Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Law "What you sow so Shall you reap?

“The light of any lamp dispels in a moment the darkness
of long eons;
The strong light of the mind in but a flash will
burn the veil of ignorance.”

Chapter II

The Great Law

      Now that you have an idea of karma, how it works, and its true nature and purpose we shall now begin our presentation of the twelve sacred laws of karma and they will be presented individually. We shall use the term principles and laws as a synonymous interchange of words. We begin our journey with the laws of Karma by introducing to you the first of the twelve principles termed as the Great Law. This law was shared with me in this manner and with these words offered from my teachers, “What you sow so shall you reap.” There is almost more causality in this one principle than in all the others, so it may be considered the greatest of the laws, hence its name and place in the sequence. When you fully understand this first principle, not only will the scope in which you operate narrow it will also add greater flexibility to you and to your life as a whole. Through the understanding of it it will also help you to understand the other principles and they in themselves shall become much simpler, having less impact in your life than they now do. No they do not go away but you will now know what they are and how they operate and with this knowledge life does become easier at least in the sense of knowing outcomes long before they ever arrive. It is the key to all life experience that we bring to us. Oh, I can hear you, “What does he mean, ‘we bring to us’?” Yes, you read correctly, for it is as though circumstances come to us by our request, coming first as our individual experience and then expanding to the collective experience. What goes into life and consciousness first occurs through the individual human and how they deem their experiences and then they are simply reflected back to us.

      This first law determines how life shall progress or evolve individually and collectively, whether it creates turmoil, stress, even war, or the opposite as it creates love, compassion and peace. It totally depends on what we first decide to plant, individually. They teach in the East, if there is an effect, there is always a cause which created that effect. One simply may not exist without the other, which is precisely the premise behind Newton’s third law! So if you want peace and joy in your life, in your home, the neighborhood, all countries, even the whole world, simply start where you are, by doing something about you. I suggest, quite literally, that we place our focus on our self first, not on others as we do most times. When we are focusing on our self, we would be much more aware of what we do than what others do and this is one main key when it comes to Karma, you not them. Allow others to take care of themselves and their own responsibility in what they do. Besides when we are focusing on others it distracts from the most important part of any individual life, you. Here are three questions you might ask, “If I am helpless and fearful, do I really cause this?” “Do these subsequently really draw the like experience to me?” “Am I, in fact, creating negatives in my own life simply by focusing on the fears and helplessness of others?”  It is suggested that you truly consider these questions as they have a large impact on each of us individually and collectively.
      While studying with the monks in the Far East, I vividly recall the day when Master Lobsang approached me and stating in his simple manner, “It is time for you to learn the ideas of cause and effect in us humans, known as Karma,” and further impressed upon me that these were going to be some of the most important principles I would come to learn during my sojourn with the Master teachers. Further, he wanted me to internalize them in the order they were taught, learning one Law at a time, so that working with them would be simpler for me as they will for you. He said, “Once learned, you will know how your life will unfold before the effects or events even occur. You will also learn to realize how you directly are able to influence your life and with greater ease by internalizing and living them not simply think them.” Following his request, “Come walk with me,” I began my exposure to the ideas of Karmic Law and to circumstances created by cause. During our walk one spring, just before we passed by the fields beside the monastery where monks were busy planting and harvesting, Master Lobsang turned to ask me pointing toward the fields and the activity taking place there, “Young man, what do you see?” I confidently replied, “Why Master, I see my brothers tending the fields by tilling the soil, with some monks planting seeds while others are harvesting some early crops.” He stated that we should sit under the shade of a tree so that he could talk with me about karma to which I related to you in the last chapter and we were going to begin the principles now. He understood that I was, indeed, observing Karma in the physical sense; however, it does not simply end there. Karma runs much deeper as it intertwines itself in all things like the roots of a plant that we do not see under the soil. We merely see the results of the seed but not until after it has sprouted this is much the way that karma itself works. We plant the seed it spreads its roots to take hold and then it springs into life. “Do you know what your mind, emotions and physical self do?” a question he asked for me to ponder. “Well, yes I do!” I immediately answered. “You may know what your body does, as we all do, for that is obvious,” Master Lobsang offered, “most of us, however, do not realize the impact that our mind and emotions have on that body. They are, in fact, our most important part because they determine our life, both in the short and long run.” I venture to say, if we truly knew their degree of impact, would we not be more judicious in how we operate them? Would we not become more aware of what we are thinking or feeling? Would we not know what our thoughts were doing? Would we not be more focused on the types of thoughts that we emanate? If we were then we may not allow them to wander as we do. These are all things that are more powerful than we may have ever imagined they wield more power than the body.

      These two tools, mind and emotions, actually do determine our outcomes in material life and we never know, at least in the way that we handle them now, what that will be until they sprout and grow. As they begin to grow we now have what we term as the experience or effect of what we planted and at times weeks or months before we realize the growth of what we planted. The return action from our creation is actually known as our created cause and it is what we term our experience. Master Lobsang further stated that these two personal aspects not only affect us directly, but they also affect those closest to us, which then affects our community, continuing their ripple effect ever outward to the entire world as they move straight into the idea of consciousness, wherefrom they are shared with every human and their experience in life. The mind and emotional arenas of the human contain the true impact on the idea of consciousness and collective mind while the body is simply the executioner of what these guide it to. Master Lobsang simply offered, “This is the Great Law which all people should learn to understand, what you sow so shall you reap. It is the prime basis of cause and effect.” I feel certain that you have had at least one experience which you did not particularly care for, am I correct?  The truth is you created the experience through the return actions of Karma, whether or not you believe this is not as important as the fact that this is the universal truth behind all experiences.

      What is this so-called Great Law? What is this prime principle of life really about? How does it work? Allow me to share this as my teachers taught it to me because it is very important especially to come to realize that we can work with it but only through knowing how it works. The Great Law of Karma simply stated is: What you sow, so shall you reap as suggested. You may shrug your shoulders while thinking, “Oh yeah, Jesus says that in the Bible.” Although the Christ is the one who is most quoted for saying it, he in fact did not originate it, for He was taught the principle, along with the other eleven Karmic Laws, during His sojourn in the Far East. All twelve principles are quoted by Him but in different phrasing but they are in the Bible also. The Great Law was actually recorded in the Vedas, the oldest known philosophic text in the world, a text predating Jesus by at least two millennia, a text even older than Buddhism, a teaching which holds the greatest number of practitioners who abide by this very principle. It is written about in the Bhagavad-Gita and stated by Krishna, in approximately 150 BCE. If I were to choose only one principle to follow, the Great Law is by far the only one that we could ever practice through all of life because of the simplicity in its purity. So what does this ‘simplicity in its purity’ all mean? We tend to think sowing a seed as simply planting a crop or garden like the monks that day with Lobsang; however, where the human is concerned in life, sowing is not limited to only physical action and activity. In every action perpetrated by us, we plant seeds which, by their very nature, must come to fruition and bear their own fruits. For a moment, imagine this prime principle as strictly literal and it “is” more than we may be willing to realize. Now ask yourself, “Which seeds am I planting in all I say and do?” When answering, please be very truthful with yourself and, once answered, take an honest and open introspective look at every circumstance in your life, openly viewing it as an impartial observer. Doing so you are more easily able to see the fruits your seeds have yielded and, perhaps now, you can understand why your life is precisely the way it is. And removing every idea or feeling of blame is vitally imperative during this process, as you transform your weed-filled garden, to a luscious fruit-filled grove. It is not my fault. It is not your spouse’s fault or your boss. When we place blame it negates personal responsibility which we shall enlarge upon in a later chapter dealing with this exact thing, blame.

If not seen in the physical, then what exactly are the seeds we sow and how do we plant them? Do you realize that we plant them in everything we do, constantly and continually? Ironically this was part of creation and in reality is our divine gift. We have the divine gift of planting weeds or fruitful lives it is our choice but not until we realize what and how we plant thus the idea of these twelve sacred laws. These are planted in every act, action, thought or emotion in which we emit and to think that they are all under our control should we so choose. There is no way around this! In truth our own lives are our very own creation through this very principle according to Master Lobsang. In truth, the simple concepts and ideas of Karma are to get each one of us to become aware of what we plant, not how the planting may be avoided or even circumvented, which is actually not possible. There are actually three varieties of seeds for which we are responsible to plant, the physical seeds (the obvious ones) which are contained in our every physical action or activity, and the more subtle seeds, the very powerful mental and emotional ones, with the emotional seeds being pre-eminent since they contain unrivaled power. In a general sense, it is the latter two, interestingly enough, that actually create all the physical activity because they generate all of the physical response or actions to what we think or feel toward something.

Let us first begin with the mental seeds, followed by the emotional ones, only to end this chapter with the physical seeds as they are the easiest to realize the consequences that will return. The physical seeds are the simplest to weed through and they also seem to grow or materialize the fastest without requiring nearly as much nurturing as do the mental and emotional ones. The mental and emotional seeds are a bit more complex by their very inherent nature because, at first they are invisible, while at some future point they will manifest in either a positive or negative return. And it is here that is within our sphere of control as the physical actions follow these two. Human seeds are similar to plant seeds in that, once they are buried beneath the soil of our mind, they elude our eye until they sprout. Once they break the surface, are they a weed or are they what we intended to plant or desired to plant? Can we easily tell the difference? In this scenario we must wait until they sprout so as not to inadvertently remove what we actually desired to plant and have grow in our life. Our journey begins with the mind and its inherent nature “what you sow so shall you reap”.

      Do you believe mind and thought are synonymous? If you do, are you certain? You see, a monk would not believe so because mind is the store house; whereas, thought is the resultant activity of the mind. Mind and its activity create individual thoughts through the chemical activity of our body in relationship to experience, and a key factor to operate it with karma is to remain present with it, right-now-this-moment. By so doing we will know what our thoughts are doing as they echo through the mind, thereby knowing precisely what we are planting in that moment. One of the first things taught in a monastery is to always be present since this is the most powerful place in which to reside. Where does the creation of events actually occur in life? In the present! Initially, remaining mentally present is difficult because the unfocused mind has the tendency to drift like a butterfly, fluttering from one flower to the next without any rhyme or rhythm. So, to know what we are planting we must hone the mind to always be present in all we do.

      How do we accomplish this? Let an analogy be offered by using the wild mustang, a horse found in the western U.S. If you were to catch one and immediately place it in a very confined space, you would quickly realize your level of difficulty in keeping that horse contained. Here is a wild animal, roaming wherever and whenever it pleased during its entire life, much like the mind. The next moment – slam, click; the mustang is locked in the smallest of pens. You kind of think the horse would rebel a bit? Yes it would, as would also your mind which has been roaming freely all of its life as well! But if you gradually, slowly over time, rope and fence the horse in until it was confined, you would find this process much less difficult and the animal would be much calmer. The same holds true with our mental attribute. For our entire lives we are taught to control only our body and our emotions, but very seldom our minds, minds which flail almost perpetually, wandering hither and yon as the butterfly, all the while creating and bringing about return effects from “all things” that we plant by its mindless meandering. This reminds me of the story of Hansel and Gretel who left a trail of bread crumbs to mark their way home, only to have the crumbs gobbled up by the birds and forest animals. This simply implies that we forget or ignore our seeds and our thoughts, believing each as inconsequential, while in truth, each and every one carries a weight or return impact. Yes, all of them! Remember this universal truth, for it is not that some seeds will sprout and grow, but rather all seeds must come to fruition, each one carrying equal weight. I remember Master Lobsang thoughtfully asking me, “What if the one you call your God heard everything you thought and considered it as your request for It to do something for you? Would you change the way you think?” “Why yes, Master!” I replied in shock. “Good,” he emphatically stated, “for that is precisely what occurs as it is generated by our mind! Every single thought has the power of creation behind it. Even the most seemingly flippant thought carries the exact same weight and impact as the most loving thought. They each have the power to attract its like-kind, and to subsequently bring it to us for the experience.” This is truly powerful in its full scope! The mind is the most powerful aspect of the human as a steering mechanism for our lives, and to think we have the choice to either operate it in the divine sense by planting divine seeds or to operate it purely in the fashion of a simple physical human, completely alone and separate from the entire cosmos. Which is your choice? Choose wisely in this matter as it is literally life altering in its scope.

      It is my hope that you are still with me, just how do we go about training our flailing mind? From the perspective of the monastic teaching, it becomes simple after diligent practice: always keep our mind and thoughts where our body is. Another way of looking at it would be what Lobsang taught me and that is to keep your thoughts right where your eyes are looking. Have the mind follow the eyes and by so doing you are present. That is all. This is being present and by doing this we create presence and empowerment. Do you realize the basic principle behind meditation is keeping your mind exactly where you are? I fully understand many of you believe you do not have any time to actually meditate. In reality, you really do! I offer you the typical American mindset as one who goes about their daily activities as a busy butterfly. When at work, one thinks and plans for what they are going to do for the upcoming weekend. What’s this, a call from a friend and now they get excited about an upcoming event. Oh no, another call and, in the very next moment, they begin a shopping list for the evening supper. I ask you, where is “work” in all this? When they arrive home, they think and worry about the work not completed, which must now be added to tomorrow’s list of work tasks. These scenarios imply that we are not present in either situation; it is no surprise that we think we do not have the time to meditate. Generally speaking from a mental sense, because our minds are adrift in the ocean of life, we are perpetually undoing ourselves at every turn as we plant the seeds of our lives. We simply are not consciously aware of the seeds or the events around us until after the fact, overly reacting to most because of allowing our minds to operate in the above fashion. Could our reaction be the very seat of anger, simply because we are caught by surprise?

      We generally think of where we are not instead of focusing on where we are; therefore, we are surprised or startled by events because we are not focused on where we are in reality. Herein rests the issue. Are you with me? Right-here-right-now? Is your mind present with your body? Being in the present, we would have the ability to act on events, not react to them, while adding the ability to focus our mind on any given thing in each moment. The Zen tradition calls this mindfulness, which is one of its primary teachings, to always and perpetually be present with our body. Certainly this takes practice. And mind you, never force your mind for it will quickly behave as the wild mustang; rather, gently nudge it back to the present each time it drifts. If you find this difficult, then simply focus on your breath and breathing. Doing so will free your mind from drifting and return it to the present, wherein you will realize which seeds you are planting in your life. Rest assured life becomes easier.

      So how do we remove this mental flailing in order to train our mustang mind? First, just realize how simply being present may be. While driving, you are usually focused on your destination more times than not, right? By doing so, you are actually living in the future; thus, your mind is not where your body is. Because you already know your destination, I suggest that you simply stop thinking about it; hence, this mindset can be eliminated. Focus only on the driving, wherein you remain present, away from the future since it is purely a moment which will not arrive until the proper distance has been achieved, not one second sooner. A few good reasons to keep your mind with your body while driving: 1) diminishes your chance of getting in a hurry which only creates more pressure as its Karmic return, 2) diminishes any level of stress because you are operating in the present, thereby planting seeds of peace, rather than operating in a future moment which can only plant weeds of stress, thereby damaging your body in the long run, 3) diminishes any probability of an accident because you know what is going on around you at all times, 4) diminishes the possibility of road rage because, again, there is no stress. Road rage may occur when a driver feels that others are slowing them down, or are interfering or blocking them in some manner. Why? All because they are focusing on where they are going and not as much on what they are doing! There is another perk for focusing only on your driving. It keeps you out of the past since those moments have already occurred. Not convinced? Then keep this in mind. The future is a place wherein you are not physically able to live because your physical body may only be in the present, which is where you really are. Besides, living in the future keeps everything in a future moment, not the present! When it arrives, the future automatically transforms into the present, the time when all events take place and here is where we realize what we planted. Remember, the idea and real value of being present is knowing which seeds you are planting in any given moment by your mind. It is called this “presence” or “being mindful.” Karmically speaking, living in the future will only bring stress, worry, even frustration; on the other hand, living in the past simply replants the seeds of old experiences and herein lies the seeming cycles in which you encounter. The added advantage of driving in this manner is actually the purpose of meditation so in reality by staying present you are actually meditating and to think that most of us believe that we do not have time and here is one way of doing what you think you do not have time for.

      I ask you, “What causes us to worry? Why do some people do this more than others?” The true cause of this mental ailment is not being in the present behind your eyes. Consider this for a moment and just sit back and ask your self in this moment is there any thing to worry about. In this moment! Now this one! I think you get the idea. We worry of future moments or things from our past because in the present there is no time to get caught in worry. Try it out you may be surprised. First let us offer a point to ponder. Worry is just as powerful, if not more so, than focused, purposeful thought. You still plant the seeds and are scattering them everywhere, thereby creating evermore worries. You know most of us certainly have the propensity to worry. Interestingly enough, living in the future is the primary cause of worry. Okay, here is an example. What do you call it when a person looks at their current checkbook balance, then anxiously thinks of the bills that are due at month’s end? Here they are, only on the second day of the month! You can not tell me that they are not worried about how they are going to pay the month-end debts, which are weeks away. You see, they are mentally living at the end of the month, in the future, worrying over something that will not occur for another twenty-eight days or so from now. From this one worry, without even realizing it, they are actually planting the weeds of lack in their personal life for future growth, permitting Karmic return to plant even more weeds through other avenues of stress into their life. Would you not rather train to always live in the present, each moment free from worry and stress? I agree we have things to work with in the present; however, there exists no time to worry or even stress over anything or anyone else since we are presently working with precisely what we need to say and do in this particular moment. Maintaining our focus on the task at hand, such as reading each word in this sentence, we are simply in a state of meditation and no longer concerned about any harvest coming our way through the laws of attraction. Living in the future has never resolved anything ever in our lives; instead, it leads us into wishful (future) thinking which carries no true value in our present. Worrying over lack may only bring more lack into our reality. Why would we want that as our experience? Of course we do not! So stay focused on abundant living in the present, then it shall surely come by the same principles of Karma.

      Can we practice our presence and mindfulness when walking? Absolutely, for when you focus only on walking, you even add another dimension to the activity by also focusing on your breathing; in other words, not only do you focus on walking, but you also focus on the power of your breathing and its rate. I love to ask an audience if any one knows how they walk. By far the majority of people answer in the affirmative; however, once they are questioned on the specifics of their walking, they quickly realize they really do not. Even while walking we live in a future moment, only thinking of where we are walking to or drifting with our thoughts, which is not nearly as important as simply walking, aside from the exercise. When focused during our walk, we would know things like our natural stride, whether flat-footed or heal-to-toe, how our whole body moves, how we are breathing, whether labored or easy, allowing the body to tell us how it is performing aside from not stumbling over the root in the path if we are not present. Being present allows us to observe and know what we are planting physiologically, mentally, emotionally, and experientially, and is the very key to understanding this one single principle of Karma. This is why it is called the Great Law. It teaches presence, training our mind to not drift as the butterfly. Even if you are doing what is known as power-walking, it is far more beneficial to keep focused on the walking itself rather than on the idea of power-walking. Yes, I realize you are doing it for your health, but being in the present is by far the healthiest thing that anyone can do for themselves and consciousness. This also creates presence in consciousness and in truth one could easily state that this now becomes God or Christ consciousness simply because you now command presence.

      Why do I say this? The results of power-walking are future events; hence, at this moment, they are not so important. All pressures of life are of the future or future goals; being present removes them from your mind and you will notice there are very seldom pressures in the present. Do you truly believe that Olympic athletes train without stress or injury that they think only of their present training? You mean there is no pressure for achieving the Gold medal, a future event? There most certainly is, if they look only at the future of the Gold; otherwise, by remaining present, winning the Gold medal right now in this moment, their Karmic return shall “train” them toward that level of achievement. So which style of training can be considered the most powerful and most beneficial for the athlete? Practicing presence in what they are achieving. The truth is, any time your mind begins to drift, past or future, bring it back to the present by simply focusing on your breathing during any activity. Now, no thing exists for you to worry about. Breathing brings presence. A wonderful gift indeed!

      This very same principle of being present applies to every one of our events and activities, whether while we work, drive, walk, run, speak, or even cook. No matter what we may be doing at any given moment, do not allow the mind to drift. Be only present with what we do, for this helps train our mind in this ancient and powerful art of mindfulness. By implementing this one technique, do you realize you are actually meditating the whole time? We would also be aware of precisely what we are sowing along with the full knowledge of what we are going to reap according to my teacher, Lobsang. You see, once you harness this method of being present, you enter the realm of being in perpetual consciousness because you are consciously aware of your life and events as they unfold. Living in this fashion, by purely being present in each thing you do, brings a high degree of clarity to you each moment. Stop and say these sentences again to your self. A monk would never be out of the present, nor need any other human being, since this is all a state of mind, as is life after all our minds have created our lives.

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