The Silver Thread; Principles of Karma

The Silver Thread; Principles of Karma
By Dr. Michael Abramsky

In Buddhism, Karma is labeled “dependent origination”. Simply put, it states that even the smallest or seemingly least important of our actions register in the universe, and these actions come back as consequences in our personal lives. In short, there is a repercussion -- positive or negative -- for all acts that we originate.

Years ago while traveling in Thailand, my guide told me that, as a child, he was taught not to think bad thoughts about other children, least it would effect his life in a negative way. To devout Buddhists there are no differences between one’s thoughts and one’s actions.
The universe, according to the karmic conception, is like a staircase with an initial step, and each step leads to the next event.

A person who makes all of the right steps evolves on the spiritual ladder, and in Mahayana Buddhism such people are called, Bodhisattvas. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who chooses to forego becoming a true Buddha in order to stay in the secular world as a guide to others on their spiritual evolution. In the Christian tradition, such individuals are labeled, Saints.

Second by second, we are bombarded by our internal thoughts and external temptations. We have no control of this. But if we practice mindfulness we are capable of choosing whether we identify with those energies, hold on to them, allow them to dominate us or dwell on them. We also can let them go.

As we dwell on our thoughts, as we become fixated on an event, we begin to accumulate bad karma. All obsessive thinking is negative, all dwelling is destructive.

Normally we think that a preoccupation with negative life events is harmful. When we hold on to anger or fear or sadness it obviously has negative effects on our psyche. But even dwelling on positive life experiences becomes painful.

When we have a positive experience we attach ourselves to it. The mind naturally gravitates to all experiences that produce strong emotions. With positive experiences we do not want to let go of them. We dwell to maintain them. With negative experiences we dwell to escape them.

Positive karma is fostered by letting go, not dwelling. When we let go, we experience the world as it exists in the here and now. It is a very different form of consciousness. I analogize it to a screen door; everything flows through it, nothing sticks.

When we exist in the here and now we experience peace. And it is the experience of peace that is a step on the karmic ladder.

Each moment is a challenge. Each moment is a choice; dwell on past experiences, dwell in a future which does not exist and it fosters suffering. Be in the present, experience a sense of harmony and send out a sense of accord, which heals you and heals the world.

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About the writer: Dr. Michael Abramsky

Michael Abramsky PhD, ABPP is a licensed psychologist with 35 years of experience treating adolescents and adults for anxiety, depression and trauma. He is nationally Board Certified in both Clinical and Forensic psychology. Dr. Abramsky also has an MA in Comparative Religions, and has practiced and taught Buddhist Meditation for 25 years.

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