Cause and Effect

I got an interesting email from a friend a few days back about cause and effect. No, I am not talking about Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Cause and Effect which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, it does have some similarity. The cause and effect which I am talking about here is Karma. According to Buddhism, Karma in simple words means ‘whatever you do intentionally to others, a similar thing will happen to yourself in the future.’ And sometimes, the future comes much later and most people tend to question if there is any truth in Karma. If everything is already predestined, then there is nothing we can do to change it? It may or may not be the case. As what Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:

“Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.

So, instead of promoting resigned powerlessness, the early Buddhist notion of karma focused on the liberating potential of what the mind is doing with every moment. Who you are, what you come from, is not anywhere near as important as the mind’s motives for what it is doing right now. Even though the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, our measure as human beings is not the hand we’ve been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we’ve got. If you’re suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. If you see that other people are suffering, and you’re in a position to help, you focus not on their karmic past but your karmic opportunity in the present: Someday you may find yourself in the same predicament that they’re in now, so here’s your opportunity to act in the way you’d like them to act toward you when that day comes.”

Paying it forward? From His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s book Path to Bliss:

“Some people misunderstand the concept of karma. They take the Buddha’s doctrine of the law of causality to mean that all is predetermined, that there is nothing that the individual can do. This is a total misunderstanding. The very term karma or action is a term of active force, which indicates that future events are within your own hands. Since action is a phenomenon that is committed by a person, a living being, it is within your own hands whether or not you engage in action.”

Do you believe in Karma? I do.

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18 thoughts on “Cause and Effect

  1. iris

    I do believe in Karma, it’s hits you when you less expected maybe that’s the negative part of it. that is why i always focus on the positive side so that i get the positive karma.

    iriss last blog post..We Learn From Our Kids

  2. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Iris, yes, sometimes it can hit one unexpectedly. And yet it can be as simple as not doing unto others what one don’t want other to do unto oneself. If we focus on that, it may be easier. πŸ™‚

  3. Tammy Warren

    What a wonderful post. I do believe in Karma. Up until my lately I have never thought about it that much. I have been on a journey to simplify my life. It seems as though good karma is all around me right now. I am loving life right now.

    Tammy Warrens last blog post..Really. Did I just say this?

  4. Brandie

    I think you get what you dish out. If you treat people poorly, expect to be treated poorly. If you treat people with kindness and respect, you will most likely see that in return. If you are giving, your life will be prosperous. If what you do makes you happy, then you will be happy.

    As far as past and present lives, I follow a Christian approach so I don’t really have a reason to believe in it. But just because I don’t believe/follow it doesn’t mean that makes anyone else’s beliefs less valid. I do have questions about it, though. Like, what if one was good in their past life, and then was born into a life of riches? Would their goodness continue, or might they become corrupted and down-graded in their next life?

    I continue to think that your actions largely shape what happens to you, and I guess that could be thought of as a type of “karma”.

    Brandies last blog post..First Days of School, More Piercing and Lots of Dancing

  5. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Tammy, glad to hear that good karma is all around you right now. I believe that it must have come from your past and your present. Future will definitely be brighter.

    @ Brandie, I couldn’t have said it better than you do. It all voice down to reaping what one sowed. If one planted a good seed, one can expect a good seed. One may be born with a life of riches in this life because of goodness that one sowed in the past but it does not guarantee one’s life in the next. What is most important is what one does in present life.

    @ Michael, I’d like to think that karma does apply to animals too. In fact, according to Buddhism, animal is consider one of the forms of reincarnation.

  6. Sherxr

    I used to believe in Karma to explain one needs to do good. Now I don’t.
    I believe a person should do good not so that he expects good things to happen to him. It’s like waiting for a reward. Cause and effect. Give and take.
    I think all humans should do good unto others without expecting anything in return. That should be the way things should work. Pure and simple.

    Sherxrs last blog post..Fancy a Tuna Biscuit?

  7. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Sher, I agree with you on the point that everyone should do good and not be thinking of the good effects that will come out of the good action. It should always be the way how things should work. πŸ™‚

  8. On a Limb with Claudia

    I think that karma is a difficult concept to grasp particularly when we are indoctrinated at such early ages in the puritanical ideals of the United States. I can only hope that it’s as simple as you present!

  9. Michael

    @Sher: I believe that counts for karma. If you expect something in return, that’s being partly selfish, so only half of a reward for you.

  10. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Claudia, indeed it is not an easy concept to grasp and yet it can be just as simple if we just do good unconditionally for the sake of doing good.

    @ Michael, doing good should be unconditionally with no expectation. If there is a certain expectation, then the action would become intentional with a motive and which will negate the motive of doing the good in the first place – which is no motive.

  11. Barbara

    Yes, I believe in Karma. To keep it simple, I tell myself that my thoughts create my life. So, what you think about you bring about. Do good things and kind deeds for others, and the same will happen to you ! There is no room for negativity!

    Barbaras last blog post..Beyond Silliness !

  12. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Renee, the world would definitely be a lot nicer if we show a little more kindness towards others. I agree with the comment by Sher above that one should do good for the sake of good and unconditionally; it should come from within oneself.

    @ Barbara, yes, I do agree with you that thought translates into action. Just as the quotation below:

    The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.
    — Buddha

  13. Brandie

    I’ll take the bible’s stance about waiting for a reward — if you do something just so that others will see what you’ve done and praise you for it, then that’s all the reward you’ll get for it. Sure, it’s nice to be praised and well thought of, but it’s also a bit … empty. Do good things because you’re a good person, and you’ll find your own (everlasting) reward.

    Brandies last blog post..Anheuser Busch Weekend

  14. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Brandie, I agree with you on the point that doing good should be for the sake of good only and there should not be expectation of any rewards; doing good should be unconditional. πŸ™‚

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Ben, perhaps that is the worst that can happen; resigning to one’s fate. We need to know that we have a control of things happening to a great extent and we should do our best to create the future that we want.