“Why is it that the rich are getting more and more rich, and the poor
getting more and more poor?” I am sure, sometime in your life, you have
said to yourself,
“Life is not fair?” Why is it that one person is handsome and another ugly, why one is smart and the other dumb? What causes these differences?
Buddha explained these differences with the “Law of Kamma”. According to this law, good actions or wholesome deeds called Kusala Kamma will give rise to good effects, and bad actions or unwholesome deeds called Akusala Kamma will give rise to bad effects. For a Buddhist, you yourself are responsible for your own deeds (Kamma) and you yourself will be the heir to them. In normal everyday language you can say, “You reap what you sow.” If you plant a lemon tree, you cannot expect to have an apple or a pear from that tree. If you want the tree you plant to bear sweet fruits, then you need to plant a tree that will bear sweet fruits. If you study regularly and hard you will have high grades in school, and if you are lazy and do not work hard then you will have low grades.
In brief, “The Law of Kamma” is “The Law of Action and Reaction.” The
next step now is for you to understand the term “Vipaka.” Vipaka is the
the result that is brought about by Kamma, the action. We, the Burmese Buddhists, use the term Kamma both for action and reaction. Actually, it is wrongly used. Kamma is the action that causes Vipaka, the reaction.
Kamma has a very deep meaning. It means both past and present actions or deeds. Usually, we say wholesome deeds (Kusala) or unwholesome deeds (Akusala), instead of good actions and bad actions. Kusala kamma, whether past or present, will bring about good results and Akulsala kamma, whether past or present, will bring about bad results, at sometime in your life or in your next successive lives.
Buddhists believe that we had many lives in the past and will have many
lives in the future. I will not go into detail regarding this subject yet.
However, you need to know that rebirth is not reincarnation. We do not
believe in souls. Religions that believe in souls believe in “Atta”. The
soul is compared to a bird, that flies to another tree when the tree dies
or falls down. They teach that although the person dies the soul does not
die. It lives on and takes on another shape or form as reincarnation. For
us Buddhists, we believe Anatta, which is no-atta. At this moment, you
just need to familiarize yourself with the term Anatta. I will explain
it to you in one of my
later newsletter issues.
Now, let us get back to the subject of Kamma, according to Buddha’s Dhamma (Teachings), the effects of the wholesome deeds, Kusala Kamma, or unwholesome deeds, Akusala Kamma, will follow a person like a shadow and he will reap them either in the present existence or in next successive existences. There is not a spot in the whole world that a man can hide or flee from the consequences of his deeds. Can a person improve the conditions of his or her station in the present life caused by the Kusala Kamma from the past? According to the Dhamma he or she can. By diligently using his intelligence, industry and awareness of his actions, a person can do more wholesome deeds, accumulate good merits and improve the conditions he is in at present.
A believer in the Law of Kamma will always say, “I am the molder and
the sole creator of my own future, and master of my own destiny, because
what is yet to
be depends on the acts now being done.”
In the next issue I will tell you a story about how Kusala Kamma bring about good results.