Importance of the present life: Buddhism

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This life is important:

Law of Karma:

  • Karma is a concept encountered in several Eastern religions, although having different meanings.
  • Teachings about karma explain that our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and that our present actions will affect us in the future.
  • Buddhism uses an agricultural metaphor to explain how sowing good or bad deeds will result in good or bad fruit (phala; or vipāka, meaning 'ripening').
  • For Buddhists, karma has implications beyond this life. Bad actions in a previous life can follow a person into their next life and cause bad effects (which Westerners are more likely to interpret as 'bad luck').

  • Even an Enlightened One is not exempt from the effects of past karma. One story tells that the Buddha's cousin tried to kill him by dropping a boulder on him. Although the attempt failed, the Buddha's foot was injured. He explained that this was karmic retribution for trying to kill his step-brother in a previous life.

  • On a larger scale, karma determines where a person will be reborn and their status in their next life. Good karma can result in being born in one of the heavenly realms. Bad karma can cause rebirth as an animal, or torment in a hell realm.

  • Buddhists try to cultivate good karma and avoid bad. However, the aim of Buddhism is to escape the cycle of rebirth altogether, not simply to acquire good karma and so to be born into a more pleasant state. These states, while preferable to human life, are impermanent: even gods eventually die.

  • Skilful actions that lead to good karmic outcomes are based upon motives of generosity; compassion, kindness and sympathy, and clear mindfulness or wisdom. The opposite motives of greed, aversion (hatred) and delusion, when acted upon, lead to bad karmic results.

  • Karma is not an external force, not a system of punishment or reward dealt out


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