The Buddha said 'I am the owner of my karma. I inherit my karma. I am born of my karma. I am related to my karma. I live supported by my karma. Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit.'
There is also the Golden Rule where Confucius argues that the central principle of ethics is to do what you would want to have done to yourself: ''Tzu-kung asked, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?' The Master said, 'Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.''
The Bible carries the same message in verses such as 'All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.' (Matthew 7:12) and 'Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again" (Eccl. 1-1) and "A person reaps what he sows' (Gal. 6:7)
Kahlil Gibran said 'The selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.'
There is even scientific proof of this in Newton's Third law, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So how do we make sense of all this in our daily lives? How do we ward off bad karma and attract good karma?
The answer seems fairly simple.
I found this anonymous quote:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
So that is fairly easy. All we need to do is watch our thoughts and the rest will fall into place. Yea, right. We all know that is not so easy – especially when we have anywhere between 33 and 38 thoughts per minute. And those of us who have done meditation know how must effort is required to clear our minds. Even then, we are aware that our minds are clear for a split second, and that in itself is a thought, isn't it?
Are there other ways to change our karma?
Buddhism refers to the four powers of purification. The first one is to always think of any sentient beings that we may have hurt, so that we can develop our own compassion. The next power is to recognize our past actions that were unwise. There is no need to beat ourselves up about anything we have done – that is water under the bridge. It is far more important to simply acknowledge our actions, and once we are aware of these actions, to honestly promise not to repeat these actions again. This is a promise to yourself, and therefore far more serious than a promise to the rest of the world. It is also far more powerful than to be told by someone that you should not do something again, because you come to this realization yourself. The fourth power is practice. This relates to repeating anything that helps you in your resolve to not repeat unwise actions.
A great philosopher tells the story of how he spent much time as a young boy weeding an area in the garden, and thinking that he was doing something good. One day a neighbor told him that he will spend the rest of his life weeding the garden if he does not plant flowers in the garden as well.
When things happen to us that we do not enjoy, we can throw our hands in the air and say that is bad karma and therefore inescapable, and do nothing more. If we understand that, as Newton's law says, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, we can use the opportunity to counteract the karma from previous lives that we do not enjoy. That to me seems to be the way to restore the balance. Rather than passively accepting less enjoyable experiences, we need to understand that we have to achieve balance in our lives by creating joy for ourselves.
We may not see the results immediately, because this balance seems to cover more than one life. This is where we just have to trust and focus on actions that can only bring good karma.
But what if we do not believe in re-incarnation, and we focus on this life as the only one? Well, what damage can be done if you spend this life focusing on actions that can only bring good karma? It has got to come back to you as a good experience.
Confucius, Jesus, Khalil Gibran, the Buddha and Isaac Newton each said in their own unique way that whatever you do, you do in the first place to yourself.
I have to remind myself of this the next time I read in the newspaper about some brilliant political scheme that can only fail, and not get irritated, but rather find my own way of making the world a better place.
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