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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Karma, Confusion, and Cruelty

.....Five centuries elapsed between the assassination of the Buddha, and writing down of his teachings. That is a huge margin of error that should tickle your bullshit detector. Was Gautama a man of flesh, blood, and bone or merely an archetype. All we can really know are the actions we take and the results they seem to generate. We could call this natural karma. But what about the supernatural ideas about karma that span multiple lives?

The Buddha’s emphasis on the subject concerned the idea of natural karma – how our bodies could effect our experience of pain and pleasure, how pain and pleasure could effect our experience of appraisal, how our experience of appraisal could effect our impulses, and how our impulses could effect the stories we tell ourselves. But what about morality?

…..Ask a neuroscientist, they’ll tell you, avoiding negative actions out of fear of punishment, or performing positive actions in hope of reward strengthens the neural pathways of our under brain, the seat of fear, greed, clinging, and competitiveness. One the other hand, avoiding cruelty and practicing kindness from a place of centered spontaneity strengthens the neural pathways of the neocortex responsible for empathy, kindness, and cooperation. Perhaps that is why Gautama enumerated the eleven benefits of training the mind in loving kindness.

…..If one is driven by elitism and controlling tendencies then one might get a self-righteous thrill from any act of pseudo-pious victim blaming; but it most certainly will not benefit the recipients of such statements, already drowning in their own tears. Come, let us master the eight-fold path of insight, kindness, as well as meditation and then helps others do likewise.

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