Controlling Our Karma

Since most people are not aware of their karma, they cannot connect the dots between cause and effect. Only sometimes, when results happen immediately after the cause—for example, when we put our finger into boiling water—are we able to connect those dots and learn the lesson. With karma, we only have a choice: either karma is controlling us, or we are controlling our karma. We practice to be in charge of our lives and help others: I control my karma; my karma does not control me.

When we control our karma, we can change it. Most karma is lingering karma, “leftover” karma. This lingering karma is the most difficult to fix, because it is created by very small, insignificant actions repeated every day. We keep repeating and repeating some actions or thoughts over a long time, and in the end, we get the big result of those actions. Surprise! If we really look closely, we will see that big karmic results were created by some kind of lingering karma. So it’s important to be aware of our daily, small habits.

If we want to change our karma, we’ve got to understand our habits first. The next step is to attain that understanding. Being aware that we have some negative habits is the first step, but it is not enough. Understanding can’t help. Attaining the habit means this understanding has some energy. Only then are we able to decide, “I’m going to change it!” After we make a strong decision, we need to have a method of how to change it.

The skillful way to start the whole process is to create what Charles Duhigg calls a “keystone habit.” This one new habit can start a domino effect of changing not only one but many habits over time. Don’t worry about the rest of our karma— only do that one thing. If we try to change too many things at once, we fail. For the Zen student, nothing could be a better keystone habit than the habit of meditating first thing in the morning. In the morning, everyone’s willpower is the strongest. While sitting still and by simply breathing with the lower belly, we can recharge our willpower battery. There is no way to change ourselves if we have a weak center, that is, if our willpower battery is depleted.

So let’s start our day with some practice, just 10 minutes every morning. Over time, this one small habit of 10 minutes meditation every morning will trigger a domino effect of positive changes in our life. Zen Master Ko Bong used to say, “Don’t worry about your karma; just make a habit of strong practicing.”

By Andrzej Stec JDPSN