“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”
Many Americans are at least minutely familiar with the concept of Karma. We all learn in grade school about the universal laws of cause and effect or more accurately termed, Newton’s Laws of Motion: to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. The concept of Karma is very similarly defined but relating to our awareness rather than simply physical matter. Karma is the broad universal concept of cause and effect or action and reaction, which governs all consciousness. This means that everything we do, think, say, or encourage others to do produces either positive or negative karma. The karma that we produce both effects this lifetime, and our lifetimes to come.
When many people hear this they immediately think that this implies that our actions are not freely governed or that everything that happens to us is out of our control and already fated based on our past. But this is not the case. Karma should not be thought of as predestined fate, as we all act with free will creating our own destines. If we sow goodness in our lives we will reap goodness. We have the power to influence our Karmic piggy banks in a positive way with every kind gesture and thought. Although not all Karma is realized immediately or in this lifetime, it will come back to us in other lifetimes.
Through positive actions, unadulterated thoughts, prayer, mantras, and meditation we can all reconcile the influence of karma in this present life and turn our destinies for the better. Its never a bad time to remember to be kind unto others, or as our mothers always taught treat others the way you want to be treated. I believe the world could benefit from a lot more kindness. The next time you see someone struggling with a bag of groceries, lend a helping hand. The goodness you bring to the world every day will shine back on you. You can shape your future as you wish it.
Taking care of the earth and all its living creatures is an essential part of Buddhist practice. Within the vast array of Buddhist teachings, 3 relate directly to the exercise of taking care of our sacred planet. The first of these is what is referred to as ‘interdependent origination’ in which Buddhists believe that nothing on this earth has independent existence. All of earth’s creatures can be thought of as a thread on the same great tapestry of the universe and therefore intrinsically linked together. Our interactions keep the tapestry in a constant state of flux. So in essence whatever conditions happen to one, happen to all.
The second teaching is the First Precept, or ‘do not kill.’ This entails that we must not directly harm another living creature nor allow others to kill for us. This has enormous implications, as believers must make sure that every product they buy is produced or obtained without destruction of the environment. Obviously keeping track of everything would be an arduous task for any individual, so one must at least be mindful and not blatantly disregard the origins of purchases.
The last teaching is called ‘metta’ or showing loving-kindness towards every being. This means that we must show kindness even towards things we do not like or find trivial. As the metta sutta put it,
“As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.”
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We should all put forth a better effort to be more mindful of our environments in order to help take care of our sacred earth. Even adopting simple practices such as recycling, planting a small vegetable patch, or riding a bike every once and a while instead of driving can make a big impact. And don’t forget to enjoy your environment. Keep your yard healthy and thriving while enjoying its beauty and tranquility.