2

Generosity and Karma

1 of 1

Traditionally there has been in Buddhist countries a division between the Buddhism of lay people and the Buddhism of the monastics. While good karma was and is understood to be important for both lay people and monastics, it is especially important for lay people.  In some parts of Southeast Asia, the Buddhism for lay people is mainly the Buddhism of karma.  One takes care of one's karma, trying to create good karmic conditions for this lifetime and future lifetimes.  If not for oneself, then one works to create good karma for one's parents. 

What is your response when you hear about people practicing generosity to create good karma? Does this seem foreign to you?

What I call karma is intention.

Buddha

The Buddhist teaching of karma is about the intentional choices we make in the present. The present moment is where we choose how to step forward into the next moment. The more clearly we see the choice, the greater the freedom and creativity we have in making it.

The present moment is partly the result of our choices in the past and partly the result of our choices unfolding in the present. Our experience of the next moment, the next day, the next decade, is shaped by the choices we make we make right now. Intended acts of body, speech and mind have consequences; taking these consequences into account offers important guidance in our choices for action.

Reflect on how the generous actions you choose to or not to perform in the present might affect the future—both yours and others'.


Reflect: the world tends to respond in a certain way if we act with intentions of greed and very differently if we act with motivations of generosity and kindness. With this understanding, what might the "good karma" of generous actions mean in your life?

Instant karma

One way that the giver sees his or her generosity return is found in "instant karma," the Buddhist idea that acts that you do have direct consequences on the state of your mind and heart, even as you do them. The consequences of giving are quite wonderful in the present moment; if we are present for them, we can receive these wonderful consequences during the act of giving. 

Reflect on how acting with generosity affects your state of mind and heart.


If you have a meditation practice, reflect on the effects of "karma"—your intentions and actions in your daily life—on your meditation.



Many people want to meditate and find peace of mind. But some of those people don't want to really change the rest of their life style. They want to have their cake and eat it too - be able to meditate and get the "bennies," such as peace of mind, but still be able to do whatever comes into their mind according to their whims and their fancies.

But the process doesn't really work that way. For most of us, the mind we encounter as we sit in meditation—all the states that come up, the difficult emotions, other negative mental states, and even the condition of our body, pains and the like—is basically the sum total of what we have been accumulating all of our life. These accumulations are the consequences of our life-long habit patterns, life style, and even of our viewpoints..