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Karma the Teacher

We sometimes speak of karma as an instrument of Divine retribution - as a sword with which God is standing ready to strike down those who transgress Its laws. For many of us this is because we grew up in the framework of traditional Christianity with its vengeful and tyrannical Jehovah. We may have distanced ourselves from the surface trappings of our childhood religion, but the fundamental attitudes are deeply ingrained and harder to escape.

If karma were intended for punishment, it would be an incredibly inaccurate tool. "Good" things happen to "bad" people, and vice versa. This observation led me to conclude in an earlier post that things happen in the physical Universe at random. It's also possible that our opinions of "good" and "bad" are off the mark. But it's clear that there's no strong correlation between behavior and worldly rewards, whether behavior is measured against the traditional standards of our youth, or the "…

Suffering At Our Own Hands

When we feel that we have been mistreated - either by another person or by the mysterious workings of the Universe - we tend to take refuge in self-pity.  The irony of this is that self-pity, and any other device that ego uses to focus attention on itself, is no refuge, but rather a way of perpetuating the pain inflicted upon us, that left alone would quickly dissipate.
How much suffering we inflict upon ourselves! This is well illustrated, albeit in a different context, by the Zen story "Two Monks and a Woman" that is told and discussed at this link. When someone mistreats us, the greatest suffering we experience is not the direct result of the mistreatment, but the result of the way we react to it. The event and the pain inflicted from outside pass in an instant; any pain that is felt thereafter comes from inside. This is the most important teaching I can ever give about suffering, and I urge you to mindfully apply it to your own experience until it becomes an integral part…