One way that I can take fuller responsibility for my life, my past and my present is to acknowledge the fact that the being who is sitting here writing this, is the composite total of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life. My decisions. My life.
There’s no way around that. I’ve tried. What about all that stuff that just happened in my life; that I had no control over? That just happens?
Nothing “just happens”. Everything has a cause and there is an effect or consequence for every cause. Inescapable. Action results in a consequence. Actions of thought, speech and body. Everything we do produces a consequence. Our intentions may be good, but the consequence is bad. Our intention may be bad but the result primarily, or secondarily, is good and everything in between.
We are now living in a world of consequences that are the results of many people agreeing that certain actions were good to do at some time in the past. That we could not foresee the future result of our actions does not erase the consequence.
Good for everybody. Good for the company. Good for the country, the team, the group, the farm the town, the family, the kids, dogs and cats…Blah, blah, blah…
And now we say, WTF?…Who started all this mess?…They did it!!
No! We did it.
We set things in motion and when there are consequences we feel that those are disconnected from out original plans, schemes and designs, and especially intentions.
That’s why I say we are the result of choices we have made throughout our lives, but we’d rather not acknowledge that our poor choices (decisions), in life put us where we are today. And, our good choices and decisions also put us into the life we live. The hard part is being honest about our recollection regarding our motives and intentions when we set stuff in motion.
So, how does that bit of news become an actionable aspect of our spiritual and mundane lives?
It allows us to have perspective on how we fit into this design or constant flow.
A friend of mine calls the law of karma a form of original sin. That’s like saying the law of gravity is like original sin because it restricts out ability to just fly whenever we want to. Not quite.
The law of gravity is a teacher. BTW, no one in any science knows what gravity is. They know how it behaves and its effects, but they don’t know what it is. Magnetic force describes what it does but not what makes it be the way it is. The same is true of regular glass, to call it anomalous liquid is a description of some behaviors and properties but doesn’t actually say what it is in relation to everything else. There are huge mysteries in the everyday, yet we feel we need to know whether the universe is actually expanding, and if so, is it at the rate currently popular most circles? I know, different branches of enquiry, but…
The behavior of gravity compels us to pay attention to what it does. I’m careful going down the stairs and I don’t step off a two (or one), story roof. The behaviour of karma is similar in a sense. It may be too complex to diagram just how it works, collects and distributes; but I can see, if I look carefully, when I set anything in motion there is a result/consequence. I should therefore bring a heightened awareness when setting things in motion. Actually that’s not a bad description of Buddhist practice.
So, I’m still having to see the past things I’ve set into motion producing consequence in my current life and I have to see the patterns wherein I can help actively and those where I can stay still, and just observe and see the rising and falling of things.
The universe doesn’t sit on my shoulders, but I do have shoulders. Heck, there’s probably a mini-religion based on that concept(?).
So, if there is any point or purpose to the above it probably has to do with everything is in flux and we can participate because it is a flow. Not chaos. To participate is to ease the flowing by creating less impediments (negative karma created by flawed views of reality).
A paraphrase of Nagarajuna, sent to me some years ago by a monk friend/teacher out of compassion for my confusion at that time (my wife’s dying), was this…
“Everyone dislikes suffering, yet fools that we are, we rush towards its source.”