The result of negative karma (action) ~ XIV Dalai Lama

It has been said by Muni [Buddha] that the unbearable sufferings of the lower realms are the result of negative karma. Therefore, it is the practice of Bodhisattvas never to create negative karma, even at the cost of their lives. The suffering of the lower migratory beings is extremely hard to bear, such as the hell beings who suffer extreme heat and cold, being boiled, burned and frozen. Then there are the sufferings endured in the other kinds of hell realms, such as the supplementary hell and the realms close to hell [mind states/ patterns].

“Whatever action you perform, a concomitant reaction or result will follow.” [The science or the laws governing the universe we are in]. This may seem inconceivable to our cognising minds, yet knowledge itself is limitless and so we cannot say this is implausible; there are so many things beyond the ordinary person’s consciousness.

The various kinds of sufferings of the lower realms result from impure actions, “The Buddha said: ‘All these arise out of the deluded mind.’” Just as he said so it seems, that different environments and sentient beings of the lower realms manifest out of the deluded mind.

I don’t know whether all of these exist based on the measurements given in the Abhidharma Kosha, or the Treasury of Knowledge, but certainly the hell realms do exist. We witness a whole variety of sentient activity even in this mundane human realm, with different aspects of the body, of livelihood and lifestyle, and others exist beyond our imagination. Based on this, we may infer that such conditions exist also in the hundred other worlds of the mundane realms.

Let us consider the sufferings of the hungry ghosts, for example: they mainly suffer from a lack of food and drink. Those devils to whom people perform animal sacrifices belong in this realm. They were born as hungry ghosts because of their accumulated bad karma. Among them are some who have more power than others and they humiliate those in an inferior position; others within this hierarchy are rebellious.

Next we should look at the sufferings of the animals in our world. There are animals such as dogs, horses and mules which we look after, and others like sheep and goats which are raised to be slaughtered. If we think about it we realise that their lives don’t belong to them.

They have no intention to inflict harm on people; they eat grass, drink water, are dull and ignorant. These are the conditions of their lives. So what gives humans the right to eat their bodies?

When these animals are given a little food, they scramble and fight with each other to get at it, out of attachment and anger. In addition, they must endure the suffering of being beaten with sticks. Looking carefully at all these things leads us to see the sadness of the small potential that these animals have. There is no one ultimately to protect and support them, and they have to search for their own food.

We human beings have established schools in the pursuit of knowledge, hospitals to improve people’s health and hygiene, and many factories for the production of goods and to give the workers a livelihood. We also set up farms and cater to the nomadic way of life. Yet veterinary hospitals, which are meant for animals, mainly serve the purpose of humans who use the animals to provide them with a livelihood. Such places are not established out of feelings of pity and compassion for the animals themselves.

We humans discuss our worries and our problems, such as lacking an opportunity for study, or not getting good medicines or admission to a good hospital. But if one is born in animal form, to whom is one going to complain about all these problems? For instance, if a sheep, goat or hen is run over by a car, no one carries it to the hospital because it has broken its leg. In fact, someone may even kill it. So animals have no supporters or protectors. Would we be able to bear it if we were born as a dog or a pig, without protection or support, without relatives to look after us?

Circumstances are extremely difficult for beings in the hell realms and the realms of the hungry ghosts, as they are also for animals. At present we have attained a human birth, but we have no choice as to whether we will be born in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms in our next life. We have to go wherever our karma leads us.

If we have strong virtuous actions, impeccably accumulated, then we may have the confidence of knowing that we will not take birth in the lower realms. Otherwise it is easy to end up in the lower realms, unless we have the opportunity to confess our accumulated negative deeds and make a firm commitment within the framework of the four powers not to commit such unwholesome actions again.

Aryadeva comments: The majority of people follow the way of unholy beings, and so most ordinary beings definitely descend to the lower migrations.

It follows, therefore, that the majority of people coming here for the Kalacakra initiation will descend to the lower migrations. Since it is difficult to attain a good rebirth, those who do not practise the Dharma will most probably go down to the lower realms. If you descend to that lower migratory state, will you be able to bear the suffering? And do you have the confidence now that you will not be reborn in the lower realms? If not, you must be cautious and practise without delay.

Seek refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha by understanding their real qualities. In order to become the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha yourself, you must abandon the 10 non-virtuous deeds, with a concomitant strong faith in the law of cause and effect.

Based on this, recite the six-syllable mantra as often as possible, do prostrations and circumambulation. Train as much as you can in renunciation and bodhicitta and gradually try to improve your mental continuum.

At the very least, you should train yourself to abandon the 10 unwholesome deeds, and in addition you should do prostrations and circumambulate. The Buddha, who always spoke the truth, said that the result of negative action is immeasurable suffering. If you know this by the power of your reasoning, you will not engage in negative actions even at the cost of your life. This is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

So far we have been discussing the person of small scope. Next we shall consider the common path and the person of middle scope, [and then the person of great scope].

~ XIV Dalai Lama

Commentary on the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by Tenzin Gyatso His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

– Library of Tibetan Works & Archives

(Posted by Mahayana Mind Training, Facebook, 29 May 2024)

  • May 30, 2024