Changing Our Karma

Changing Karma 

 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.  

- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from his book: Path to Bliss  

Understanding the universal Law of Karma, rather than being discouraging or overwhelming, can actually be very inspiring and uplifting.  

With a clear understanding of the Law of Karma (cause and effect/causality), we can choose to be the captain of our own ship. We can navigate our life in the exact direction we choose, rather than being tossed about upon the stormy seas of our own ignorance and delusion.  

If we ignore the workings of karma, we tend to create many problems for ourselves and others. However, with this excellent understanding, we have the ability to transform our mind, heart, and life for the better, and we will be able to benefit others as well.  

Changing our karma is not difficult. However, this change does require a very sober realization and acknowledgment—simply that our situation in life is the result of our own actions! According to Buddhist teachings, there is nobody in the universe who is distributing rewards and punishments. We ourselves create the causes of our life experiences by our own thoughts, speech, and actions, and we experience the results. In this way, we can learn to be accountable. We can take full responsibility for our lives. Once we acknowledge that our situation in life is the result of our own actions, we can begin to change our karma.  

To change our karma, we need to understand the unwholesome, negative, and non virtuous actions that bring pain, unhappiness, and suffering. We also need to understand the wholesome, positive, and virtuous actions that bring benefit and happiness. The rest is diligent practice.  

By practicing the essential foundation of the Buddhist Path, morality (personal integrity), we will transform our karma and our life experiences. By understanding the Four Noble Truths and following the Noble Eightfold Path we will transform our karma. By practicing The Six Paramitas (Perfections), we will transform our karma. By cultivating positive, virtuous thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, exercising compassion, loving-kindness, and wisdom in our daily lives, we will transform our karma. By way of this practice, we will change the entire course of our life experience and move swiftly toward liberation.  

The Buddhist teachings of all lineages offer many excellent practices for training the mind, purifying the heart of defilements, and transforming our karmic tendencies. It is wise for us to truly contemplate the workings of karma so that we are not influenced by deluded views of reality.  

Understanding karma and learning to take responsibility for our every thought, word, and action is true sobriety, wisdom, and awakening.

Source: Used with permission from Neil Cohen at Naljor Prison Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067.

Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.