Karma and ME/CFS?

sparklehoof

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The following posts were split from the thread Long Term Plans
- Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
Hi Sparklehoof; I really don't feel so good about giving you advice, because I've been in a different category to you - as you put above, some people have families with money. I've had the luxury of not having to worry about money until now, when I am about at a level of health where I could actually begin to earn something (somehow). However, reading your story made me think of two things that I've learnt along the way, which may or may not be helpful to you, and I hope you can understand that I do not mean them in any kind of condescending way:

1. I think there are cures for this illness existing right now, it's just a matter of finding them. However, in saying this, I am aware that I have been extremely fortunate to come across the healers that I have. I must have dome some good, at least, in my previous lives, to deserve a recovery.

2. I really like this one myself, but it's not for everyone: If something is going to be too difficult to attain, stop needing/wanting it. However, this is coming from someone who plans to eventually build a yurt for himself and live off the grid.

But, yeah, I'm taking something from what you wrote, too, because you really have been soldiering on, you know.
Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your perspective.

I’m not well read in the relationship between past and present lives. Have you read that ME is a punishment given to people for wrongdoing in a past life?
 
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David Jackson

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I’m not well read in the relationship between past and present lives. Have you read that ME is a punishment given to people for wrongdoing in a past life?
You have heard of it, I am sure: this would be Karma.

The happiness and distress we cause others in previous lives is returned to us in this life, while the happiness and distress we cause others in this life is returned to us in future lives.

It's an Eastern thing, haha :)

One can see what karma they are due in this life by going to a good astrologer, and getting a reading done. When I was really bad, and it genuinely felt like I was going to leave my body, I contacted a good astrologer, who lives on the other side of the world from me. He told me exactly when I got sick, when I got worse, and when I'd start making improvements. He was right, even down to the day of when I would get a certain type of information that would really help me out.

But, yeah; I'm not trying to force something on you, just answering your question :)
 
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sparklehoof

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Thank you.
It’s amazing that you were able to find someone who could know your past and predict the future of your health to the day.
I’ve never heard of ME as being is karma for a negative past life experience. I, like many of us, must have been a such a deplorable person, that we haven’t yet deserved recovery.
It’s fortunate that you accomplished some good in a past life so as to deserve recovery.
I’ve tried to be the best person that I can be in this life. Are you saying that the good deeds from my current life won’t make me deserving of recovery? I can’t afford to have an astrological reading from someone on the other side of the world unless they offer their services in exchange for good karma in their next life.
 

David Jackson

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Are you saying that the good deeds from my current life won’t make me deserving of recovery?
Nope, that's not quite what I meant. The stuff we did in out previous lives determine our karma in this life. Our deeds in this life determines our karma in our future lives.

So, what I'm saying is that the deeds of your past life have, thus far, made you undeserving of a recovery. Maybe that bad karma is about to expire and be replaced by some good karma? Only a good astrologer can tell you.

According to astrology, I have some very nicely positioned planets, but, in my chart, the Sun is in a rather terrible position. So, my astrologer said to me that although I must have done something really good to get Jupiter and Saturn - the two massive planets - in a good position, still, my Sun, the brightest luminary in the sky, which represents your health and energy and reputation, is in a bad placement. And you don't get that for no reason... (meaning that I also did something bad to get such an important planet in such a bad position).

This is interesting. Are you saying that you stopped needing/wanting your yurt?
With regards to the yurt plans, when I think of working a full time job, having a family of my own etc. I just think, "na, too much effort" - too difficult to attain, so I just stop wanting/needing it. Instead, I'll find some little bit of land, and build a yurt and make a bicycle generator.

I think this idea came to me when I was that bad that I couldn't leave the house and speak to anyone, and have no friends living close by, so I just decided to stop needing so much association with other people... it seemed easier to me to stop needing something, rather than going through all the trouble to get it.

Does that make sense now?

Otherwise, I will also say this: For a long time I was trying doctors and naturopaths and supplements, for no benefits at all. It was subtle energy healing that has made all the difference in the world to me... things that deal with auras and chakras and qi and stuff. As it happened, there was a very skilled healer lady living right over the road from me, and she helped me tremendously. Then I was able to travel further from home, and see the person that taught her so much, and then I improved so much more... I'm not saying that everyone's CFS can be cured in this way, but it might help some who have tried everything else for no improvement.
 

PinkPanda

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So, what I'm saying is that the deeds of your past life have, thus far, made you undeserving of a recovery. Maybe that bad karma is about to expire and be replaced by some good karma? Only a good astrologer can tell you.
I'm sorry, what? I hope, I've just misunderstood the context of this post, it seemed like you were telling someone they were undeserving of recovery, because of some spiritual belief you have.
ME/CFS is a disease and disease recovery has nothing to do with how deserving you are or not. And I'm sure @sparklehoof would be immensely deserving of recovery.
 
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Sushi

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The happiness and distress we cause others in previous lives is returned to us in this life, while the happiness and distress we cause others in this life is returned to us in future lives.
Nope, that's not quite what I meant. The stuff we did in out previous lives determine our karma in this life. Our deeds in this life determines our karma in our future lives.

So, what I'm saying is that the deeds of your past life have, thus far, made you undeserving of a recovery. Maybe that bad karma is about to expire and be replaced by some good karma? Only a good astrologer can tell you.
I responding as someone who has studied these ideas extensively and in depth--at the source, Indian scriptures. While this is a popular understanding of karma, when you study it in depth it is much more shaded and complex. I think it is really an oversimplification to say that because we are sick now, we did something in a past life to "deserve it." It is more a philosophy that tries to explain life in terms of the opportunity to learn about ourselves in light of who we "might have been" in the past (though many philosophers take that metaphorically, rather than literally). So, yes, I have a difficult, debilitating disease. Is that because this is "payback" for deeds in the past? No, not at all. Rather this difficult disease may offer to me ("may" is a key word!) the opportunity to look inward and outward and develop part of my character that is positive. So maybe by being here with all the others who are suffering, I am learning compassion; or maybe I am learning to stand up for myself and others who need a voice, or...
I’ve never heard of ME as being is karma for a negative past life experience.
Nor have I.
I hope, I've just misunderstood the context of this post, it seemed like you were telling someone they were undeserving of recovery, because of some spiritual belief you have.
ME/CFS is a disease and disease recovery has nothing to do with how deserving you are or not.
I really think that the concept of karma has been oversimplified in a way that causes misunderstanding and damage.
 

Tammy

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So, what I'm saying is that the deeds of your past life have, thus far, made you undeserving of a recovery. Maybe that bad karma is about to expire and be replaced by some good karma? Only a good astrologer can tell you.
Sorry........but the more I re-read your reply.......the more it upsets me. Telling a person that the deeds of their past life have made them undeserving of a recovery is just plain irresponsible.
 

pamojja

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I consider myself to have an open mind............but............and to be blunt. NO WAY IN HELL SHOULD YOU EVER BLAME YOURSELF (past life??????????????) FOR GETTING SICK.
To give an other nuance to that discussion, I've studied that concept of past and future lifes, for example in the context of doing intensive Buddhist meditation practice (Theravada) in a Burmese forest monastery for 2 years.

Popular understanding of kamma (Pali language equivalent of karma, literally meaning 'doing', being cause and becoming effect at the same time) couldn't be more crude.

The most difficult concept along with it to grasp - since it isn't really that much of a concept than a matured meditative experience in Buddhism - is 'non-self' (sorry that this gonna be so difficult to understand from a conventional perspective). Basically since everything experienced - all sensations, perceptions, thoughts, emotions and consciousnesses - are impermanent, not really under our control, but merely arise due to the law of cause and effect, ..therefore ultimately are not where any satisfying 'self' could be found. Buddhist determine these daily experiences as 'empty of an inherently independent self'. Since the conception of a self is dependent on any of these fleeting experiences, only 'non-self' really is.

I know that probably seems a very outlandish proposition. But all the same, when this becomes real, THERE ISN'T ANY SELF TO BLAME LEFT!

To illustrate this in everyday terms, with my christian upbringing I (wrongly) thought I had to suppress certain shadows of my personality, and work on increasing good and selfless traits in me. Somehow worked, but also made me very unhappy. With this new perspective I didn't have to suppress nor work anymore. Just realize how selfless this almost automatic process called life already is, and which was such a relieve. :) (pamojja, by the way, is the Pali word for 'gladness'..)

So far, this is from experience. What I also experienced during intense meditation is, that all my suppressed shadows of personality - at which I was so good at, that I had no clue they even existed - were really every extreme form of anger, hatred, lust and greet. On one level really disappointing, on the other hand having really no control over such past imprints (couldn't relate it to anything experienced in this life-time), by the unavoidable process of not-owning-these-experiences anymore, also would make a good 'listener' to those issues in me. Thereby freed from having to perpetrate them in endless cycles, for example: to hate due to hate, having fear of fear, lust for lust, etc. Then with time also experienced very extraordinary blissful states. But other than in Hinduism, at that stage in Buddhist meditation one shouldn't be fooled anymore, in that this would be anything else than cause and effect, still 'empty of an inherent self'. Or even an 'eternal godlike self', as most other religions would prefer to assume. Though those states definitely feel that way.


Now to the concepts of kamma and past lifes - for which I have no evidence other than these disturbing mental states of the most evil humans are able of during meditation in my self, with no counterpart in my own life. In Buddhism past lifes couldn't even be counted, that many there supposedly are. Even the Buddha at the night of his awakening could remember lifes of only about 30 cycles of World-expansion (of which our big-bang theory would mean only one) and World-contraction, with still no beginning in sight.

In these immeasurable time-scales, immeasurable kamma has been accumulated, both good and bad. Potentially giving fuel for eternities of lifes in both heavens, hells, and somewhere in-between as humans. Realizing this when conceiving past lifes, any crude blaming anyone for their deeds comes to a full stop. Period.

Giving rise to the desire to find an exit from that ceaseless up and downs during eternities. Actually, the only reason why the Abbot of that monastery I practiced instructed to remember at least a couple of past lifes (which I wasn't able to) was to attain that desire to break free.

However, there is allegedly a small trick for lesser inclined for influencing the next life. ;) Since the mental state of the last life-moment of this life (either wholesome or unwholesome) allegedly determines the first mind-moment of the next and it's general course - and thereby sort of focuses whatever fuel there is of the same nature from long gone-by past lifes. A good strategy according to this line of thought would be to prepare for that moment. For that out of not-control-able circumstances not suddenly a suppressed personality trait takes over at that last mind-moment. Like blaming where there is none to blame.

However that ever may be. Past life or present not really being me (almost as with genetics - none would blame oneself for unfortunate genes), in the end as the pragmatist I am, and as contradictory as it may appear: I'm so glad of having deconstructed the ultimate illusion of this Me, myself or owning anything. This conception of Me - true or not - is all what prevents true compassion. It only starts if one is able to feel for oneself first..

Suddenly past or future are nothing more than fleeting conceptions too. With just this very moment at hand. Choose wisely.
 
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pamojja

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Maybe this poem can illustrate better:


Call Me by My True Names
--by Thich Nhat Hanh (Jul 13, 2015)


Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

 

pamojja

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Or in still easier words, the conception of kamma should help to realize the unlimited freedom each moment gives, to break free from destructive pattens of our life and our ancestors. Or it becomes destructive itself.
 

cmt12

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Implicit in this idea of karma is a sort of totality of judgment that to me comes from a place of naivety and lack of humility. It’s a low resolution understanding of the nature of reality. For instance, I’m sure everyone can relate to experiences of adversity that we subjectively judged to be horrible while in them at the time, but afterward look back and see them as something incredibly valuable from our more informed perspective.

So how should that be evaluated in relation to the idea of karma? Was it negative karma or positive karma? What if we didn’t react to the adversity in a useful way and so weren’t able to unlock the good from it? Does that mean the karma goes from a reward to a punishment? Do our reactions change the essence of the karma? If so, does that not show how variable and flimsy the whole philosophy is, since it is so dependent on subjective interpretation?

Within darkness and chaos exists potential. Further, there is already an aspect built in for negative judgment on our actions, which is the conscience. However, the point is not to punish but rather to guide behavior.

On the positive side, karma does incorporate responsibility into our judgments of our lives. However, it does so inaccurately. It both simultaneously places too much responsibility on our past actions for present circumstances, de emphasizing the role of natural forces beyond our control, while also denying the responsibility needed to react to current hardship in a productive way.
 

pamojja

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It both simultaneously places too much responsibility on our past actions for present circumstances, de emphasizing the role of natural forces beyond our control, while also denying the responsibility needed to react to current hardship in a productive way.
Totally agree if you are aware that you're talking only about a superficial and popularized view of kamma. If one reads ancient Pali suttas, however one finds that was not meant. Just this translation of an excerpt as example:

SN 36.21
Sivaka Sutta: To Sivaka
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2005

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove Monastery, the Squirrel's Feeding Place. There Moliyasivaka the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of this doctrine, this view: Whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before. Now what does Master Gotama say to that?"

[The Buddha:] "There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile.[1] You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."

"There are cases where some feelings arise based on phlegm... based on internal winds... based on a combination of bodily humors... from the change of the seasons... from uneven[2] care of the body... from harsh treatment... from the result of kamma. You yourself should know how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."
Admittedly bile, phlegm, internal winds, a combination of bodily humors, etc. was the state of the art in ancient Indian medicine, and wouldn't stand the test of today's western medicine. However, this just points out how extreme the idea of kamma has been perverted by wrong understanding from the west. But even already at the time 5000 years ago this humbug seem to have spread.
 
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cmt12

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Totally agree if you are aware that you're talking only about a superficial and popularized view of kamma. If one reads ancient Pali suttas, however one finds that was not meant. Just this translation of an excerpt as example:



Admittedly bile, phlegm, internal winds, a combination of bodily humors, etc. was the state of the art in ancient Indian medicine, and wouldn't stand the test of today's western medicine. However, this just points out how extreme the idea of kamma has been perverted by wrong understanding from the west. But even already at the time 5000 years ago this humbug seem to have spread.
Yes, thank you for balancing out my response. Any idea that stands the test of time should not be too quickly dismissed, and requires a deeper look to see what aspect of being it is attracting. Like I mentioned, partly it is the principle of responsibility, but it seems to have gotten perverted in its popularized understanding by being used as a justification to relinquish current responsibility in a similar way that the idea of original sin or secular determinism is used similarly.
 

David Jackson

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Yes, @pamojja has a nice understanding - karma is about knowledge, not about placing guilt and blame - and I do sincerely apologise if anyone thought I was intending it in that way.

With an understanding of how causing suffering to other living beings will result in one’s own suffering in the future, the natural conclusion is that I shouldn’t cause others to suffer. Or, better yet, as pamojja eloquently describes, it is better to find an exit from the ceaseless ups and downs from lifetime to lifetime.

Though, I would like to ask (with a wry smile of course), how it can be that a non-self is experiencing anything at all... (I don’t subscribe to voidism, haha).
 

pamojja

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With an understanding of how causing suffering to other living beings will result in one’s own suffering in the future, the natural conclusion is that I shouldn’t cause others to suffer. ...

Though, I would like to ask (with a wry smile of course), how it can be that a non-self is experiencing anything at all... (I don’t subscribe to voidism, haha).
Very difficult to subscribe, or even understand, or further to experience what is meant with co-dependent origination ..and being empty of an independent inherent self.

However, paradoxically it is actually straight-forward if one always starts with oneself :). As for example with the 5 training precepts:

1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to avoid sexual misconduct.
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
Very difficult too. To make it a little easier one starts with 1 or 2. Not because for gaining reputation or anyone in authority said so. But to explore if any of these training-rules adopted would have any bearings on one's own everyday well-being.

Next, if one experienced benefits for oneself from these training-rules, it becomes so much easier to proceed in training one-pointedness of mind. Which can give rise to temporary blissful states. Again, for oneself.

Lastly, with matured one-pointedness of mind one directs it for example on the experience of dependent-origination, including these incredibly fast with every mind-moment arising and passing consciousnesses. And the perception - that the consciousnesses before are connected to the ones after - in any way other than by cause and effect - is shattered. Moreover, it's just such a relieve to finally get rid of that stubborn buddy, and again the benefit is for oneself. Not that these benefits wouldn't benefits others just as well. But it starts at oneself.

So it's less about logic for me as a pragmatic, than starting with experimentation which may lead to benefits here and now. But don't be fooled by how easy it may look by my necessarily simplified description, altogether may take years, if not lifes. But just to start with the first steps could already be rewarding.
 
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pamojja

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, how it can be that a non-self is experiencing anything at all...
From a philosophical point of view that question points to the major impact of vocabulary and grammar, or language, on reality. Though interesting, I suspect it never would lead to the kind in perception of reality, some mastery in one-pointedness without language is able to.


The immensity of the implications of language on our perception of reality I became really aware of on a long overland trip through Africa. More and more had that unconformable perception something being wrong with African people. Why most didn't seem to take their destiny for a better future more in their own hand, like one can for example see with many South-Asians?

A philosophy book about 'African Worldview and Religion' by an Ugandan writer gave me a plausible explanation: Most traditional African languages didn't have any future tense! Only a few African languages could express something 1-2 rainy-seasons ahead though. In traditional African conception of most, any individual would starts out in the now, and in this understanding the older one gets, the more one moves to the past. Till one joins one's ancestors in the very distant past at the moment of death.

African western education in most cases not lasting longer than 5 elementary years, it seems a majority still somewhere between the traditional backward time-line, and our western future goal-oriented approach. But not really fully established in any of those 2 anymore/yet.


Just as with a future only perceptible with the availability of a future tense in language. Self-awareness only starts with a memorized mental representation of a self. Being only a 'memorized mental representation', and possibly replaced by a more sophisticated something 'empty of an independently inherent self', this non-self will just continue to experience everything. Because the process of experiencing isn't dependent on a mental representation - it's the other way around. And all what is being empty of an independent self is about.
 

PatJ

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Here is a short article that takes a very simple look at kamma/karma but notes some of the complexities and the modern misperceptions that oversimplify the sophisticated and deep teaching of karma:
Karma is one of those words we don't translate. Its basic meaning is simple enough — action — but because of the weight the Buddha's teachings give to the role of action, the Sanskrit word karma packs in so many implications that the English word action can't carry all its luggage. This is why we've simply airlifted the original word into our vocabulary.

But when we try unpacking the connotations the word carries now that it has arrived in everyday usage, we find that most of its luggage has gotten mixed up in transit. In the eyes of most Americans, karma functions like fate — bad fate, at that: an inexplicable, unchangeable force coming out of our past, for which we are somehow vaguely responsible and powerless to fight. "I guess it's just my karma," I've heard people sigh when bad fortune strikes with such force that they see no alternative to resigned acceptance. The fatalism implicit in this statement is one reason why so many of us are repelled by the concept of karma, for it sounds like the kind of callous myth-making that can justify almost any kind of suffering or injustice in the status quo: "If he's poor, it's because of his karma." "If she's been raped, it's because of her karma." From this it seems a short step to saying that he or she deserves to suffer, and so doesn't deserve our help.

This misperception comes from the fact that the Buddhist concept of karma came to the West at the same time as non-Buddhist concepts, and so ended up with some of their luggage. Although many Asian concepts of karma are fatalistic, the early Buddhist concept was not fatalistic at all. In fact, if we look closely at early Buddhist ideas of karma, we'll find that they give even less importance to myths about the past than most modern Americans do.

For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear and complex. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a simple straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.
Most people don't realize how karma and character are related. Here is another look at karma that includes the following:
Firstly let us deal with the psychological effect of kamma. When a willed action is performed it leaves a track in the mind, an imprint which can mark the beginning of a new mental tendency. It has a tendency to repeat itself, to reproduce itself, somewhat like a protozon, like an amoeba. As these actions multiply, they form our character. Our personality is nothing but a sum of all our willed actions, a cross-section of all our accumulated kamma. So by yielding first in simple ways to the unwholesome impulses of the mind, we build up little by little a greedy character, a hostile character, an aggressive character or a deluded character. On the other hand, by resisting these unwholesome desires we replace them with their opposites, the wholesome qualities. Then we develop a generous character, a loving and a compassionate personality, or we can become wise and enlightened beings. As we change our habits gradually, we change our character, and as we change our character we change our total being, our whole world. That is why the Buddha emphasizes, so strongly the need to be mindful of every action, of every choice. For every choice of ours has a tremendous potential for the future.

Now let us examine the effects of moral retribution. What is most important in Kamma is its tendency to ripen in the future and produce results in accordance with the universal moral law.

Whenever we perform an action with intention, such action deposits a "seed" in the mind, a seed with a potency to bring about effects in the future. These effects correspond to the nature of the original action. They follow from the inherent ethical tone of the action. Our unwholesome kamma comes back to us and lead to our harm and suffering. Our wholesome kamma eventually returns to us and leads to our happiness and well being.

Seen from this angle, from the standpoint of karmic law, the universe appears to maintain a certain moral equilibrium, a balance between all the morally significant deeds and the objective situations of those who perform them. So the law of kamma is a moral application of the general principle that for every action there is an equal and an opposite reaction. However, the working of kamma is not mechanical. Kamma is willed action and the kamma is something alive and organic. Therefore kamma allows much room for variation, for the play of living forces.
Experiencing the result of your past karma isn't inevitable, because karma (intentional acts) are like seeds:
First of all, not all Kamma has to ripen as a matter of necessity. Although it has the tendency to ripen, it does not ripen inevitably. Kamma is like a seed. Seeds ripen only if they meet the right conditions. But if they do not meet the right conditions they remain as seeds; if they are destroyed they can never ripen at all. Similarly, it can be said of kamma that kamma pushes for an opportunity to mature. It has a tendency to mature. If kamma finds the opportunity then it will bring its results. If it does not meet the right conditions it won't ripen. One kamma can even be destroyed by another kamma. So it is important to understand that our present way of life, our attitudes and conduct, can influence the way our past kammas mature. Some past kammas are so powerful that they have to come to fruition. We cannot escape them no matter what we do. But the greatest number of our past kammas are conditioned by the way we live now. If we live heedlessly, unwisely, we will give our past bad kammas the opportunity to ripen and this will either hinder the good kammas from producing their effects or else cancel out their good effects.

On the other hand, if we live wisely now, we will give our good kammas the opportunity to mature and bar out our bad kammas or weaken them, destroy them or prevent them from coming to fruition.
 

David Jackson

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for example with the 5 training precepts:
Ah, the Regulative Principles; it's exceedingly rare that you ever hear someone mention these, what to speak of following them :)

And I was admiring that description of karma, also, @PatJ.

To cite a few Sanskrit words from Srila Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamrita-sundu that you might appreciate, avidya (ignorance) gives rise to bijam (the seed of material desire) which usually results in papam (negative karmic action) which then gives rise to prarabdha (a manifest karmic reaction) and aprarabdha (an unmanifest karmic reaction). A component of the unmanifest reaction is that it creates kutam, an proclivity/inclination/association to negative karmic behavior, which leads us back to the bijam, the seed.

Which is why it's important to have a viable process for dealing with avidya, as well as material desire and all of our accumulated and unmanifest karmic backlog, rather than just performing some kind of penance, which Maharaja Pariksit compares to an elephant's bathing in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (right after an elephant bathes in the river, he straight away throws dust back on himself - like people that confess their sins, for example, but cannot change their behavior).

The process given in the Vedas is bhakti-yoga, which is compared to a fire that will fry karmic seeds so that they will not sprout and change material desires to spiritual desires. From the Padma-purana:

aprarabdha-phalam papam
kutam bijam phalonmukham
kramenaiva praliyeta
vishnu-bhakti-ratatmanam

"For those who are engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all karmic reactions, whether fructified, in the stock, or in the form of a seed, gradually vanish".

If you guys ever get the chance, you might want to try chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, especially with a group of people (kirtan). I think you'll find it most agreeable.