THE LAW OF KARMA
Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning action. As we Buddhists use the term, the meaning is clearer if we describe it as action and reaction, or act and result. Another way to describe Karma is cause and effect.
When we plant rice, we do not expect a harvest of pepper. We do not make a fire in order to produce coolness. In everything in life we find that if we know all the causes, then we can reliably predict the effects. For example, we know that if we are careless with matches, a fire is likely to result and may even destroy the house. But we also know that we can never burn down the house with ice. It is the nature of fire to burn and destroy. Ice has a different nature and produces entirely different effects. Let us think of producing something else. Let us pretend we want to bake a cake for someone’s birthday. We know we must have flour, salt, milk, flavouring, etc., and must mix all these ingredients carefully. Then, when we have put the batter in the pan, we must have the oven at a certain temperature. After leaving the batter in the oven a certain length of time, we take out the cake tin and let it cool. Then we have a cake. The cake is the effect or result, and the mixing of the proper ingredients and the right length of time in an oven at the right temperature is the cause.
The Buddha taught us that happiness and unhappiness are effects or results, just as much as fire is a cause which produces heat as a result. If we lead selfish, ignorant, evil lives, we can expect only such results as go along with selfishness, ignorance, and evil. Bad acts always produce bad results; good acts always have good results.
Probably many of us boys and girls have saving banks at home, and put some coins in the bank each week. Our thought and actions are like putting money in the bank of life; bad thought and actions are like counterfeit money. Sometimes people are arrested for trying to spend false money, either made of lead or else printed imitations of real money. Misfortune is sure to come to anyone who tries to spend such money. Misfortune is also sure to come to anyone who puts bad thought and bad acts into “The Bank of Karma”. We can save up real happiness only if we think good thoughts and do good acts. No one can ever rob us of our Karma. Evil results always come from evil causes; good results always come from good causes. If we wish to be happy, then we must store up causes of happiness, just as we plant rice seeds in order to get a harvest of rice.
It is extremely important for all young people to keep in mind the importance of getting a practical understanding of the Law of Karma. If we have this understanding, then we shall be able to control results by controlling causes. We shall know that doing good produces happiness, and doing evil produces unhappiness. This Law of Karma is a very deep subject, but even a small child can understand the main idea and learn how to live in such a way that happiness will result.
THE LAW OF KARMA
What e’er ye sow that shall ye reap,
Such is the Law Divine.
Think not that thou can’st e’er escape
The Karma which is thine.
The present is the true result
Of actions all our own,
The sower always reaps the fruits
Of seeds which he has sown.
The Law is ever just and true
And all must surely bear,
The strict result of every act
For none the Law can spare.
Weep not for what is past and gone,
For it cannot return.
This is the teaching Buddha gave
For all His sons to learn.
Do not despair, the future still
Is thine to mar or make;
Sow then to-day good seeds and pure,
And reap their harvest great.
The goal divine still shines afar
All may this goal attain,
When they have learned good seeds to sow
And things of self have slain.