Does karma really affect our future results?

I want to ask a question about karma: At what moment do you really make a decision about your life?

Every moment.

And where is the karma?

For example, if I now make the decision to look at the clock, it is not karma. Karma means an act that has an ethical value.

I don't mean the karma that is generated, but the karma that has brought us this far.

You have good karma when you are a monk. You are here doing zazen so all is well.

When you sit down and practice in zazen, is it an effect of good karma from the past, or is it a decision here and now?

It is a decision here and now, but it is conditioned by past karma. There is nothing that is not conditional. But that doesn't mean that there is no freedom. That is a very sensitive point. Our entire life is the result of past causes and conditions. They made us where we are now. The more zazen one practices, the more clearly one sees what conditions us and the more 'free' decisions one can make.

I don't think that one hundred percent is conditioned by past karma. But past karma creates certain conditions. - I compare it to a card game: At the beginning you are given cards and then you play with them. You cannot choose the cards, but you can choose to play one or the other. Or you can choose to end the game. One can choose within the framework of certain causes and conditions. However, for many people who are not sufficiently aware of the causes and conditions, choices are very limited. They get carried away with their karma.

As you practice zazen, you become more and more aware of what is conditioning you. You can see your karma more and more clearly. This makes it possible to take a stand on the karma: Do I want to continue this karma or do I want to change something? The clearer you are, the freer you are.

There are always two aspects to zazen: One is observation, which brings wisdom and understanding. But that's not enough: even if you understand, you can still make the same mistakes. The second very important aspect of the practice is focus. It allows you to let go, not to follow. If you manage to concentrate well on your body and your breathing, you let go of everything that has conditioned you. You can see it, but you are no longer driven by it.

For example, there are very choleric people. When they practice zazen, they see the reasons for their anger emerging. You also see the feeling that emerges and grows bigger. But they are able to not move: say nothing, do not move, do not strike, exhale and let them go by. That was not how you suppressed the anger, you saw clearly how it manifests itself, but you didn't let it carry you away. - That goes for all feelings.

One can have a feeling, such as sadness, and indulge in it. But one can also simply see the sadness, concentrate on the breath, be here and now and let the sadness pass by as it appeared without it being completely soaking up us.

The fact that we are no longer able to follow everything that conditions us is really the prerequisite for freedom. See clearly what conditions us, but not follow it. This is really the fruit of zazen practice.

Seventy people sit here during a sesshin. Much karma manifests. If we weren't in the dojo, everyone would do something, say something, get upset, cry. And now: everything passes like a movie. You don't get carried away by it. It's a very valuable experience.
Then there are people who say, “What do I do after the sesshin? I'm in trouble again, in emotions. " That's why I said, "Then you have to come back to zazen." Zazen is really a recipe that you have to keep renewing. As with chronic diseases, you have to have a recipe that will last forever.


Past karma emerges in practice. That can be scary. I often see in the dojo that people don't get past this point. They feel bad and then they stop coming. An old nun once said to me, “Zazen opens the suitcase.” Do you have any advice on how to help such people keep going anyway?

Perhaps by saying, “This is a phase that is passing. We all had this experience. "

I'm already saying that. But it's no use.

People don't trust. Therefore it is very important to try to pass on this trust. One way is to use the examples of the old masters who also had karma and various experiences, but who in the end really found the deep peace of nirvana.

Master Deshimaru told us: “The stronger the illusions, the attachments, the bonnos, the bigger the satori.” When people have big bonnos, big delusions, that make them suffer, they should be reminded of this teaching. It is often the case that people who are completely desperate suddenly let go. So deep hopelessness becomes a source of awakening.

To do this, of course, you have to continue with the practice. As one continues to practice, any obstacles one encounters on the way become opportunities to awaken. But a lot of people don't like these obstacles. They would rather have a smooth path with no obstacles. They say to themselves: "A path with obstacles is not a good path." But on the contrary: the value of practice, the value of the path, is shown in how one overcomes the obstacles. When there is a major doubt or problem in the course of practice, one has to say to oneself, “This is an excellent stage to go through. What is happening here now? "

For you, as the person in charge of a dojo, it is perhaps also important, if people have confidence in you, to ask them: “What is happening in your life right now? What is really happening? How can you transform that? "

Then people start telling their whole life.

You also have to be able to listen. Kannon is the bodhisattva who hears the world's complaints. Often it is difficult to listen because you think you have to give an answer. There is no need to give an answer, often all you have to do is listen. That's enough. Little by little, the complaining becomes less. Like a baby crying. You cradle it in your arms and gradually it calms down.

I used to like to suffer in zazen from time to time. So I said to myself: “Nobody makes you suffer. You have a choice to suffer or not to suffer. ”And I made a decision not to suffer. That helped. Man is free to suffer or not to suffer. He just has to choose.


Is there good and bad karma, or is there just karma?

Karma is always good or bad. It's not neutral. Karma is in the realm of ethics, in the realm of good and bad, of right and wrong. But karma is always changing. Therefore, bad karma is not necessarily bad forever. Bad karma that creates suffering can also be the opportunity for a radical change in life. The more painful the karma, the more one can feel the desire to end this karma and, for example, to enter the practice of the path. - I have seen people in prison who really had a really bad past karma, but which was a great stimulus for them to practice zazen and change their karma.

There are very benevolent people who are doing very well and who ask themselves, “Why should I do zazen? I don't need that. ”It is often the case that what we call bad karma becomes an opportunity to enter the path. - I don't mean to say that everyone who practices zazen necessarily has bad karma. But one has to see that bad karma often awakens Bodaishin, the spirit of awakening. However, it also takes good karma to enter the path. You need both. You need the bad karma that creates the suffering and the desire to get out of it, and you need the good karma that gives you the opportunity to encounter Zen, to find a book, a master, a dojo. You also need an opportunity to get in touch with Zen. That is the result of good karma.

In our life, good and bad mix constantly. So it's very complicated. Hence, it is better to do zazen and let go of karma.


Has Buddha already spoken of karma himself, or did that only come about later?

No, not only was he talking about it, it's actually part of his own awakening. He has spoken many times about the night he experienced the awakening.

For me the idea of ​​karma is new and difficult to accept and understand.

That's right, it's hard. But not accepting this idea makes things even more difficult!


I wonder why I should bother with karma. The motivation to act is not necessarily to create good or bad karma. If I do an act of mushotoku, is it outside of karma?

One can commit karmic acts even if one does not believe in or think about karma. It is enough that the action is conscious and willful and has positive or negative value. That's all. Whether you believe in it or not, whether you think about it or not, doesn't change anything at all. The law works. But if you do not ignore this law - which characterizes the awakened - you can play with it, you can use it to aid the liberation of all beings.

The worst thing is to ignore it. Then one does not see reality and is deceived, which is the main reason for this cycle to continue.

However, you used a very important word: mushotoku. In our practice of the path, one does not focus on doing what is right for the hope of getting good karmic effects. That is not the goal. Usually you just do what is right because you are awakened enough to be in touch with your true nature. This means that you cannot do anything wrong. So one can act rightly without thinking, “I will do this and that to avoid bad karma or to create good karma. It can be said that mushotoku, i.e. the act without a personal goal, is the remedy for the three poisons, greed, hatred and delusion, which are the cause of all suffering. So the mushotoku act is the truly awakened act.


I have a question about karma: it is clear that what I create affects me. But if an accident happens to me that does not come directly from me, it is a coincidence. For example, if a person dies of illness whom I like very much and I suffer very much from it, I see no connection to my karma from before.

Because the causes of karma are very complex, one does not always see the relationship. And I think there is no need to want to see the relationship. Taking the cause and effect view of karma helps a lot in accepting what is happening and turning it into a teaching, an opportunity for awakening and liberation. If you think: Everything is absurd ’, There is no cause and no effect for which you are responsible’, you see yourself as a victim. This view does not help us to move forward.

I believe that the karma view has above all the merit of making us more responsible and letting us go in the direction of greater freedom by recognizing that what happens to us is due to causes and that if we are Acts here and now differently from what was previously done, creates new causes that will create new, different effects. That said, there is a possibility of change. So we are not forced to a fate because we have our responsibilities. I believe that this is a very positive view that is of great help in the practice of the path and life in general. Even if you can't prove it scientifically.

Since that cannot be proven, believe it or not. But you can find that your life is different depending on how you think. I believe that in the end thoughts are only worth what they let us live. E.g. the only function of the thought of voidness - a basic idea of ​​Buddhism, Zen, Mahayana - is to help us to set ourselves free.

Do you speak of Ku?

Yes. But if you cling to Ku, you become Ku's prisoner. All Buddhas, all masters have only taught voidness to help people get rid of their ego. I think the same goes for karma. When you take on the karma perspective, it gives you a perspective on life that will help you free yourself. If you reject this term, it is more difficult.

I have been told that karma is hereditary.

This is utter nonsense. There is no hereditary karma, nor is it contagious.


Bad deeds have bad effects. I think of many people who did bad deeds all their lives and then died very quickly and painlessly. At the end of life the body dies and there is no eternal soul either. I asked myself: Who is experiencing the bad effects?

It seems to me that there is no point doing good things if you are not looking at the same time.

Karma is the world of the ego. It has a relative existence. Our actions have good or bad effects. It depends on their nature. But these effects are only the continuation of the deeds. Just as rebirth is the continuation of a previous life, but it is not tied to a person. It is not an ego that is being reborn.

Every time you ask questions like this, I always think that these are the worst questions you can ask. Questions about karma are very difficult. What transmigrates in the end, what continues, is karma itself. It is the process of karma. But there is no substantial soul that creates this karma and receives the effects.

There are many comparisons to agriculture. You always start with the seed: a fully grown acorn bears fruit, the acorns fall to the ground, and a new tree will develop from it. This new oak is the continuation of the oak that the acorn came from. It's not the same oak, but it's not entirely different either. It's like continuing a process. Such is karma. If one studies well the scriptures of Buddhism on the subject, one finds interesting explanations, but none can really satisfy the mind. You can't imagine how that should actually work.

It can also be considered a myth. Sometimes I tell myself that karma and rebirth are myths. If you consider them to be myths, that is, if they cannot be scientifically proven, what is really important is the effects produced by the myth.

I find that this myth has very positive effects, because it helps to get a deep sense of the responsibility for our actions and to accept that life is not chaos, but that there is a certain order and thus a possibility of change, of improvement. It is precisely because there is no truly satisfactory explanation and no substantial mind that it becomes possible for us to free ourselves and to awaken.If there was a substantial mind, no liberation would be possible. Then there would be something solid and rigid that would prevent the transformation, the liberation. The difficulty is exactly what makes the realization possible. The fact that there is no ego and that continuity cannot be explained is reality itself, the essential reality. When you understand this deeply, transmigration continues. - What transmigrates in the end? - Just an illusion.


Did Buddha Escape the Law of Cause and Effect?

Yes, when he was last born. - Maybe I'll be reborn as a fox for this answer! - The question was once put to a master who replied that an awakened being actually escapes the law of causality. It is said that because of this answer, he was reborn as a fox for five hundred lives. One day the ghost of this old monk, who had been transformed into a fox, attended a lecture by Master Hyakujo and told him his story. He asked Hyakujo, "Could you help me deliver me from this cycle of rebirths as a fox?" Hyakujo replied, “Yes. You just have to ask me again the question that you were asked. ”Then the old monk asked the question again:“ Does an awakened being escape the law of causality? ”And Hyakujo answered him:“ It does not ignore it. ”The old monk woke up instantly and left his transmigration as a fox.

One might think that Hyakujo's answer means that even an awakened being is subject to karma. So, in general, Hyakujo's answer is interpreted as confirmation that the karmic causality is universal. But his answer is much more subtle, neither yes nor no: "It doesn't ignore it." That is, the awakened being is fully awakened to the appearance of karmic causality. So he can freely use them to awaken others.

So it can be said that he is not subject to karmic causality. But neither is he outside of her.


Can something be done for the karma of those who have already passed away?

Yes. This is the meaning of all the ceremonies that are done for the dead. It can be said to be based on belief in the transfer of merit. It's been around for a very long time, and not just in Mahayana. Since the beginning of the Buddha's teaching, there has been an idea that merits can be transferred to others. For example, doing a sesshin is good karma, good practice, and it can be used as an opportunity to do a ceremony and dedicate it to the dead, as a kind of prayer that the positive effects of this practice may reach those who who need help to convert their karma. This is also an essential aspect of the bodhisattva.

Ultimately, however, the transfer of merits cannot awaken others: you cannot awaken someone else. You can only awaken yourself. One cannot pass on awakening. However, the transfer of merit can provide people with the best conditions for self awakening.


I want to ask a question about karma and rebirth. For me it is difficult to see the connection between a life and a new life resulting from it. For me, the theory would be more acceptable if it were about the fact that this life had an impact on several people living later.

This completely contradicts the teachings of the Buddha. Because that would mean that it is not you who receive the result of your karma, but others. The Buddha called this a nihilistic conception and rejected it for various reasons. The main reason was that this view has a negative impact on this life, because it encourages an irresponsible view of one's own actions: I am doing some foolishness and the others have to spoon up the soup.

But who continues there?

You exist and you don't exist at the same time. One does not exist as a substantial, permanent ego, but as a stream of karmic action. This is described in the 12 inside. This flow of karmic action continues.

Our actions affect our environment, not just ourselves, but these are not karmic effects. For example, if you pollute the environment, your actions will affect nature and other beings will suffer as well. It is a consequence of your karma, but it is not a karmic causality. Your karma also has effects that are not karmic, effects on the environment for example.

Karmic effects are called effects that affect the continuity of the 12 inside. This continuity is carried by the awareness of rebirth. It's hard to understand, but I think it's better to think in that perspective, even if it's hard to understand, because all the other theories are much worse and less satisfactory.

Of course, when Buddha speaks of previous lives that he has seen, it can be said that he has seen all of his previous lives.

Yes, he has seen these lives. He explained that himself.

Can't it be interpreted as saying that because we're not really apart, he has seen all the possible lives a person can live?

He saw that too. He saw both. He himself said that on the big night that ended with his awakening, he first saw the rebirths of other people. Then he said that people are born again because of their karma, that every being is heir to their karma. Then he contemplated his own previous lives, thousands of previous lives. His own lives depended on his own karma.

Then he asked himself how one can get out of this chain of rebirths that implies suffering. He asked himself why you age, get sick and die. And he has started to understand the 12 inside: You get old, you get sick, you die because you are born. To put an end to dukkha one has to put an end to childbirth. But birth is conditioned: there are reasons why one is born, it is not a coincidence. Then he went back in the chain to the point of delusion. And when he understood this circle, he had the impression that he had found the way that could put an end to this linkage. He then taught him in a different form, in the form of the four noble truths and the eightfold path.


A question about karma, it is said that if I do something with the best of intentions but the result is negative, the good intentions outweigh the rest.

No. If there is a negative impact, it means that you have acted without wisdom. Even if you had good intentions. You are responsible for acting without wisdom. You are at least responsible for a certain negligence in not thinking about the negative consequences of your actions. It is not enough to have good intentions. In France it is said that hell was created out of good intentions. So good intent alone is not enough.

But it is true, at the level of karma, intention is very important. If one acts with a bad intention, that is the cause of bad karma. But it is not enough to have good intention in order to generate good karma. You also have to think, you also have to act with wisdom. In other words, a good heart is not enough.

A Theravada monk used the following example: when someone has compassion for a sick person, desperately wants to find a remedy for the sickness, goes to a medicine cabinet, takes a medicine and gives it to the sick person without thinking about possible contraindications or the dosage of the medicine , he may be killing the person he was trying to help. He acted with good will but without wisdom. It cannot be said that he created good karma.

If I could give an example: I might be given the task of painting window frames on a summer's day and I know beforehand that many insects will get caught in the paint and die a horrific death. Can I do this or should I wait until it gets dark?

It is better to do this in the evening. Karma means thinking about the consequences of your actions. It is not enough just to obey the boss for it to result in good karma. You can also criticize an instruction if you see that it will have negative effects.

That can be very difficult at work.

That's right, that's tricky.


Buddha taught the Anatman. He taught that there is no independent self, that there is no immortal self. He also passed on the teaching of karma. For me there is a contradiction. If my actions have karmic effects, how can they continue after my death without a carrier of the information?

The carrier is consciousness.

In this case it would be a general consciousness.

No. You know yourself that this is the hardest question. I've said that many times. Attempts have been made to find all possible solutions to this apparent contradiction. But when the Buddha denies a permanent atman, an atman as the Hindus understand it, a substance, this does not mean that a consciousness that is not a permanent substance, but is constantly evolving and transforming, cannot continue to exist.

For example, one falls asleep in the evening with a certain state of consciousness. When you wake up in the morning, the state of consciousness is no longer exactly the same, but it is also not completely different. It's the continuation, something that goes on.

One must understand that the continuity, as the Buddha perceived it when he awoke, is a continuity in an interdependence that brings about change: change of the body, of consciousness, of all elements of being. This leads to the fact that in this life you are no longer exactly the same from moment to moment, but also not completely different.

Regarding the mystery of what happens between death and rebirth, it is very clear that consciousness undergoes transformation at the moment of death. It is not something that is removed from a dead body and implanted in a new body. The experience of death changes consciousness. But the stream of consciousness continues even if it has been changed after experiencing agony and death. It's not exactly the same as before, nor is it completely different, but a continuation.

I think the best method is not to succumb to nihilism, the belief that everything is over with death, that everything dissolves, nor to cling to the dogma of eternity, the belief that there is a substance at the bottom of our selves, that never changes, that is immortal and that is passed on from body to body. The Buddha rejected this.

This means that there is a consciousness that is not tied to the functions of the brain.

Yes. Of course there is a connection between consciousness and the brain, but there are psychological phenomena, e.g. the transmission of thoughts, in which one sees that consciousness is not limited to the space of the brain. Obviously there is an exit of the consciousness from the skull which enables the transmission of information without a material carrier. In a way, it sounds very mysterious.

I discussed this with a translator of the Buddha's Sutras who lives in France. He said: “In this room all kinds of waves move, radio waves, telephone waves, a lot of information flow around us without any material or other carrier. It is sufficient to have a suitable device, a telephone or a radio, so that this information suddenly becomes concrete without form or carrier: 'Ah, a picture, a sound, a voice!' have generated themselves. It is similar with the human mind, only that we cannot explain it yet. "

Even if the scientific means are lacking at the moment to prove the process of transmigration of a consciousness from a deceased individual to a newly formed cluster of cells and it is therefore now regarded as a myth, an object of belief of belief, in my opinion it is an excellent object of belief, the best myth. Compared to all other conceptions in the world, for me this is the best way to look at life and death. Because she maintains a sense of responsibility, which I find very important. If the effects of our actions were limited to this life only, if there were no karma effects from previous lives, so if one had a nihilistic point of view, there would be many negative consequences. But if we instead adopt the view of a continuation from birth to rebirth, we can become aware that what is happening to us is related to a karmic causality. It is not due to a bad fate or an evil demon turning against us. Our own responsibility creates our living conditions! This enables us on the one hand to accept them and on the other hand to change them. If one becomes aware of one's mistakes here and now and regrets them, as we sing it in Sangemon, one engages in a practice of life and change becomes possible in the course of existence.

The bodhisattva vows that we make are great vows that give deep meaning to life. But if we limit our scope of action to the few years that we have to live, we cannot realize them. It is obvious. One life is not enough to deal with all the bonnos. One can never realize all Dharma or save all beings in one life. But if you adjust to an unlimited amount of time, an unlimited number of lives, anything is possible.

One cannot prove that it is impossible for one existence to continue in another. But it is easy to understand that there are so many negative consequences if you don't believe in them, and that believing in them has really positive effects.

Our thoughts have relative value, but what impact our way of thinking has on our lives is important. This is exactly what Baso's teaching is about, which deals with the three worlds, the three worlds that form a single mind. What does that mean? This means that the world in which we live completely depends on our spirit. It is always believed that our world depends on the phenomena around us. But it depends very fundamentally on our state of mind, on the way we think. Depending on how we think, we can perceive the same world, the same phenomena in very different ways. I believe that if one thinks of rebirth with an understanding of karma, one can really step into the Buddha's path and practice the Buddha's Dharma in a really positive way.

But if one wishes to practice the Dharma of the Buddha with a nihilistic point of view, believing that after death it is all over, many obstacles can arise. Dogen thought so too. He said: “If you do not believe in several lives, in the karma result in the three times, you do not have the appropriate mind to enter the Buddha's path. You couldn't even reach him. ”He was very categorical about that. I have thought a lot about this teaching of Dogen. That led me to what I just explained.


As for your answer above, do you know that or do you believe it? And if you know how do you know

I neither know nor believe in it.It's between the two. I think like I said yesterday that it is the best understanding. When I look at life and death in this way, my mind is much more positive and much more determined to practice the way. I find that this point of view is more correct than any other. Even if you can say at the moment that it is a myth, a vision of the world that cannot be scientifically proven, I consider it an extremely positive myth because it makes sense to humanity.

I myself have no experiences from my previous life. I cannot tell you, “During meditation I saw that I had this or that rebirth in the past.” And I cannot see what kind of rebirth I will experience in the future. I'm not looking for that kind of experience either. Maybe if I looked in that direction I would find something. There are certain types of meditation that make it possible to go back to previous lives or to get a clear view of the future. I do not seek that. I focus on the here and now because I think that all of the past is transformed by what I practice here and now, and that my future comes from what I practice here and now.

That doesn't mean I don't believe in past or future lives. I believe. My life and my way of practicing here and now is better with this belief. I find out.

For this reason I do not say, "You must think like me." I believe it and explain to you why I have accepted this belief. And I accepted it after thinking carefully about the teachings of the Buddha and Doge and watching what happened in my life and in the lives of others. But you can practice and tell yourself that you do not believe in past or future lives. That is the case with some of my students. But if you tell me that, I reply: “What a shame! But whatever you want. ”I can't insist that you see things that way, but I am convinced that this view is better than the nihilistic view, 'There was nothing before, there is nothing after, there is only that present moment. '

My own master, Master Deshimaru, has never urged me to believe in past or future lives. But he talked about karma. When speaking of karma, it implies past and future lives. He insisted, however, that you transform your karma here and now, which, by the way, is the only way to transform it: here and now.


Master Deshimaru said: “Your coming to Zen is a result of your good karma that you have acquired in this or in a previous life. I am convinced of this karma idea, especially when I look at my life. I also believe that you choose your parents' home.


But then what about the people who, for example, perish in attacks, or who are now dying by the thousands, as in China and Burma?

Not everything that happens is triggered by karma. For example, it cannot be said that all of the people who are killed in a tsunami, war or as a result of racial persecution have bad karma and that this karma has led them to find themselves in this bad situation.

Buddha said that what happens to us is produced by five different causes. Karma is just one of the possible causal chains. Buddha understood the complexities of reality very well. He didn't like one-sided views. He said, "Anyone who believes that everything that happens is caused by karma has an exaggerated point of view." He said, "When you look at reality, you see for yourself that it is not true."

One might wonder why someone who has done well for 30 or 40 years, or a newborn who has not had time to commit any bad deed, dies in an accident. Of course you can then say that this is due to a karma from a previous life. It is possible, but not certain. There are also causes of accidents other than karma. There are other causes of illness than karma. This is very important.
Today, people who develop cancer - even people who are not necessarily Buddhists - believe that they created the cancer themselves. Other people tend to reinforce their belief, "You are responsible for your illness." Partly, but not entirely. Because life is much more complex than that. A disease is not triggered by a single cause, but by a network of causes. Some of the causes may be karmic and some are not.

For example, the Buddha addressed climatic causes. These weren't karmic reasons for him. If someone walks in the street and is struck by lightning, one can of course say: Perhaps that was his karma, that he was in this place at that moment. But the cause of the lightning was physico-geographical, climatic. It doesn't have to be karma that caused the person to be struck by lightning.

It's very important to look at things this way, otherwise life will get very complicated and you tend to feel a lot of guilt whenever something happens: 'Oh, that's my karma.' Of course, it's good to be over Thinking about karma, but one shouldn't believe that there is only that. Karma is maybe 20% or 30% of the causes. There are other things that happen that are not related to our karma.

Buddha very much insisted that karma above all determines the conditions of our birth. In other words: in what kind of country, in what kind of family we are born, with what frailty or with what physical health we are born. You can compare karma a bit with a card game: At the beginning of a card game you are given a certain set of cards. It is past karma that pushes this set of cards into our hands. At birth we receive certain faculties. This is very conditioned by past karma. But how our lives then play out - there are many factors.

If you see only karma everywhere, it also leads to saying to yourself, 'Well, the cause is in karma, so I don't need to do anything.' If you believe that everything is triggered by karma, you never will work against injustices. Because one says to oneself: 'What happens there is only the result of karma.' If you as a doctor believed in karma as the only ruling law, you would not cure the sick: 'If they get sick, it is their karma, so they should be left sick after all. If they have to die, all the better, then they get rid of their karma quickly. ”That leads to a generalized fatalism.

Of course karma can play a role. It is important to think about your karma. But above all, it is important to think about the karma we are creating now. What karma are we creating now that will develop in the future? Thinking about your past karma doesn't help much. In Zen, it is recommended to concentrate here and now, not to create bad karma, but good karma - for yourself and for others. So we share the commandments to help. Because here and now we have the strength to change the direction things are going.

When Master Deshimaru said, "Thanks to a past good karma, you were able to encounter Zen", that is certainly true. But there are many people who have encountered Zen in this life, but very few, very few, have moved on. Many people who have had this opportunity because of good past karma have wasted this opportunity. This shows what is most important: What do we do here and now with the elements that have been given to us by karma, by life?

When others are suffering, one should never say to oneself that this is due to their karma and that it is their bad luck.


If I understand Buddhist teaching correctly, not creating karma does not mean not acting.

There are actions that do not create karma. These are actions that are not guided by a specific intention, with a moral ulterior motive, to do the good or the bad.

That ties in with what I said about what it means to act without ego. To act with ego means to act out of the idea that one makes of oneself. Acting with ego also means acting with intent, with good or bad intent. This is what triggers the karma. One acts with an intention when one functions in dualism, when one acts in a personal consciousness and always thinks in the categories of good and bad.

Once you get used to practicing zazen, you think less in terms of good and bad than you give up your personal attachments - to reject your greed to hate your tendency to hate. Then you can in a natural way without thinking: 'I have to do the good' or 'I have to avoid the bad', 'I have to do well for good karma, in order to have good merit'. Little by little one behaves naturally, without calculating, with no intention of doing good or avoiding bad. The bad is not done naturally. This is beyond our intention, simply because one can no longer do the bad.

This is the teaching of Shoaku Makusa, based on a phrase from Ananda who says, "Nothing bad is done, all good is practiced naturally." Simply because our selfish tendencies have been abandoned. One who is fully animated by the hishiryo spirit of zazen naturally does the good without wanting to do the good or avoid the bad. He does not create karma because there is no intention behind it, it is spontaneous and natural.

This is the behavior of the people who are completely freed from their bonnos and who are called arhats. An arhat has completely purified his karmic tendencies, especially greed and hate tendencies. He does not act out of greed and hate, but spontaneously and from a pure mind, with a compassionate, benevolent mind. He doesn't even think about that. He can't do anything bad. Even if you provoke him, he can't do anything bad. That is one way to act without karma.

I think creating good karma isn't bad, but not creating karma is better.

Yes. - A bodhisattva who consciously practices the paramita and the commandments, that is, who does good and accumulates merit, ceaselessly vows to give these merits to others. He does not keep these merits for himself, but gives them to others. So good karma is an opportunity to practice fuse. Because one can dedicate the merits one receives from one's good karma to others. On the other hand, there are many people who do good only to get to Paradise or to have a good rebirth. At this moment, the good merits are completely wasted due to the selfishness behind it.


Is belief in reincarnation and karma part of our practice?

That was the first thing Buddha Shakyamuni awoke to. So it's important. But he awoke to it as a reality. While doing zazen, he saw his past lives clearly. It wasn't a belief for him. This experience, this vision, made him develop the karma theory, which is important in Buddhism. It says that we are the heirs of our past deeds. Because of this, we are responsible for our current life. By understanding the causes that made us who we are now and then focusing on right practice, one can change those causes and conditions and evolve.

What is called believing in karma actually means recognizing that nothing happens by accident. Everything that defines us is the result of causes and conditions. We are the fruit of interrelationships. This correlation does not end with death. She goes on. Buddha insisted that one should not take a nihilistic point of view, like the materialists who believe that everything ends the moment you die. But he also insisted that one shouldn't take an eternal standpoint. There is no such thing as an ego substance that goes on forever. What is born again is not identical to what was before. It is the consequence, the continuation of a karma.

If you haven't had this experience, you don't have to believe in it because Buddhism is not based on belief. But you have to develop a point of view about things that you have not yet experienced, things that seem inexplicable, for example, “What was before birth?” “What happens after death?” - I believe Buddhas The karmic causality point of view is a good point of view. Because it encourages responsibility and stimulates the desire for further development. This is the opposite of fatalism and nihilism.

What creates what one thinks in us? I have had the experience that when I think in karma terms, those thoughts are stimulating. I don't see karma as fatalism. I encourage the people who practice with me to adopt this view of the world. But I don't want to force it on. I'm just showing the merit of seeing things that way. My role as Godo is to show the right practice to enable everyone to experience the truth through themselves.

In what is not directly experienced, one can trust a sage like Shakyamuni, or one can remain in an agnostic attitude. But it's not very stimulating.

The most important thing in Zen is, and it can be experienced, to see the causality in the present life, to see the effects of our thoughts, our words, our actions in this life, and to see how we are every day, even every moment depending on our thoughts, on our state of mind, transmigrate. Zen practice means concentrating here and now: "What world do I live in, here and now, depending on my state of mind?", "How do I create my life in each moment?" This is important. - Before birth, after death ... You can't avoid thinking about it. But that's not something to cling to. What matters is what happens here and now. This is what we focus on in Zen. No need to worry about before and after. If one has a right practice in every moment, everything that was wrong before becomes right. And if one has a right practice now, everything that comes after that will be affected by that practice. Therefore, one only focuses on what is important in the moment.