Karma Changing Destiny
28 Jan 2011
Origin: From Sanskrit Karman, 'action, effect, fate.'
Sanskrit: An ancient Indic language of India,
the Hindu scriptures and classical Indian epic poems are written
and from which many northern Indian languages are derived.
though some were written in Tibetan or Chinese.
Karma: The result of actions which produce effects that may be either good or bad.
( in Hinduism and Buddhism),
the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence.
Viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
We often hear that we can change our karma through practicing Nichiren Buddhism.
But what does this actually mean?
Nichiren Buddhism exists to
relieve people from suffering and enable them to become truly happy.
Toward that end, it teaches the law of cause and effect,
which underlies the buddhist doctrine of karma.
Through our actions,
we create causes in the present,
either good or bad,
which become engraved in our lives
as a potential called karma.
The word karma means "action."
Our good and bad causes manifest as positive or negative effects in the future.
Events or patterns, bad or good, in this life are seen as
effects of negative or positive causes made in past lives.
Since negative effects usually draw more attention,
the word karma tends to be associated with
inescapable sufferings or bad outcomes.
If karma is inescapable, then why do we need to learn about it?
The Nichiren Buddhist answer to this is
a vital point that distinguishes it from other forms of Buddhism.
In general, the theory of karma describes
the law of cause and effect as being based on a kind of retributive justice,
the view that people can not be happy until they receive,
and thereby expunge from their lives,
all the negative karmic effects resulting from past negative causes.
But, since life is an eternal ongoing process,
and negative karma from the past is potentially unlimited,
it would be impossible to expiate every possible negative effect.
also according to this view,
because of the vast hurdle posed by one's negative karma,
to create enough good causes to attain enlightenment, or Buddhahood,
that is, to become absolutely happy,
would require endless lifetimes of good causes.
That is why most Buddhist teachings other than the Lotus Sutra
speak of "endless kalpas of practice"
being necessary to attain Buddhahood.
But Nichiren Daishonin taught that this view of karma, while accurate on one level,
does not clarify the process for creating a truly happy life and a peaceful world.
"One who slights another will in turn be despised.
One who depreciates those of handsome appearance will be born ugly.
This is the general law of cause and effect.
"My sufferings, however, are not ascribable to this casual law.
In the past I despised the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
I also ridiculed the sutra itself,
sometimes with exaggerated praise and other times with contempt."
("Letter from Sado," The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol 1, page 305).
Nichiren teaches that in contrast to the general casual law,
the deepest causes and effects arises from our relationship to
the Mystic Law of nam-myoho-renge-kyo,
which functions as the core of life itself.
Nichiren identifies the source of all the opposition and suffering
he faces as he propagates the Lotus Sutra,
which expounds the workings of this Mystic Law,
as his own past disbelief in and disparagement of this Law.
By facing the hardships that come from his committed propagation of the Law,
he is not only deeply expiating his karma,
but also fully activating within his life
the state of Buddhahood.
The same process applies to each of us.
Nichiren further clarifies that the source of negative karma is
life's fundamental darkness or ignorance,
which makes it difficult to recognize the functioning of the Mystic Law
within our own lives and in the lives of others.
By recognizing and striving to work in harmony with this Law,
we can overcome our fundamental darkness,
the root of karmic suffering.
When we do so, Nichiren says,
"the sufferings of hell will vanish instantly"
(Lessening One's Karmic Retribution,
Writings of Nichiren Daishonin- vol 1, page 199)
But does this mean that karma itself vanishes instantaneously
when we practice Nichiren Buddhism?
Rather, it means that our negative karma
quickly pales in significance
compared to the wisdom and life force
that fill our lives when we awaken to our Buddha nature.
As an example, Nichiren says that
once the sun rises, the stars in the sky are no longer visible
(see "The Selection of the Time," Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - vol 1, page 575)
Similarly, once the sun of the Mystic Law rises in our hearts through
our deepening faith based on strong Buddhist practice,
our problems stemming from karma become trivial
and insignificant in comparison.
Our negative karma from the past can no longer dictate the direction of our lives.
In a sense, we change our destiny fundamentally by
activating a much deeper and more powerful inner
source of causes and effects.
No one is free from negative karma,
which inevitably appears as obstacles and problems.
but by practicing Nichiren Buddhism,
we can confront and transform all of it.
It is important therefore, that we meet our challenges head-on while chanting
with strong determination.
Trying to avoid or run away from problems
deprives us of opportunities to change our karma.
"Iron, when heated in the flames and pounded, becomes a fine sword"
("Letter from Sado," Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - vol 1, page 303),
and "The flaws of iron come to the surface when it is forged"
("Letter to the Brothers," Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - vol 1, page 497).
A strong sword is made by pounding a piece of hot iron
and bringing out its impurities,
likewise, we can develop an unbreakable, solid self by
squarely confronting and overcoming obstacles.