Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sogyal Rinpoche on Karma

This is today's Rigpa Glimpse of the Day, a slightly different approach to karma than I have seen before.

Whatever is happening to us now mirrors our past karma. If we know that, and know it truly, whenever suffering and difficulties befall us, we do not view them particularly as failures or catastrophes, or see suffering as a punishment in any way. Nor do we blame ourselves or indulge in self-hatred.

We see the pain we are going through as the completion of the effects, the fruition, of a past karma. Tibetans say that suffering is “a broom that sweeps away all our negative karma.” We can even be grateful that one karma is coming to an end. We know that “good fortune,” a fruit of good karma, may soon pass if we do not use it well, and that “misfortune,” the result of negative karma, may in fact be giving us a marvelous opportunity to evolve.
I don't know about others, but my self-critical subpersonality loves to blame me for any suffering in my life. Everything that sucks is the result of my mistakes, bad choices, or ignorance. When that sub gets triggered, I have tended to see karmic occurances as punishment for past actions or bad intentions, even though I know that isn't the proper view.

This quote from Sogyal Rinpoche really changes how I look at karma. It's always been my belief that we suffer as a way to learn hard lessons, that through hardship we come closer to knowing who we are. Strange that I never connected that to karma in any way.

Combining that view with Rinpoche's teaching on karma allows me to see karmic suffering as a good thing, as a kind of purification. Even with this perspective, I still have to learn my lessons or I'll repeat the same karmic patterns again and again. But in seeing suffering as "a broom that sweeps away all our negative karma," I can take a much larger view.

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