This post is inspired by a comment left by Sister Cornelia in my previous post, A poisonous snake . Thank you Cornelia.
In Buddhism, we like to explain unpleasant situations in life as karma. We coined the word ‘past karma’ and lament, ‘we are suffering from our past karma’
In fact many Buddhist teachers would say likewise. The reason for Buddhist to attribute their current painful experience to karma is simply for closure and moving on. We try not to blame others for situations in life. That way, we do not develop negative thoughts ( aka bad karma) But it is important to note that we do not stop there. The next step is to improve our karma so that we do not spiral downwards.
In the poisonous snake story, the farmer suffering the threat of a wrongful death can also be attributed to his karma.
If we think that his near death experience is inevitably caused by his past karma from a previous lifetime, then we might have a tendency of mistaking karma as fate. (Self-created fate)
Fate has a pessimistic connotation. In the worst case scenario, one gives up changing for the better. This is because we wrongly conclude that ‘everything happens for a reason’. Whatever happened, happen or is going to happen is karma. This is a wrong view. Therefore, when we think about karma, it is important to know that karma is not some sort of fate.
In the story, we mustn’t miss the point where the farmer hid the valuables. His intention of making the valuables his, is karma of wrong thoughts. His action of hiding the valuables is karma of wrong deeds.
Due to his karma, he suffered that horrible experience of being mistaken for a thief.
When we talk about karma, we need to be aware that it is not limited to a “foggy” distant past. Our every current moment becomes our past and an instant of wrong view, wrong decision, wrong speech can lead to many unfavorable events unfolding in sequence. Karma means both actions and results. Therefore, whatever we think, say or do is Karma. How we react is karma. Karma is actually nearer than we thought.
May all be well and happy.