As this course of talks continues, I’ll talk more about how to dissolve karma, and why that’s possible, but to begin with, I need to start with the questions of what is our karma, and where is it? (The following paragraphs are taken from Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s Dharma talks about this topic. Pay attention to the underlined parts, and try to reflect upon those.)
I’m rerecording these talks in order to get an English-only edition (otherwise half the talk would be in Korean), and what this means is I’m doing it without anybody listening at the time, so I don’t have a strong a sense of what people need to know about. If you have questions about karma or its functioning, be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll talk about them in next week’s talk. Thanks!
Readings from Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s Dharma talks (me reading the text below)
A brief talk about the nature of karma
As you’ve heard me say before, your body is composed of billions of unenlightened beings. Of course, there’s nothing that’s not a Buddha, but before attaining enlightenment, we are all unenlightened beings. These unenlightened beings gather together, according to their karmic affinity, into one large collection of karma. They gather together and form this lump of flesh that gets called “me.” And then this same principle of gathering together according to karmic affinity caused all of us to gathered here today for this Dharma talk.
We’ve gone through life after life with untold different bodies, passing through light years of eons, so think about all of the karmic states of consciousness that we’ve created, and all of the chains of cause and effect those have led to. Think about all the interactions and all the karmic affinities that must have been created over those light years. And now, as we’ve reached the human level, all of those have gathered together as our physical bodies.
Passing through all of those lives, we’ve created karma of every stage. We’ve created karma at the level of bugs, at the level of animals, at the level of birds, and again at the level of human beings. All of this karma comes out one after another according to circumstances, and sometimes as if they were your own thoughts, and bringing all kinds of hardships and suffering. They pop up out of the blue and make our lives harder. If we let ourselves be fooled by theses, we’ll make our situation worse. A few of you may have heard of the hell of darkness or the snake-pit Hell, right? Well, if we live at the level of a snake, we’ll end up being reborn in a snake’s den. If we live at the level of a worm, we’ll end up living in the darkness underground.
What can we do, then, to be free from this suffering? Start by reflecting on what your body is. Karmic states of consciousness became actions and karma, which led to chains of cause and effect, which I in turn caused the formation of this body of you have. For 30 minutes or so in the evenings, try to reflect upon the fact that your body is composed of all your karma and karmic connections. Those are what formed it. Thus, for spiritual practice, you don’t need to be looking around for some other place. This is the very first thing you must remember if you want to be free.