The Relevance of Karma in Our Daily Lives

Understanding Karma

Today I’d like to speak about the relevance of karma in our daily lives. For this, to begin with, we need to understand what is meant by karma. There are two general explanations. One is that karma refers to the compelling mental urges we have that draw us into various types of actions, whether physically doing something, verbally saying something, or mentally thinking something. The second explanation has a different assertion concerning physical and verbal actions. For such actions, karma is the compulsive shape of our physical actions, the compulsive sound of our verbal actions, and the compelling subtle energy that accompanies both types of actions and continues afterwards with our mental continuum. It’s important to note that in neither of these explanations is karma the actual actions themselves, despite the fact that the Tibetan word for karma is the colloquial word meaning “actions.” 

Once an action is carried out in these compulsive karmic manners, it leaves certain types of karmic aftermath on our mental continuums. Let’s speak about the most widely discussed of these, positive or negative karmic potentials and karmic tendencies. There’s a slight difference between these two, but there’s no need for us to get into that technical detail now. One aspect of these karmic potentials and tendencies is their ability to give rise to an effect or result when sufficient conditions are present. In technical jargon, like a piece of fruit, they “ripen.”

What Ripens from Karmic Potentials and Tendencies?

There are many different types of results that come about from these karmic potentials and tendencies. The most general one is feeling some level of happiness or unhappiness accompanying each moment of our experience. If it’s unhappiness, it’s the result of destructive behavior, and if it’s happiness, it’s the result of constructive behavior. 

In addition, there’s also a feeling to repeat a previous type of action. Karma doesn’t ripen from karmic aftermath directly. First a feeling arises, as in feeling like yelling at someone or hugging them. Based on that feeling, there will then be an urge to actually do it that draws us into the action. There is a notable distinction between the feeling and the urge. Feeling like doing something is like wanting or wishing to do it. But I think “feeling” is, at least in English, a little bit more descriptive than wanting or wishing. It is less deliberate. We feel like repeating something similar to what we did before and we also feel like getting into a situation in which something similar will happen back to us. However, it is definitely not the result of our karmic potentials and tendencies that the other person acts toward us in a manner similar to the way that we acted toward them. To be clear, that’s ripening from their karmic potentials and tendencies, not from ours. The only thing that ripens from our side is our feeling to get into that situation, to meet with this person, etc. 

Another thing that ripens, in this case specifically from our karmic potentials, is the actual type of life form, body and type of mental activity that we have. For example, we will experience different mental capabilities if we have a dog brain or a human brain. Karmic potentials are what actually bring a mental continuum, in the case of rebirth as a mammal, to connect with the sperm and egg of a specific set of parents. In that way, the type of life form and body we take results from these karmic potentials.

The Karmic Ripenings in This Lifetime Mostly Come from Actions Done in Previous Lives

When we look at our experiences in daily life, we often think that whatever feelings of happiness or unhappiness we experience and whatever feelings we have to do or say something are the ripenings of our karmic potentials and tendencies from our previous actions earlier in this life. But only certain types of karmic behavior bring about a ripening of their potentials and tendencies in this lifetime. These include negative and positive behavior very strongly motivated, especially if directed at those who have been extremely kind to us, such as our teachers or parents. The vast majority of what ripens and what we experience as this ripening in this lifetime are the results of karmic potentials and tendencies built up from actions in previous lifetimes. 

This point may be very difficult for many of us, perhaps most of us to understand. As Westerners, most of us are not at all convinced of past and future lifetimes. That’s a separate issue and, unfortunately, we do not have the time at this occasion to investigate past and future lives and how we become convinced of them. However, I think that even without believing in rebirth, the whole discussion of karma can have very strong relevance in our life and how we deal with what happens to us. 

Developing Attentiveness, Mindfulness and Discriminating Awareness of Our Compulsive Behavior

To begin to deal with what we experience in life, we need to develop attentiveness. Attentiveness, or paying attention, is the mental factor that engages our mental activity with a specific object. When that object is what we are experiencing each moment, Western circles call that “mindfulness,” although that’s not actually the Buddhist meaning of the mental factor “mindfulness.” When we have become attentive to what’s going on in our mental and emotional lives, mindfulness is the mental factor which, like a mental glue, prevents us from losing that attentiveness. As we become more and more attentive, we become better able to notice when we feel like doing something or when we feel like saying something. We can perceive when that arises and notice a certain space between when we feel like doing something and when we experience the compelling urge that actually brings us into the corresponding behavior. 

Colloquially, in English, we describe some people as just saying the first thing that comes to their heads without thinking. They have no internal censor in terms of what they say or what they do. Whatever comes up, they just do or say impulsively. But when we notice that there is a space in between when the feeling arises and when we act on the basis of that feeling, that allows us to use what’s called “discriminating awareness” to decide whether or not to act on that feeling. We discriminate whether an action would be helpful or just cause a lot of problems? If it were going to cause a lot of problems, we understand that it’s destructive and we don’t act it out. For example, we don’t have to tell somebody, “What an ugly dress you’re wearing.” That’s not really helpful, is it? 

The point is that we understand that these feelings of acting or speaking in certain ways have come from habits – I’m using “habits” here as a general term for karmic potentials and tendencies. Whether these habits come from this lifetime or previous lifetimes actually becomes irrelevant. What is important is that we’re just acting compulsively based on previous patterns, previous habits, and there’s no reason why we have to be a slave to them. We are human beings, not animals acting without any control over its instincts. As human beings, we have intelligence; and that means the ability to discriminate between what’s helpful and what’s harmful. Whether or not past lifetimes exist, we can see that acting on the basis of our bad habits is really stupid, it just brings us more and more problems. And since we don’t want to mindlessly cause ourselves more problems, we try to overcome compulsively acting on the basis of bad habits. 

In certain ways, we need to look at our repeating patterns of compulsive behavior as if they were addictions. We can be addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. But, we can also be addicted to activities such as gambling, or sex, or even yelling at people. There are many methods, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, to overcome addictions. We need to apply these methods conscientiously, otherwise we’re out of control and just produce more and more problems. 

The first step in any addiction program is to recognize and admit that we are addicts. This is absolutely necessary. We need to identify the problem before we can work to eliminate it. But some addiction programs can lead people to believe that being an addict is their true, unchanging identity and that no one can ever really get over being an addict; we can never achieve a true stopping of our addictive behavior. From a Buddhist point of view, however, we can achieve a true stopping of all addictions, including our addictions to self-destructive types of behavior, so that they never arise again. That’s our aim as Buddhist practitioners.

Renunciation of Our Patterns of Compulsive Behavior

This is where renunciation comes in for overcoming our addictive patterns of compulsive behavior. Renunciation is the determination to be free of something and the willingness to give it up. The emotional feeling involved with it is total disgust and boredom: We are just bored with our behavioral addictions, whether they are self-destructive negative addictions or neurotic positive ones. For example, we’re bored with always losing our temper and yelling, or we’re bored with obsessively washing our hands. Therefore, when we feel like yelling or washing our hands again even though we just washed them, we reaffirm our determination to rid ourselves of ever even feeling like that. As a first step, we reaffirm our determination at least not to act out such feelings and then we exercise self-control and just don’t do it. But, of course, self-control is just the first step. We need to go deeper to remove the deepest cause of our compulsive behavior.

Misunderstandings about Karma

While trying to apply the teachings on karma in our daily lives, we need to watch out for the misunderstanding that we somehow deserve whatever we experience because it is the ripening of our karma. With this defeatist attitude, we think that we were a bad boy or girl in the past, and now we deserve what’s happening to us as our punishment. We find teachings from Shantideva that state if we hadn’t put up the target, nobody would shoot an arrow at it. If we hadn’t acted destructively in the past, we wouldn’t experience people getting angry with us now and treating us badly, etc. Shantideva’s point is not to blame the other person, but to put the blame on ourselves. However, that doesn’t mean that we should go to the extreme of feeling that we are such a bad person and that we deserve the sufferings that befall us, so we should just shut up, not complain, and accept our punishment. I don’t think that’s the healthiest way of dealing with the teachings of karma, nor the intended way of putting them into practice. 

Instead of this fatalistic perspective, we need to examine other aspects of the karma teachings to see how to benefit from them in daily life. When we experience something happening to us now, we can infer from the teachings of karma that the cause was in our previous behavior. Many teachings detail the connection between what we experience and prior behavior. For example, if we always experience relationships that don’t last, we can’t remain with loved ones, or people are always breaking up with us, that’s the result of speaking divisively about others. We said nasty things to people about their friends so that it would cause them to part. When we experience our own friends leaving us, this is the ripening of our karma from that, in that we’re experiencing situations in which others are doing something similar to us. 

An additional thing that will ripen from speaking divisively is the compelling feeling to repeat this type of behavior. Given this point, then to make our understanding of karma into a constructive tool, we need to examine ourselves honestly. Do we have a tendency to criticize or say nasty things about other people to those who like, work, study or are friendly with them? We probably will find that we tend to be overly critical. We rarely say good things about anybody and only say bad things about them. It’s very common, isn’t it? We’re really anxious to point out the shortcomings of others and to tell everybody about them and complain about it. But, how often do we focus on the good qualities of others, and praise them to other people? For most of us that’s quite rare. 

This is one of the most useful points that we can learn from these teachings on karma and that we can apply in our daily lives. We can find the patterns in our typical behavior that correspond to the type of things that we experience happening to us. Then rather than falling into a defeatist attitude that “I deserve this because I was so bad in a past lifetime, criticizing others,” we can focus instead on working on our behavior now. When we feel like saying something terrible about somebody else, in its place, we can think more about their good qualities and praise them. 

There are many examples of different types of karmic syndromes that we can identify. We may be poor, for example. Upon examination, we may find that we’re always taking advantage and using things of other people, exploiting them, never paying for anybody else, always expecting that they’re going to pay for us – things like that. I’m referring specifically to using things belonging to other people without asking permission, like taking food from their refrigerator without asking, this type of thing. We can notice these correlations in what we experience happening to us, with our feelings and tendencies to act in similar ways. The Indian master Dharmarakshita pointed out many of these correlations in his mind-training text, Wheel of Sharp Weapons.

Additionally, we need to realize that results don’t come from just one cause. Buddha said that a bucket is not filled by the first drop or the last drop. It’s filled by the collection of all the drops. Whatever suffering we experience is not just the result of one nasty thing that we did in the past, or even an accumulation of several nasty things that we previously did. But rather, there’s almost a countless number of causes and conditions that have had to come together in order for us to experience something. 

Let’s say we get hit by a car. It’s not just that we might have injured somebody, either with or without a car. It’s not just that, but it also includes all the karmic potentials of the other person who actually hit us. Then there’s the weather, the traffic conditions, and the reasons we went out at that time. There are the people who built the road. There are a tremendous number of causes and conditions that had to come together for us to actually experience being hit by the car. 

When we broaden our view of cause and effect and understand it in terms of the many causes and conditions that have to come together for some specific result to come about, then we start to deconstruct the solidity of “me” as the guilty one who deserves this happening to us and it’s entirely our fault. Of course, we’re responsible, but there’s a big difference between taking responsibility for our behavior, on the one hand, and identifying, on the other, with a solidly existing “me,” the guilty, bad one whose fault it is for everything that happens to them.

Understanding Voidness in Relation to Karma

Along with broadening our view of cause and effect, we need to deconstruct what are called the “three circles” involved. There are many ways of formulating these three circles, but in the context of the ripening of karma we could specify them as the “me” who experiences the ripening of karma, what has ripened from karma that we are experiencing now, and what we did in the past that was the karmic cause for what has ripened. When we don’t understand that the three circles arise dependently on each other and are devoid of being self-established, independently of everything that they have dependently arisen from, we mentally fabricate and grasp onto a solidly existent “me” that was so bad in the past that we deserve what is happening to us now. In a sense, we become the victim, or we become the criminal that’s being punished, and we hang onto that seemingly solid identity. This is a very unhappy state of mind, isn’t it? We make a big deal out of what we’re experiencing now as being just so terrible and we make a big deal out of what we did in the past as also being so terrible. The whole thing becomes saturated with guilt and feeling sorry for ourselves. All of this just makes our experience of daily life worse and worse. 

Therefore, it’s very important to bring in some understanding of voidness. Without that, things become a bit too solidified, and it’s very easy to go to extremes that are just going to cause more problems and suffering as we have been describing. But even if we have no understanding of voidness, we need to act while bearing in mind that whatever we think, say or do will have karmic consequences. With this in mind, we need to refrain from acting in destructive ways and behave instead in constructive manners, and just do it. 

Refraining from Destructive Behavior

The causal factor for refraining from any type of destructive behavior that is taught in the Buddhist texts is to think about the disadvantages of acting it out. Because we don’t want to experience the suffering results of that behavior, then when the feeling arises to do or say something destructive, we refrain from doing it. But, a great deal of the time, we don’t actually think along those lines. We refrain because it just feels right not to do something destructive. This becomes very interesting, actually, because there are certain types of negative behavior that simply don’t feel right, such as cheating, vandalism, and things like that. That’s okay if that’s the case. Perhaps we have not actively thought about the negative consequences, but we still don’t engage in those behaviors. 

However, what about killing mosquitoes? I don’t know about you, but I certainly have experienced that it feels right to smack the mosquito, or to go around like I’m on a safari in Africa, hunting and finally killing the mosquito in my room that is keeping me awake at night. That feels right. Even if we were to realize how ridiculous it is to go on a safari against this mosquito; nevertheless, we still go on the safari, don’t we? Thinking of absurd examples can actually be quite helpful in this case. 

For this type of destructive behavior, it’s absolutely necessary to think about the disadvantages that would come from killing the mosquito and not being tolerant. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that we have to feed the mosquito with our blood, but to try to use a peaceful method of dealing with the mosquito. We could put a jar over it when it lands on the wall, then slip a piece of paper underneath the jar, and carry it out from our room. It’s a very practical method, but we have to be careful that we’re not still going on the safari. We could still have a mental safari while using the jar and the piece of paper. 

Actually this situation is worth analyzing. Are we expelling the mosquito from our room just because we don’t want to experience the itch from being bitten, or are we thinking in terms of the mosquito? Obviously, we’re depriving the mosquito of food. We need to consider that if we were to continually kill mosquitoes or flies, or whatever it might be, what kind of habit are we building up? The habit we’re building up is that with anything that annoys us, our first response is to kill it. The tendency is to use a violent means to get rid of the annoyance, rather than trying to use a peaceful means. So, when we hunt the mosquito with a jar and a piece of paper, at least don’t do it with hatred for the mosquito. We shouldn’t think that it’s an unacceptable life form and we have to get rid of it because it has invaded our space. 

Then, of course, there are more advanced practices we could employ, such as seeing that this mosquito has been our mother in past lifetimes, etc. But for most of us, that’s quite difficult to do sincerely. The point is that for certain things it just feels right to not act destructively, but for other things we really do have to consciously reaffirm our motivation.

Factors That Activate Karmic Tendencies and Potentials

Another point I would like to mention concerns the specific factors that activate our karmic tendencies and potentials and cause them to ripen. They are discussed in the teachings on the twelve links of dependent arising in terms of the factors that activate the karmic potentials at the time of death. These factors “throw” our mental continuum into a future rebirth. 

The first of these factors is the link of craving. “Craving” is the translation of the Tibetan term for this link, but the original Sanskrit word for it actually means “thirsting.” The other factor is usually translated as “grasping.” That’s not the clearest translation because there are other terms that are also commonly translated as “grasping,” as in “grasping for true existence” and it’s not the same as these other terms. The word here literally means “to obtain something” or “to get something.” My preference is to use the term “obtainer.” It’s an obtainer emotion or obtainer attitude that, if we develop it, will obtain for us, or get for us, a future rebirth. Although in the context of the twelve links these are explained as what will activate throwing karma for a future rebirth, there are alternative presentations that they also activate our karmic potentials and tendencies in each moment. 

This is quite relevant to our topic of how the teachings on karma are relevant to our daily lives. First of all, what is craving? What is this thirsting? It is a mental factor aimed at some level of happiness or unhappiness that we’re feeling, and which makes a big deal out of it; it exaggerates it. Focusing on the happiness, we thirst for it not to end. In the case of unhappiness or suffering, we thirst for it to end. As for a neutral feeling, this refers to what we experience when absorbed in the higher states of total concentration, the so-called “dhyanas.” In those states, we thirst for the neutral feeling not to decline. Obviously, there can be different gradations of the thirsting and clinging that we have. 

The obtainers refer to a list of disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes. One or more of these, in combination with thirsting, trigger the activation of our karmic potentials and tendencies. The most significant one from the list is regarding ourselves as a truly existent “me” that is identical with something we’re experiencing within our aggregates – our body, mind, emotions, and so on – or as the truly existent possessor of it as “mine.” 

In summary, thirsting focuses on some feeling of a level of happiness or unhappiness, and then the obtainer attitude is focused on the “me” who’s experiencing it. Even if we don’t have an understanding of the voidness of feelings and the voidness of “me,” we can still apply in our daily lives this analysis of what activates our karmic potentials. In every moment we’re feeling some level of happiness or unhappiness. We can still apply to them the teachings on the so-called “eight worldly dharmas,” for instance.

The Tibetan word translated as “worldly” “jigten” (’jig rten) in the term “worldly dharmas” is made up of two syllables. “Ten” means a basis, and “jig” means something that falls apart and perishes. The eight worldly dharmas or eight worldly concerns refer to attitudes we have toward perishably based things that happen in our lives. We become either overjoyed or completely depressed at things that happen in life that lack a stable basis and so are transitory. 

In the case of these activators of karmic potentials, the relevant worldly dharmas are being overjoyed at feeling happy and really depressed when we’re unhappy. In these cases, what is it that has an unstable basis? It’s the happiness or unhappiness we’re feeling. Lacking a stable basis, they are transitory. But because we make a big deal out of them as if they were solidly existent and think they will last forever, we overreact by being overjoyed or completely depressed when they occur. Like a thirsty person getting just a sip of water, we are overjoyed at having a taste of happiness and want never to lose it. And like a thirsty person suffering from getting no water at all, we get all depressed when we feel unhappy and crave for it to be gone.

Equanimity toward Feelings of Happiness and Unhappiness

The Indian master Shantideva refers to these attitudes as childish. We need to overcome these sorts of childish overreactions to the happiness or unhappiness we feel. To do this, we need to develop equanimity. “Equanimity” means not to overreact to whatever feelings of happiness and so on we experience because, to put it in simple language, the nature of samsara is that it goes up and down. Sometimes we’re going to feel happy and sometimes we’re going to feel unhappy. It’s only natural. And there’s no way of predicting when we’re going to feel happy or unhappy. Our mood could change instantly for no apparent reason. The level of the happiness or unhappiness we experience doesn’t have to be dramatic. It could be at a very low level. The key words here are, no matter how we feel, it is “nothing special.” 

Actually that’s a very profound point. “Nothing special” means there’s nothing surprising, nothing extraordinary. What do we expect? Of course, things are going to go up and down, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. Whatever we experience in life, sometimes we’ll be happy and sometimes unhappy. Sure, we realize that the unhappiness comes from acting destructively and happiness comes from acting constructively, etc., but we don’t need to cling to what we feel as being so fantastic or so horrible. And we certainly don’t need to cling to a big solid “me,” as in, “I’m so happy” or “Poor me, I’m so miserable.” 

Clearly, conventionally, we want to be happy and we don’t want to be unhappy. In addition, conventionally, with our Buddhist practices we are aiming for liberation and enlightenment, where we’ll be free from unhappiness and suffering. But we don’t make a big deal out of it. This is the point. It indicates the relevance of these karmic teaching in our daily life and what will bring us more peace of mind. Peace of mind comes from having equanimity in terms of our changing moods as we go through each day because, naturally, sometimes we’re going to feel happy and sometimes unhappy. That’s part of samsara; it’s what to expect. We just continue with whatever type of Dharma practice we’re doing. When we’re not feeling terribly happy at any given moment, so what? 

The Ups and Downs of Life

This doesn’t mean that we should stop having any feelings, that we should stop being happy or unhappy and become someone with no feelings at all. It’s certainly not that. It’s okay to be happy or unhappy. Something nice things happen, we feel happy. Something not very nice things happen and we’re not so happy. For example, we go to a restaurant and we wanted to order our favorite dish, and they don’t have it anymore. They’re out of it and we’re not so happy. It’s sad, but we don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s okay to feel unhappy, but don’t hang on to it and get stuck in a bad mood. 

Maybe that’s a silly example, but a more relevant example is when a loved one dies. It’s natural that we’re going to feel sad and unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s very unhealthy not to mourn. But, don’t cling to it and identify with that sadness as being the true identity of a big solid “me” that is so terribly miserable. From another perspective, when we’re with someone and constantly saying, “I’m so happy. Aren’t we having a great time?” this just destroys the whole mood, right? Just experience the up and downs of life. We are happy or unhappy – it’s no big deal, nothing special. 

Along with this equanimity, the other attitude and outlook that we can cultivate when we’re unhappy and things are going badly is to look at what might have been the karmic cause of that. As we’ve discussed, we can examine and try to see the pattern, see how we are repeating something that is similar to that, and work on that. 

The Three Levels of Motivation in the Lam-rim Graded Stages

Another thing I want to mention concerns the three levels of motivation presented in lam-rim, the graded stages of the path. In general, the teachings on karma are presented within the initial scope of motivation. We refrain from acting destructively because we fear the suffering consequences that we will experience if we don’t refrain. We don’t know what other people will experience as the result of our actions. We can’t guarantee their effect on them. But, from our side, we really don’t want to experience the suffering and unhappiness that we would have as the result from our destructive behavior. We fear or dread that, but we do that in a healthy way. We’re not talking about fear of punishment. It’s just that we really want to avoid suffering and unhappiness. More specifically, we want to avoid suffering and unhappiness in future lives. This is the initial scope motivation. 

On the intermediate level, we want to avoid all types of compulsive karmic behavior, because we want to gain liberation. If we don’t gain liberation, the ups and downs of samsaric happiness and unhappiness will just continue forever. How horrible that would be. 

With an advanced scope of motivation, we want to refrain from all types of compulsive karmic behavior because they really hamper our ability to help others. How can we help others if we are constantly going through these ups and downs and when some rather unpleasant things continually happen to us? Our main thought is that this would negatively affect our ability to help others. We’re not actually thinking in a humanitarian way about it hurting others. We’re thinking more about hindrances to our ability to help them. 

There’s a big difference between the Buddhist attitude toward ethical behavior and the Western humanitarian approach of “As long as I don’t hurt anybody by what I do, it’s okay.” There isn’t anything wrong with that approach, except that we can’t actually guarantee what the effect of our behavior on others will be. For example, we could steal something from someone, and they’re very happy because it was in a horrible condition and they can collect the insurance. On the other hand, we could give someone a large sum of money and they get robbed and murdered.

Of course, we develop love and compassion in Buddhism and, of course, we don’t want to harm others. But, with an advanced scope of motivation, the main emphasis is that we don’t want to do anything that would limit our ability to help others. That type of motivation fits together well with the whole Buddhist spiritual path of working toward enlightenment and that we’re trying to be able to help others as fully as is possible. This is the main emphasis in the discussion of karma in Buddhism. 

In terms of our daily behavior, the relevance of this Mahayana motivation is that it adds strength to our ethical self-discipline. If we were to act destructively, how could we really help others? For instance, if we were always bragging or cheating others, nobody would be able to trust us. Then, how can we really help anybody? More specifically, as teachers, if we were experiencing the ripening of our karma in the form of our students suddenly leaving us – to use our previous example – how could we actually really help them? Our students would never stay with us. They would always leave. Clearly, that would motivate us strongly to stop criticizing others, and so on, and speak about others’ good qualities instead.

Two Mental Factors Present with Constructive Behavior

There’s one final point. In Abhidharmakosha, the Treasure-House of Special Topics of Knowledge, the great Indian master Vasubandhu mentions that there are two mental factors that are always present with any constructive action. Although Asanga, in his text, defines these mental factors another way, we also need to understand Vasubandhu’s definitions. The first of these factors is to have respect for good qualities and those who have them. The second is to refrain from being brazenly destructive. “Brazenly” means we just don’t care. We’re not going to exercise any self-control. We don’t care and therefore we don’t refrain at all from being destructive. We just do whatever we feel like doing. 

With constructive behavior, we have the opposite attitudes: we have respect for positive qualities and those who have them and we exercise self-control. Our actions are never brazenly destructive; we care about what we say and do. This reminds us, perhaps, of “it just feels right.” 

This indicates in our daily life what we need to emphasize and always remind ourselves of. We need to reaffirm our great respect for good qualities, like patience and kindness, and for those who have those qualities. They are sources of great inspiration. In addition, we also need to reaffirm that we do want to exercise self-control and take care about what we say and do, and not just act completely destructively and horribly.

Concluding Remarks

We have covered a great deal about karma and how we can make these teachings relevant in our daily lives. Let’s take a moment to digest these two factors as well. In short, in terms of acting constructively, we don’t do that simply on the basis of wanting to be a good boy or a good girl. That’s not the basis. Rather, we act constructively on the basis of respect for good qualities and those who have them, and it feels right to refrain from just acting openly destructive without any self-control. We need to just do it and act like that!

Original Audio from the Seminar

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