A few things about karma, aka cause and effect…
- It is instant, happening here now. Said one way, I relate to all content of experience in a similar way, including this human self and the wider world. If I get caught up in reactiveness, a closed heart, a fixed view, then that is how I relate to my human self, those around me, the rest of the world, life, the universe, God and so on. And the same if I relate from receptivity and an open heart. The way I act towards others is a sign of how I habitually relate to myself. The karma is instant, in that sense.
- Whenever there is an identification with a pattern, it is reinforced. The groove is deepened. A pattern is taken as I, fueled, lived from, and becomes more of a habit.
- Patterns of an open heart and receptivity leads to happiness and a release from suffering. And patterns of reactivity, a closed heart and fixed view leads to suffering. This happens in many different ways. For instance, an open heart and receptive view tends to give a sense of connection, intimacy, recognition, empathy, joy in other’s happiness. And it also gives less sense of a need to protect any particular story or identity. Both tends to release suffering and open for a sense of quiet joy. It also makes it easier to release identification out of content in general, and notice what we are, which is a more complete release of suffering.
- Karma shows up in my relationship with the wider world. How I treat the wider world determines, to some extent, how I am treated back. In my immediate relationships, how I treat others is how they tend to treat me. (The post card effect.) And as a part of larger social and ecological systems, the way I influence the health of these impacts me and those within my circle of care, including generations of offspring.
- The story of karma is a teaching and practice tool. It is a guide for noticing the effects of our actions in the world. Take responsibility for our actions. Treat others the way we would like to be treated in their situation. (Golden rule.) And act from enlightened self-interest.
- And if we look a little closer, we may find that everything has infinite causes and infinite effects. I may not find any individual or local “doer” here. Only infinite effects stretching back to beginning of time and out through the extent of space.
Trigger for this post: Reading the section on karma in “Buddhism for Dummies” which I thought left a few things out.