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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
buddhadharma| 65 |spring 2007 ways as times goes on. NormaN fisher: The bigger questions of the karma of past lives or the karma that gives rise to whole world systems, and all the various doctrinal elaborations, are efforts to explain in logical ways an experiential and intuitive feeling about the inexorable working of karma that arises from deep practice. It is not really possible to account conventionally for such an understanding. Your explanations will be found wanting. robiN korNmaN: I think we have living examples of people who not only have seen those deep workings of karma but also have come to master them, as we were speaking about earlier with respect to the Buddha and Gesar of Ling. I was lucky enough to serve the Sixteenth Karmapa, the late head of the Kagyu lineage. He’s supposed to be a being who is so enlightened that he can control his reincarnation and reincarnate again and again to be the chief lama in the Kagyu tradition. His title means “man of karma,” to acknowledge his mastery over karma. That refers to his ability to perceive the future effects of present actions in such a way that when he recommends that someone take something up, it is nearly certain to lead to beneficial results. I saw it happen many times. That’s an inspiring example that informs the little glimpses I get in my daily sitting practice of how karma actually works. ajahN amaro: When I think and talk about the workings of karma on a large scale, I liken it to the first law of thermodynamics: the sum total of all energy in the universe is constant. With respect to karma, I think of it as the law of the conservation of consciousness. All causes must have their effects, and those effects will ripple through the whole system. What gets reborn from one life to another, one day to another, one moment to another, is heaps of habits and insights. How are they carried? An action in one place can bear fruit in a far-off place. If you think of an earthquake under the sea, the shockwave goes through the water and emerges hundreds or thousands of miles away, first as a giant wave arising up from the sea and then eventually as ripples on a shore someplace very far away. The rebirth process is like that. The kind of movement of energy across space and time is what we experience as the rebirth process. Someone like the Karmapa, a person who is so deeply intuitive, or the Buddha is able to feel out those waves and know where those waves are going, what shape they’re going to take. If you’re an orchestral musician, you probably can’t write the mathematical equations for the vibrations of the catgut on your violin, but you know exactly what the second violins are supposed to be doing to be in tune with the orchestra. So even if we can’t understand conceptually exactly how karma works, we can attend to the whole system. As Norman was saying, there’s an intuitive sense that deepens with meditation over time and that gives a sense of where things are going, what things are important, what shape they have. Your fingers know where to go to respond to the music, but you can’t necessarily explain what the music is. robiN korNmaN: On the other hand, there are extraordinary people like Bach who come along and can figure out the system. Vipas- sana can figure out things we haven’t figured out rationally. ➤ buddhadharma: It seems, then, that while we can’t lay out the Stop kidding around. Get serious with your practice! Earth-friendly furniture for meditation and daily life. Zafu, zabuton, smile, peace bench, yoga stuff, sleeping pillows, inflatable zafu, E-newsletter. www.zafu.net Free brochure 1-888-267-5366 to learn more about this ad see: www.zafu.net/about-the-ad.html