understood not in its moral or spiritual sense but in the sense of material prosperity, social position, or political influence. For instance, kingship is considered the reward of one’s having faithfully practiced the ten deeds of goodness. If one meets a tragic death, he is thought to have committed something bad in his past lives even when he might have spent a blameless life in the present one. Causality is a natural law, mentioning the relationship between cause and effect. All things come into being not without cause, since if there is no cause, there is no effect and vice-versa. As so sow, so shall you reap. Cause and effect never conflict with each other. In other words, cause and effect are always consistent with each other. If we want to have beans, we must sow bean seeds. If we want to have oranges, we must sow orange seeds. If wild weeds are planted, then it’s unreasonable for one to hope to harvest edible fruits. One cause cannot have any effect. To produce an effect, it is necessary to have some specific conditions. For instance, a grain of rice cannot produce a rice plant without the presence of sunlight, soil, water, and care. In the cause there is the effect; in the effect there is the cause. From the current cause, we can see the future effect and from the present effect we discerned the past cause. The development process from cause to effect is sometimes quick, sometimes slow. Sometimes cause and effect are simultaneous like that of beating a drum and hearing its sound. Sometimes cause and effect are three or four months away like that of the grain of rice. It takes about three to four, or five to six months from a rice seed to a young rice plant, then to a rice plant that can produce rice. Sometimes it takes about ten years for a cause to turn into an effect. For instance, from the time the schoolboy enters the elementary school to the time he graduates a four-year college, it takes him at least 14 years. Other causes may involve more time to produce effects, may be the whole life or two lives.
From morning to night, we create karma with our body, with our mouth, and with our mind. In our thoughts, we always think that people are bad. In our mouth, we always talk about other people’s rights and wrongs, tell lies, say indecent things, scold people, backbite, and so on. Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism. Everything that we encounter in this life, good or bad, sweet or bitter, is a result of what we did in the past or from what we have done recently in this life. Good karma produces happiness; bad karma produces pain and suffering. So, what is karma? Karma is a Sanskrit word, literally means a deed or an action and a reaction, the continuing process of cause and effect. Moral or any good or bad action (however, the word ‘karma’ is usually used in the sense of evil bent or mind resulting from past wrongful actions) taken while living which causes corresponding future retribution, either good or evil transmigration (action and reaction, the continuing process of cause and effect). Karma is neither fatalism nor a doctrine of predetermination. Our present life is formed and created through our actions and thoughts in our previous lives. Our present life and circumstances are the product of our past thoughts and actions, and in the same way our deeds in this life will fashion our future mode of existence. According to the definition of the karma, the past influences the present but does not dominate it, for karma is past as well as present. However, both past and present influence the future. The past is a background against which life goes on from moment to moment. The future is yet to be. Only the present moment exists and the responsibility of using the present moment for good or bad lies with each individual. A karma can by created by body, speech, or mind. There are good karma, evil karma, and indifferent karma. All kinds of karma are accumulated by the Alayavijnana and Manas. Karma can be cultivated through religious practice (good), and uncultivated. For Sentient being has lived through inumerable reincarnations, each has boundless karma. Whatever kind of karma is, a result would be followed accordingly, sooner or later. No one can escape the result of his own karma.
“Karma” is a Sanskrit term which means “Action, good or bad,” including attachments, aversions, defilements, anger, jealousy, etc. Karma is created (formed) by that being’s conceptions (samskara). This potential directs one behavior and steers the motives for all present and future deeds. In Buddhism, karma arises from three factors: body, speech and mind. For instance, when you are speaking, you create a verbal act. When you do something, you create a physical act. And when you are thinking, you may create some mental actions. Mental actions are actions that have no physical or verbal manifestations. Buddhist ethical theory is primarily with volitional actions, that is, those actions that result from deliberate choice for such actions set in motion a series of events that inevitably produce concordant results. These results may be either pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the original votion. In some cases the results of actions are experienced immediately, and in others they are only manifested at a later time. Some karmic results do not accrue (dồn lại) until a future life. Karmas are actions that lead to both immediate and long range results. All good and evil actions taken while living. Action and appropriate result of action. Karma is not limited by time or space. An individual is coming into physical life with a karma (character and environment resulting from his action in the past). Briefly, “karma” means “deed.” It is produced by all deeds we do. Any deed is invariably accompanied by a result. All that we are at the present moment is the result of the karma that we have produced in the past. Karma is complex and serious. Our deeds, however triffling, leave traces physically, mentally, and environmentally. The traces left in our minds include memory, knowledge, habit, intelligence, and character. They are produced by the accumulation of our experiences and deeds over a long period of time. The traces that our deeds leave on our body can be seen easily, but only part of traces in our minds remain on the surface of our mind, the rest of them are hidden depths of our minds, or sunk in the subconscious mind. This is the complexity and seriousness of the Karma.
According to Buddhism, a “karma” is not a fate or a destiny; neither is it a simple, unconscious, and involuntary action. On the contrary, it is an intentional, conscious, deliberate, and willful action. Also according to Buddhism, any actions will lead to similar results without any exception. It is to say, “As one sows, so shall one reap.” According to one’s action, so shall be the fruit. If we do a wholesome action, we will get a wholesome fruit. If we do an unwholesome action, we will get an unwholesome result. Devout Buddhists should try to understand the law of karma. Once we understand that in our own life every action will have a similar and equal reaction, and once we understand that we will experience the effect of that action, we will refrain from committing unwholesome deeds. Karma is a product of body, speech and mind; while recompense is a product or result of karma. Karma is like a seed sown, and recompense is like a tree grown with fruits. When the body does good things, the mouth speaks good words, the mind thinks of good ideas, then the karma is a good seed. In the contrary, the karma is an evil seed. According to the Buddhist doctrines, every action produces an effect and it is a cause first and effect afterwards. We therefore speak of “Karma” as the “Law of Cause and Effect.” There is no end to the result of an action if there is no end to the Karma. Life in nowadays society, it is extremely difficult for us not to create any karma; however, we should be very careful about our actions, so that their effect will be only good. Thus the Buddha taught: “To lead a good life, you Buddhists should make every effort to control the activities of your body, speech, and mind. Do not let these activities hurt you and others.” Recompense corresponds Karma without any exception. Naturally, good seed will produce a healthy tree and delicious fruits, while bad seed gives worse tree and fruits. Therefore, unless we clearly understand and diligently cultivate the laws of cause and effect, or karma and result, we cannot control our lives and experience a life the way we wish to. According to the Buddha-Dharma, no gods, nor heavenly deities, nor demons can assert their powers on us, we are totally free to build our lives the way we wish. According to Buddhist doctrines, karma is always just. It neither loves nor hates, neither rewards nor punishes. Karma and Recompense is simply the Law of Cause and Effect. If we accumulate good karma, the result will surely be happy and joyous. No demons can harm us. In the contrary, if we create evil karma, no matter how much and earnestly we pray for help, the result will surely be bitter and painful, no gods can save us.
According to Buddhism, man is the creator of his own life and his own destiny. All the good and bad that comes our way in life is the result of our own actions reacting upon us. Our joys and sorrows are the effects of which our actions, both in the distant and the immediate past, are the causes. And what we do in the present will determine what we become in the future. Since man is the creator of his own life, to enjoy a happy and peaceful life he must be a good creator, that is, he must create good karma. Good karma comes ultimately from a good mind, from a pure and calm mind. The law of karma binds together the past, present, and future lives of an individual through the course of his transmigration. To understand how such a connection is possible between the experiences and actions of an individual in successive lives, we must take a brief look at the Buddhist analysis of consciousness. According to the Buddhist philosophy of consciousness, the Vijnanavada school, there are eight kinds of consciousness. The first five are the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body consciousnesses. These make possible the awareness of the five kinds of external sense data through the five sense-organs. The sixth consciousness is the intellectual consciousness, the faculty of judgment which discerns, compares, and distinguishes the sense-data and ideas. The seventh consciousness, called the manas, is the ego-consciousness, the inward awareness of oneself as an ego and the clinging to discrimination between oneself and others. Even when the first six kinds of consciousness are not functioning, for example, in deep sleep, the seventh consciousness is still present, and if threatened, this consciousness, through the impulse of self-protection, will cause us to awaken. The eighth consciousness is called Alaya-vijnana, the storehouse-consciousness. Because this consciousness is so deep, it is very difficult to understand. The alaya-vijnana is a repository which stores all the impressions of our deeds and experiences. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and do deposits, so to speak, a seed is a nucleus of karmic energy. Since the alaya hoards all the seeds of our past actions, it is the architect of our destiny. Our life and character reflect the seeds in our store-consciousness. If we deposit bad seeds, i.e., perform more evil actions, we will become bad persons. Since Buddhism places ultimate responsibility for our life in our own hands, if we want our hands to mold our life in a better way, we must launch our minds in a better direction, for it is the mind which controls the hands which mold our life. However, sometimes we know someone who is virtuous, gentle, kind, loving and wise, and yet his life is filled with troubles from morning to night. Why is this? What happens to our theory that good acts lead to happiness and bad acts to suffering? To understand this, we must realize that the fruits of karma do not necessarily mature in the same lifetime in which the karma is originally accumulated. Karma may bring about its consequences in the next life or in succeeding lives. If a person was good in a previous life, he may enjoy happiness and prosperity in this life even though his conduct now is bad. And a person who is very virtuous now may still meet a lot of trouble because of bad karma from a past life. It is like planting different kinds of seeds; some will come to flower very fast, others will take a long time, maybe years. The law of cause and effect does not come about at different times, in different forms and at different locations. While some of our experiences are due to karma in the present life, others may be due to karma from previous lives. In the present life, we receive the results of our actions done in past lives as well as in the present. And what we reap in the future will be the result of what we do in the present. The doctrine of karma is not merely a doctrine of cause and effect, but of action and reaction. The doctrine holds that every action willfully performed by an agent, be it of thought, word, or deed, tends to react upon that agent. The law of karma is a natural law, and its operation cannot be suspended by any power of a deity. Our action brings about their natural results. Recognizing this, Buddhists do not pray to a god for mercy but rather regulate their actions to bring them into harmony with the universal law. If they do evil, they try to discover their mistakes and rectify their ways; and if they do good, they try to maintain and develop that good. Buddhists should not worry about the past, but rather be concerned about what we are doing in the present. Instead of running around seeking salvation, we should try to sow good seeds in the present and leave the results to the law of karma. The theory of karma in Buddhism makes man and no one else the architect of his own destiny. From moment to moment we are producing and creating our own destiny through our thought, our speech and our deeds. Thus the ancient said: “Sow a thought and reap an act; sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.”
The karma that we have now is very deep-rooted and complex, and includes the former karma that human beings have accumulated since their beginning. We also possess the “former karma” that we have produced ourselves in previous existences and to some extent the “former karma” that our ancestors have produced (for those who were born in the same family, from generation to generation, or in the same country, would bear the same kinds of karma to some extent). And of course we possess the “present karma” that we have produced ourselves in this life. Is it possible for an ordinary person to become free from these karmas and enter the mental state of perfect freedom, escape from the world of illusion, by means of his own wisdom? This is clearly out of the question. What then, if anything, can we do about it? All that one has experienced, thought and felt in the past remains in the depths of one’s subconscious mind. Psychologists recognize that the subconscious mind not only exerts a great influence on man’s character and his mental functions but even causes various disorders. because it is normally beyond our reach, we cannot control the subconscious mind by mere reflection and meditation.
When we plant a black-pepper seed, black-pepper plant grows and we will reap black-pepper, not oranges. Similarly, when we act positively, happiness follows, not suffering. When we act destructively, misery comes, not happiness. Just as small seed can grow into a huge tree with much fruit, small actions can bring large result. Therefore, we should try to avoid even small negative actions and to create small negative ones. If the cause isn’t created, the result does not occur. If no seed is planted, nothing grows. The person who hasn’t created the cause to be killed, won’t be even if he or she is in a car crash. According to the Buddha, man makes his own destiny. He should not blame anyone for his troubles since he alone is responsible for his own life, for either better or worse. Your difficulties and troubles are actually self-caused. They arise from actions rooted in greed, hatred and delusion. In fact, suffering is the price you pay for craving for existence and sensual pleasures. The price which comes as physical pain and mental agony is a heavy one to pay. It is like paying monthly payment for the brand new Chevrolet Corvette you own. The payment is the physical pain and mental agony you undergo, while the Corvette is your physical body through which you experience the worldly pleasures of the senses. You have to pay the price for the enjoyment: nothing is really free of charge unfortunately. If we act positively, the happy result will eventually occur. When we do negative actions, the imprints aren’t lost even though they may not bring their results immediately. Devout Buddhists should always remember that, “the ocean’s water may dry up, mountain may waste away, the actions done in former lives are never lost; on the contrary, they come to fruit though aeons after aeons pass, until at last the debt is paid.” Body, speech, and mind all make karma when we cling. We create habits that can make us suffer in the future. This is the fruit of our attachment, of our past defilement. Remember, not only body but also speech and mental action can make conditions for future results. If we did some act of kindness in the past and remember it today, we will be happy, and this happy state of mind is the result of past karma. In other words, all things conditioned by cause, both long-term and moment-to-moment.
According to Buddhist tradition, there are two kinds of karma: intentional karma and unintentional karma. Intentional karma which bears much heavier karma vipaka (phala). Unintentional karma which bears lighter karma vipaka. There are also two other kinds of karma: the wholesome and the unwholesome. Wholesome (good) karma such as giving charity, kind speech, helping others, etc. Unwholesome (bad) karma such as killing, stealing, lying and slandering. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in the Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, there are two kinds of action and action-influence. The first type of karma is the drawing action. Drawing action causes a being to be born as a man, as a deva, or as an animal; no other force can draw a living being into a particular form of life. The second type of karma is the fulfilling action. After the kind of life has been determined, the fulfilling action completes the formal quality of the living being so that it will be a thorough specimen of the kind. There are two kinds of action-influence. The first kind of action-influence is individual action-influence which creates the individual being. Individual action-influence or individual karmas are those actions that sentient beings act individually. The second kind of action-influence is common action-influence creates the universe itself. The common-action-influence karma involved in this world system is not just that of human beings, but of every type of sentient being in the system. Also according to the Buddhist tradition, there are three kinds of karma: action (behavior) of the body, behavior of the speech, and behavior of the mind. There are three other kinds of karma: present life happy karma, present life unhappy karma, and karma of an imperturbable nature. There are still three other kinds of karma: karma of ordinary rebirth, karma of Hinayana Nirvana, and karma of Mahayana Nirvana. There are still three other kinds of karma: good karmas, bad karmas, and neutral karmas. There are still three other kinds of karma, which also called three stages of karma. The first stage of karma is the past karma. Past karma is the cause for some results (effects) reaped in the present life. The second stage of karma is the present karma with present results. Present karma is the cause for some results (effects) reaped in the present life (present deeds and their consequences in this life). The second stage of karma is the present karma with future results. Present karma (deed) is the cause for some or all results reaped in the next or future lives. Present deeds and their next life consequences (present deeds and consequences after next life).
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are four kinds of kamma. The first kind of karma is the black kamma, or evil deeds with black results. The second kind of karma is the bright kamma with bright result. The third kind of karma is the black-and-bright kamma with black-and-bright result. The fourth kind of karma is the kamma that is neither black nor bright, with neither black nor bright result, leading to the destruction of kamma. According to Mahayana Buddhism, there are four kinds of karmas. The first kind of karma is the accumulated karma, which results from many former lives. The second kind of karma is the repeated karma, which forms during the present life. The third kind of karma is the most dominant karma which is able to subjugate other karmas. The fourth kind of karma is the Near-Death Karma which is very strong. According to the Abhidharma, there are four types of kamma (karma): good karmas, bad karmas, neutral karmas, and karmas in the state of cessation. Especially, karmas in the state of cessation is the state of the activity’s having ceased, and this remains in the mental continuum. This state of cessation is an affirming negative, an absence which includes something positive. It is a potency which is not just the mere cessation of the action, but has the capacity of producing an effect in the future. These states of cessation are capable of regenerating moment by moment until an effect is produced. No matter how much time passes, when it meets with the proper conditions, it fructifies or matures. If one has not engaged in a means to cause the potency to be reduced, such as confession and intention of restraint in committing these bad actions again, then these karmas will just remain. There are still four other kinds of karma: productive kamma, suportive kamma, obstructive kamma, and destructive kamma.
When a disciple came to the Buddha penitent over past misdeeds, the Buddha did not promise any forgiveness, for He knew that each must reap the results of the seeds that he had sown. Instead He explained: “If you know that what you have done is wrong and harmful, from now on do not do it again. If you know that what you have done is right and profitable, continue to do it. Destroy bad karma and cultivate good karma. You should realize that what you are in the present is a shadow of what you were in the past, and what you will be in the future is a shadow of what you are now in the present. You should always apply your mind to the present so that you may advance on the way.” In the Anguttara Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Oh Bhikkhus! Mental volition is what I call action or karma. Having volition one acts by body, speech and thought.” In the Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: “Of all dharmas, mind is the forerunner, mind is chief. We are what we think, we have become what we thought (what we are today came from our thoughts of yesterday). If we speak or act with a deluded mind or evil thoughts, suffering or pain follows us, as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox (Dharmapada 1). Of all dharmas, mind is the forerunner, mind is chief. We are what we think, we have become what we thought. If we speak or act with a pure mind or thought, happiness and joy follows us, as our own shadow that never leaves (Dharmapada 2). The deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives, weeping, with tearful face; one reaps the fruit thereof (Dhammapada 67). The deed is well done when, after having done it, one repents not, and when, with joy and pleasure, one reaps the fruit thereof (Dhammapada 68). As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is as sweet as honey; but when it ripens, then he comes to grief (Dhammapada 69). Those Arhats whose mind is calm, whose speech and deed are calm. They have also obtained right knowing, they have thus become quiet men (Dhammapada 96). Let’s hasten up to do good. Let’s restrain our minds from evil thoughts, for the minds of those who are slow in doing good actions delight in evil (Dhammapada 116). If a person commits evil, let him not do it again and again; he should not rejoice therein, sorrow is the outcome of evil (Dhammapada 117). If a person does a meritorious deed, he should do it habitually, he should find pleasures therein, happiness is the outcome of merit (Dhammapada 118). Even an evil-doer sees good as long as evil deed has not yet ripened; but when his evil deed has ripened, then he sees the evil results (Dhammapada 119). Even a good person sees evil as long as his good deed has not yet ripened; but when his good deed has ripened, then he sees the good results (Dhammapada 120). Do not disregard (underestimate) small evil, saying, “it will not matter to me.” By the falling of drop by drop, a water-jar is filled; likewise, the fool becomes full of evil, even if he gathers it little by little (Dhammapada 121). Do not disregard small good, saying, “it will not matter to me.” Even by the falling of drop by drop, a water-jar is filled; likewise, the wise man, gathers his merit little by little (Dhammapada 122). An evil deed is better not done, a misdeed will bring future suffering. A good deed is better done now, for after doing it one does not grieve (Dhammapada 314). All conditioned things are without a real self. One who perceives this with wisdom, ceases grief and achieves liberation. This is the path of purity.” (Dharmapada 279).”
According to the Earth-Store Bodhisattva Sutra, the Earth-Store Bodhisattva advises sentient beings based on their circumstances: “If Earth Store Bodhisattva meets those who take life, he speaks of a retribution of a short lifespan. If he meets robbers and petty thieves, he speaks of a retribution of poverty and acute suffering. If he meets those who commit sexual misconduct, he speaks of the retribution of being born as pigeons and as mandrin ducks and drakes. If he meets those of harsh speech, he speaks of the retribution of a quarreling family. If he meets slanderers, he speaks of the retribution of a tongueless and cankerous mouth. If he meets those with anger and hatred, he speaks of being ugly and crippled. If he meets those who are stingy, he speaks of frustrated desires. If he meets gluttons, he speaks of the retribution of hunger, thirst and sicknesses (illnesses) of the throat. If he meets those who enjoy hunting, he speaks of a frightening insanity and disastrous fate. If he meets those who rebel against their parens, he speaks of the retribution of being killed in natural disasters. If he meets those who set fire to mountains or forests, he speaks of the retribution of seeking to commit suicide in the confusion of insanity. If he meets malicious parents or step-parents, he speaks of the retribution of being flogged in future lives. If he meets those who net and trap young animals, he speaks of the retribution of being separated from their own children. If he meets those who slander the Triple Jewel, he speaks of the retribution of being blind, deaf or mute. If he meets those who slight the Dharma and regard the teachings with arrogance, he speaks of the retribution of dwelling in the evil paths forever. If he meets those who destroy or misuse possessions of the permanently dwelling, he speaks of the retribution of revolving in the hells for millions of kalpas. If he meets those wo defile the pure conduct of others and falsely accuse the Sangha, he speaks of the retribution of an eternity in the animal realm. If he meets those who scald, burn, behead, chop up or othewise harm living beings, he speaks of the retribution of repayment in kind. If he meets those who violate precepts and the regulations of pure eating, he speaks of the retribution of being born as birds and beasts suffering from hunger and thirst. If he meets those who are arrogant and haughty, he speaks of the retribution of being servile and of low classes. If he meets those whose double-tongued behavior causes dissension and discord, he speaks of retribution of tonguelessness (being mute) and speech impediments. If he meets those of deviant view, he speaks of the retribution of rebirth in the frontier regions.
65. Karma of the Body
According to Buddhism, man is “Pancakkhandha”. The physical body is produced from the essence of food which is a combination of multiple conditions in the world, digested by the father communicated to the mother and established in the womb. Such a person is conditioned by this physical and mental world. he relates closely to others, to society, and to nature, but can never exist by himself. The five aggregates of man are the operation of the twelve elements. Among which, aggregate of form is understood as a person’s physical body, aggregate of feeling includes feelings of suffering, of happiness, and of indifference. It is known as feelings arising from eye contact, ear contact, nose contact, tongue contact, body contact and mind contact. Aggregate of perception includes perception of body, of sound, of odor, of taste, of touch, and of mental objects or phenomena. Aggregate of activities is all mental, oral, and bodily activities. It is also understood as vocational acts occasioned by body, by sound, by odor, by taste, by touching or by ideas. Aggregate of consciousness includes eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind consciousnesses. In the Turning the Dharma-Cakra Sutra, the Buddha taught very clearly about the Pancakkhandha as follows: “Bhiksus, the form, feeling, perception, activities, and consciousness are impermanent, suffering, and void of the self. Let us examine the body and mind to see whether in either of them we can locate the self, we will find in neither of of them. Then, the so-called “Self” is just a term for a collection of physical and mental factors. Let us first look at the aggregate matter of form. The aggregate of form corresponds to what we would call material or physical factors. It includes not only our own bodies, but also the material objects that surround us, i.e., houses, soil, forests, and oceans, and so on. However, physical elements by themselves are not enough to produce experience. The simple contact between the eyes and visible objects, or between the ear and sound cannot result in experience without consciousness. Only the co-presence of consciousness together with the sense of organ and the object of the sense organ produces experience. In other words, it is when the eyes, the visible object and consciousness come together that the experience of a visible object is produced. Consciousness is therefore an extremely important element in the production of experience. Consciousness or the sixth sense, or the mind. This sense organ together with the other five sense organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body to produce experience. The physical and mental factors of experience worked together to produce personal experience, and the nature of the five aggregates are in constant change. Therefore, according to the Buddha’s teachings, the truth of a man is selfless. The body and mind that man misunderstands of his ‘self’ is not his self, it is not his , and he is not it.” Devout Buddhists should grasp this idea firmly to establish an appropriate method of cultivation not only for the body, but also for the speech and mind.
According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, Vimalakirti used expedient means of appearing illness in his body to expound about sentient beings’ bodies and the Buddha’s body to save them. Because of his indisposition, kings, ministers, elders, upasakas, Brahmins, et., as well as princes and other officials numbering many thousands came to enquire after his health. So Vimalakirti appeared in his sick body to receive and expound the Dharma to them, saying: “Virtuous ones, the human body is impermanent; it is neither strong nor durable; it will decay and is, therefore, unreliable. It causes anxieties and sufferings, being subject to all kinds of ailments. Virtuous ones, all wise men do not rely on this body which is like a mass of foam, which is intangible. It is like a bubble and does not last for a long time. It is like a flame and is the product of the thirst of love. It is like a banana tree, the centre of which is hollow. It is like an illusion being produced by inverted thoughts. It is like a dream being formed by fasle views. It is like a shadow and is caused by karma. This body is like an echo for it results from causes and conditions. It is like a floating cloud which disperses any moment. It is like lightning for it does not stay for the time of a thought. It is ownerless for it is like the earth. It is egoless for it is like fire (that kills itself). It is transient like the wind. It is not human for it is like water. It is unreal and depends on the four elements for its existence. It is empty, being neither ego nor its object. It is without knowledge like grass, trees and potsherds. It is not the prime mover, but is moved by the wind (of passions). It is impure and full of filth. It is false, and though washed, bathed, clothed and fed, it will decay and die in the end. It is a calamity being subject to all kinds of illnesses and sufferings. It is like a dry well for it is prusued by death. It is unsettled and will pass away. It is like a poisonous snake, a deadly enemy, a temporary assemblage (without underlying reality), being made of the five aggregates, the twelve entrances (the six organs and their objects) and the eighteen realms of sense (the six organs, their objects and their perceptions). However, when Manjusri Bodhisattva asked Vimalakirti about “what should a Bodhisattva say when comforting another Bodhisattva who falls ill?” Vimalakirti replied, “He should speak of the impermanence of the body but never of the abhorrence and relinquishment of the body. He should speak of the suffering body but never of the joy in nirvana. He should speak of egolessness in the body while teaching and guiding all living beings (in spite of the fact that they are fundamentally non-existent in the absolute state). He should speak of the voidness of the body but should never cling to the ultimate nirvana. He should speak of repentance of past sins but should avoid slipping into the past. Because of his own illness he should take pity on all those who are sick. Knowing that he has suffered during countless past aeons he should think of the welfare of all living beings. He should think of his past practice of good virtues to uphold (his determination for) right livelihood. Instead of worrying about troubles (klesa) he should give rise to zeal and devotion (in his practice of the Dharma). He should act like a king physician to cure others’ illnesses. Thus a Bodhisattva should comfort another sick Bodhisattva to make him happy.” A sick Bodhisattva should look into all things in this way. He should further meditate on his body which is impermanent, is subject to suffering and is non-existent and egoless; this is called wisdom. Although his body is sick he remains in (the realm of) birth and death for the benefit of all (living beings) without complaint; this is called expedient method (upaya). Manjusri! He should further meditate on the body which is inseparable from illness and on illness which is inherent in the body because sickness and the body are neither new nor old; this is called wisdom. The body, though ill, is not to be annihilated; this is the expedient method (for remaining in the world to work for salvation). “Virtuous ones, the (human) body being so repulsive, you should seek the Buddha body. Why? Because the Buddha body is called Dharmakaya, the product of boundless merits and wisdom; the outcome of discipline, meditation, wisdom, liberation and perfect knowledge of liberation; the result of kindness, compassion, joy and indifference (to emotions); the consequence of (the six perfections or paramitas) charity, discipline, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom, and the sequel of expedient teaching (upaya); the six supernatural powers; the three insights; the thirty-seven stages contributory to enlightenment; serenity and insight; the ten transcendental powers (dasabala); the four kinds of fearlessness; the eighteen unsurpassed characteristics of the Buddha; the wiping out of all evils and the performance of all good deeds; truthfulness, and freedom from looseness and unrestraint. So countless kinds of purity and cleanness produce the body of the Tathagata. Virtuous ones, if you want to realize the Buddha body in order to get rid of all the illnesses of a living being, you should set your minds on the quest of supreme enlightenment (anuttara-samyak-sambodhi).”
All things have changed and will never cease to change. The human body is changeable, thus governed by the law of impermanence. Our body is different from the minute before to that of the minute after. Biological researches have proved that the cells in our body are in constant change, and in every seven years all the old cells have been totally renewed. These changes help us quickly grow up, age and die. The longer we want to live, the more we fear death. From childhood to aging, human life is exactly like a dream, but there are many people who do not realize; therefore, they continue to launch into the noose of desire; as a result, they suffer from greed and will suffer more if they become attached to their possessions. Sometimes at time of death they still don’t want to let go anything. There are some who know that they will die soon, but they still strive desperately to keep what they cherish most. However, of all precious jewels, life is the greatest; if there is life, it is the priceless jewel. Thus, if you are able to maintain your livelihood, someday you will be able to rebuild your life. However, everything in life, if it has form characteristics, then, inevitably, one day it will be destroyed. A human life is the same way, if there is life, there must be death. Even though we say a hundred years, it passes by in a flash, like lightening streaking across the sky, like a flower’s blossom, like the image of the moon at the bottom of a lake, like a short breath, what is really eternal? Sincere Buddhists should always remember when a person is born, not a single dime is brought along; therefore, when death arrives, not a word will be taken either. A lifetime of work, putting the body through pain and torture in order to accumulate wealth and possessions, in the end everything is worthless and futile in the midst of birth, old age, sickness, and death. After death, all possessions are given to others in a most senseless and pitiful manner. At such time, there are not even a few good merits for the soul to rely and lean on for the next life. Therefore, such an individual will be condemned into the three evil paths immediately. Ancient sages taught: “A steel tree of a thousand years once again blossom, such a thing is still not bewildering; but once a human body has been lost, ten thousand reincarnations may not return.” Sincere Buddhists should always remember what the Buddha taught: “It is difficult to be reborn as a human being, it is difficult to encounter (meet or learn) the Buddha-dharma; now we have been reborn as a human being and encountered the Buddha-dharma, if we let the time passes by in vain we waste our scarce lifespan.” Thus, the Buddha advised His disciples to cultivate in every minute and every second of the current life. According to the Kayagatasati-Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, cultivation of mindfulness of the body means when walking, a person understands that he is walking; when standing, he understands that he is standing; when sitting, he understands that he is sitting; when lying, he understands that he is lying. He understands accordingly however his body is disposed. As he abides thus diligent, ardent, and resolute, his memories and intentions based on the household life are abandoned. That is how a person develops mindfulness of the body.
The body itself is a very good object in Cultivation and in Meditation. The body regarded as a field which produces good and evil fruit in the future existence. According to Buddhism, in order to produce wholesome fruit, devout Buddhists should put themselves in harmony with Nature and the natural laws which govern the universe. This harmony arises through charity, generosity, love, and wisdom, for they are the causes of unselfishness, sympathy and altruism, compassion and equnimity, humanity and goodwill, renunciation and serenity. The first goal of meditation practices is to realize the true nature of the body and to be non-attached to it. Most people identify themselves with their bodies. However, after a period of time of meditation practices, we will no longer care to think of yourself as a body, we will no longer identify with the body. At that time, we will begin to see the body as it is. It is only a series of physical and mental process, not a unity; and we no longer mistake the superficial for the real. Mindfulness of your body in daily life activities, such as mindfulness of your body while walking, standing, lying, sitting, looking at someone, looking around the environments, bending, stretching, dressing, washing, eating, drinking, chewing, talking, etc. The purpose of mindfulness is to pay attention to your behavior, but not to run after any events.
66. The Karma of the Mouth
Karma of the mouth is one of the three karmas. The other two are karma of the body and of the mind. The others are karma of the body (thân nghiệp) and karma of thought (ý nghiệp). According to the Buddha’s teachings, the karmic consequences of speech karma are much greater than the karmic consequences of the mind and the body karma because when thoughts arise, they are not yet apparent to everyone; however, as soon as words are spoken, they will be heard immediately. Using the body to commit evil can sometimes be impeded. The thing that should be feared is false words that come out of a mouth. As soon as a wicked thought arises, the body has not supported the evil thought, but the speech had already blurted out vicious slanders. The body hasn’t time to kill, but the mind already made the threats, the mind just wanted to insult, belittle, or ridicule someone, the body has not carried out any drastic actions, but the speech is already rampant in its malicious verbal abuse, etc. The mouth is the gate and door to all hatred and revenge; it is the karmic retribution of of the Avichi Hell; it is also the great burning oven destroying all of one’s virtues and merits. Therefore, ancients always reminded people: “Diseases are from the mouth, and calamities are also from the mouth.” If wickedness is spoken, then one will suffer unwholesome karmic retributions; if goodness is spoken, then one will reap the wholesome karmic retributions. If you praise others, you shall be praised. If you insult others, you shall be insulted. It’s natural that what you sow is what you reap. We should always remember that the “theory of karmic retributions” is flawless, and then courageously take responsibility by cultivating so karmic transgressions will be eliminated gradually, and never blame Heaven nor blaming others. The evil karma of speech is the mightiest. We must know that evil speech is even more dangerous than fire because fire can only destroy all material possessions and treasures of this world, but the firece fire of evil speech not only burns all the Seven Treasures of Enlightened beings and all virtues of liberation, but it will also reflect on the evil karma vipaka in the future.
Zen Practitioners Should Always Remember the Ancients and Saintly beings’ Teachings about the karma of the mouth. Mouth chanting Buddha Recitation or any Buddha is like excreting precious jewels and gemstones and will have the consequence of being born in Heaven or the Buddhas’ Purelands. Mouth speaking good and wholesomely is like praying exquisite fragrances and one will attain all that was said to people. Mouth encouraging, teaching, and aiding people is like emitting beautiful lights, destroying the false and ignorant speech and dark minds for others and for self. Mouth speaking truths and honesty is like using valuable velvets to give warmth to those who are cold. Mouth speaking without benefits for self or others is like chewing on sawdust; it is like so much better to be quiet and save energy. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say, it is best not to say anything at all. Mouth lying to ridicule others is like using paper as a cover for a well, killing travelers who fall into the well because they were not aware, or setting traps to hurt and murder others. Mouth joking and poking fun is like using words and daggers to wave in the market place, someone is bound to get hurt or die as a result. Mouth speaking wickedness, immorality, and evil is like spitting foul odors and must endure evil consequences equal to what was said. Mouth speaking vulgarly, crudely, and uncleanly is like spitting out worms and maggots and will face the consequences of hell and animal life.
Zen practitioners should always remember to develop the mind to be frightened and then try to guard our speech-karma. Zen practitioners should always remember that mouth speaking without benefits for self or others is like chewing on sawdust; it is so much better to be quiet and save energy. It is to say if you don’t have anything nice to say, it is best not to say anything at all. Mouth lying to ridicule others is like using paper as a cover for a well, killing travellers who fall into the well because they were not aware. It is similar to setting traps to hurt and murder others. Mouth joking and poking fun is like using swords and daggers to wave in the market place, someone is bound to get hurt or die as the result. Mouth speaking of wickedness, immorality, and evil is like spitting foul odors and must endure evil consequences equal to what was said. Mouth speaking vulgarly, foully, uncleanly is like spitting out worms and maggots and will face the consequences of the three evil paths from hells, hungry ghosts to animals.
Zen practitioners should always remember that if we cannot cease our karma of the mouth, we should try to develop the good ones. A saying can lead people to love and respect you for the rest of your life; also a saying can lead people to hate, despite, and become an enemy for an entire life. A saying can lead to a prosperous and successful life; also a saying can lead to the loss of all wealth and possessions. A saying can lead to a greatly enduring nation; also a saying can lead to the loss and devastation of a nation. Mouth speaking good and wholesomely is like spraying exquisite fragrances and one will attain all that was said to people. Mouth encouraging, teaching, and aiding people is like emitting beautiful lights, destroying the false and ignorant speech and dark minds of the devil and false cultivators. Mouth speaking of truths and honesty is like using valuable velvets to give warmth to those who are cold. The spoken words of saints, sages, and enlightened beings of the past were like gems and jewels, leaving behind much love, esteem, and respect from countless people for thousands of years into the future. As for Zen practitioners nowadays, if we cannot speak words like jewels and gems, then it is best to remain quiet, be determined not to toss out words that are wicked and useless.
67. The Karma of the Mind
The function of mind or thought, one of the three kinds of karma (thought, word, and deed). Compared to the karma of the mouth, karma of the mind is difficult to establish, thought has just risen within the mind but has not take appearance, or become action; therefore, transgressions have not formed. Vijnanas does not depend on any of the five sense faculties, but on the immediately preceding continuum of mind. Mental consciousness apprehends not only objects (form, sound, taste, smell, touch) in the present time, but it also apprehends objects in the past and imagines objects even in the future. Mental consciousness will go with us from one life to another, while the first five consciousnesses are our temporary minds. Consciousness is also one of the five skandhas.
Zen Practitioners should always Remember that this Mind is Impermanent, but this Mind itself is the Main Factor that causes us to Drift in the Samsara, and it is this Mind that helps us return to the Nirvana. Not only our body is changeable, but also our mind. It changes more rapidly than the body, it changes every second, every minute according to the environment. We are cheerful a few minutes before and sad a few minutes later, laughing then crying, happiness then sorrow. Some people wonder why Buddhism always emphasizes the theory of impermanence? Does it want to spread in the human mind the seed of disheartenment, and discourage? In their view, if things are changeable, we do not need to do anything, because if we attain a great achievement, we cannot keep it. This type of reasoning, a first, appears partly logical, but in reality, it is not at all. When the Buddha preached about impermanence, He did not want to discourage anyone, but warning his disciples about the truth. A true Buddhist has to work hard for his own well being and also for the society’s. Although he knows that he is facing the changing reality, he always keeps himself calm. He must refrain from harming others, in contrast, strive to perform good deeds for the benefit and happiness of others.
68. Ten Evil Actions
All karmas are controlled by the threefold deed (body, speech, and mind). Three deeds of the body, four deeds of the mouth, and three deeds of the mind. There are three evil karmas on action of the body (Kaya Karma). The first evil action of the body is killing. Killing means to take the life of any beings, including human or animal. Killing means the destruction of any living being including animals of all kinds. To complete the offence of killing, five conditions are necessary: a being, consciousness that it is a being, intention of killing, effort of killing, and consequent death. The second evil action of the body is stealing. All forms of acquiring for onself that which belongs to another. To complete the offence of stealing, five conditions are necessary: property of other people, consciousness that it is stealing, intention of stealing, effort of stealing, and consequent stealing. The second evil action of the body is sexual misconduct. All forms of sex-indulgence, by action or thoughts wants. To complete the offence of sexual misconduct, three conditions are necessary: intent to enjoy the forbidden object, efforts of enjoyment of the object, and possession of the object. The evil karma of speech is the mightiest. We must know that evil speech is even more dangerous than fire because fire can only destroy all material possessions and treasures of this world, but the firece fire of evil speech not only burns all the Seven Treasures of Enlightened beings and all virtues of liberation, but it will also reflect on the evil karma vipaka in the future. There are four evil karmas on action of the mouth (vac karma). The first evil action of the speech is “lying”. To complete the offence of lying, four conditions are necessary: untruth, intention to deceive, effort of lying, and communication of the matter to others. The second evil action of the speech is insulting or coarsing abusuve language. The third evil action of the speech is gossiping and frivolous chattering. The fourth evil action of the speech is to slander or Speak with a double-tongue; or to speak ill of one friend to another. There are three evil karmas on action of the mind (moras karma). First, greed or covetousness, second, hatred or loss of temper profanity, and third, ignorance.
According to the Theravadan Buddhism, there are ten evil actions. All karmas are controlled by the threefold deed (body, speech, and mind). Three deeds of the body, four deeds of the mouth, and three deeds of the mind: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slandering, harsh language, greed, ill-will, and wrong views. First, taking the life of any beings, including human or animal. Killing means the destruction of any living being including animals of all kinds. To complete the offence of killing, five conditions are necessary: a being, consciousness that it is a being, intention of killing, effort of killing, and consequent death. Second, Stealing, all forms of acquiring for onself that which belongs to another. To complete the offence of stealing, five conditions are necessary: property of other people, consciousness that it is stealing, intention of stealing, effort of stealing, and consequent stealing. Third, sexual misconduct, including all forms of sex-indulgence, by action or thoughts wants. To complete the offence of sexual misconduct, three conditions are necessary: intent to enjoy the forbidden object, efforts of enjoyment of the object, and possession of the object. Fourth, lying or telling lie. To complete the offence of lying, four conditions are necessary: untruth, intention to deceive, effort, and communication of the matter to others. Fifth, slandering (to slander or speak with a double-tongue or to speak ill of one friend to another). To complete the offence of slandering, five conditions are necessary: division of people, intention to separate people, effort of division, and communication. Sixth, harsh language. The effects of harsh language are being detested by others although blameless. To complete the offence of harsh language, three conditions are necessary: someone to be abused, angry thought, and using abusive or harsh language. Seventh, frivolous talk and the effects of frivolous talk are disorderliness of the bodily organs and unacceptable speech. To complete the offence of frivolous talk, two conditions are necessary: inclination towards frivolous talk and speaking of frivolous talk. The evil karma of speech is the mightiest. We must know that evil speech is even more dangerous than fire because fire can only destroy all material possessions and treasures of this world, but the firece fire of evil speech not only burns all the Seven Treasures of Enlightened beings and all virtues of liberation, but it will also reflect on the evil karma vipaka in the future. Eighth, greed or covetousness. To complete the offence of covetousness, two conditions are necessary: another’s property and desire for another’s property. Ninth, ill-will. To complete the offence of ill-will, two conditions are necessary: another being and i intention of doing harm. Tenth, false view, which means seeing things wrongly without understanding what they truly are. To complete this false view two conditions are necessary: perverted manner in which an object is viewed and misunderstanding of the object according to that wrong view. Therefore, the Buddha taught: “Devout Buddhists should always remember in mind the followings: not to kill, not to steal, not to fornicate, not to lie, not to polish your words for personal advantages, not to slander nor double-tongued, not to use harsh speech (not be of evil speech), not to crave (desire—Greed), not to be angry, and not to be ignorant (Stupid) or wrong views.”
69. Karma Process
Karmas remain in two bases: in the continuum of the mind and in the “I” or the relative “Self”. When we act, either good or bad, we see our own actions, like an outsider who witnesses. The pictures of these actions will automatically imprint in our Alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind); the seed of these actions are sown there, and await for enough conditions to spring up its tree and fruits. Similarly, the effect in the alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind) of the one who has received our actions. The seed of either love or hate has been sown there, waiting for enough conditions to spring up its tree and fruits. The karma-process itself is karma-process becoming. The karma should be understood as becoming. The karma-process becoming in brief is both volition also and the states covetousness, etc., associated with the volition and reckoned as karma too. Karma-process becoming consists of the formation of merit, the formation of demerit, the formation of the imperturbable, either with a small (limited) plane or with a large plane. All karmas that lead to becoming are called karma-process becoming.
According to The Mind-Only School, apart from the obstacles caused by external factors, there are three other causes of karmic obstructions. The first cause is the reaction of evil karmic seeds. Various evil and wholesome karmic seeds are stored randomly in our Alaya consciousness. When we recite the Buddha’s name or meditate, we accumulate the seeds of transcendental virtue, and therefore, evil karmic seeds have to emerge. For example, if a dense forest full of wild beasts is cleared for habitation, trees and shrubs are cut down, causing these beasts to flee out of the forest. The development of afflictions and obstacles from evil karmic seeds is similar. The second cause is the creating obstacles for themselves due to lack of full understanding of the Dharma. There are cultivators who practice without fully understanding the Dharma, not realizing that the manifestations of the inner mind and the environment are illusory nor discovering what is true and what is false. They therefore have wrong views. Because of this, they develop thoughts of attachment, happiness, love, worry and fear, creating obstacles for themselves when they are faced with objects and conditions within themselves or in the outside world. The third cause is not flexible and patient. Take the case of a man who follows a map, hoping to find a gold mind. The path that he takes crosses high mountains, deep ravines, empty open stretches and dense forests, an itinerary naturally requiring much labor, hardship and adversity. If his mind is not steady, and he does not adapt himself to the circumstances and his own strength, he is bound to retrogress. Alternatively, he may abandon his search, stop at some temporary location, or even lose his life enroute. The path of cultivation is the same. Although the practitioner may follow the sutras, if he is not flexible and patient, ready to change according to his own strength and circumstances, and if his determination is weak, he will certainly fail. This obstacle, in the end, is created by himself alone.
The Buddha taught: “If someone give us something, but we refuse to accept. Naturally, that person will have to keep what they plan to give. This means our pocket is still empty.” Similarly, if we clearly understand that karmas or our own actions will be stored in the alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind) for us to carry over to the next lives, we will surely refuse to store any more karma in the ‘subconscious mind’ pocket. When the ‘subconscious mind’ pocket is empty, there is nothing for us to carry over. That means we don’t have any result of either happiness or suffering. As a result, the cycle of birth and eath comes to an end, the goal of liberation is reached. Once the Great Radiance of the Buddha-Dharma shines on us, it can remove the three obstructions. For all the bad karma created in the past are based upon beginningless greed, hatred, and stupidity; and born of body, mouth and mind. Even in a hundred thousand eons, the karma we create does not perish. When the conditions come together, we must still undergo the retribution ourlseves. This is to say the karma we create is sure to bring a result, a corresponding retribution. It is only a matter of time. it depends on whether the conditions have come together or not. Sincere Buddhists should always believe that once the great radiance of the Buddha-Dharma shines on us, it can remove the three obstructions and reveal our original pure mind and nature, just as the clouds disperse to reveal the moon.
70. Who is Responsible for Our Karma?
Some people say “I am not responsible for what I am because everything, including my brain, nature, and physical constitution, partake of the nature of my parents.” It’s no doubt that our parents and ancestors must be responsible for some of the nature of their descendants, but the majority of other characteristics is the responsibility of the descendants themselves because beings coming into existence with their own karma that they have produced in their past lives. Moreover, the self that exists after one’s childhood is the effect of the karma that one has produced oneself in this world. So the responsibility of one’s parents is very limited. The idea of karma teaches us clearly that one will reap the fruits of what he has sown. Supposed that we are unhappy at present; we are apt to lose our temper and express discontent if we attribute our unhappiness to others. But if we consider our present unhappiness to be the effect of our own deeds in the past, we can accept it and take responsibility for it. Besides such acceptance, hope for the future wells up strongly in our hearts: “The more good karma I accumulate, the happier I will become and the better recompense I will receive. All right, I will accumulate much more good karma in the future.” We should not limit this idea only to the problems of human life in this world. We can also feel hope concerning the traces of our lives after death. For those who do not know the teachings of the Buddha, nothing is so terrible as death. Everyone fears it. But if we truly realize the meaning of karma-result, we can keep our composure in the face of death because we can have hope for our next life. When we do not think only of ourselves but realize that the karma produced by our own deeds exerts an influence upon our descendants, we will naturally come to feel responsible for our deeds. We will also realize that we, as parents, must maintain a good attitude in our daily lives in order to have a favorable influence or recompense upon our children. We will feel strongly that we must always speak to our children correctly and bring them up properly and with affection.
We have done these ourselves, then told others to do them. We know that killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants are improper ways to behave that causes bad karmas. These offenses are divided into four aspects: causes, conditions, dharmas, and karma. For example, with killing, there are the causes of killing, the conditions of killing, the dharmas of killing, and the karma of killing. In any of these aspects, one either personally commits the offenses, or tells someone else to do it. Doing things ourselves means that we personally engage in the improper deeds. While telling others to do things means encouraging and inciting others to do improper things. This way of indirectly committing an offense is more serious than directly committing it, because the offense of fraud is adding to the original offense. Thus, if we do it ourlseves, it’s already an offense, but if we tell others to do it, the offense is even greater. We create Karma by “Rejoicing at seeing and hearing it done”. “Rejoicing at seeing and hearing it done” means we know someone else is committing an offense, and we help that person to do it. Doing things ourselves means that we personally engage in the improper deeds. While Rejoicing at seeing and hearing it done means seeing and hearing it done, then encouraging and inciting others to do improper things. Similarly, this way of indirectly committing an offense is more serious than directly committing it, because the offense of fraud is adding to the original offense. Thus, if we do it ourlseves, it’s already an offense, but if we tell others to do it, the offense is even greater. Devout Buddhists should always remember that the Buddha, parents, monks and nuns, sutras, and dharma friends, etc… are all that we need on our way to liberation because we have to learn a lot, have to keep precepts strictly, and have to find an appropriate environment for practicing meditation. But only ourselves can watch our mind, and only ourselves can wipe out the three poisons of desire, hatred and ignorance that have been binding us in the cycle of rebirth since the beginningless time. The Buddha pointed out the Way, but we have to do the walking on the path of our liberation!