Karma – Actions and their Consequences (transcript)

A commentary by Gelek Rimpoche

A fragment from chapter 4

When the Carnival is over...
Good evening everybody. I have seen a little bit of the carnival that is going on for the last couple of days. Whether the carnival is over or not, I think, depends on the individual. It depends on whether the melodrama of the individual''s life is over or not.

When we look at our behavior, our way of thinking, our attitude, and our way of dealing with the incidents of life, then we really see a carnival. Sure. It is full of melodrama. That''s what our life is.

Those of us who claim to be interested in the spiritual path, if we look and observe our lives carefully, we see that we are playing dramas. And who is the actor or actress? And who is the experiencer of the drama? I think nobody but ourselves. It is sad, very sad, but that''s the way it is.

Why is it sad? Because we pass our time contributing practically nothing. We can do nothing either. Why? Because of lack of understanding, lack of seeing the truth, lack of knowing what happens the day after. That''s true to each one of us, or not? Would you think a little bit about yourself? When you are doing things, when you function, do you exactly know what you are doing?

My observation of the western world, and particularly of people on the spiritual path like us, including myself, is that we don''t seem to know what we are doing. Isn''t that our first problem, that we don''t know what we are doing? Look at the meditators, the dharma-practitioners, look at whatever you name it, any spiritual person; what I see is that the biggest problem, is: a lack of understanding what we are doing! Lack of finding the spiritual goal, and lack of finding a correct method are the problems I noticed. When you don''t know your goal, then what do you dream of? I don''t know. I don''t think people have a proper way of putting their energy together in a proper channel. When you can''t put your energy together in a proper channel then you can not achieve anything.

Let us go to the basis. What is a spiritual practice? How can we make our melodrama of life to be over? Or, since the topic tonight is called ''When the carnival is over...'': how does one get the carnival of life to be over? We''ll talk about that from the basis.

According to Buddha''s teachings, we don''t get it over. Why not? Because we create more and more of it. So it continues. Buddha called that karma: we create our own things and we have to experience [the consequences of] our own deeds. We ourselves are totally responsible for our own deeds; no one else can do anything about that. We created the cause of this melodrama of our life, and that will continuously bring one life-show after the other, because that is the result.

How do those causes get created? We create them ourselves, nobody else does. How do we do it? Do we know what we are doing? We don''t. That''s why from the beginning I raised the question: Do we know what we are doing? We don''t. We probably know what we are doing, but we pay no attention. We are not aware of our actions and most of the time we act without thinking. We say things, we act, we function mostly without realizing. I should not say without thinking, but without realizing what we are doing. In one way it might seem to be good, because it gives us an effortless way of functioning; on the other hand it invites a lot of troubles.



Why do we function the way we do? That''s the question. The answer is: because we are so used to it. Whatever happens to us, whatever circumstances we meet with, though you may like to call it our ''natural instinct'' or ''natural intuition'', it happens because we are so used to it; we handle things in such a way that they become effortless actions, one after the other. This effortless, automatic functioning we carry out, we call habitual patterns.

The habitual patterns we have in our lives mainly produce more complications. Why do we do more complicated things all the time? Because of lack of change in our habitual patterns. Why don''t we change them? Because, number one, we are not aware of them.

Number two: We don''t know the way to change them. We are not even sure what is good for us. We go half way through an action, and then ask questions, like: ''Is this good for me?'' We ask questions to everybody, and fifty percent of the people will tell you: ''Good!'' The other fifty percent will tell you: Not good! And you yourself are not sure. So you go halfway through and then you don''t know how to go back. You try to go along, but within you you have the push and pull. It is almost like you have two different types of personality within you, like a multi-personality type of person. Then things don''t give you good results at all, your efforts and your energy is wasted.

My suggestion is: From the beginning look carefully. It is not necessary for you to follow buddhism. It is not necessary to follow hinduism, it is not necessary to follow any kind of religion or ''-ism''. But what is absolutely necessary is: Changing your habitual pattern!

Habitual patterns design and create our future shape. Our habitual patterns have been built up since a number of lives. I''m sorry, I''m a buddhist, so I do believe in past, present and future lives. Our habitual patterns are not designed today. They have been designed for a number of lives. So they are difficult to change. Trying to change them is hard; you have to swim against the current. It''s easy to swim with the current; you reach [whatever you want] very fast, but if you have to crawl against the current, it is really hard.

Mind you, the way we lived so far brought us this kind of life; using those habitual patterns we have got this life, which is not totally problem-free but also not too bad. We have been told that even something worse then this can happen. We always look for improvement, and above all: we are looking for happiness. No one can deny that. Whoever you may be, you are looking for happiness.

Our actions design our future. If you are looking for happiness, you should shape your future better. In order to shape your future better you have to become aware of what you are doing. We can not act like a zombie. This is our problem: we half act like a zombie and half like a robot. Half like a robot, because by the western education we are programmed which way to act. And half like a zombie, because we don''t know what we are doing. Now think: this being half a robot and half a zombie, can that bring happiness?

So what shall we do? If you are interested in spirituality, this is the beginning of where you look. What to do? De-program yourself. I don''t mean to forget your western education, but de-program yourself. And you need awareness! Pay attention! Watch what you are doing! Watch what you are thinking!

© Jewel Heart 2001