Posts Tagged ‘death’

The End of Karma

Monday, August 6th, 2007

The faith of Buddhism is that we can end pain and suffering. Or as it’s called in Prakrit, dukka. What’s curious about life is that there are particular situations that seem to be triggers for dukka. And I think in the western world, at least, they are money and relationships with perhaps a third thrown in there, at least as we grow older – death. Or perhaps these three are my own constellation.

Then you look over your own life and see various patterns, karmic patterns perhaps. I suffered for twenty years from an obsessive compulsive disorder, triggered by an incredibly small incident. Was that karma? Are we rooting out more than the contents of a mind that has been conditioned in this life?

And then you do your best in a work situation, only to be caught in politics that have nothing to do with you. Yet on some level you feel this is of your own doing. Is that cogitations of an infantile mind believing itself to be more powerful than it is or a real insight into a karmic situation?

There is no doubt that we want to impose some kind of order onto what might otherwise seem to be a random life. Is the end of karma the beginning of the acceptance of randomness.

At the same time it does seem that we are beginning to anchor in a watchfulness, an ever present awareness. It is clear to me that dukka is caused by my own mind. I am awake to the extent that I realise this at least intellectually and awake enough to be doing something about it.

Is our faith that we can end the pain and suffering caused by our own minds? For the ever-present-awareness it strikes me that there is no death and certainly no physical nor mental pain.

But is there something else going on other than our own liberation? I think so and I think that it is the end of separation. A Tibetan once wrote that there is only one sin and that is the sin of separation. If that is true, and I tend to believe it is, then unity is surely the present goal. Surely that means dealing with not only our own karma but others’ karma as well because they are inextricably linked. Or perhaps that others’ karma is our karma. And that’s the root of compassion isn’t it. Don’t you think?

There is no doubt that there is group karma. If our greed, which has now cycled into global warming, continues to develop then we will have major global calamities on our hands. Group karma. Those of us who have modified our greed and our consumption patterns will be deeply involved in the consequences. I don’t believe for a second there will be some especial 144,000 secretly sequestered. We will suffer together.

And so we come back to the thought that we become enlightened not just for ourselves but for all beings. And the root of that enlightenment is compassion. Subhuti who was the other party in the Diamond Sutra, one of Zen’s foundation scriptures, before this enlightening discussion with buddha had developed his root in Metta – loving kindness.

Dhyana and Metta. It seems to be the only way through this cycle of karma that the world faces, that we the speaking monkeys have brought. Are we up to stopping this looming cycle of pain and suffering before it’s too late.

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The question of continuity

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Life is short and then you die. Or do you. I must confess I don’t know whether you do or don’t. So these are merely my reflections, my own points of view and my beliefs. Don’t consider this any other way. What I will say in my own defense is that meditation does seem to provide a little bit of insight into the unknown.

Then on the other hand practices like Zen focus on the eternal now. The ever present present. Holding one’s awareness totally focused within the present moment releases us from the past and the future. Such a skill also releases us from our baggage, and from tension.

The Dalai Lama in a forward to The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation said

“…there are two concepts of a person. One is the temporary person or self, that is as we exist at the moment, and this is albelled on the basis of our coarse or gross physical body and conditioned mind, and, at the same time, there is a subtle person or self which is designated in dependence on the subtle body and subtle mind… These two intrexicably conjoined qualities are regarded, in Highest Yoga Tantra, as the ultimate nature of a person and are identified as buddha nature, the essential or actual nature of mind.”

The implication that continuity of consciousness lies within the buddha nature, what he later refers to as the “unconditioned mind”. You could easily draw the conclusion that this is the same as the “ever present” awareness.

This of course is an incredible simplification, but it strikes me that this practice of ours is also a practice in continuity of consciousness.

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