Is kamma true?

Since I’m still overseas, here is another (partial) section of Ajahn Chah’s teachings from Ajahn Jayasaro’s book, Stillness Flowing. This section is simply called “Kamma” (p. 596):

Much of Luang Por’s [Ajahn Chah’s] Dhamma teaching was devoted to instilling confidence in the law of kamma, the central constituent of Mundane Right View. Most frequently, he expounded upon the simple formulation of that law familiar to all Thai Buddhists: ‘Do good, get good results. Do bad, get bad results.’ While the brevity of this version of the formula makes for easy memorization, it also gives ample room for wrong views to accumulate. A common cause of doubt amongst lay Buddhists was that the teaching seemed to contradict everyday experience. So many people who did a lot of good things never saw any good come from it, they said, whereas people who did bad things seemed to prosper everywhere you looked. Luang Por never tired in explaining how the good that results from good actions is not be be understood in terms of worldly notions of good fortune. If someone was disappointed that an act of generosity had borne no good results, then the act itself must have been performed with a desire for some reward.

If you give something away with a wish for something in return, then it’s not true giving.

Luang Por explained that people who doubt that good actions lead to good results simply don’t understand what the Buddha means by ‘good results’. On one occasion, Luang Por said:

In my life, I’ve never once got a bad result from a good action. At the moment that I’ve done anything good, I’ve always got a good result immediately, there and then.

In other words, the wholesome qualities of mind present in a good action were strengthened by the act, and that strengthening was the immediate reward.

I’ll give you an example. Suppose you have a friend who is poor and you take him in, look after him, give him money, an education, until finally he is able to get a job, support himself and, in time, gain success in his career. Sometime later you fall onto hard times and become impoverished. This fellow doesn’t come to visit you and makes no attempt to help you out and repay you for your kindness to him. You feel angry about this and you think, ‘I performed a good action but received no good results from it. Why on earth did the Buddha teach that good actions have good results?’

That would be a foolish way to look at what happened. In helping out that man, your mind was good and just and noble, and the growth in those good qualities are your reward. The fact that he doesn’t repay your kindness is his own affair. It’s nothing to do with you, it’s his own bad action. You’d be a fool to take the bad action of someone else into your heart. No good can come from that.

I’ll be back in time for the next post. Thank you for your patience.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
This entry was posted in Causes and results, General, Karma. Bookmark the permalink.

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