If you look at everything in this room, even the arrangement of the flowers is manipulated and transformed by the mind. What else? Give me one thing that’s not been manipulated and transformed by the mind in this room apart from maybe our bodies. Give me one example. One thing that has not.
How it’s been positioned, the water inside the bowl, the fire in the candle. The element itself, it hasn’t been created by the mind, but the way it’s presented has been changed by the mind.
If you look, if you walk into the city, everything around us has been started and built by the mind. It all started as a thought. That’s how powerful thoughts are. So, that’s why to be aware of our thoughts, to be in control of our thoughts, is so important. From the thought comes the speech. The speech follows the thought. We have a thought. It creates a state of mind, an attitude. From that attitude the speech comes, or an emotion comes and then the speech comes. We say something fast, like an arrow that once you release it there’s no going back. Then what? Then the body acts after that. So, one follows the other, but what’s the most important? The mind, the thoughts. And what’s behind the thoughts? The motivation. That’s why it’s so important to keep the motivation active and aware and present always, and always to have a positive motivation, non-self-cherishing motivation. Then, the result is really going to be harmony, happiness, the inner calmness of our mind because we’re going to be calm. We won’t be restless and stressed.
With compassion, you don’t think about yourself. You think about the others. If you’re in an office and you’re unhappy, then you’re thinking about others and you forget about your suffering. If you’re in a stressful situation, a depressed situation and you think about others, you create the cause to not be so focused on your suffering, because your suffering is temporary, right? So, the motivation, if we have a positive motivation, then the result will be positive, and that’s how karma works.
There’s this story about how in a past life of the Buddha, he killed someone in order to save three hundred peoples’ lives because that person was going to kill the three hundred people. The Buddha sacrificed himself knowing that if he killed someone, he would go to the lower realms, he would be reborn in a much worse place. But, because he had so much empathy for the killer especially, for the potential killer, he decided to sacrifice himself, take the bad karma himself and kill [that person] to save the three hundred people and to save the killer from doing that action.
Many lifetimes later, he was walking with his disciple and he walked on a thorn, which penetrated his foot. He took out the thorn and he looked at his disciple and he said, “See, this is the result of the karma of killing someone.” The disciple didn’t understand. He’s like, “Whoa, how come? That’s very strange. I thought the karma of killing someone is huge.” He said, “Yes, that is right, my child, but with the right motivation, the karma changes.” So, his motivation, he really sacrificed himself empathically to help that killer, the potential killer, and because of that, the result of the action was minimum.
So, it’s really about the motivation. You can do the same action, if you kill someone because you really want to hurt them or you want to gain something for yourself, the result karmically will be a huge negative, a very big result. Who knows what can happen? That’s what life is about—it’s about evolving or devolving. You can go forward or you can go backwards. You choose anytime, anywhere, anyhow, and if you go backwards—for example, you harm someone, let’s say—you create the cause to suffer and you create a pattern in your head, I mean your mind, a habit to do it more, to do more negative things.
For example, let’s say you killed someone, then you’re reborn as a tiger which in order to survive must kill more animals and create more suffering. It doesn’t really have a choice. I don’t think there’s a vegetarian tiger anywhere. Is there? Or, maybe you’re reborn in a gang neighborhood where you must kill human beings in order to be accepted; otherwise, they will kill you. To survive, you must kill someone to be accepted. That’s devolving. You create the cause to be reborn in a place where you keep devolving.
The same thing happens when you evolve. You create a positive cause, the non-self-cherishing, you’re outward-cherishing, empathic, harmonious, loving, caring. All these good things will evolve you. The more you do it, the easier it is to do it, the more of the habit you have. Then, you will be reborn, let’s say, maybe in a vegetarian, organic, loving family who’s very loving and caring. Then, automatically you’re already put in that situation where you’re creating better causes to keep evolving. That’s how karma works and so you have the choice right now.