Karma: individual and collective
Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning “action”. The law of karma refers to the sequence: cause (intention) produces action, which induces positive or negative effects.
Every good/bad volitional thought or action will bring a certain good/bad result in the short or long term.
If my thoughts or behaviors are motivated by greed, hatred or delusion, I am planting the seed of suffering for others and myself.
On the opposite, when our acts or thoughts are motivated by positive intentions, they are creating positive karmic conditions for abundance and serenity for self and others.
The concept of karma or action is based on basic moral and ethical principles and it is found in every religion.
“We reap what you sow “says the Judaic/ Christian and Islamic scriptures.
I will address the individual karma as well as the collective one specific to Zen and as individual we cannot prevent .
In Zen Buddhist, karma specifically refers to volition that is the primary intention and motive with or without its action. Our motivation behind our action determines and controls the consequences or effects.
Therefore, we can see the enormous responsibility we have to become conscious and paying attention to the motivation and intention that precede our actions.
If we are unaware of our motives or don’t assess them properly, we may act on them and create the conditions of future suffering.
When does the law of karma apply?
As far timing, the law of karma can be understood in many levels, which indicate the vast scope of its implications in our life.
Karma law is affecting all living beings any time not only during our “current” material life but also our previous and future ones. If one believes that our life’s duration is timeless and endless with an infinite number of cycles of material/body entities between birth and death, as Tibetan Buddhists believe, bad volitional thoughts during previous lives may affect our current lives or, even, our future ones if the effects did not occur already.
Many see this as pretty gloomy stuff, resignation and hopelessness.
Importance of paying attention to our mind intentions.
It is critical to always read our mind regarding the intention of our thoughts and before any action.
When we experience a mind state of comprehension, generosity, compassion and love not only the future effects will be positive. At the same time, feeling of serenity appears.
On the contrary, when we experience a negative state of mind of greed, hatred, in addition to negative future results, we will experience the painful negative energy and a restless mind.
Beside affecting me, can my intentional thoughts and actions influence others?
Yes. It is called collective or general karma. A good/bad action of one may affect all of us since we are all interconnected and interdependent.
There are many examples of this around us and there is nothing we can do about it.
Our direct understanding of how the karmic law is working positively or negatively in each moment of our life is a strong motivation in developing skillful and permanent awareness of our motivations behind thoughts and actions. However, all negative impacts such as diseases, accidents are not necessary caused by the so-called “bad karma”.
This is why the practice of mindfulness meditation is important by learning to pay attention to our thoughts.
If we are able to assess efficiently our hidden ego-driven motivations that is to control our negative
and detrimental ones, we will experience a better sense of wholeness, peace and serenity.
If we live away from moral and ethical ground, we, then, will experience dissonance, confusion and suffering at different degrees not only for self, but also on others.