Cause and effect, known as karma is not the same as fate. It is the basis of personal freedom and universal responsibility for all living beings. Logically, positive causes cannot bring about negative results and vice versa.
According to the Buddha, four conditions come together for a karmic impression to come to full effect (positive or negative):
- A being has to understand clearly its own position and the corresponding conditions, meaning one must know exactly what one is doing and the consequences of such an action.
- It has to have the wish, to influence them actively, meaning one wants to and has a need to do this.
- The being must do something accordingly or have others do it meaning one does the deed or allows others to do it.
- The being has to be satisfied with the results.
When these four conditions come together, a fully developed karmic impression develops, which is stored in our consciousness. So the karma is the strongest when all four conditions come together and the weakest when only one condition is present. This counts for all our actions.
The stream of consciousness flows from birth to birth. In every situation we digest and dissolve old impressions and at the same time, we store new impressions into our minds. For this reason, Buddha never taught karma in a dogmatic way or as a moralist like “You must not …” or “You always have to …”.
A conscious understanding of the way cause and effect work can support you as an individual to create beautiful, positive impressions and to benefit beings in the ‘cycle of existence’ with wisdom and spontaneous activity.
This article was inspired by my Buddhist teacher, Lama Ole Nydahl