Karma, you know what karma is? It is the law of cause and effect. So, what you give, you receive. Karma is like an imprint that you create in your mind stream, which follows you from lifetime to lifetime. It can be very subtle. There are different types of karma, but the main concept of karma is like the law of physics, connected with our self, our being. So, it’s an imprint that stays with us and follows us. And according to how we act and what we do through the body, speech, and mind, then it creates the cause for the future lives or even this life to somehow receive something. Sometimes, many times it is multiplied, good things and bad things. That’s a theory at least. I’m sure we can kind of relate to that.
OK, so ego and self-cherishing mind are very similar, right? The self-cherishing mind brings a lot of suffering, which is not very good, because through suffering we just kind of hurt ourselves and especially when we don’t see it. But the moment we start to see the pattern of our mind, of how through self-cherishing we create more suffering, then we can really start evolving. We can really start working that and we can use it to really start changing the pattern and the habit that somehow maybe society has kind of, you know, influenced us.
So that’s why they say the perfect human rebirth because we have the capacity to practice Dharma, to help other people, to have the understanding of our potential and also because we suffer it makes us more, in Spanish we say … more aware, awake. If we didn’t suffer, we would be like the gods. We wouldn’t have that wish to improve or to create the cause to keep evolving.
So, in karma you evolve, you devolve. The more you do something positive, the more you create the habit to do more positive things, so it becomes easier to do it and you take pleasure doing it and enjoy doing it. And maybe when you are reborn, you are reborn into situations where it is much easier and much faster to keep evolving. And when you devolve it is the same thing but the other way.
So maybe you are reborn as a tiger who must kill and to make other animals suffer in order to survive. Or maybe you are reborn into a very violent neighborhood where in order to survive you must become part of a gang. And in order to be part of a gang you must show that you are worth it, so you must kill another human being. If not, you will die, or they will kill you. So, you must survive. And that is the situation where you are put in.
And sometimes because of ignorance, because of a lack of understanding, a lack of information, it’s very hard to get out of those situations. Maybe your family has been butchering all their lives and so you must be a butcher, too. And you don’t have the capacity to understand that that’s bad even though when you are doing it, maybe you don’t feel good.
But as you devolve, some people take pleasure in hurting other sentient beings. They enjoy it. That is even more devolving, so you are creating the habit; it is easier every time to do that. That is so dangerous because it is so easy to go one way or the other.
So right now, we can evolve, to go forward, you know? And so that’s something to really be grateful about, to have this opportunity. And on this planet as human beings there are many places where people cannot sit down and think about that.
In China, for example, in some workplaces they have anti-suicide nets. For example, people in America, soldiers who served in Afghanistan, veterans, I think there’s an estimate of, average of twenty-five veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq who commit suicide a day, per day, twenty-five commit suicide a day on average. It’s not easy for many people. It’s very difficult. So that’s where I think compassion comes in and realizing that we are very lucky.
Anyway, I don’t want to bring you down, you know; we must be happy; it is important, but at least to be aware of the opportunities we have. Because sometimes the self-cherishing mind starts saying, “Oh, poor me. Look at me, oh,” and we start putting ourselves down, we start to limit ourselves. And that is a big mistake because we are beautiful, and we have an amazing potential and you know it. But sometimes, you’re not trying to move forward because somehow you fear your potential, so you limit yourself. And that is very dangerous. I think most of us we do that; most of us, we limit ourselves.