(Prologue: I’ve got first-hand experience that a real understanding of the laws of karma can substantially change our lives for the better. I created this weblog to share information and personal experience with others. May it be beneficial!)
I am having a back-and-forth with my friend Louise about an intense situation in which I was recently involved. Her last e-mail to me was “so what [are you going to do] now?”
I hope my reply to Louise is helpful to more than myself. May it be so.
I can’t change the karma. The outcome has already been decided from my actions in previous lifetimes. There’s some karmic obstacle here.
In certain ways, this is very helpful to know. I simply stopped struggling. Instead, I continued to practice and study; to, hopefully, serve others by being emotionally nurturing; and to help people deal with crises with some insight, dignity and integrity.
On the other hand, I am left with a lingering sadness that I really cannot do anything about the situation. Once we have committed certain actions in a past lifetime, we cannot take them back. We can soften the effect. But we can’t take the actions back. The karma is going to ripen. [Added May 12’13: Of course, as senior teacher Jay Lippman pointed out to me today, you don’t know how long the karma will last. It might be for a whole lifetime. Or just a part of a lifetime.]
My lifetime has been about one choice and one choice only: simply deciding on what my response will be when the karma ripens. That’s it! What I do or don’t do makes no difference whatsoever to the outcome. Other than creating future karma, my present actions have no effect on the karma that is ripening. To repeat, once we have committed certain actions in a previous lifetime, we cannot take them back. We can soften the effect. But we can’t take the actions back. The karma is going to ripen.
Recognizing that I had one choice, I made it: I could be resentful, angry, paranoid, embittered, morose etc. But I decided decades ago that I would be as gracious as possible in the face of an almost overpowering amount of negative karma.I knew what I was heading into before I was born. Supposed to be born around February 27th, exactly 38 weeks after the day of conception, D-day June 6, 1944. But refuse to exit the womb. Wait until March 11th. Still only 5 lb 5 oz. I am called “5 by 5” in the hospital. Umbilical cord wrapped tightly around my neck. Doctor gets it off just in time. It is 60 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, Toronto, Canada. People are playing tennis.
Fast forward to 1956. I have a distict and very vivid memory of sitting in my bathtub at age 11 and realizing what the rest of my life would be like. It wasn’t pretty.
But there’s another factor that impinges on my life that we must consider: Up until now, I’ve only been talking about my own karma and karmic obstacles. There are other people’s karma and their obstacles as well! I cannnot change that. It is up to them.
So, Louise, back to your question “so what [are you going to do] now?”
Isn’t there some story about a princess and a frog? The frog tells the princess that he once was a human being. But then, by some evil [ego], got turned into a frog. Now the princess must kiss the frog to turn him back into a human being.
Let’s tweek that story a bit.
Frogs seem to think that they have to be in love with someone to be loving. Otherwise, they fear they may get embroiled in something they don’t want. So they hold back. Perform harmful, hurtful actions that show rejection. Become takers rather than givers. Are completely self-involved. They have lost their humanity to the forces of fear. This creates and maintains negative karma. In short, frogs put their fears before their friends.
But frogs, too, have a choice. If they are aware that they have become frogs who are stuck in their ponds, they can ask the warrior princess (heart, feeling, basic goodness, bravery) to embrace them so that that mind of fear can be put into the cradle of lovingkindess.
The frogs then awaken into full human beings, warrior princes. They put their friends before their fears.Princes understand that, no matter what type of relationship they are in, they can be true to the core of their being, which is to be kind, loving, caring, supportive. This creates and maintains positive karma.
E MA HO! Wonderful marvelous dharma.
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