Readers do not have to believe in reincarnation to benefit from this post or weblog. We only have to agree that present volitional actions have effects in the future. What we call our past history was once the future that was caused by previous “present” volitional actions.
Prologue: We understand intellectually, conceptually, that karma is carried from one lifetime to another and from one situation to another in this present lifetime, much like a torch is passed from team membert to team member in a relay race. But what does karma actually look like “on the ground” in our daily lives? Put another way, what are the consequences of our past volitional actions when certain causes and conditions meet and certain seeds ripen in the present?
Based on my weblog page called The actual face of karma: a portrait gallery, what would the life of someone who is the present (fictional) incarnation of Queen Tiye (mother of Akhenaten), Queen of Sparta (aka Helen of Troy), Queen Jezebel, Queen Cleopatra, St. Teresa of Avila and Sigmund Freud look like? In other words, what is the fruition of the karma of the Portrait Gallery of these six historical figures in terms of money, career, sex, family, friendships, etc.? And what would today’s (fictional) incarnation have to do to change the karmic stream so that future lives would not just be a repeat of the past? To answer these questions, I use diary entries.
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I, Rainbow Desert Flower, enter this dream into my private diary on the 1st day of the month of July in the year 1970 CE. May it benefit all beings who are trying to understand their karmic footprint.
I think I was born with a state known as chronic depression! I believe I have been carrying this habitual way of relating to the world with me from lifetime to lifetime.
Last night I had a dream that has given me a wider perspective:
I am in a very, very large theatre. It is empty. Nothing in it. No chairs. No actors. No audience. No musicians. No props. No sets. But I know right in the dream [as opposed to thoughts upon waking from the dream] that the space is a theatre. I also know that the theatre is space! I rest there. Then a black cloud floats in from stage left. Right in the dream I think “This cloud is depression. But it wasn’t there in the beginning. Just space was there. Then the black cloud moved in.” I notice that the cloud is not affecting the space around it in any way.
Notes on interpretation of dream:
- theatre = space = our primordial nature
- depression = insubstantial; like a cloud blocking the sun of our true nature. But the sun is still there. Just blocked temporarily
- main message of dream = I am not my depression.
Update June, 2009:
We experience depression as a solid thing. I think that “depression” is comprised of a bundle of habitual patterns which have both an action and an emotional component, which contribute to creating our karmic stream and maintaining it.
Fortunately, just like a theatre provides an unchanging stage for the actors to enact the play, our primordial nature is vast and provides an unchanging space for a multitude of changing, temporary, unsolid, impermanent, insubstantial — ie. empty — conditions like depression.
The pure nature of mind beyond the intellect, beyond all of these ordinary mental operations and activities, is not affected in the slightest by a dense state of mind.
NOTE: I am grateful for this message on Twitter, July 17’09 from N_Odzer: #FollowFriday @ExBP_Buddhist Great in insight in depression, & Bipolar Disorder with a Buddhist perspective, @Margaret_Scott 4 Karma blog.
Update January 24, 2011
Here’s a quote, from Rigpa Glimpse of the Day, that describes, in different words, my interpretation above of my dream:
In Tibetan we call the essential nature of mind Rigpa—primordial, pure, pristine awareness that is at once intelligent, cognizant, radiant, and always awake. This nature of mind, its innermost essence, is absolutely and always untouched by change or death. At present it is hidden within our own mind, our sem, enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions. Just as clouds can be shifted by a strong gust of wind to reveal the shining sun and wide-open sky, so, under certain circumstances, some inspiration may uncover for us glimpses of this nature of mind. These glimpses have many depths and degrees, but each of them will bring some light of understanding, meaning and freedom.
This is because the nature of mind is the very root itself of understanding.
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