Karma

May 9, 2010

According to the Buddha, everything depends on and is interconnected with everything else; everything is the result of causes and conditions that give rise to other causes and conditions.  This is called ‘dependent arising’ and is the basis for the law of karma.

According to the ancient texts, if you understand the causes that create certain conditions – the law of Karma – you can alter your behavior so that certain negative conditions do not arise and other, favorable conditions do arise.

In meditations upon dependent arising, one comprehends that everything is ultimately devoid of inherent existence; in other words, things do not exist separately but only appear to.

To the extent that things do exist separately, they do so through language, through the ‘naming’ of things.  This is why the Buddhists say that things only exist nominally – in name only.  This is also why the roots of civilization are based in language and why our mythic beginnings depict people ‘naming’ things in a ‘garden’ of innocence that exists prior to language.

In meditating upon dependent arising, one comprehends that everything is empty of inherent existence; as a result, existence is insubstantial in that the karmic weight of existence only occurs because of a lack of understanding emptiness.  We lose our way in illusion, become vested in the weight and validity of cause and effect, and become trapped.

If one understands emptiness fully and pierces the veil of illusion to see that all things are non-dual in their nature and that everything is actually a singularity of awareness – that of a single observer – then one has broken the bonds of karma.

From the viewpoint of Quantum Physics, at the level of pure quanta, phenomena are indeterminate and not dependent on cause and effect. Out of the quantum void, consciousness and intention can spontaneously arise and then, from a set of probabilities, manifest action which in turn have their influence and collapse reality in a certain way.  This is how free will exists; some physicists posit that even sub-atomic particles themselves have free will.  Once action is taken, a form of determinism — one could say karma — takes hold through a causal chain not so much of determinism, but of influence.  This could explain evolution; for while a deterministic machine will in theory not change, a probabilistic set of interdependent influences can evolve and learn.

In short, we are not pre-determined machines, but evolving consciousness that manifests reality out of a set of probable realities that are infinite in potential.  This doesn’t contradict the Buddha, for he would be the first to champion free will and our ability to free ourselves from the apparent trap of causality that seems to force us down a certain path.

The  enlightened understood that at the level of quanta that karma doesn’t exist; Christ understood this and by breaking the bonds of karma he had, in effect broken all the bonds of karma of every individual by seeing that in fact karma itself was an illusion.  Therefore Christ freed all peoples from the laws of karma and they are free; this is the truth of Christ and the truth of any enlightened being; they have freed us, although in reality we were never in bondage and they – the Enlightened – simply perceive what already is.

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