Tag Archives: Karma

It Was A Good Day

I broke my mala a couple of months ago. This ended up to be a very fortunate karmic turn of events.

I know this is a strange way to start a post, but it is extremely relevant. I have a couple of malas that I use in my spiritual practice; one is made of sandalwood, the other is of the finest grade lapis lazuli. I really splashed out on the latter; I was feeling the need for inspiration, as I had kind of gotten stuck in my practice as a result of my marital crisis. I practiced with that mala fairly often, and then one day, as I was getting ready to walk out of the door to go to work, I went to put it around my neck (I was going to need it later in the day) and — snap! — the cord broke and the beads went everywhere.

Now, there are “officially” 108 beads on a mala — those are the ones you count if you’re doing mantra repetitions — but there actually are more. This mala had 3 turquoise spacer beads (these are sometimes known as “resting” beads), plus a large “guru” bead that marks the end of the circuit of beads. You skip the spacer beads, or pause on them, and you stop at the guru bead and turn the mala around to do another round of mantras. In all, that makes for 112 beads. Well, actually the spacer beads had little metal spacers around them on each end, so that would add in a total of 6 more beads, making 118.

None of this is terribly important, except for the number 108. The beads literally went all over the floor, and I managed to find 107 of the lapis beads, as well as all the other parts. But there was one lapis bead I never did find, and to this day I have no idea where it absconded to.

When a mala breaks, you can get it restrung, but this can be costly. I got quotes ranging from $30 to $150, and only one person could assure me of replacing that missing bead with something of comparable quality. Grade AA lapis is hard to come by, I guess.

This past week, I went on the search for one such bead. I found a local purveyor who had some, but they were something more like Grade C, and the color was not a good match. Nevertheless, I bought a string, and got some cheap (Grade D) jade beads: I figured I’d better have something to practice with before trying to restring my mala. In the end, I made mala with the jade beads, and a couple of bracelets with the remaining jade and lapis beads. On the evening I was making these pieces, a car drove by and posted a note on the utility pole just in front of our house. A little Pomeranian had gone missing, and the owner was looking for her. There was a reward, and a request not to approach the dog, but to keep her in sight until the owner arrived. This little poster ended up being very significant.

I gave one of the lapis bracelets to my wife, dropping it off at the colleague’s house. (No thanks were received for this, of course.) I also learned how to make tassels and Chinese endless knots. I ended up going back to the bead store over the weekend to purchase some green aventurine beads to make an “official” mala — one that I could actually use in practice. I think I pretty much got the hang of it, and I found it to be a good mindfulness practice.

This is all a long-winded lead-up to the events of today. This morning, I visited another bead store that had some lapis beads that were a very close match to the one that I was missing. I bought a string of these beads, and came home to finally restring that mala. I also had to drop by the shop to get some food for the dog. Thus, I ended up running late this morning, and finished the mala restring just minutes before I needed to go to work. I didn’t really have a chance to check out the mala very much, so I brought it with me as I got in the car to head out to work.

I managed to make it about 4 houses down our street, when I saw a small animal that looked like it could have been the missing dog. I couldn’t really believe my eyes. I stopped the car, and got out to verify. The dog was skittish, and ran up the driveway of a neighbors house. I was the dog perched on the neighbors porch, and asked another neighbor if the owner of the house had a dog; I was told that the owner only had a cat. I got on the phone and called the owner, who was about 10 miles away, but who promptly turned around and said he’d be on the scene in about 20 minutes.

Right about this time, another neighbor walked by with her three dogs, and I told her what was going on. She offered to help, and first took her dogs home so they wouldn’t scare the little Pomeranian. She was able to see that the little dog had run into the back yard of this house, and I was able to notify the owner of the house, who came out to help. We could not locate that little dog, though.

The owner arrived shortly thereafter — a young, college-aged guy who clearly loved his dog. I filled him in on the details, and we went into the back yard. The other neighbor had circled the block to see if the dog had escaped the yard, and in fact she had. The owner hopped the back fence and joined her in the neighboring yard, and within a few minutes, they located that little Pomeranian,

This was one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in recent memory. His dog had escaped on February 28th, just a couple of blocks away, and had not been seen for five days. The weather had alternated from rainy and blustery to clear and sub-freezing cold in that time, and it is likely that the dog had had little to nothing to eat or drink in this period. Nevertheless, she looked pretty healthy. The owner said he’d contact me regarding the reward, but really the reward was just being able to help.

The winds of karma blow in all sorts of unpredictable ways, and sometimes they can bring great fortune to those whose paths cross as a result.

Comedy of Errors

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to those of you who donated money to support this blog; there was definitely a noticeable bounce after my last post. Your generosity sure comes in handy right about now. Don’t worry, I shall explain.

Today was truly a bad karma day, a comedy of errors, really. Since my car’s battery was basically kaputt, I called around to see if I could get it replaced somewhere, and found a pretty good solution — even had a coupon for it. So, I went outside and fired up my boss’s portable jump-starter. It didn’t work. The engine cranked a bit, but it just wouldn’t turn over. I recharged it a couple of times, and it simply wouldn’t work. The terminal connectors on the battery were pretty corroded, and the positive terminal was basically shot. I decided my best bet would be to bring a battery home, along with a couple of cables, and do the job myself. It just didn’t seem worth getting a tow truck out here for a battery replacement.

Big mistake.

I took the bus to the auto parts store, got the battery and other sundries, and headed back. I had to make a transfer on the way back, and the second bus driver told me that I couldn’t bring a battery on board the bus. This was odd, as the first bus driver didn’t even care. This meant I had to walk the remaining mile or so back home, carrying this incredibly heavy car battery.

But the adventure had only begun. I popped the hood when I got home and got to work. I quickly realized that I lacked the right tools, so I made a separate trip, this time by foot, to the local home-improvement store. We live in a part of town where things are not nearby, so it was 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back. I did manage to get the battery removed (and took some flesh of my knuckles in the process, of course) but soon realized that replacing the battery cables was just beyond my skill set. The positive cable was so corroded I couldn’t even figure out what I was working with, what was connected to what, and what I’d need to replace. I decided to call it quits and head into work.

This was part two of that adventure. I had figured I could catch a bus that would set me up to get to work on time, but I ended up missing it by about 2 minutes. On top of that, I didn’t have the correct change, and had to stop at the bank to take care of that. By the time I’d settled all that, I watched two separate buses go by, neither of which I could have caught. I finally did board one that looked like it would get me to the transit center on time. This bus just happened to be driven by the same driver who told me I could not bring a battery on board. I think he recognized me, and I’m glad I didn’t curse him out the first time; this time I was well dressed, so he seemed a bit confused. This nearly did get me to the transit center on time, but my connecting bus was pulling away right as we pulled in.

I should mention that it was early afternoon at this point and all that I’d eaten all day was a bowl of oatmeal.

I had about 30 minutes to spare, so I headed to a nearby cafe to grab a quick bite. Service was slow, so I got out of there about 10 minutes before the next bus arrived. By this time, I realized I was going to be late for work, so I called ahead to let them know. (They took care of getting things started for me.) This bus got stuck in rush hour traffic — three times. I needed to make yet another transfer (yes, this is true) and it looked like I wouldn’t make it. Somehow, we got there with one minute to spare and I did make that transfer. I got on this third bus, and was hoping to get to work pretty quickly. No such luck. Three people in a row asked the bus driver if he went to such and such address, and the driver had to think about it, as though he didn’t even know where these streets were. This delayed our departure by about five minutes. Then, we hit every single red light on the way. So, I ended up arriving at work 20 minutes late.

I was fit to be tied by all of this, of course. I was able to get a lift home with a colleague (yes, this is luck!), but I still don’t have an operating vehicle. I am currently looking into getting a mobile mechanic out here to take care of the battery for me; they should be able to do it on short order, 15 minutes tops, I’d think.

I didn’t have much time to contact the wife today, or anything like that. In fact, I spent quite a bit of my time feeling rather annoyed with her. Don’t fret it folks, this is normal, and it happens to the best of us. I went through all the stories about how upset I was with her for being so selfish and so forth. They’re just stories. At the end of the day, she’s still my wife, and I’m not about to do anything so foolish as to blow my top with her over something like this.

I did email her in the morning to let her know that I had some important information to discuss with her. I had spoken with the graduate school at the university regarding some procedural issues with her dissertation, and wanted to fill her in on it. She emailed me this evening, somewhat tersely, to ask me what it was all about, and to say she’d be “out of town.” That is, at Camp You-Know-Where. My response was, “just call me please.” I do know that her dissertation advisor is on her case about finishing up. I suspect there will be some very real tension over this.

So it was very frustrating, this day called Thursday, September 27. Heck, I’m already out over $100 on the battery and parts, and will be forking over some more to get it installed.

By the way, I’m still open for blog donations, if any of you should feel so moved. Consider it a Rescuing Rodion’s Battery Drive, if you will. Old Rodion will be ever so grateful.

Let’s make it a great Friday. Cheers!

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Instant karma, part II

Karma means “action,” but action with a dualistic edge. Action that is good or bad, right or wrong, up or down, black or white. It doesn’t mean that, when you do a good deed, a good deed of equal measure will return to you in kind. I hope that my previous post didn’t lead anyone to believe that to be the case; my tone was more facetious than anything. Karma is more like a storage house in which positive and negative seeds are stored, and so long as we buy in to the whole dualistic view of existence, we are destined to watch those karmic seeds come to fruition. Our present moment actions have a lot to do with how they come to fruition, though. If your actions are fundamentally virtuous, you can expect positive karmic seeds to be more likely to manifest, and negative karma to be relatively minimized. The opposite is also said to be true. So this is a story about karma as it manifested in my life today.

My wife came home around 11:00 a.m. unannounced, and with the dog in her carrier. She said she “misplaced the leash” at the “other house,” so she had to keep the dog in the carrier. The dog seemed very relieved to be home again, and I don’t blame her. She had that barnyard funk that she picks up on these weekends. It’s actually not so much barnyard as a mixture of chicken coop and cat litter. Somewhat bizarrely, my wife had an even stronger tinge of that barnyard funk about her. It was really weird: she smelled worse than the dog, and the aroma pervaded the entire room.

She didn’t stay long, maybe just 20 minutes or so. Then she told me she was going to leave for her rehearsal. It was not yet noon, and the rehearsal began at 3:00. I offered to give her a ride, as it’s quite a distance, and takes over an hour by bus to reach that destination. She declined. Before she left, I offered her a lunchbox I’d made for her, and she declined that too, telling me that her bag was too heavy. She asked me to leave it in the fridge, as she might come home and eat it later. She never did, but maybe she will do so tomorrow. She looked very tired, and seemed quite unhappy.

After she left, I decided to go out and run some errands. I had it in my mind to do a bit of decorating in the house; nothing major, but it just seemed to me that the bedroom needed a bit more abundance and magnetizing energy. So I thought I’d get some flowers, and find a couple of vases for them, since we didn’t seem to have any extra vases. I went on line to look for consignment stores, and discovered that there is one not too far away. I went over to check out their inventory, and found a couple of nice vases, and spent about $15 or so for them. Then I went on a hunt for a flower shop, and in the process ended up visiting a tiny curio shop that sells Tibetan goods. Many of the things they have are spiritual/ritual/devotional objects; I think I had been there once with my wife many years back. She had been there a few times in the past, and bought me Chögyam Trungpa’s Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior there on the recommendation of the owner. Somehow I knew I’d be in good hands if I went there again.

I entered the tiny shop and the owner was conversing in Tibetan with his wife and high-school age daughter. He greeted me, and offered his assistance. He asked me if I was looking for prayer flags or something like that, but I told him I was looking for something for my bedroom, but aside from that had no agenda; I was just using my inspiration. I did ask him to show me what he had. He went straight to a shelf with tapestries — not prayer flags, per se, nor thangka paintings, but rather something one would more or less have to call tapestries. Not large ones either, mostly just cloths that were about 2 feet square. He took one off the shelf, a green one with Tibetan prayers written all over it, and an image of Green Tara in the middle. He said, “this is the 21 Praises to Tara, you know.”

I was astonished. I have done Green Tara practice for about a year now, and have found it completely transformative. I often lead the practice on Sundays. I’ve been also reciting the 21 Praises to Tara since about the beginning of the year, and recently have made it a daily practice. I told him about this, and he said, “isn’t that interesting that this is the first thing I found for you.” We also looked at a couple of thangka paintings, plus some calligraphy he had done, but in the end I bought the tapestry. I just trusted my intuition on this one. That’s how karma works. You walk into a shop and this connection suddenly happens. Not only that, but the tapestry is green, and that is the color of karma energy. He said it would be appropriate for the bedroom. Somehow he had the sense that my bedroom needed karma energy. I felt that it needed something, as the energy was just stale in there. I felt so immensely grateful.

I never did find that flower shop, by the way, so I ended up getting some flowers at a grocery store that evening. I came home to discover that my wife had not returned during the day at all. I imagine she’ll be by tomorrow at some point. I plan to ask her for advice as to where to hang the tapestry. She’ll likely say that she doesn’t care, since she doesn’t feel it to be her bedroom anymore. But, she will get to experience Tara’s karma energy face to face.

Instant karma

I was driving to work today, and something unexpected happened: as I was getting on the freeway, this white jeep in front of me to my left blew its right rear tire. I heard it blow and watched a piece of rubber go flying into the air. Then the tire began to vibrate and bounce, and the back end of the jeep began to shake and look rather unstable. The other drivers around this vehicle seemed oblivious; some followed too closely, others just passed by. I decided to do something. I drove up beside the jeep — not the easiest feat, as the freeway was a bit busy, and the jeep was speeding (65 mph) — and honked my horn. The young lady behind the wheel looked over at me, and I pointed to her to pull over, trying to tell her that her tire had blown. I had my window down, but hers was rolled up, so she couldn’t hear what I was saying. At least she slowed down, and I got in front of her; at the next exit she signaled to pull over, and I pulled over with her onto the shoulder. I got out and so did she, and I told her that her tire had blown and that I saw the whole thing happen. She said, “so maybe that was why my car was shaking?” She said she heard it blow, but didn’t see any signs of anything wrong, except for the shaking of course. I showed her the tire, which hadn’t gone flat yet, but was totally misformed and bulging. She said she had an appointment to get to, but it wasn’t far away, so I let her drive off, as she had no time to change the tire, but told her to get it fixed ASAP. Karma points = +100,

Actually, they say in some Buddhist traditions that the first 15 days of the lunar new year are particularly auspicious, and the effects of positive and negative actions are multiplied by 100,000. If that’s true, then that would be karma points = 10,000,000. I don’t know if this is true, and I don’t know how many karma points you get for something like this for starters, but a guy can hope, anyway.

Thus I continued on my journey. I had actually left the house early today, so that I could stop by Daiso for some little goodies. If you’ve never been to or heard of this place, it’s basically like a Japanese dollar store, except that in Japan they’d be called 100-yen stores. In this country, Daiso sells a ton of little things, all of which sell for $1.50; there will also be a few larger items that cost more. But the general idea is that pretty much everything in the store sells for $1.50. I’m not buying aluminum foil anywhere else anymore, I think.

For my trip to Daiso today, I was on a hunt for one thing in particular: bento boxes. I wrote in my a previous post about a bento box lunch I had packed for my wife in anticipation of her latest trip to Camp Chickenshit. Apparently it was a hit. I did some more cooking last night and again had leftovers, but didn’t have an extra bento box since, well, that one I bought is currently up there at Camp Chickenshit and won’t make it back down here until maybe tomorrow. Daiso has a bunch of bento boxes, most of them small, and some so small that they’re only appropriate for children. I bought a pair of bento boxes by a company called “Lube Sheep.” I’m not kidding, that’s the actual name. These were pretty much the largest boxes they had, and would be appropriate for adults. You can see the ones I bought here; they are the “Urara” ones at the top of the page, one red (for her) and one blue (for me). I didn’t get the whole kit that they picture on this page, since they only sold the bento boxes themselves, plus a matching elastic band to hold the whole thing together. The price tag for these suckers: $1.50 each, plus $1.50 per elastic band, for a grand total of $6. I also got a few tiny plastic bottles to hold ponzu or other sauce, since I knew what I’d be packing in these boxes. Oh, and I also got an extra pair of plastic chopsticks, complete with case to hold them, again for $1.50. My grand total was just under $10. Karma points (for thoughtfulness) = +10.

After having had dinner at home tonight, I packed the bento box. I had made some salmon-shrimp cakes courtesy of a recipe by Harumi Kurihara, one of my wife’s favorite cookbook authors. In fact, I took the recipe from the cookbook I bought her. (She hasn’t even looked at it yet, really.) I packed those with some asparagus shiroae; the “shiroae” is a white sauce made of tofu, miso, soy sauce, a bit of sugar, and ground sesame seeds. You can see what it looks like here when applied to other vegetables. The bottom container held the rice, with a couple of umeboshi. (You do know what those are, right?) Karma points (again, for thoughtfulness) = +30.

Since I have no idea what time my wife will be traipsing into this house tomorrow, my plan is to have the lunchbox ready to leave for her before I go off to work. Her movements seem to be getting a bit predictable: she leaves on Friday afternoon, takes the dog, pretends like she’s going to her friends’ house a couple of blocks away, and then returns the following Tuesday. She knows when I’ll be at work, so she avoids coming home until then, if at all possible. Well, tomorrow she does have a rehearsal, so it might not be possible for her to avoid me, and in fact if she does come home earlier, I’ll offer to give her a lift, and then give her the lunch box. Karma points vary depending on the circumstance, maybe +10 to +50.

She has gotten a bit careless with her life these days, by the way. She recently began posting on her blog again, but not in any way that would really indicate where she’s taking the pictures, although I know where they are coming from. We had a tiny bit of snow yesterday morning, mixed mostly with hail, but there was no accumulation here whatsoever. Camp Chickenshit is 40 miles to the north in a convergence zone; it tends to be much colder up there, and they will get several inches of snow when we get none. Her blog post this morning was of a picture she took yesterday of a tree with a bit of snow on it. Wow. This totally leaves her open for a well-placed comment, should I wish not to hold my tongue. I know her friends don’t have a tree that looks anything like the one she took the photo of, and further there was not enough snow here for any tree to look anything like that one did. I’m not sure I’ll say anything, actually, but I could casually hint that I’d seen her blog and that they must have gotten a lot more snow at her friend’s house one block north of here. On second thought, I think I’ll hold my tongue. I actually do pay the ISP hosting fees for that blog; perhaps she has forgotten that. Karma points: for her, -500; for me: 0 (holding my tongue) to -50 (for saying stupid things). Maybe I get slight positive karma points, e.g. +5, if my comments help to bring about the end of her affair, but that’s impossible to judge.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the opportunity to do a bit of giving and generally to have the chance to connect and attempt to work toward reconciliation some more. Things move a lot more slowly when your spouse has decided to disconnect from you and is making every effort to try to evade you. Still, she sends me nice texts on occasion, so it’s not a total wall of ice. Consistency is my friend, though. The more I do things, the more she’ll realize that I’m dedicated and will persevere. She has been advised by the “energy worker” to be patient and help me heal, so she will have a hard time rejecting these things if she wants to take that advice seriously. I’ve had high hopes in the past for her affair running its course and being over and done with much sooner, but it still appears to be going strong at the moment. She does need the weekends at Camp Chickenshit to experience the full range of emotions and experiences that relationship can provide, as these will lead to its inevitable demise. Why am I so certain of this? Well, for starters, my wife is absolutely no smarter about relationships now than she was 6 months ago. I, however, am about 10000% smarter and better informed. I know what to do to keep a relationship healthy, and have a learned and developed a number of skills that are very powerful. She has none of these. This means that, when that relationship hits rocky ground as it likely already has done, and as it most certainly will do in the near future, she’ll have no recourse other than to go down the tried and true route of arguing, complaining, nagging, giving ultimatums, and fighting.That approach didn’t work for us, and it certainly won’t work for them. That man likely has zero relationship skills anyway, as he has never managed to stay successfully married, and somehow believes that adultery can work out. I do know that she finds his language too direct and insensitive at times. None of this makes for a good or successful recipe. Karma points, +100 for consistency; unlimited negatives for her affair and any and all of its components.

As the tension builds between the two of them, which it certainly will due to a number of factors — her dissertation, her unsettled living situation, her diminishing bank balance, and, of course, me — there will be more and more opportunities for disagreements, arguments, heated exchanges, and, yes, fights to erupt. I do believe that they are just one good argument away from ending that relationship. All she needs to have is one really good barn-burner that puts her out to sleeping on his couch and she’ll begin to rethink that whole situation, and fast. She is still in fantasy land right now, in the bubble that is the affair and its attendant fog, but that bubble is very fragile and fit to pop at any moment. Now, if only I could find the right needle to pop it… Actually, I could just let my karma points take care of that, most likely.

Attitude adjustment and some musings on karma

Let me just begin with the factual and even the experiential negatives, so that I’ll have something agains which to paint my story in relief.

My wife agreed last week to have a joint counseling session with me. This was a significant change in communication with her, and to me this was nothing less than a portal opening, through which I will eventually reach her heart and mind, and through which reconciliation will inevitably happen. Since there are always tons of financial obligations at the end of the month, and going forward into the beginning of the new month, I had to hold off on booking the session until the beginning of this week. I managed to get a session scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon, but since my wife didn’t return home at all yesterday and remained incommunicado, I wasn’t able to confirm with her whether that time would work at all. She finally texted me early this morning to say that she was going to a garden show with one of her girlfriends, and so that time wouldn’t work. I rebooked for Friday morning; she agreed this would be okay, but said she could only stay for an hour. That’s all we’ll need. Frankly, the timing is perfect, since she normally departs for the weekend on Friday afternoons, so the experience of the counseling session will be fresh in her mind when she does leave, and any seeds of doubt about her current situation will also be there and hopefully taking root.

She did return home this morning, and fairly late at that, sometime around 11:00. The dog looked a bit thinner, as if she hadn’t eaten for a few days, and also appeared very tired and relieved to be home. This is how it normally is with the dog when she has been forced to be away from home for several days, and especially when the energy in the environment she has been taken to has a negative edge to it. (I think it’s fair to say that “negative edge” is probably an understatement here.) As for my wife, she looked like hell. I have seldom seen her come home on any of her mornings away looking fresh, rejuvenated, and happy. She looked tired, had not bathed (and did not take a bath while she was here) and seemed like she just wanted to drop off the dog and get out. So I let her do that. I offered her a bottle of root beer that I’d bought, so that she could take it along with her, and she said it looked heavy. Hmmmm. So, I left it in the fridge for her so that she could drink it tonight, as she will be home teaching.

You might notice that I have not really written much of anything negative, aside from that which is mostly factual, and that I’m not talking about the “A” word, either. This is deliberate. I got an email from my counselor recommending that I watch the movie The Secret as soon as possible. I wasn’t really sure why he would have recommended this, and I had been pretty skeptical about the whole “law of attraction” idea, especially since there is so much faux spirituality out there that relies on a something-for-nothing approach that really doest work. But I watched it anyway.

Much of the message of the film rings true to me: you become what you think. Basically that’s the long and short of it. If you think that you’ll be in debt for the next ten years, then that’s what’s likely to happen. If you think you’ll manifest wealth in the next year, then that’s what’s likely to happen. Essentially, it’s not much more than intention-setting, and then being open to the manifestation of that intention by a) believing that the manifestation of that intention is possible, and b) being willing to receive it when it does manifest.

I think the objection many have expressed to this film and the ideas expressed therein is that it has a fairly strong materialist bent: if you desire a new car, it will manifest in your life. So it is with money, career success, etc. These things, however, are not the secret (no pun intended) to leading a fulfilled existence. Such fulfillment comes from a much deeper place.

In my own spiritual practice, which at this point is basically Mahayana Buddhism from within the standpoint of a Vajrayana lineage, the orientation on self-satisfaction is seen as ultimately pointless, as the self is a mere fabrication that does not truly exist. (This is a complex philosophical issue that I will not get into here.) Instead, one’s orientation should rather be directed toward others in helping the to attain happiness. This does not mean that one should not aspire to have wealth, a new car, or a better job, but one’s intention in so doing is more important: if you’re doing it just to feel better about yourself, you ultimately won’t, but if you’re doing it with the intention of benefitting others, then your motivations are likely quite pure.

Here’s what I’ve taken away from watching this film: your present situation is the result of past thoughts and actions. Your future situation will be the result of present thoughts and actions. If your present thoughts and actions are conditioned by current and past experiences, you can likely expect more of the same, e.g. if you’re in debt now and can only focus on that, then you’ll likely stay in debt in the future. Essentially, this is not much other than the workings of karma. People misunderstand the idea of karma, thinking it’s a tit-for-tat accounting procedure wherein a negative action cases a negative consequence of similar order to return to you, and a positive for a positive. It doesn’t work like that, because a) our karma includes all the karmic seeds of our previous lives and b) our karma ripens as our experience when the appropriate causes and conditions allow it to ripen. Everything that happens to us is nothing other than our karma, and this includes each breath we take, each glass of water we drink, each sunrise we see, and so on.

I once heard an acquaintance describe karma, and in particular bad karma with the following anecdote. He had been working with a prison dharma program (basically a prison Buddhist ministry program) and he was facilitating a session with a Theravadan monk. One of the prisoners asked how he should deal with the fact that he had created so much bad karma through his crimes, as he thought it was basically like a sword being held above his head, just waiting to drop. The monk explained it this way: imagine that you have a thimble of poison, and you drink it in one shot. You’ll be poisoned and die. But if you take that same thimble of poison and put it into a gallon of water and then drink it little by little, you’ll be okay. The water might not taste so good and you may occasionally get a bit sick, but you won’t end up being poisoned. Thus it is with our karma. If you have bad karma, even really bad karma, you can prevent it from ripening in hugely negative ways by flooding your life with as much virtuous activity as possible.

So it is with this blog entry. I do realize that the more I think about my wife’s affair and the more I worry about our marital crisis, the worse it wears on my, the less present I am to the situation, and the harder it is for me to be present in a positive way for her and to move forward in a positive direction for myself, and by extension for her. I have long had the sense that I have an unshakable determination to reconcile my marriage, but I have let negative thoughts and emotions derail me and get the better of me from time to time. I have used this forum as a place to vent and likely will do so going into the future, but I am going to try to take a more positive tack here, at least for the short term, to see if and how that affects my life.