ENSEÑANZA BUDISTA TIBETANA POR KYABJE LAMA ZOPA RIMPOCHE.
Carta electrónica de Agosto 2009.
The Importance of Understanding Karma
To achieve fully the most supreme peace, which is freedom from all suffering and the removal of every single obscuration, it is necessary to actualize completely the whole path, the Dharma jewel. This starts by correcting each tiny action: avoiding all negative, harmful actions and practicing all positive actions. This is called "observing karma." Therefore, understanding karma is the root of all perfections and happiness and the very foundation of the path to enlightenment.
Understanding and the practice of protecting karma is so important for everyone, for beginners just starting to practice Dharma, for those who have an established Dharma practice and even for advanced meditators with high Tantric realizations.
Many Westerners have the idea that that karma is just an Eastern custom, or that it exists only for those who believe in it and not for those who don’t. Some even think that karma has no existence at all, merely being some unverifiable theory fantasized by certain Eastern yogis or by the Buddha.
This thinking is totally wrong; it is such a poisonous mind; thinking like this, we destroy both temporal and ultimate peace for ourselves and others. Therefore, because of that, we should cast it out like used toilet paper.
The basic teaching on karma—that suffering arises from nonvirtuous actions and happiness arises from virtuous actions—is not just an Eastern trip, something for Asians who believe in past and future lives. If that were so, then not only would Buddhism be utterly unnecessary, but also Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of these teachings on karma, would have been the cause of the suffering of those beings who believe in karma. This is like saying that those who believed in the ten commandments would go to hell, whereas those who believed in neither God nor the ten commandments would not. All such conceptions are completely wrong.
Whether we believe in karma or not, all living beings—human and non-human—suffer. No matter how much we try to gain comfort, there is no satisfaction, and the limited comfort we gain always quickly finishes. There is no definite peace and no control over the sufferings of death and rebirth. All this shows clearly that no living being is free of karma and that karma exists in fact.
All our experiences of happiness and suffering depend on karma. No matter how much we desire happiness, if we follow ignorance alone, without respecting karma, we’ll have nothing but suffering to experience. We can clearly see that irrespective of how much some people strive for life’s comforts, they continually suffer one problem after another, while others always experience comfort and happiness with hardly any effort.
Since we create the karma, and since to observe karma means to correct each tiny action, then how should it be observed? Avoiding nonvirtuous actions and practicing virtuous ones is observing karma, and to so we must be able to distinguish between them.
As the great guru, Nagarjuna, says:
The action arising from hatred, greed or ignorance is nonvirtuous; The action arising from non-hatred, non-greed or non-ignorance is virtuous.
Also, the great bodhisattva, Shantideva, says:
From virtuous actions all happiness arises; From nonvirtuous actions all suffering arises.
The actions we create by negative impulses, harming ourselves and other living beings, are nonvirtuous. The actions we create created by positive impulses, benefiting ourselves and other living beings, are virtuous. Nonvirtuous actions only bring suffering results, causing rebirth in the lower realms or even suffering in the upper realms. Virtuous actions only bring happy results, such as birth in the upper realms and all other happiness.
The worst hindrance to creating virtuous actions is attachment to the comfort of this life alone. We should always be conscious of our actions of body, speech and mind, checking up continuously, avoiding the slightest negative action and trying to create even the tiniest virtuous action.
It is important to avoid drawing false conclusions on the basis of incomplete understanding and faulty logic. Seeing bad people enjoying a wealthy lifestyle we might think that there is no correlation between happiness and virtuous actions or between suffering and nonvirtuous actions, but we are very foolish to deny these fundamental truths just because we don’t have that personal knowledge. It has, in fact, been the experience of a great many ordinary beings, let alone the enlightened beings who fully see the three times—past, present and future—and who have shown us the path to discover all this.
You can read more from this excerpt here. While the Karma compilation is drawn from numerous teachings of Rinpoche's, this excerpt here is drawn primarily from the teachings given in Nepal in 1973.