Disclaimer… if you thought you had a handle on Karma, what it means and how it works… and had the belief since well whenever it was in your life that you starting formulating opinions about why things happen, asking questions about the world, or hearing adults say “What goes around comes around..”… or even better… “Karma’s a b***h”…
Then this Mlog is gonna shock you… but hopefully in all the right ways!
So what’s my sore bush thwacked toe got to do with Karma.. or what’s karma got to do with my toe…
Well.. could be nothing, could be something… so let me set the scene…
I woke up this morning in a bit of a funk.. I wasn’t quite ready for the day… but worse still I did very little of what I know gets me out of those funks to try to change it… I simply carried on.. in a bit of a grumpy sleepy mood, forcing myself to do the things I needed to do, like get dressed, walk the dogs, cook a healthy breakfast… I was doing it, but not with any sort of happiness and zero mindfulness. Literally crashing and bashing around the house with a bad attitude towards the day ahead.
Flash forward to reaching the park with two dogs, desperate for a run and lets face it, a poop. I look down and sigh… still wearing my flip flops and about to enter a field of snakes and thorns… too far to turn back, running out of time, dogs making puppy eyes because they know they’ve arrived… so I carry on.. into the field I go with little to protect my feet… “it’ll be alright I tell myself”, internally scorning myself and blaming something or other as to why I forgot to change my shoes..
About half a kilo meter into the walk… the car is no longer in sight and “OUCH”… naughty little thorn has attacked my toes and I’ve got about 40 tiny little thorns sticking out of the top of my toes… in pain and annoyed, this day is getting worse.
I start questioning who’s fault it is? Why me? What have I done to deserve this? How much worse will this day get.. and then it dawned on me (all that insight practice practice paying off I hope… I’m now a little quicker to catch myself reacting in harmful way.. more about that later).
I could say it was Karma… in the typical sense, a bad action in a previous life or moment has caught up with me
I could say it was because I spent zero time being mindful, bumbling along, not paying attention. Now when I came back down to earth and starting hobbling back to the car, I decided I knew who’s fault the thorns were… and it was actually quite liberating and sparked a VERY mindful next few hours.
So if the thorns are my fault for not being mindful.. is that karma too? Oof, getting complicated…
Let’s then, look at the word KARMA.. where did it come from? Well, it’s a Sanskrit word that comes from meaning of action or to work. Literally in ancient India they would say “I have some karma to do” –> I’m going to work.
Then later, it moved to having a spiritual meaning related to the ritual actions of making merits as they say here in Thailand, a high Karma that you did to curry favour and luck, supposedly magical things would happen if you carried out these rituals…and this was waaaaaay before Buddha came along… Shocking right? We tend to think Karma is a Buddhist concept… it’s not, it existed before the Buddha that we know now and here’s another shocker… He actually taught against those Karma action in a couple of ways. These ritualist actions that “brought them luck” or “got them to heaven” were oversimplifying the idea of good actions vs bad actions leading to good things or bad things. Rabbits feet were ultimately no match for a pure mind, according to Buddha.
The Buddha also took a completely scientific view of Karma and taught it to highlight the concept of cause and affect. What goes up must comes down, in everything. Each action taken causes a reaction. The tricky part for me was when I starting questioning Lady karma when I saw a person I perceived to be good experiencing something really bad. And I’ve seen good things happens to those people perceived as bad, or at least having done something bad. Complex… so do we need to understand Karma and her wily ways, or is there another path we can take to improve the quality of our human experience?
Back to actions then? What actions can I take to keep my Karma in check. STOP, says the Buddha. It’s not the actions but the quality of the mind whilst doing them. If you’re simply taking ritual actions to create luck for yourself, to get something what does that say about the quality of your mind?
Back to cause and effect then… Can I react to something in a way the reduces the effects of my cause… If I react angrily does it cause me to suffer more or less? I should try to be less angry then? I should try to meditate more? I should try to be more compassionate?
The mind is made up of should though… doesn’t mean we actually do it all… Does it? That’s actually pretty hard.
So how do I make my should to become IS and therefore react to my experience with the world in a way they improves each moment? This was the second way that the Buddha taught lessons on Karma. It’s efficient. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about intention. Mind states that are pure are more likely to lead to good things like happiness. A pure mind has no other path but leading to happiness. So instead of trying to depend on external experiences that we know we can’t control and let’s face, will never truly understand with our human brain, we rely on intentions, purity of thought, no motives, simple efficient actions and thoughts that purify the mind. An efficient way to live without conflict and stress. Less attachments, less delusion.
So about my toe… well had I been practicing this morning, by that I mean being mindful, remembering, focusing, I might have changed my shoes.
If you’re looking for a simple efficient way to start undoing past actions in the traditional sense and sowing good karma, you could practice insight meditation too. Get started by click on the resources tab above and download the How to Meditate PDF.
Peace and Love