Unraveling Karma and Creating Happiness
Unlike other systemized teachings in the time of Buddha which taught that karma was externally caused, Buddha taught that karma was caused by an individual’s own personal choices. More precisely, the making of or not making of skillful choices. The Sanskrit word karma literally means “action.” Karma also denotes change, movement of energy, and implies state or form of existence.
Karma is the secret of the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence. If it were not for all existence being impermanent, there would be no change. Without the possibility of change, there would be no possibility to create or influence. Impermanence then is a blessing.
When relating to the flow of karma, either one is actively creating with karma, or it’s effects are happening to them. Another way of saying this is: either the world’s use of meaning is dictating one’s experiences in life causing repeated suffering, or the meaning that you create with comes from within and is not dependent upon what goes on in the world.
Enlightenment is a state of being where there are no longer any personal biases or emotionally based reactions. Enlightenment is a state that has a baseline of sublime ease and soft inner peace, all of the time. Enlightenment is free from the cycle of reborn suffering, which is the cycle of karmic rebirth. This cycle of “rebirth” is instigated by personal biases and personal self-referencing. An enlightened individual has transcended this way of thinking. That is, thinking of persona as being one’s self.
The mechanism which instigates and maintains the cycles of the rebirth of karma is the personalized interpretations of meanings. Meanings, initially learned from others, are extrapolated from the circumstances in a person’s life, and then reinforced by one’s own interpretive ideas about others. Personal interpretations are dependent upon memories of the past, and upon projections into the future, and are a byproduct of unawareness of things as they truly exist.These meanings create expectations and aversions regarding what a person imagines should ideally happen to them in life to be happy. The focus can often become so preoccupied with a sense of self that nothing else can be perceived. All personal conflicts begin here. This blindness can be summarized in the following statements: “What does this mean to me?”, “What’s in it for me?”, “Why me?”, “This is mine.”, “I have a right.”. So we can see that the instigation and perpetuation of unskillful karma requires an imagined idea of life, fitting into that life, and a sense of a personal self.
Why is this line of thought being examined when we are looking at the ways of happiness? Because of one interesting fact – If there was no extrapolation of personal meaning from events in life, there would be virtually no negative karma. Everyone would automatically gravitate towards happiness naturally. Why does a personal sense of self-instigate karma? Because when an individual is attached to a sense of personal self, they are also attaching themselves to their own unique set of limitations. How? A person imagines objects, situations & people needing to be a certain way, in order to make themselves happy. Off of these imagined ways that life is supposed to be, they, in turn, imagine roles that need to be played out in order to match and fit into this imagined way of life. If things don’t work as imagined, blame is fixed which can only go two ways. Blame something or someone other than oneself and thereby become angry and/or aggressive, or blame oneself and develop a collage of denigrating emotional states of not being good enough.
When an individual defines who they are, they are using ideas to frame themselves into those definitions. They create by their own definitions, a set of self-limiting contexts outside of which they can not function. Whatever ideas a person uses to define themselves also defines what they are able to perceive, what they are able to be, or to accomplish. It defines what they are even able to experience. Everything else that is in life’s vastness passes by quietly unseen and it’s movements go completely unnoticed.
What is at the core of this persona based self and thus unskillful karma? The distinguishing of self from all other. That is why judgemental thinking needs to be overcome. Though the judgments in an individual’s thoughts can not affect another without the other’s cooperation, they do affect the individual themselves. It is this separation of self and other that binds an individual to the realms of dissatisfaction, and it is what cuts that person off from the flow of and connection with ways of life – the very living life energy itself. It is through the development of unconcern for self that happiness becomes available, and contentment as the door to inner peace is a consistent baseline.