Learning the law of happiness from Shakyamuni Buddha
The "law of cause and effect", which clarifies the mechanism of our fate, is the basic, fundamental teaching of Buddhism. It teaches that our destiny is brought about by our own actions. Now we will respond to some letters we have received about the "law of cause and effect."
You are 100% responsible for your own results
How is our destiny determined? Buddhism teaches that it is completely determined by our own actions. We received a letter from a reader in Chiba saying, "'My karma, my harvest' teaches us that it is our deeds that generate our fate. If we don't know about this, then we tend to put the blame on others for our own results and we don't reflect on our own actions."
Just like this person says, it is easy for us to accept that good results come from our own good actions, but it is hard to accept that bad results come from our own bad actions. When bad things happen to us, we tend to blame it on other people or on our environment, and we often accept no responsibility for the bad results. But Buddhism teaches that whether good or bad, whatever happens to us is completely generated by our own actions.
It's hard to accept bad results
In a Japanese movie called "It's Tough Being a Man", the main character says, "You and I are two different people. If I ate a sweet potato, do you think you would be the one who'd fart?" This makes perfect sense to us. But if bad things keep happening to us, we cannot think that we are totally responsible. Why is this? The reason is that we are not mindful of the seeds we are planting.
"Seeds" means "actions". Buddhism teaches that there are three categories of actions, called the "three karmas". These are not only the "karma of the body" (deeds we do with our bodies) and "karma of the mouth" (words we say with our mouths), but also "karma of the mind" (thoughts we have in our minds).
Our thoughts also bring about results
We received a letter about the "karma of the mind". A man in his 50s said, "I learned that the 'karma of the mind' also counts as actions. I used to believe that thoughts in my own mind didn't really matter, since they can't bother anybody. But I learned that Buddhism actually places the most importance on the 'karma of the mind'."
In general, the word "actions" means physical or verbal deeds. Even if we think of something really bad in our minds, we would never face legal trouble for it as long as we don’t voice our thoughts or put them into action. But Buddhism teaches that the actions of the mind are the most important of all. It is said that "the mere contemplation of murder is no less evil than its commission." The mind is what moves the mouth and body. So if doing or saying something bad scores one point, thinking a bad thing in our minds scores two.
Buddhism puts emphasis on the seeds of the mind
The law, ethics, and morals can only judge based on physical and verbal actions. This is because what we think in our minds cannot be seen from outside. But still, actions of the mind are taken into consideration to some extent. For example, a crime committed intentionally is more serious than a crime committed accidentally. Often people who commit crimes intentionally face harsher punishment than those whose crimes were committed without malicious intent.
A foreign dignitary was recently murdered in Malaysia by two young women. But it is not the women who have committed the worst offence. Whoever planned this crime and convinced them to put it into action has committed a far greater evil. If that person had never planned the murder in their mind, the women would not have physically carried it out on the person's command. That is the reason why Buddhism places far more importance on the karma of the mind than on karma of the mouth and body.
Lesson point of this month
When we receive bad results, it is hard for us to accept "my karma, my harvest" (own causes produce own effects).
The reason why we cannot think that "my karma produces my harvest" is that we are not mindful of the seeds we are planting.
Buddhism places the greatest emphasis on the workings of the mind (seeds of the mind).
Ordinarily, we don't pay much attention to what we are thinking. But Buddhism teaches that our deeds of the mind have a huge impact on our destiny.
"My karma, my harvest"
Are there really no exceptions to this law?