Consequences in Buddhism


An excerpt from

Consequences in Buddhism

There is rarely one specific thing that causes someone to have something happen to them. We live in a world that is complex, integrated, interdependent and constantly in a state of flux. We miss most of that and generally focus on our own immediate needs and what’s happening in our immediate world. We too often forget that there are many things happening all around us that can cause things to occur to us – often things we can’t see or, for that matter, things we aren’t even aware of.

Some years ago, I failed to renew the little sticker on my license plate by the due date. I was hoping just to put it off until my next pay cheque in a few days, just because I didn’t have enough money. Well, I got caught and was issued a ticket. My fault, I get it. So, about a month later, I received a reminder in the mail about the fine, which I failed to read fully. Included in the reminder (it turned out) was a little bit about paying by a certain date otherwise my license could be suspended. Well, of course I didn’t pay – like I said, I didn’t read it fully. To be clear, I had renewed the sticker by this point, but I had not paid the fine.

So about two month after that, I open my mail and was quite surprised to see my license has been suspended! My shock, was quickly followed by laughter with the instant recognition of the shifting world of dependent arising. The cause was eventually followed by the effect.

It was this event, this singular brush with cause and effect, that got me thinking about why things happen to us, from the perspective of a practicing Buddhist.

Natural Phenomenon The wind, waves, gravity, cosmic rays, speed of light, geology, cosmology, etc. Whether or not we “believe” in gravity, you will fall if you jump off the garage roof. If you stand on the tidal flat and wait, you will get covered in water. When you build on a fault line you will experience seismic events. These things are pretty self-evident, I think. We live in a world that we have perfectly adapted to and when things in that world happen, we are affected. In 2004 there was a terrible tsunami, caused by an undersea earthquake, near Indonesia. “In Indonesia alone, the number of confirmed dead numbered nearly 131,000 with something like 37,000 missing and presumed dead. Around the Indian Ocean, the number of dead totalled some 300,000.

This was a natural disaster with few modern precedents. The impact wasn’t felt just in Indonesia, but affected Sri Lanka, South India, and Thailand. Even distant South Africa one death was attributed directly to the wave. The property damage went into the billions. You can read more about that event at BCOM ... Read More

Genes and Chromosomes

There are random mutations dropped into our gene pool to help the species experiment with faster, better, smarter versions of ourselves. Sometimes the experiments don’t work and that branch of the species might not last long. If my parents and their parents were prone to a particular disease or condition, then it’s likely I too will be prone to such conditions.

Have you ever looked into the mirror and had a sudden revelation that you look a lot like you mother or father? When I look into the mirror, I see my father in myself. The same nose, eyes and chin. I see my uncle’s receding hair line and share my mother’s propensity for high blood pressure ... Read More

Karma

This is an ethical component of why some things happen to us. If we are skillful and practice our living with skill, helping others and limiting the harm we do to ourselves an the environment, good things tend happen to us. If we are unskillful and go though our lives harming others, hindering good deeds and “hindering good deeds and being careless with the environment, unfortunate things tend to happen to us. Karma is within our control to alter. Others might simply say, “What goes around comes around.” As a Buddhist, I know karma is affect not only by my actions, but also my words and even thoughts. For example, I might have the idea of stealing something, but decide not to do it. Probably little to no harm done to my karma. On the other hand if I think about stealing something and then do it, then I’m pretty sure that I generate a little bad karma. If I then return the object I stole, apologize and attempt to make amends, then I likely have reversed the bad karma. This is the premise for a hilarious 2005-2009 TV sit-com entitled My Name is Earl ... Read More

Excerpt From: Ed Horner. “Consequences in Buddhism.” iBooks.

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