The Karmic Law of Cause and Effect
Teachings on the Four Convictions of Renunciation
By Khentrul Rinpoché Jamphel Lodrö
Rinpoché explores the essential principles behind karma and how they can be used as a basis for engaging in skilful actions to bring benefit to oneself and others.
These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on February 12, 2015
So, still we are talking about preliminaries, yes, remember? Preliminaries, maybe think about something you know, many layers of obstacles, the antidote of many layers of obstacles we overcome. So think of that. So let’s think about what is our goal? To reach Buddhahood. Which means the Buddha is our own Buddha, our own nature, our ultimate truth. But we have many, many layers of obstacle. So all the preliminaries are antidote for these obstacles, these obscurations, we can say obscurations. So think about, maybe easier to think about some priceless jewel, very deep down inside in the middle of the mountain, very big mountain. But right at the middle of the mountain we have this priceless jewel, so our aim is to get this jewel.
So firstly, we have many fences to go this mountain. Or can say many checkpoints to go this way and these check points are not easy. They require many things to prepare, let go inside from the checkpoint, or think of as like fences. So for instance we say this external preliminaries, we say external preliminaries, which means understanding the karma, we understand the samsaric faults, understand the precious human birth, the understanding of the impermanence, of the death. Why we have to know this? Are they a mountain, layers of the mountain? They are more like outside the mountain, fences, kind of like fences. The first to understand karma. Without understanding karma, without the natural law of cause and effect, we never be disciplined and we never be ethical even. Which means start point of the spiritual practice. So that means no understanding karma is, or not having faith in the karma, is kind of like fence to go to this mountain. Big high mountain. Big high fence. So first we have to go through this fence, so try to understand karma is like that.
After, we understand the karma, that makes a lot of help to understand the samsaric faults, but not fully understand. So then we have to go the details. For instance if you, with huge effort, you crossed that fence, able to cross that fence, but after the fence there is very enjoyable kind of like land on the mountain, you think is enjoyable, so you don’t want to go in, you kind of like loose discipline to try and go inside the mountain. So that is like if you don’t understand samsaric faults then you have attachment to samsara ok. So which means samsaric goodness we consider is good things. The bad things nobody interested, everybody avoid, even the animals, that’s nothing special. So people often misunderstand, renunciation is something we don’t want suffering. That’s not renunciations ok. Renunciation is you can see something samsaric values, you know like we think is not valuable, so that is renunciation basically. So that’s why if you try, you know if you attracted to the outside of the mountain, and you give up going inside, that is not renunciation of samsara. So, we have to go this, you can say fence or this nice part of land, also we have to see “oh yer this is not good enough, this right now is ok but I have to go through this”, and then I just enjoy here, doesn’t mean I achieve nothing and then I lost, I kind of lost inside here. That’s why you have to cross this.
And then maybe you losing courage, so losing courage. So that means precious human birth, you realise precious human birth. So you not lose courage. You realise you have great opportunity, but you almost missing, so you don’t want to miss this. When you realise, you don’t want to miss this so you take urgency. You take opportunity. But if you don’t understand you don’t take opportunity because you don’t know ok. Even if you sort of understand take opportunity but you’re not very, very urgent, you feel is not very urgent and you arise this procrastination.
And then you overcome this, you need overcome. So you think of the impermeant death, and you be mindful of impermanent death so then you cross that level. So there are four layers of maybe gardens. You didn’t distract these gardens and you go through, far, far away ok. And then, so now your really have to dig at the mountain. These four I said external, because like external of mountain, outside the mountain, even not the mountain yet. So that’s way external I said.
So now when you go to the mountain you need now to dig at the mountain. That time you realise I cannot dig with my finger, with my fingers, or my teeth, cannot dig mountain, you realise that. Doesn’t matter how priceless inside. So you try to prepare some tools. Don’t think “oh what kind of tools, I can buy”, don’t think that, doesn’t matter, that’s not the subject, our subject here, that’s only example. You need to prepare tools, otherwise how can you dig? At least you have mattock and those things. Then you try to dig. So this which means like refuge. You know you realise “oh, samsara, ok, if I take refuge in samsaric beings and samsaric spread (?) and all this doesn’t help me. So I need three jewels who already overcome samsara”. So that means you need three types of tool. You need mattock, you need shovel or something else and you dig, you dig. You have to dig with this, you cannot dig with fingers. So that’s why you going.
So you went maybe one layer of the mountain. You dig it, you can dig it. But the inside layer, more harder and different. This time is not just soil and rock. Another….I don’t know the scientific names what is, I wish to know these things. Another mineral, much harder, you cannot even dig ok. You can dig but so slow with mattocks, so you need another tool. Which means bodhicitta, you need another tool. This tool is much more powerful, much more powerful. This tool is not just tool, but this tool, when you are discouraged, it encourages you. When you’re depressed, it comforts you, this kind of tool. So maybe this tool you can watch TV all the time, at the same time watch TV or something like that. When you are bored, they encourage with songs, encourage you or something like that. So like bodhicitta, when you have bodhicitta attitude, doesn’t matter how long take to enlightenment. Doesn’t matter how the situation bad, everything is opportunity to practice for you. And the bodhisattva path is much more skilful and powerful and useful. So that’s why is another tool, more skilful tools. So the tools are not necessarily digging tools ok. This sound play and encourage you and give you some food, some energy drink or whatever. These things like bodhicitta.
And then you went this layer, you overcome this layer of mountain, but then another different layer. This different layer you need different tool. Maybe so much, how you say, kind of like you can’t touch, poisonous, and you not just dig there or walk on. You have to put it somewhere completely outside the mountain. You have to take there. So that means you need another tool like some container to take it out and put far away, maybe hopefully some wheels….all these things you need. Kind of like Vajrasattva practice. You need purification, these poisons, to put outside you need this tool.
So you cross this another layer, and finish. But now you need another tool because completely another layer, maybe so hard, something metal so you need very powerful electricity, not human impossible, but you need something very good electricity, like laser or something like this, you need this. Which means like mandala offering, you accumulate your merits, you build your strength. So that’s what you are doing.
And this layer finished and there’s another layer, even these tools cannot overcome. Another layer. Good news, you are very more close, close to Buddha nature but the bad news is more harder and harder. Kind of like go beyond more human capacity. And the only possibility is there are small holes and from the small holes you have to only file. But only the small holes, you have to have file otherwise you can’t do it. So what do you need? Guru Yoga practice. Which means like this incredible one, you need incredible file tool but that’s Tantrayana practice, you don’t have it. Or this one’s, something like chemical to dissolve this, you need this but you don’t have it yet. So the Guru Yoga is like small key to go there. But it’s not like small key and you open it and then finished. Which means the small holes you have to file, small little tool, so that’s your Guru Yoga practice. And then if you filed one hole to another small hole, between this another small hole and then four together, can take out some part. So then you have a little bit of hope. So that is Guru Yoga, think of that.
And then you finally went inside, make small hole and try to reach inside. So you finally just reached inside ok. And there’s…..think of incredible another two layers. So you need another methods. This time is totally different, not something you physically do something, rather….we don’t talk about those yet. You need something totally different, which means we have to practice the Generation practice, like this two unique preliminaries. Think of those things. And after two unique preliminaries, then you finally reach this jewel. But this jewel also have many layers. So like that kind of practice ok. So some ways, it is a different ways really your practice, but also the antidote of the obstacles basically.
So today’s topic is first karma. So karma is difficult for people because people don’t understand the subtleness of the law. No matter how obvious, in the obvious level, how different crops and plants and everything need different conditions. We know this all. Different sickness to cure we need different medicine, we need all these combinations. No matter how much we know these things, the gross level, still we get in trouble to believe the subtleness. So that’s why I always thinking if you have doubt of karma, better to think of the already you know this law of karma, you already know. Think of those and then compare to the subtle layer of the cause and condition. Which means we talking karma. So then shouldn’t be too hard. Is quite logical.
So as I said last week, there is four principles for the karma. Firstly, you never encounter with karmic result for something you never created the karma. That’s the one karmic principle, karma principle, karmic law principle. Second, you cannot, inevitable, if you created the karma, you cannot escape, impossible. We talked last week, all the conditions ready. You know like this electricity, all electricity good, all wires are good, everything, been connected, you put the light bulb there, even if your pray “don’t light, don’t light”, switch on, then light. Cannot avoid, similar like that. Similar if you poison in your garden or something like that, flowers die, doesn’t matter if you pray. You poison, poison, poison and then pray, pray not die, doesn’t help. Prayer helps only all other conditions all ready, and then you need just one missing condition, then prayer helps. But all other conditions not there, it doesn’t matter how much you prayer, it’s very difficult. And then the karma is not always just same. Our plants, crops, not always the same, they are always trees, grow all the time. Change all the time. Grow also means part of change. Grow or decay, both are parts of change. So everything is impermanent, so of course part of change. The good news, all karma increase. Why good news? Because positive karma also increase. It’s not just only negative karma. This is good news why? Because anything we create positive karma, virtuous karma, it will grow naturally, it will grow naturally. So of course we don’t practice antidote of that grow, because we want it to grow. Right? And negative karma also grow, but we can apply antidote. So that’s why our goal, we decrease negative karma and increase positive karma. Because naturally both grow. But the other one we try to put poison or whatever you call. We try to decrease. But if you didn’t do, then both grow. So which one more? Defiantly negative more. Like dusty, our house, everywhere you have to clean every week, otherwise they are dirty. Similarly, negative karma grows more. Naturally if you leave them, they grow more. But we can clean, we can clean, so we can live clean house or similarly. So if we practice and then positive karma increase and negative karma decrease. So that’s what we try to doing. And that’s why they increase, but also you can decrease. Decrease means purification. So that’s why when we say karma is inevitable, you have to experience once you create, which means without purification. That’s what we are saying. We not saying never, never cannot do anything, even you cannot purify, can’t do nothing. That’s not what saying. So that’s why becomes four. Ok remember four?
Ok now we talk another topic. Karma have projection karma and completion karma. Which means, projection karma means more strong karma. You can project rebirth. The primary projection karma who can rebirth, who can project rebirth, human rebirth, animal rebirth, anything like that. But the secondary kind of like secondary or part of the projection karma, what shape of body you got this time. What degree of beauty you got this time. What degree of strength you got this time, this life ok. So for instance our physical body, we really can’t change much. Which means you know like part of the projection karma. So the seed. The seed of apple, seed of orange. So completion karma means the secondary karma. If you plant apple, apple tree is the projection karma, but the soil and water and the sun, the wind, all these things is completion karma. Which means the sun today, sunshine, it helps apple tree and then go away tonight. And then maybe wind helps somehow, and then there is raining, so water they help separately, they contribute. Similarly, the small karmas not enough to project a birth, six realm birth, but they have enough you suffer or you are happy, you are success or you are fail, those things enough to create this enough. Just like the wind alone, sun alone, soil alone, not enough to grow apple tree, orange tree, but they help they can do it. They can do their job individually. So similarly, when we are human, which means we are project by virtuous karma, we are project by positive karma, but still we suffer. We suffer a lot this kind of suffer, this kind of suffer, failure and unsuccessful, blame, bad reputation, poor, unhappy, unlucky, unlucky family, unlucky business. Whatever all this one’s completion karmic result, the other small karmas contributing. So in general as we are human, we are projected by virtuous karmas, but we experience many suffering inside. That means individual karmas we experience, these small karmas we experiencing. If you twenty years suffer, maybe that’s not too small. If a few weeks finished, that means the karma, small karma finished. The next karma we don’t know. Same as if you are success, you didn’t sick until twenty years, until thirty years, until forty years whatever. All these things, quite good karma. The primary karma project you to just human. Just human means not necessarily healthy, but the other karmas helping you be healthy, being not too failure, not too depressed, not too sad, you quite happy, all these things. So this is two primary karmas.
So another category, there is called, what you call, we should look at the text. ******(Tibetan term). Which means you motivated to do something bad, but you haven’t done, you haven’t done the job, you didn’t finish job. Does you creating bad karma? Yes. But is it as strong as you done? Not that much ok. Another thing. You done something bad, but you didn’t meant to be, just accident. Does that mean bad? Yes, bad category. But as bad as you premeditated? No. Ok basic meaning is that. So that’s why the most important is our motivation. Second, ignorance. You know, usually we say ignorance has no excuse ok. So if ignorance in common sense, in normal world, if ignorance have excuses, then we shouldn’t go study, education, doesn’t matter, but we need a lot of education you know. You know even the work place, safety, all those things we have to study a lot, these things we have to be aware. Somebody educate you, why? Because ignorance is no excuse. Because some people think if we don’t know, even if we do bad, it shouldn’t have bad karma, but of course yes, bad karma. Not as strong as you denied, you know but you deny it, not that strong but still it is. So if you premeditate it and also done the whole job, then more worse. So this four things, you know motivated, and you didn’t mistake, and you done the job, and completed the job, completed what you wanted to do, either positive way or negative way. And another one for instance, if you killing somebody, the killing small insects, or pets, or human being, or great practitioner human being, or ordinary human being, all different. Similar all negative karma, but is big different. If your parents, or all these things difference. So this four together, everything is bad, then the worst. One missing, less, two missing, less, like that. How karma is strong and how bad, how good, everything, these conditions.
What else? What else the categories we should talk? Result. If your negative karma, first I said the base, who you harming, for instance who you harming is not just animal or small insects, only few hours die anyway, in few day die, you know that kind of animal, not like that. More intelligence, human and have a lot of capacity, that kind of human. First condition. Second, you really want to harm, you motivated. And third so you made the effort and then you completed job and you kill them. So like that kind of heavy karma result is hell realm, hell birth. Why? Because this is absolutely not fair. It is not enough punish by human suffering. It is not enough….it’s not punish, it is not enough the result you can experience because your creation is so big, so not enough to experience human suffering, animal suffering, hungry ghost suffering. All of them is not enough so you have to go hell rebirth. And then little bit less, you didn’t really kill with hatred, anger, resentment, basically hatred. You didn’t kill with strong hatred, but you kill with attachment. Let’s say there’s leopard, or some very nice, or some expensive product have animal. So you are so attached to money, you want to sell this, you want to make profit. You didn’t hate this sentient being, you feel a little bit bad when you killing this, but still your guilty is not strong enough to convince stop. Your attachment more stronger, so that’s why you did all this job. The rebirth is hungry ghost. It’s not enough for hell rebirth, not enough to….is too strong for animal and human suffering, that’s why you have to rebirth as hungry ghost. So then, little bit less than animal, less human, demi gods, all of these things ok. But human, human and god realms, remember, the projection karma has to be virtuous, so this part is only completion karma probably. Either human completion karma, yes completion karmic result you have to experience or rebirth animal or something like that, between this, what is the condition depends.
So we have to think there is so many things, but we don’t have to know all of them. The most important we have to know the rough idea, the rough logic. That’s important for us to know, because why want, what do we want, the all we want? To understand why. You don’t have to know the details, impossible, that’s only Buddha know. Because too complicated, so many millions, trillions, countless conditions always. So think of like one tiny rice or sugar grain. How many particles in it, and what the particles doing to each other and how they, why this particle goes this way and other particle go this way, that is too much, too much, too much to analyse. It’s not worth it, we know that. Similarly, if we thinking every single part of karma why, why, why, why? Is kind of like waste of energy, because impossible, only omniscient Buddha knows, impossible. But we don’t need to know these thigs, we don’t need every single grain and barley and this rice grain and everything, we don’t know all these particles, why they doing, we don’t have to know this. What we have to know is which one is healthy, which one is not healthy, which one can eat, which one can’t eat, we know all these things, how much you can buy, we just have to know this. Similarly, we have to know in general, the karma is just subtle force of the similar this external obvious level of cause and effect. We just have to know that. And then if we know this, then you have to try to be mindful of practice. Try to increase good karma and try to decrease negative karma. That’s all we need to do. So that’s why. Is important what we have to know and what we don’t have to know when we study karma ok. You don’t need every single thing answer ok. If we do, we waste time. We wasting our precious human birth. We wasting our precious time
(Student) With regards to the subject of types of results, karma based on the type of results, you mentioned result similar to the cause and those four, environmental effects, different types of effects that can arise.
Oh this another thing, this is very important. And also sometimes we say “oh I make one karma, so should be one result”. Not necessarily. One karma you can have many results. One rice grain, you can grow many rices. One barley can grow many barley. One potato can grow many potatoes yes. So similarly, one karma has many karmic results ok. And also, many karma together can form one big karmic result also. And then also, when we say one karma you cannot experience one thing and then you think everything finished, no. For instance, if we make very bad karma, the consequence if we have to take rebirth in hell. Let’s say a human million, trillion years, human trillion years, hell realm, that type of hell, only hundred years or maybe only ten years. We experience that, but remember time is relative, it’s not true, so can be anything within your experience, it’s nothing to do with, you don’t have to match. Ok somebody’s only one second could be someone’s million years, somebody’s experience ok. So time is not really true, imputation. So ok and then you finished in hell, you experienced this, you rebirth hell, you experience suffering, and then you finish so you die, the hell being die, finally, ok. Finally die and you born next your karmic rebirth, let’s pretend human. Ok you born as human, but what you did this before, you really killed with hatred, so now you are finally human, by another virtuous karma a long time ago you created, but you are very angry person, always unhappy, hate everybody, that kind of person, why? Because your main causes finished in hell by experience, exhausted by experience, but we call this ****** (Tibetan term). Which means you did in the past before you go hell, you did many hatred, so this hatred propensity still in your mind. When you exhausted in the hell, that is only gross level of the karmic result. Of course in hell is gross, so then you come back now, but you still have propensity, that’s why you still hatred person. And also, you are probably quite unhealthy you know, more sickness, more enemies arise, like these things why? Because your main karma is finished, exhausted in hell, but still there is kind of little bit left, the tiny things. So the tiny things only good enough human suffering, wasn’t enough to suffer in the hell. Anything have to be in the hell suffering, exhaust in the hell, so now you are human so the rest you experience in the human suffering ok. I don’t know if these things are important or not, maybe it does I don’t know. So we just have to remember our main point, why we have to know karma. Come back to this all the time. If we not aware, the karma, the karmic result, then we are not mindful enough, we are not conscientious enough, we are not vigilant enough. So that consequence we are not ethical enough. Not enough strong our morality, integrity. For this reason, we need to study karma. Also this makes you disciplined, perseverance, diligent. Otherwise we just always ohhhhh. Ok?. If we not diligent, if we’re not ethical, this is the fence remember, fence to go to the precious mountain. So that’s why we try to use tools, or ladders to get over this fence. There are four fences remember. This first fence, try to understand karma, so we can be mindful of our actions and the karmic results. Any questions?
(Student) If you have had a life where money or wealth has not been a problem. You’ve always had enough to survive and then all of a sudden you lose all of your money, find it difficult to keep money, it just changes. What’s happening with the karma there?
We don’t know exactly remember, that’s not important remember, just joking. We know this is definitely karma yes. Oh the other thing important. Karma means action, but when we talking about karma, literally only means action, but the more meaning is action, and the propensities of action and the result, the consequence of the karmic action. This all together we talking remember. In that case….ok that means is everything under control of the karma, so we cannot do anything? Sometimes people misunderstand and say, “ok, if everything is karma we just sit there, so whatever karma, and then just come.” But our birth or everybody’s birth, not 100% under control of the karma at every level, no. You know the karma is mostly we talking about the subtle force, the subtle force. But this subtle force, sometimes very strong. For instance if you have to, your karma is you have to die tomorrow by accident, but some other karmic reason, or other conditions, you are aware of this and you not going anywhere. You meant to be die car accident, but you didn’t go and you avoid this, you stay home, whatever you did. And then you couldn’t die car accident, but maybe the roof falls on you. Something like that, so the karma, some karma 100% completed, so you cannot really change at all, but some karma, 90% formed or 99% formed, so that’s why you can change. So in that case, somebody rich, rich, always good, good, but suddenly lose money. Somebody rich, rich, good, good during that time maybe forty years or whatever, if that time if they experience the happiness from this money and wealth then yer definitely the result of good karma. But you didn’t, this money and wealth only make you condition of stinginess, so probably this karma built, this stinginess built and contributed another negative karma so you can lose suddenly. I’m talking only possibilities, we don’t know exact. So the important we have to know, every day we perform actions, body action, speech action, mind action, we create karma constantly. But also we have long time, many lifetimes of karma there. They are all juggling all the time, contributing each other, so whoever, which party is stronger, they experience first. So that means, it’s not we never try to find solution. “Oh because of karma doesn’t matter, we have to die. If I meant to be die, I meant to be die. I eat unhealthy food and I do this. I go accident, I not drive careful”. Anything you don’t do that, “oh because if it’s the karma then I’m going to die, if I not have karma I not die anyway”. It’s not like that because karma also, all karma is with conditions. They contributing each other, everyday your action also contributing your karma. So this all karma, so that’s why, as long as, as much as we have control, we can control, we can try. This karma is present karma, so we can control a little bit. So the karma already done, which means the action is finished then went to propensity and many other contributions added on and so now is almost ready to ripen. Like just bomb. So everything done and then you have fire, fire is almost there, what do you call this fire? Fuse (?)So this one’s, so then maybe is too late, but if not too late you cut this, the bomb is not explode ok. So same thing. Anything?
(Student) Just quickly, I read something at some point about your mindset at the time of death that that can create projection, karma projecting you to your next rebirth, is that right?
Yes, that’s what we call grasping. So if you have, let’s say good karma and bad karma, they are competing what is your next rebirth, and then if they doing this, and before you die, if you contribute to this bad one, you contributed to the bad one, so this one win. If you doing the good one, then the good one win. So then you can experience that first. If you contribute good one, good motivation or virtuous something, so the good one win. So the good one you experience next rebirth as good one. That means you had opportunity, this karma competing you before, that one maybe you can eliminate them, you can finish them. Not only this karma but including this karma, many other negative karma you have one more opportunity, one another birth opportunity. Because the birth, is better birth because the projection of the good karma. Doesn’t mean 100% good. But if you contribute something bad then the bad one win, so project you to a lower realm, let’s say animal or something. That means you waste another life, so like that kind of.
So remember this purpose always. To understand karma, to have no….less chance to arise is wrong view ok. So always we say five heinous, the most heavy karmas. One we say is wrong view. So the wrong view is based on the cause and effect. You don’t believe the cause and effect, you living in the cause and effect, but still you don’t believe the cause and effect. Which means you living in the obvious level of cause and effect, but you cannot put logic in the subtle level, so you don’t believe and you deny. Or you have another false idea develop, that’s called wrong view. So to understand the karma is antidote of that wrong view. For this reason, really important. Ok. So maybe we practice
- September 24, 2017
Raw transcript by Vanessa Mason