Karmic Footprint

footprintWe’ve heard the term carbon footprint. I have adapted that term and created a new one: karmic footprint.

(Our) actions…make imprints…whether we are acting physically, verbally or mentally.  <source: 12links chapter 2, pages 11-12 >

We’ve all see children’s colouring books where, if the dots are connected, they form a picture.

Same thing with our lives, or even one action.

The “dots” (factors) in this case are the 12 interlinked factors that create and maintain our karma, which, when “joined,” in the sense of cause and effect, paint a picture of our karmic footprint. In other words, this “dot” leads to this “dot” leads to this “dot” and so on.

Each of the “pieces” below, if put together, might form at least a good, workable — if not necessarily complete — picture of the nature of karma.

In terms of our own lives, we could contemplate these pieces from the perspective of our own personal experience and see as much as possible what the karmic package of our life looks like and how the habitual patterns that are created leave our own karmic footprint.

  1. Change your mind and you change your karma. What does this mean?
  2. Canada Broadcasting Corporation show called Being Erica — I haven’t watched this, but I understand that she goes back in time to change her decisions so that she’ll get a different outcome. While we,  ourselves, can’t literally go back in time, we can create the future. What is involved in doing this?
  3. Karma and The Human Realm — We want to travel. We buy a ticket for a particular journey. We don’t just hop on any airplane, bus, train or boat. In the same way, our karma enabled us to buy a ticket to the human realm (echo of the Beatles’ song “she has a ticket to ride…..”). Check out the graphic for different segments of the wheel of life which demonstrates the sequential steps of  “karma-in-action” and then contemplate what kind of karma would give us a “ticket to ride” into the human realm.
  4. Connect the dots — an exercise: write down a problem or challenge you are experiencing in this lifetime and create who you might have been in a past life that brought about the present problem. <source: Dr. Brian Weiss, Same Soul, Many Bodies>
  5. Karma and free will — We’re supposed to have free will, and yet we’re told that the karma we produced in past lives that is coming to fruition in this lifetime cannot be changed. Presume both these statements are true. How can we explain this apparent contradiction?
  6. Intention — the role of intention in the creation of karma. “Intention is so powerful…Intention is the key element in determining our karma.” <source: Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, notes from seminar, March 03’06, Halifax, Nova Scotia> Why is intention the “key element?” Why is that, even though we are sure that our intention is good, we still seem to accumulate negative karma?
  7. What is the relationship between habitual patterns and the creation of karma?
  8. First-thought-best-thought — Our thoughts are a factor in the creation of our karma. But “first thought best thought” does not create karma. Why?
  9. Craving — While walking up to the post-office on January 26, 2009, I was thinking about the factors that create karma, when I saw a car with a license plate that read “CRAVING” drive by. What part does craving play in the formation of karma?
  10. “Good” karma — even with good karma, we still suffer! Why is that?
  11. Contemplate what I think of as the three levels of karma — outer, inner and secret

(i) Outer level: Karma[as outcome of previous actions] can manifest in a very literal way in our lives. For example, if we’ve given money to people to help them, we
may be the recipient of the same benefit in this lifetime; if we’re constantly falling, perhaps we  “tripped people up” in the past; if we have serious knee problems, maybe we  “cut people off at the knees.” Or we may just be getting old…..Only we can know which it is. Here’s an example of direct, literal karma from the story of Helen of Troy. Helen’s husband King Menelaus, on a hunting trip, got bitten by a poisonous snake. He asks for Helen’s forgiveness for a previous action:

I killed your sacred snake. I had him killed, in Troy, because….it was the only thing I could do in my hatred. I couldn’t kill Paris, so I killed….him. Forgive me. It was cruel. And now he has his revenge. I die by snakebite.

(ii) Inner level: habitual patterns; emotions that feed them.
When we talk about “myself,” it is a conceptual self
(comprised of habitual patterns and karma), not who we actually are.

(iii) Secret level: our deepest intention underlying any action

Assessing intentions is not always easy because of a natural tendency to hide our actual motivations, not only from others but also from ourselves. <Understanding Karma>