Page 2... Karma explained

Wholesome, unwholesome deeds

Karma in the ultimate sense is the product of choice and free will: choice between wholesome and unwholesome deeds. People believe in pre-determinism and fatalism, merely because they see results but do not see the actions that cause the results.

A person may be born deaf and blind. This is the consequence of some unwholesome karma that manifested or presented itself in his consciousness, in the last thought-moment of his previous death. Throughout his life he may have to suffer the consequences of that deed, whatver it may have been. But that fact does not prevent him from forming fresh karma of a wholesome type, to restore the balance in his next life.

Further, by the aid of some good karma from the past, together with strong effort and favourable circumstances (and compassionate help of others) the full effects of his bad karma may be mitigated. even here and now. Some people have overcome to a great extent formidable handicaps. The result is they have turn even the bad vipaka to profit for themselves and others. But this often calls for almost superhuman courage and will power. Most people in similar circumstances remain passive sufferers of the effects of their bad actions until those effects are exhausted.

Thus, Buddhism acknowledges some elements of pre-determinism, yet at the same time maintains the ultimate ascendancy of will.

Roots of karma

The three roots of unwholesome actions are greed, hatred and delusion. They produce bad vipaka. The three roots of wholesome actions are disinterestedness, amity and wisdom that produce good results. The important actions in every person's life are dominated by one of these six psychological roots, wholesome and unwholesome.

Even where a life is physically inactive, the thoughts are at work; they are producing karnma. Cultivation of the mind consists of removing (not suppressing) unwholesome mental states and substituting wholesome ones. For this, the special techniques of meditation (bhavana) are necessary.

Good karma is the product of wholesome states of mind. To be certain of this, it is essential to gain an understanding of the states of consciousness and one's most secret motives. Unless this is done, it is next to impossible to cultivate exclusively wholesome actions, because in every human consciousness there is a complex web of hidden motivations. They are hidden because we do not wish to acknowledge them. A built-in defence mechanism prevents us from seeing ourselves too clearly. If we are confronted with our true sub-conscious mind too suddenly, we may receive a shock and our own carefully constructed image will shatter.

An action, karma, once performed, is finished and irreversible. What remains of its action is its potential -- the inevitability of its result. It is a force released into the stream of time, and in time it must have its fruition. And, when, for good or ill, it has fructified, its force must pass away. The karma and the vipaka alike are no more.

But as the old karma dies, new ones are being created -- every moment of every waking hour. So the life-process, involved in suffering, is carried on. It is borne along on the current of craving and desire.

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Good karma is the product of wholesome states of mind. We have to gain an understanding of the states of consciousness and our most secret motives before we can cultivate exclusively wholesome actions