I was having a conversation with someone this past weekend and was surprised again at the truth of the old saying. “When you presume, you make a ‘pre’ out of ‘su’ and ‘me’…or something like that.
Anyway, I had assumed (Oh, that’s it!), that this person understood some basic aspects of Buddhism, like karma. My presumption was based on the fact that they had studied at a Buddhisty school in Colorado. Apparently basic Buddhism was not part of requirement to attend (1st presumption), so they hadn’t a clue as to what Karma was; the general misunderstanding that’s current in the West, is thinking that it is a sort of fate or destiny.
I tried explaining (probably ‘mansplainin’), that the word Karma has a sense of “action” or volition to it, and that all Karma produces an effect or consequence. In other words, everything we do, say, or even think intentionally, has a consequence somewhere.
And, that all karma is reaped through feeling alone.
So, in that sense it is an actually useful/helpful way for us to learn how to behave with fewer consequences, through reduction of unhelpful actions on our part.
It’s really quite simple. Except for the fact that this simple teaching has to be learned and apprehended by us humans (we who come pre-packaged and pre-disposed to act on feelings), often with only a small dose of reasoning as input. Lots of rationalizing though.
As I was driving through the Blue Mountain early Sunday morning, I was thinking about that presumption of mine and some of the aspects of karma, and the teachings that it flows from.
We are born un-sinful, mostly pure; but, contain some karma that has been left over from some previous time. Good karma and bad karma are usually bundled in some fashion into every birth, so we have tendencies and proclivities from day one. After age 5-7, we become further formed by school, environment, family, culture and society so that we start adding more karma to the mix we came with and this process continues. At death a remix occurs to be distributed onward to other beings. From a Buddhist point of view, a life that is lived more harmoniously, equanimously, and easily with other beings and the world, leaves less karma that will need future help ‘downstream’.
Most of us are just slightly aware of this and live life at the expense of others and the world. So, we grow older and crabbier, and more confused, sometimes ungraciously; because we haven’t been able to see past our own noses. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just an unexamined thing. Human.
So, we may die in distress and wish it were otherwise, or had been otherwise, etc:
To get back to the Blue Mountains.
7:00-ish is beautiful and all was at peace. The reality is that all of that beauty may be converted to ash by the time the rainy season starts. Now that’s always been the reality. but now we can sense the higher probability of that happening. We accept the fact that we are personally dying and life gets more difficult as we age, that has its own difficulty.
But, how do young healthy people accept the fact that they will die young and uncomfortably, because of the carelessness of those that came before them? It wasn’t done on purpose, it was just a build-up of un-examined actions and un-intended consequences and the delusions that motivate most of us. All build-ups are composed of small, seemingly insignificant things being added to the pile of whatever
We are dealing in widespread consequence of greed and selfishness, and most of that was wrapped up in good intentions. It’s the stuff of Shakespear, but we’re all in this particular tragedy set in motion by the various greeds.
In the meantime, we all still have the same options before us, how can we actually help the situation. Like someone said. It ain’t over ’til its over.
and, it is never too late to
accept and let down the
fence around the heart
how can any one help
any one can start now
i want to start here,
now flows thru it