Results come, but not in a straight line

An evildoer may see benefit
As long as the evil
Has yet to mature.
But when the evil has matured,
The evildoer
Will meet with misfortune.

A doer of good may meet evil fortune
As long as the good
Has yet to mature.
But when the good has matured,
The doer of good
Will meet with good fortune.

Don’t disregard evil, thinking,
“It won’t come back to me!”
With dripping drops of water
Even a water jug is filled.
Little by little,
A fool is filled with evil.

Don’t disregard merit, thinking,
“It won’t come back to me!:
With dripping drops of water
Even a water jug is filled.
Little by little,
A sage is filled with merit.

Dhammapada 119-122, translated by Gil Fronsdal

These verses are a compact description of how karma works. When we look around us, it may be hard to see bad actions being punished and good actions being rewarded. A short-term perspective can make the effects of our actions invisible; but if we look over the long-term, in our own lives and others’, we can see that people who regularly practice generosity, showing care and kindness, have more contented hearts than those who grab what they can for themselves and are careless of how they affect others.

The dripping drops of water are the moments of our days. We move through our mornings and evenings with an attitude of engagement or disengagement, with an assumption that our actions matter or they don’t, with an understanding that just by being alive, we are affecting others. Few or none of us can walk unfalteringly on the path of wholesome action; but if we repeatedly re-orient ourselves in that direction, and just keep walking, our “sage jug” will become full.

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Filed under Dhammapada, General

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