I was reading a book the other day on the Buddhist guide to self-development and finding happiness. Although the first 62 pages I read were eye opening and possibly life changing, pages 63 and onward, really had me hooked. We often hear that karma is a bitch. What goes around comes around, and it’s always in the negative light. But is that all what the law of cause and effect is?
According to Buddha, “the mind is the forerunner of all events“. The core of Buddhism itself is the law of karma. Buddhism believes that every effect has a cause and a condition which combine to make an effect. ALL effects have a cause and a condition, no exception. As David Michie says in his book, ‘Buddhism for Busy People’, every time we put our car key in the ignition, every time we boot up our computer, every time we switch on the kettle, we do so expecting a result. Nothing happens by chance. It is always the effect of something else.
In other words:
When a natural disaster happens, the condition that it arose from is climate change, and climate change is the effect of human destruction, which makes human destruction the cause of the natural disaster.
So, when we want to stop natural disasters, we don’t look at how we can fix climate change, but rather, fix what caused climate change in becoming the condition for that natural disaster. And that is human destruction… US.
As busy people, we tend to focus on the external factors of our lives that make us unhappy; wanting a fast change, a quick result. As Michi explains in his book, we are like the farmer who invests in the best soil-conditioner and fertilizes, installs state-of-the-art irrigation system, then expectantly waits for his crops to grow even though he didn’t plant a single seed.
So, to get to the point:
Being born human is an effect, which means it has a cause. All humans are born into different lives and circumstances, so each life has its own unique cause. In life, some things happen by accident which one does not know the cause of… and that is why we need to ask ourselves why the crops didn’t grow.
“The mind is the forerunner of all events“… every thought, every word, and every action, creates a cause. Michie explains in his book how Buddhism often talks of a ‘mindstream’ rather than the mind. The human mind is not a fixed entity. It is a constant flow of consciousness, clarity, and awareness. From this, we take certain actions which shape our future events and ‘our karmic destiny’.
What I’m trying to say is that it isn’t the condition or circumstances that has some people trapped in a job they hate, a lifestyle they don’t enjoy, or a relationship they are not happy in. It is our mind. Our limited beliefs, and the excuse of doubt; in other words, believing that you “CAN’T“.
The thing about karma is that we have complete control of it. We have the power to create the causes for whatever effects we wish. Many people believe that karma means fate, or something destined to happen. Hence the saying, “karma is a bitch”. Mitchie notes in his book that everyday, we are creating hundreds and thousands of causes, but unless we have good mindfulness, we are not entirely aware of them. And that’s what brings to importance the value of every moment.
It is not the big actions we take that matter. These actions began as an idea in our mind. So it is from the mind that karma arises. To make things more complicated, our thoughts and ideas have become our habit due to the lives and circumstances we grew up in as individuals. As Buddha says:
“The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And 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;
As the shadow follows the body,
as we think so we become.”
And there’s the solution. The present you are in now is not something that happened by chance, it is your past decisions that have shaped your present. So, your future is in your hands. Look at how you think and act in the present, and become what you want your future to be. Choose your karma.