Monday, August 3, 2009

Status is not kamma

The prevailing understanding in Buddhism is that one’s past behavior, in this life or a previous life, determines one’s kamma. That is self evident when considering this life. But what about past lives? Does kamma determine one’s social or economic standing? Is a person born into poverty because of kamma? Is he or she blessed because of birth into wealth?

I think not, as that would be an oversimplification of kamma; as my original teacher once told me, kamma is very complex.

I believe it absurd to think that someone born into poverty is suffering the consequences of his or her kamma. And I find it equally absurd that one is benefiting from the consequences of his or her kamma by being born into wealth.

Was Abraham Lincoln suffering the consequences of prior bad acts in a previous life because he was born to a humble family in 19th century Illinois as opposed to the more comfortable East? Did he have to rise above these humble means to improve his kamma, only to be shot?

Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s kamma benefit him in his political ascendancy more so than Lincoln’s humble birth? Should we have expected more out of Andrew Cunanan considering his bright promise, such as his intellect, which undoubtedly was a fruit of his previous lives?

What if one’s socio-economic status at birth was random? What if it had nothing to do with kamma?

That would mean it’s all about choices and actions. And we all face the same choices and actions regardless of our birth status, don’t we? Influences might vary to a degree, but we all face the same choices don’t we? We either do right or we do wrong

And kamma is not result; it's action.

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