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[ Beginner's Questions ]

Kamma and Fate

H2apo: Do you believe in fate, fate commanded by power I mean. I ask this because of things that have been happening to me recently. For the past couple months or so, I have been meeting people, being exposed to things, and seeing new directions that all deal with Buddhism, or wicca, or shamanism, or even the primal call of nature. Maybe I am just more receptive now, but it seems that something unseen is pushing me to a certain path, directing my attention and focus.

Also, I was just searching around and came upon Don Juan's quote concerning a warrior. I have to tell you that that was a Don Juanism that has stayed strong with me. My other favorite comes at the end of Journey to Ixtlan I believe, where Don Juan tells Carlos that the art of a warrior is to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.

 


 

When you think about fate or coincidences or synchronicity, what you are really talking about is your own kamma. Kamma is another word for power, but it is the power you have set up for yourself by your prior actions of body, speech and mind. When, previously, you did an action with the intention of causing pain you set yourself up to experience pain. When you did an action with the intention of causing pleasure you set yourself up to experience pleasure. There is one other way to "Intend", and that is to intend to cause neither pain nor pleasure, but to resolve some kamma into non-existance. All of the specific kinds of "intentions" can be reduced down to these three basic intentions, or mixtures of these three. What you put out earlier, comes back later. Given no action to change the experience of kamma, sometimes what you put out comes back instantaneously and sometimes it is delayed a short time and sometimes it takes lifetimes to come to fruition. It doesn't come back one for one, it comes back amplified in accordance with your own power, the power of what it is that you did, and the power of the one to whom you did it. This power is a factor of how detached you are, how well what you did contributes to detachment, and how detached the person you did it to is. Detachment is the key factor because it is the detached individual who has not wasted any of his power on this or that bias or attachment.

Imagine you are walking down the road, and facing you as you walk, in the form of the world that surrounds you, is yourself in the form of your kamma. Now at every step this kamma is watching your actions waiting it's opportunity. No step, no opportunity. Step (means because you wanted something, you took action to get it) and you give kamma opportunity: sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get what you deserve, sometimes you don't. Just as an exercise, and not to suggest that there is anything "real" like this going on, imagine you handing out your kamma to you. Sometimes you smile on you and sometimes you piss you off. So the first thing you want to be doing, is to always be trying to make you smile on you! You will notice, if you look, that you smile on you the most (you experience the greatest periods of power) when you are in a totally indifferent state, and that you loose this power the minute you begin to grasp after it.

What is really happening when you perform an act of power or magic is that at the time there is little or no "self" between you and that which is materializing before you, such that "creation" and "consciousness" (or what you think of as wishing for something to happen) occur simultaneously. These "coinsidences" of yours are second cousins to magical acts: your kamma, sort of flowing into the places where you are providing space, is causing you to receive back some beneficial kamma from the past. In the case of other magical acts, you may be the vehicle for the good kamma due to others. By "providing space" is meant that you have headed in a direction, taken a step. When you take a step in a new direction, you place yourself in the "stream" of those others who are following the same direction, thus in the beginning of going in a new direction it will give you an impression such as you have gotten here, that things all around you are conspiring to lead you This Way. In fact, it is your steps that have done this. For the rest it is "Birds of a Feather flock together."

The so called "man of power" knows that he has no power, and therefore grasps after nothing at all in the world. His power is in the manner in which he handles himself whether what is coming back to him is experienced as pleasant or painful or neither pleasant nor painful: Indifferent, at ease, detached, what we used to call "cool".

For the ordinary man of power this detachment will come from the knowledge of his complete lack of power and the fact that in spite of this he struggles with his entire might to perfect completely his manner of behaving such that all the kamma he creates at all times is such as will produce only pleasant outcomes or outcomes that are neither painful nor pleasant. He knows that he can always answer his kamma when the bad shit happens with the statement that: "Whatever I may have done carelessly in the past, all that is over with and I set going no new bad kamma!" Don Juan's impeccability is somewhat different than this in that it is totally focused on the indifference, there is no consideration of the painful or pleasant nature of the outcome of his actions. This is in my opinion, an error that will result in incomplete freedom for those who follow his method too closely.

Here in this system we set ourselves the goal of ending the ability of kamma to reach us at all. As I said above, Kamma is the consequence of deeds of body, speech, and mind; it's consequences have the ability to reach us only insofar as we are identified with body, speech, and mind. Or to put it another way: kamma has reach only as far as bodies (material things), speech and mind.

The Buddha, when considering the powerlessness of the individual in the face of Kamma, set out to discover a way of escaping from this kamma. What he noticed was that people relate to what it is they call "myself" in different ways (and that therefore it must be possible to escape this identification, for if it had no "single, permanent grounds" it had no "ultimate reality" only a "relative reality," or "conditional reality". Looking into that he saw that in fact, identification with the body or speech or mind is entirely unnecessary. People have "Injected" themselves into bodies, speech, and mind by identification with acts. Had they not "identified with stepping", they would not have "injected" themselves. They step from fear of not stepping and from desire to step based on an idea (point of view) they have about what it is that they really are. One man looks at his body and says "My body". Another man identifies with his sense experiences (these pleasant and unpleasant experiences), another with his emotions. Another with ideas (Dhammas). Once they have taken up a position (ditthi, point of view) with regard to the existence of some thing or another as the "self" of them, then it becomes necessary to defend it. Defending it they take up a position in opposition to the other ways of identification with self and forget altogether the option to not identify at all.

So, seeing this, the Buddha constructed a system which is made up virtually entirely of "not-doing". This is not the same "not-doing" of Don Juan, although they may be related. If one's actions are made up of "Abstaining from" (both making good and bad kamma, although one begins, for sure, by concentrating on abstaining from what makes for bad kamma); perhaps after a long long while, but sooner or later one will have completely warn out one's old kamma[1] and will have set going no new kamma, and along the way one will have become increasingly free of kamma (not everything that happens, happens because of kamma) such that at stages along the way one does not find it difficult at all to see the error of making these "identifications" that once were thought to be so basic to existing.

This is the method all the way to the top: nikkamma: dump-shit. If you make a lifestyle out of dumping that which you can clearly see for your own self is a source of pain, then you don't need to think about the rest. And this also applies to the descriptions of the end goal: we never put it in terms of "getting" something. You think of it as what is left after "getting rid of" what it isn't. It is always put in terms of what it isn't. The goal is Nibbana: Downbound Never No More; or Sanskrit: Nirvana: Out of the Woods. Akalika: no-shit-line-shit (from the practice of hunters of tracking an animal by way of it's scat: this one is three days old, this one is two days old, this one was dumped not more than an hour ago, after he ate his rice and beans! In other words: Free from Time.) Detached. Here one has "Añña" The answer to whatever you want to know whenever you want to know it.

 

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Don Juan: This Trimmed Orderly Life

 


[1] In fact one's "kamma" as manifested by the changes caused to the world by one's actions, is never warn out. What is intended by this statement is that one has passed beyond the point where the kamma to be experienced in, say, body can reach one because one no longer identifies with body.
In the same way as a man who has saved up a certain amount of money could use that money to purchase goods, or to exchange it for gold or silver or jewels or other forms of money, an individual will always experience the sum total magnitude of kamma he has set rolling (as measured by the rebound off the pleasant or unpleasant or neither pleasant nor unpleasant sensations invested in the original actions), but he may experience it in various ways: bodily, in speech, or in mind.
What "not-doing" does here is to cause the individual to consciously evaluate the action he wants to take. This "evaluation" is a "making conscious"; this "making conscious" will, within the context of this system (The Four Truths) illuminate the disadvantages of taking action on desire; this it will then be seen is the ending of an impulse to act set going by previous kamma; or, in other words, the experience of kamma at the mental level. This process leads step-wise away from the experience of old kamma in body, or in speech, and eventually even in consciousness. That is the experience of Vimutti, or Freedom from Kamma.
In the same way as a man who has saved up a certain amount of money could use that money to pay off a loan; he would be out of debt, free of obligation to another. In the same way a man can let go of identification with body, speech and mind and be free from that which effects body, speech and mind.


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