At the Buddhist English Library of Seoul, we’ve been going over No River to Cross, by Seon Master Daehaeng. Chapter 2 has a nice section about cause and effect, and how our mind functions.
Any thought once raised, is perfectly recorded. You might think that a thought is finished because you’re no longer aware of it, but that thought did not disappear: it is perfectly recorded inside your mind. That thought is stored in your subconsciousness and causes a similar thought to arise next time. Further, the second thought is stronger than the first thought.
For example, if the first thought was bad, then the second thought is often a little worse. In this way, the thought keeps repeating time after time, and grows stronger and stronger. (page 17)
So, how do we manage thoughts? For one thing, we actually have a huge amount of choice in what we do once thoughts have arisen. It’s up to us if we want to continue to follow a thought, or to cease feeding it energy. But on a more fundamental level those can be dissolved, thus also dissolving the potential effects that would have resulted, had those thoughts continued unchecked.
If you record over a tape recording, the previous recording is erased and the new material is recorded. So it’s better to record good karma rather than bad karma. However, instead of just recording good karma, it’s even better to completely erase all of the recordings. The way to do this is by entrusting everything that confronts you, both good and bad, to your fundamental nature. It’s like cleaning a mirror. Even though the mirror has been covered by dust for a long time, once you wipe it off, it immediately becomes clean. (p 18)
We often naturally think that if we can understand the cause of something, we can control and cure it. But with karma, Daehaeng Kun Sunim explains that this is a futile exercise.
Karma is a tangle of uncountable causes and effects. Some people try to use their intellect to unravel their karma, but this is like trying to melt a frozen lake by pouring one bucket of hot water onto the ice. It seems to melt a little, but before long the water freezes, and you have only added more ice.
We’re stuck inside this barrel of “I,” and because what we do is contaminated with this smell of “I,” our efforts just makes things worse. The only way out of this mess is to completely jump over “I.”
So don’t get caught up in worldly things, just release them all to your fundamental mind, your Buddha-nature, and let them melt down automatically. When spring comes, the frozen lake will melt naturally and completely. Returning to your fundamental mind is like a warm spring coming after a cold winter. (p 18-19)