Believing Karma: Necessary on the Buddhist Path
Believing karma, cause and effect, makes us authentic practitioners. Here, Phakchok Rinpoche speaks very directly to our cynicism and doubts. He says frankly that we need to believe in karma and in past and future lives.
Believing Karma Brings Mindfulness
If we don’t believe seriously in karma, then we will not be mindful in our behavior. Rinpoche poses a question that he has struggled with himself. Why are the previous practitioners – merely one generation before his own – why were they so genuine? And, he asks himself, why does his own generation seem to becoming more diluted? He also wonders, what about the millennials? They seem to be coming to dharma practice already diluted and so agitated.
What is the fundamental difference? We are not educated about karma, and many of us don’t really believe in past and future lives. We only really care about this life, and thus we don’t really think about ethics. But look at yourself. Can you tell what’s going to happen in your life? Rinpoche says that one of his own college friends is already dead.
Believing in Karma: Ethics
Make sure that with your heart, your breath, and your head you must believe in karma! We really need to accept that. Then, when we start to do something wrong, we will automatically think twice. Nobody is going to punish us in Buddhism, but if we believe in karma, then we naturally become ethical in our behavior. Other religions say you need God to have ethics. In Buddhism, we say that karma is important. We don’t say that the Buddha will punish us if we make mistakes. He did teach the way that karma functions. When we understand karma, we become mindful: we want to do less bad and more good. That means we become ethical, responsible, and subsequently a better person. That is what being mindful really means.
Buddha did not create karma. Karma simply means action. Action has results. It is really very basic. When you believe in karma, then you become genuine. Rinpoche says that he’s sorry to tell us this because he knows that many of us have doubt. He reminds us, however, that if we want to be genuine practitioners, then we do need to have this certainty.