Kapow

Er zijn zo van die dingen die een mens bij het nekvel grijpen, even opheffen, en dan weer op de aarde terugdumpen, maar dan wel veranderd.

Paradigm-shifting experiences, en alles. Epifanieën. Aha-Erlebnissen.

Een tijd geleden kreeg ik van mijn huisarts The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep voorgeschreven, van Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Ik ben er vluchtig doorgegaan, en nu ben ik er minder vluchtig aan het doorgaan.

En ‘t is er gedomme niet naast, wat die braven mens vertelt—everything just kinda clicks into place, als het ware, soms:

ACTIONS AND RESULTS: KARMA AND KARMIC TRACES

The culture in which we live conditions us, but we carry the seeds of conditioning with us wherever we go. Everything that bothers us is actually in our mind. We blame our unhappiness on the environment, our situation, and believe that if we could change our circumstances we would be happy. But the situation in which we find ourselves is only the secondary cause of our suffering. The primary cause is innate ignorance and the resulting desire for things to be other than they are.

Perhaps we decide to escape the stresses of the city by moving to the ocean or the mountains. Or we may leave the isolation and difficulties of the country for the excitement of the city. The change can be nice because the secondary causes are altered and contentment may be found. But only for a short while. The root of our discontent moves with us to our new home,  and from it grow new dissatisfactions. Soon we are once again caught up in the turmoil of hope and fear.

Or we may think that if we just had more money, or a better partner, or a better body or job or education, we would be happy. But we know this is not true. The rich are not free from suffering, a new partner will dissatisfy us in some way, the body will age, the new job will grow less interesting, and so on. When we think the solution to our unhappiness can be found in the external world, our desires can only be temporarily sated. Not understanding this, we are tossed this way and that by the winds of desire, ever restless and dissatisfied. We are governed by our karma and continually plant the seeds of future karmic harvest. Not only does this mode of action distract us from the spiritual path, but it also prevents us from finding satisfaction and happiness in our daily life.

As long as we identify with the grasping and aversion of the moving mind, we produce the negative emotions that are born in the gap between what is and what we want. Actions generated from these emotions, which include nearly all actions taken in our ordinary lives, leave karmic traces.

Karma means action. Karmic traces are the results of actions, which remain in the mental consciousness and influence our future. We can partially understand karmic traces if we think of them as what in the West are called tendencies in the unconscious. They are inclinations, patterns of internal and external behavior, ingrained reactions, habitual conceptualizations. They dictate our emotional reactions to situations and our intellectual understandings as well as our characteristic emotional habits and intellectual rigidities. They create and condition every response we normally have to every element of our experience.

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Any reaction to any situation—external or internal, waking or dreaming—that is rooted in grasping or aversion, leaves a trace in the mind. As karma dictates reactions, the reactions sow further karmic seeds, which further dictate reactions, and so on. This is how karma leads to more of itself. It is the wheel of samsara, the ceaseless cycle of action and reaction.

Although this example focuses on karma on the psychological level, karma determines every dimension of existence. It shapes the emotional and mental phenomena in an individual’s life as well as the perception and interpretation of existence, the functioning of the body, and the cause and effect dynamism of the external world. Every aspect of experience, however small or large, is governed by karma.

The karmic traces left in the mind are like seeds. And like seeds, they require certain conditions in order to manifest. Just as a seed needs the right combination of moisture and light and nutrients and temperature in order to sprout and grow, the karmic trace manifests when the right situation is encountered. The elements of the situation that support the manifestation of the karma are known as the secondary causes and conditions.

It is helpful to think of karma as the process of cause and effect, because this leads to the recognition that the choices made in responding to any situation, internal or external, have consequences. Once we really understand that each karmic trace is a seed for further karmically governed action, we can use that understanding to avoid creating negativity in our life, and instead create conditions that will influence our lives in a positive direction. Or, if we know how, we can allow the emotion to self-liberate as it arises, in which case no new karma is created.

NEGATIVE KARMA

If we react to a situation with negative emotion, the trace left in the mind will eventually ripen and influence a situation in life negatively. For example, if someone is angry with us and we in turn react with anger, we leave a trace that makes it more likely for anger to arise in us again, and furthermore it becomes more likely for us to encounter the secondary situations which allow our habitual anger to arise. This is easy to see if we have a great deal of anger in our lives or if we know someone who does. Angry people continually encounter situations that seem to justify their anger, while people with less anger do not. The external situations may be similar but the different karmic inclinations create different subjective worlds.

If an emotion is expressed impulsively it can generate strong results and reactions. Anger can lead to a fight or some other kind of destruction. People can be harmed physically or emotionally. This is not true just of anger; if fear is acted out it too can create great stress for the person who suffers it, can alienate that person from others, and so on. It is not too difficult to see how this leads to negative traces that influence the future negatively.

If we suppress emotion, there is still a negative trace. Suppression is a manifestation of aversion. It occurs through tightening something inside of ourselves, putting something behind a door and locking it, forcing part of our experience into the dark where it waits, seemingly hostile,until the appropriate secondary cause calls it out. This may manifest in many ways. For example, if we suppress our jealousy of others, it may eventually manifest in an emotional outburst, or it may be present in the harsh judgment of others of whom we are secretly jealous, even if we deny this jealousy to ourselves. Mental judgment is also an action, based on aversion, that creates negative karmic seeds.

POSTIVE KARMA

Instead of either of these negative responses—being driven in our behavior by the karmic tendency or suppressing it—we can take a moment to stop and communicate with ourselves and choose to produce the antidote to the negative emotion. If someone is angry with Lis and our own anger arises, the antidote is compassion. Inducing it may feel forced and inauthentic at first, but if we realize that the person irritating us is being pushed around by his own conditioning, and further realize that he is suffering a constriction of consciousness because he is trapped in his own negative karma, we feel some compassion and can start to let go of our negative reactions. As we do, we begin to shape our future positively.

This new response, which is still based on desire—in this case for virtue or peace or spiritual growth—produces a karmic trace that is positive; we have planted the seed of compassion. The next time we encounter anger we are a little more likely to respond with compassion, which is much more comfortable and spacious than the narrowness of self-protective anger. In this way, the practice of virtue cumulatively retrains our response to the world and we find ourselves, for instance, encountering less and less anger both internally and externally. If we continue in this practice, compassion will eventually arise spontaneously and without effort. Using the understanding of karma, we can retrain our minds to use all experience, even the most private and fleeting daydreams, to support our spiritual practice.

LIBERATING EMOTIONS

The best response to negative emotion is to allow it to self-liberate by remaining in non-dual awareness, free of grasping and aversion. If we can do this, the emotion passes through us like a bird flying through space; no trace of its passage remains. The emotion arises and then spontaneously dissolves into emptiness.

In this case, the karmic seed is manifesting—as emotion or thought or bodily sensation or an impulse toward particular behaviors—but because we do not respond with grasping or aversion, no seed of future karma is generated. Every time that envy, for example, is allowed to arise and dissolve in awareness without our becoming caught by it or trying to repress it, the strength of the karmic tendency toward envy weakens. There is no new action to reinforce it. Liberating emotion in this way cuts karma at its root. It is as if we burn the karmic seeds before they have an opportunity to grow into trouble in our life.

You may ask why it is better to liberate emotion rather than to generate positive karma. The answer is that all karmic traces act to constrain us, to restrict us to particular identities. The goal of the path is complete liberation from all conditioning. This does not mean that, once one is liberated, positive traits such as compassion are not present. They are. But when we are no longer driven by karmic tendencies we can see our situation clearly and respond spontaneously and appropriately, rather than being pushed in one direction or pulled inanother. The relative compassion that arises from positive karmic tendencies is very good, but better is the absolute compassion that arises effortlessly and perfectly in the individual liberated from karmic conditioning. It is more spacious and inclusive, more effective, and free of the delusions of dualism.

Although allowing emotion to self-liberate is the best response, it is difficult to do before our practice is developed and stable. But however our practice is now, all of us can determine to stop for a moment when emotion arises, check in with ourselves, and choose to act as skillfully as possible. We can all learn to blunt the force of impulse, of karmic habits. We can use a conceptual process, reminding ourselves that the emotion we are experiencing is simply the fruition of previous karmic traces. Then we may be able to relax our identification with the emotion or point of view, and let go of our defensiveness. As the knot of emotion loosens, the identity relaxes and grows more spacious. We can choose a more positive response, planting seeds of positive karma. Again, it is important to do this without repressing emotion. We should relax as we generate compassion, not rigidly suppress the anger in our body while trying to think good thoughts.

The spiritual journey is not meant to benefit only the far future or our next life. As we practice training ourselves to react more positively to situations, we change our karmic traces and develop qualities that effect positive changes in the lives we are leading right now. As we see more clearly that every experience, however small and private, has a result, we can use this understanding to change our lives and our dreams.

Ik ga nog helemaal aan de boeddhismen geraken, ik.

Doe mee met de conversatie

8 reacties

  1. Pingback: G e r r i t J.
  2. Ik verlies mijn draad zo’n beetje in die non-dual awareness, tot daar vind ik het begot goed. En ik heb wel iets met emoties, dus ik denk dat ik bij positieve karma generatie ga blijven. De rest is voor een volgend leven dan maar.

  3. Allemaal goed en wel, maar de bedenker van deze theorieën gaat er wel van uit dat mensen in sé goed zijn. Wanneer je geconfronteerd wordt met oneerlijkheid, slechte mensen en geweld, dan ben je niet veel met die positieve zaadjes… dan moet een mens pisnijdig worden en alsook in diezelfde lijn reageren, niet?

    In other news: bij onze regeringsvormers zouden ze ook beter wat meer ‘compassion’ voelen t.o.v. elkaar. Of zit er hier ook een rotte appel in de mand met enkel oneerlijke en slechte bedoelingen? ;-p

  4. @Johannes: vreemd genoeg heb ik niet het gevoel dat de bedenker of schrijver er van uit gaat dat de mensen goed zijn. Hij vraagt om compassie, om te begrijpen wat er achter die woede of die oneerlijkheid zit, en daardoor zelf geen woede te creeren in jezelf. Maar das niet bepaald makkelijk, vind ik.

    Toch een opmerking : er wordt nergens in de tekst gesproken over andere mensen te helpen – het is klaarblijkelijk allemaal ‘zelf’hulp ?

  5. Het is de beste verklaring die ik tot nu toe heb gelezen voor het trachten bereiken van wat in het Boeddhisme verlichting heet.
    Het eerste deel doet me zelfs in al zijn eenvoud een beetje denken aan het oude spreekwoord van hier:”Wie het geluk thuis niet vindt, vindt het nergens.” Gewoon omdat het ook gaat over het feit dat je altijd meer kan willen en het gevoel van gemis nooit hoeft op te houden, zolang je mentaal voor jezelf geen tevredenheid bereikt met wat is.
    (ook @Johannes de Doper en Alex) Prachtig dat erbij verteld wordt dat onderdrukken van gevoelens geen zin heeft. Het gaat inderdaad altijd om het plaatsen van de dingen, zoals bijvoorbeeld andermans woede en wat die woede met de ander doet, beseffen dat hij of zij een groter slachtoffer is dan jij. Ook al krijg jij bvb. een tik op je kop en ben je voor de rest van je leven verlamd en hij stinkend rijk, omdat bla, bla, bla, … In een breder perspectief is hij het grootste slachtoffer. Net zoals in het Christendom waar de andere wang geboden wordt. Om te vechten moet je met twee zijn. Als er een niet meedoet, is het altijd sneller afgelopen. Zoals we weten gaan Boeddhisten in hun passifisme zeer ver. Voor ons lijken zij misschien domme kloten die op hun kop laten kakken. Maar zitten wij met onze aanpak zoveel beter in ons vel?
    Volgens mij is het aartsmoeilijk om die staat van zijn te bereiken als je het in zijn geheel bekijkt, als een soort van overtocht al zwemmend over ’t kanaal ofzo. Maar als je elke dag alvast even stilstaat bij de idee en er af en toe in slaagt om de negativiteit niet meer toe te laten. Dan is dat misschien wel haalbaar. Elke stap vooruit is goed, niet?

  6. @ Alex. Dat past in de aziatische opvatting van vrede. Wij westerlingen zien, gevormd door de Pax Romana, vrede vooral als vrede in en met de gemeenschap.

    Aziaten zien vrede eerst als in vrede leven met jezelf, en als iedereen dat doet, volgt daaruit vrede in gemeenschap. Vandaar het ikgerichte.

    Deze tekst gaat over vrijheid in mijn ogen. Je heden en je toekomst niet meer laten leiden door je verleden. Maar hier doe je een mensenleven over.

    “Non-dual” omgaan conflicten, wow. Boven het conflict staan. Dit is bijzonder straf spul, Michel. Bedankt. (Ik ga linken en quoten op mijn pagina.)

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