The Buddha said, "Monks, kamma is intention." According to the natural law of kamma (or karma), there are inescapable results of our intentional actions. Certain acts, things said or thought will lead to hurting others or harming oneself if the intention behind them is unwholesome. This 'bad kamma' is motivated by selfish desire, anger or delusion. Because the result is unpleasant and painful, wise people don't follow impure intentions. Similarly there are actions, speech and thoughts which stem from wholesome intentions. This 'good kamma' leads to the well-being of both oneself and others. Motivated by generosity, compassion, clarity of understanding and other positive states of mind, wise people cultivate and follow up on their pure intetions.
Much, though not all, of what one experiences is the result of one's previous kamma. So when one finds oneself in an unpleasant situation, rather than projecting blame on others one can examine one's own past conduct and take responsibility for the causes that led up to the situation. Likewise when one is feeling happy, instead of taking it for granted one looks to understand the previous causes and conditions that brought it about. Understanding how happiness originates encourages further good kamma.
The Buddha pointed out that no being, divine or not, has the power to stop the consequences of good or bad kamma. One reaps exactly what one sows. So if you want to be wealthy, then be generous, hard-working and trustworthy. If you want to go to heaven, be virtuous, be kind and meditate. If you want to be enlightened, develop insight based on deep peace of mind.
The only escape from the results of kamma is enlightenment. Until then however, it is possible to attenuate the severity of the consequences of bad kamma by increasing the good. The Buddha gave the simile of a spoon of salt mixed in a glass of water compared to a spoon of salt mixed in a large river. The glass of water becomes undrinkable while the taste of the water in the river is hardly affected. Similarly, the results of bad kamma for a person only doing a small amount of good kamma is very painful, while the result of the same bad kamma for a person habitually doing a great deal of good kamma is much less severe.
Understanding this natural law of cause and effect leads to an ethical, compassionate and wise life. Furthermore, a wider embracing of the law of kamma would lead any country towards a stronger, more caring and virtuous society.
(to be continued....)