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May 10, 1998: What is Karma?

Among the words that have been passed down to us is the word karma. However, today there are very few people who know exactly what this is referring to. So, today, let me check once again what we mean by karma before moving on.


Karma refers to something that exists in the fundamental cause of what moves you. You will need to have greater enlightenment about how the karma within this fundamental cause is created. The karma in this fundamental cause is created by things that exist within oneself.


Then, it is very important for you to understand how the things that exist within you create these things. This is possible because what you have done is entered into your consciousness.


Now, here we cannot help but look at nature once again. In mother nature, everything that happens to a living creature is input into its fruit, result.


Humans are conscious beings. In the case of humans, everything they do is entered into this consciousness.


Consciousness functions as a spiritual body, and when the spiritual body approaches death and is separated from the human body, it exists on its own. When the consciousness operating within the spiritual body disappears, the spiritual body is soon born into life.


However, just because consciousness disappears, it does not mean that what happened to you in the past disappears. Although your consciousness has disappeared, the things that happened to you remain dormant in your spiritual body. And the things that are latent within you constantly cause reactions. In this way, the things that exist within oneself forever seek to exist. The same goes for karma.


In order to enlighten about things of the world, you must be interested in what is happening in the world and what kinds of things are causing the world to exist.


There are only two meanings that bring things of the world into existence. The world exists by these two meanings. One is the ‘law of cause and effect.’ Phenomena that things improve or worsen appear by the law of cause and effect. The other one is ‘reincarnation.’ Reincarnation means that everything continues to revolve. What exists is endlessly circling through the present, future, and past through repetitive phenomena.


Not only living beings such as humans, but all living things repeat the process of birth, death, and rebirth according to the law of cause and effect. Once born into the world, it does not disappear and tries to exist by itself. Because the things that exist within us have that meaning, once they are entered, they never disappear and try to exist. Something exists within us, and our activities in life are influenced by that influence.


In the end, depending on what things you allow to exist within you, the things that exist in this life and the things that will exist in the next life change. For that reason, the thing people need to be most careful about is causality making. If a person causes causality with something bad, bad things will come from it, and if a person causes causality with something good, good things will come out of it. This is the ‘law of cause and effect’.


Karma exists within oneself through cause and effect. As long as karma exists, people cannot stay away from its control. No matter how well people live and how good they try to do, what is done by people with great karma will ruin others. Trying to live well ruins others, and trying to improve oneself ends up tormenting oneself. This is because there is no causes within oneself that can enable one to live well or improve. It is very rare for something to appear that does not exist in you.


In these cases, what can influence oneself is enlightenment. Without enlightenment, you will never be able to disobey the instructions of karma that exists within you. This phenomenon is seen everywhere. This is a very important thing in life. I tell you, ‘No one can escape this.’


So what kind of person can do good things? The very people who have done a lot of good things can do good things. The laws of nature are strict. The truth is strict. Just as the answer to 2+2 in mathematics can never be 1 or 5, what exists in the law of truth is immutable. It means it never changes. For this reason, it is said, ‘The most important thing in our lives is enlightenment.’ Only by opening your own eyes and seeing can you know whether what you are doing is working properly or not. If you only listen to what others say, you can't check what you are doing. So I can say that enlightenment is that important in our lives.


As I explained before, if 60% of what you do to people had good results and 40% were mistakes due to your own ignorance, then in this situation, you can suppress your own emotions or bad temper. If you try, you may be able to correct your mistakes. However, if 60% of what you have done by mistake is bad karma and 40% is good karma, it is very difficult to do good deeds in this situation. Because a force greater than yourself is holding you back.


Since you did not know much about these things until now, you may be wondering how people who have learned the best teachings in the world from the Tathagata can do wrong things. Even if you come here and learn for a hundred years, if you do not have enlightenment and as a result do not properly know what exists, such things can happen as many times as you want.


But why was there no enlightenment even after studying for 10 years? Without enlightenment, the truth cannot be accepted. It means that things cannot be accepted as they are. Things cannot be accepted as they are so this is an incomplete expertise. The point is that you don't know things properly.


Many problems that exist in our society are caused by the karma of members of society, that is, by things that happened within them in the past, but the world does not accept that fact.

Now, let me tell you about an interesting phenomenon. This is one example. If you ask older people what our society was like in 1950 and what our society will be like in 1998, they will say this.



‘People in the past weren’t like that, but these days people are scary.’


This means that people in 1998 have greater karma than people in the 1950s.


So how does this karma come about? It arises from what exists within oneself.


Specifically, how is karma created? Karma is created by words or actions. What kind of karma will be created with words? If you say something you don't know, it becomes a lie. Lying ruins others, right? This is karma made with words. So in the past, people who learned properly under Buddha wrote like this in their scriptures.


“I heard like this.”


Because Shakyamuni Buddha was also an enlightened person, he explained things about the world of karma to his disciples like me. When his disciples heard the things, they wrote, ‘This is what I heard,’ so as not to take responsibility for what they said. They said, ‘I heard like this’ because they did not have enlightenment about things on their own and see things in the world for themselves. But these days people don't do that. Even though they don't know, they speak as if they know something.


Let's take a look at what's going on in the world. People who are good at their jobs are excellent in their field. People who get good harvests and make a lot of profit from farming are people who are good at farming. Professors at agricultural universities should be people like these. Only then can agricultural students become good farmers.


When someone does a good job, it means that he or she is a proper person. You can become a proper person by learning from the right people. You can do your job properly by learning from people who do it properly.


It is not important which university in the United States the engineering professor graduated from. In mechanical engineering, a person with outstanding talent in the field of machine design must become a professor. A person like this must work as a professor to be able to pass on his or her talents to others. People who learn under him will actually be able to design machines competently.


But that is not the case in our society today. When it comes to teaching economics, nothing else is important. If we select as an economics professor a person who has overcome difficult circumstances or conditions and made life without any problems, that person will be able to teach people how to make money and live well.


There was a program on TV this morning. A man said various things such as how to do something well. But when I listened to him, I realized that he was a person who had never worked before. The people at broadcasting stations who invite people like him to broadcast are also the same people. Taking a person who has read a few books and having them talk carelessly to other people is causing karma to society.


Creating karma means causing harm to others. In this way, you yourself continue to do things that harm others. And the other person who has been harmed will continue to suffer harm. That is karma. In this way, society is causing karma as a whole.


A few days ago, someone made a fuss and said,


“Why do you send your children to University but tell others not to send their children to University?”


I was shocked to hear that. I am not a person who cares whether my children go to college or not. All I want is for my children to be upright people because they are close to me, so that they don't get criticized by others, don't go hungry, and live their lives solving their own problems. I have told you this many times.


“To become a great person, you don’t have to be highly educated or have a good academic background. You just have to be honest, not lie, and hard-working.”


Having said this, how could I have put my educational background on display? The state in which our society is headed is that we have created an era in which universities treat academic background rather than professionals. So the karma of this society is great.


It is said that people who do not even know what kind of person they themselves are teach others, dominate others, and solve other people's problems. If they don't know about themselves, how can they know what other people are doing? This is where the problem starts.


There are many people who graduated from Seoul National University and received degrees from famous American universities and became professors. However, among such professors, there are very few people who have actually worked in the field they studied. Every day they teach people things they have never done themselves. What do people who learn from such professors do? Students learn everything the professors have. When professors lie, they learn all their lies. Listening, seeing, and learning means inputting them into consciousness. These things can make a person go very wrong.


The reason you need enlightenment is that you live without knowing much about the world. They have no idea what can truly bless their children, themselves, and those around them.


I am not saying that parents should never teach their children. If you want to teach, you need to find good teachers and learn from them.


Once again, how many professors in Korea have actually done a good job in their field of study? If you check, you can count them all with five fingers. Although tens of thousands of professors teach students, only a few actually do so. Incorrect education resulting from this real situation has spoiled people's consciousness. To put it another way, it means that people gain karma from school. For this reason, many problems have arisen in our society. Lots of problems.


There are many things you need to know. There is karma within oneself, that is, bad karma, not good karma. Here I will use the word bad karma.


What is bad karma? If you make a mistake and do something wrong to yourself or others, such a mistake is called bad karma. Also, if something you do without knowing, or unconsciously, causes harm to others, this is called bad karma. If you do this a lot, your present and future will become endlessly unhappy.


When people hear this, they think.


“Does something like that really exist? “I guess it’s just that person’s thoughts.”


It is not right for you to believe in the past but not the future. In that sense, we humans must understand how bad karma has an endless impact on the future.


If we analyze human consciousness closely, we can see that consciousness is input into gas. When humans are alive, the gas can see, feel, and act on all things through the activity of consciousness. When a human dies, the consciousness that the gas possessed disappears. In this case, it is normal for consciousness to disappear, but there are cases where consciousness feels vividly alive. This is because attachment plays a role in consciousness. Since consciousness works to avoid death, it is the same as being alive.


The gas in this state is very turbid due to karma. The quality of the gas is not good. Taking rice as an example, harvested rice is divided into grades, but the gas here is judged as only the third grade.


In the case where consciousness is lost as mentioned above, when a human being is reborn, the body is reborn with things that were input through the activities of consciousness in the previous life. In this way, this gas becomes the fundamental cause of new life because it is born with all that happened before.


When a life with the fundamental cause of life is reborn, the consciousness that was thought to have disappeared begins to become active again. This is because, even though the memory of the past is lost, the fundamental cause that arises the activity of consciousness still exists.


The principle of the law of cause and effect is that the present is influenced by past events and the future is also influenced by present events. Once something is built, it does not easily disappear. As long as activity exists, what is built does not disappear. If anything does nothing, it disappears. However, it is impossible to live without thinking or doing anything. There is no substance that exists unaffected by reality. The same goes for the spiritual body.


The difference between the human spiritual body and the fruits of plants is that the human spiritual body experiences a couple of different worlds. The different worlds refer to worlds such as heaven or hell.


If you ask me how I know such details, the answer is easy. If your karma disappears, you too will reach the stage of emancipation, and when you reach the stage of emancipation, you will see this world.


The world of life refers to the present world, and the world of result(death) refers to the world after death. And between the world of death and the world of life, the world of fundamental cause exists. Living creatures repeatedly cycle through the world of life, the world of death, the world of fundamental cause, and then the world of life again. It rotates over and over again, but nothing exists in the world of origin. The world of fundamental cause is expressed in the Heart Sutra as ‘form and emptiness, emptiness and form.’ If there is an accurate interpretation of it, I can tell you here what Shakyamuni saw and how accurately he spoke.


Nothing exists in the world of fundamental cause. This is a world where even gods cannot enter. The living can enter this world only when they reach emancipation. It is neither a living world nor a dead world, but a world where nothing exists. This world without consciousness is the world of fundamental cause, the world of birth. It is a world where everything is born again. From this world, you can see everything that happens in the world.


‘People will be influenced in the endless afterlife by what happened in this life.’ As I tell you these words once again at this point, I will not tell you to ‘come’ anymore. This is because we do not know who has big karma. People with big karma do not accept what is right until they attain enlightenment. If they do not accept what is right, they may end up hating, distrusting, or slandering people who have a different temperament from them or who say things that do not sound right to them.


These things are witnessed many times in human history. Among the people framed throughout history, there were more good people than bad people. I've never heard of a bad person framing a bad person, but I've seen many cases of a bad person framing a good person. Jesus was framed, Socrates was framed, and many loyal subjects who truly loved the people and served the king were framed and exiled or beheaded. So, I have seen many cases where people who speak the right things and teach the right things are hated, framed, and killed, but I have never seen a bad person do something hateful and then be framed and killed. I've seen cases where bad people get caught unluckily and killed, or are killed unluckily while forced to do bad things they're told to do after being kidnapped, but I've never seen bad people get framed.


In the same way, from now on I will not ask people to ‘come here’ because I don’t know if someone will one day, at some point, frame or slander someone else. Because that would be hurting myself. If you come voluntarily, you will come. If you do not, you will not come.


I am able to open my eyes to such things and tell you about them because there were people who enlightened me to say these things. It is because of karma that this kind of causality is created. Causality creates karma, and karma creates new causality.


Things of the world blooms, sets, and revolves according to causality. Isn’t it the things of the world that blooms and falls and turns around according to causality? So, when you come here and hear about what is going on in the world, you will think that way again.


“That person doesn’t get tired of saying what he says every day, so he says it again.”


Since the atmosphere is so stiff, I will tell you a funny story that happened in the past. A female monk named Soyeon was the first person I met after achieving enlightenment. When the monk listened to me, she realized that there were similar words in Buddhist scriptures, so she understood something. So little by little she started to believe that what I was saying was right. At that time, the monk was taking care of her elderly mother in the same house. One day, while I was teaching her in the room, the old lady did not come into the room and stayed outside. So I asked.

“Why doesn’t your mother come into the room?


Soyeon’s mother said.


“It’s a sound that everyone knows. Aren’t you tired of it all the time? Aren't you tired of hearing what you hear over and over again every day? “I know everything.”


If you listen without knowing things in the world, it sounds like I’m repeating the same thing over and over again. But you need to know this. When you look at things in the world simply, they are very simple. If you look at it simply, it is very simple. ‘It exists through causality and reincarnation.’ All it takes is one sentence. Because it’s all included in this one sentence. If you break this down, it breaks down into many incredibly complex problems.


In mathematics, the number of numbers from 1 to 1 trillion is not a big deal. From 1 to 1 trillion. However, if we want to create a math problem using the numbers in between, we will not be able to finish creating the problem for the rest of our lives until we die.


The same goes for the laws in the world. When what exists is simple, only what is simple is explained, but in today's complex world, the same words are repeated over and over again when explaining each thing. If you attain enlightenment about the truth of the world, you will know everything even if you only realize one thing. But the fact is that you don't know anything because you don't realize that one thing. That's it.


Why is an enlightened person important to people? It is because he’s trying to enlighten himself about that one thing. Other people don't make the effort. If you attain enlightenment about that one thing, you can know everything in the world on your own, create your own path, and do good things on your own. The reason why it doesn't work is that you don't have enlightenment. Because you have a lot of karma, you move forward in the opposite direction. Karma hinders your enlightenment.

People with big karma get angry when they hear the truth. They feel rejected because it doesn't suit their personality. And when people with medium-sized karma hear the truth, they have doubts. They just smile and don't seem to be paying much attention. People without karma will be happy when they hear the truth. They say, “That's it or that it's right.” When they see someone who speaks the truth, they say, ‘That person is amazing.’


When karma is large, one cannot accept what is right due to the activity of karma. If you force someone with big karma to learn and become enlightened on their own, it will only lead to friction and arguments.


As I said before, the important thing is this. ‘If you want to meet a teacher, you must meet a teacher who really knows what exists. Only then can you properly learn what exists.’ It is useless to go and learn from someone with a high academic background. You have to go and learn from someone with good consciousness.


But the reality of this era is not like that. Confucianism has existed in our society for 500 years. Confucianism is an ideal study. It is a study that requires only memorization. However, even after new cultures are introduced into our society, if you memorize things well, you can become a university professor, a judge, a prosecutor, an administrative governor, a member of the National Assembly, or even a social leader.


People who are good at memorizing things don't necessarily have good consciousness. A person with good brain activity can easily insert two books into consciousness in one evening. People like this rank first in the bar exam or civil service exam. And by achieving excellent academic grades, they become a university professor and a leader.


Unfortunately, most of these people do not have much experience with reality. So they make enormous trials and errors and create words to hide their trials and errors. Making up words like this is itself accumulating karma.


As I mentioned before about karma, talking about something you don't know or telling a lie because you made a mistake is creating karma with your mouth. This kind of karma always repeats itself.


If you want to escape this misfortune, you must learn and know things that are helpful to others and create good karma. Being a blessing to others is love, and being a sin is karma, that is, bad karma. Instead of building up bad karma, you must learn and practice love and blessings. This is the way to save yourself and become better for yourself.


How can I do this? This is enlightenment. Most people do not understand the teachings here because they have never existed before. In fact, no one knows at all. The other day I spoke to two monk disciples under me.


“Just because you shave your head and put on those weird gray pants and jacket doesn’t mean that you immediately come to know something you don’t know. Red beans do not produce beans and wild persimmon trees do not produce sweet persimmons. People who have many problems and find it difficult to survive in reality sometimes wear such clothes in order to escape reality and rely on something other than reality. For that reason, their consciousness may lag behind that of people living in reality. “People are so foolish.”


I've said this many times to other people here.


“Absolutely, these two people here are good people, but don’t trust them. “Don’t rely on these people.”


“Always rely on what is, and when you do not know what is, go to wise people and tell it as it is, without hiding it, and find out what to do.”


Today, as I talk about karma, I realize again how important things in reality are. There may be times in reality when you encounter unbearable things. However, you should never forget what results your actions will bring.


You must feel many things through this time. No matter how much they are taught, people with bad fundamentals will live bad lives. Even if some people aren’t taught much, if their fundamentals are good, they will excel. I told you to confirm this fact through history.


There are many things in history that we don't know about. Those things happen over and over again. Just as events in human consciousness are repeated, events in history are also repeated. Things we cannot confirm in reality must be seen in history. If you open your eyes to the things of the world just a little, you can become a great teacher even if you learn on your own without a teacher.


Evaluation of an object must be made based on concerned facts, not words about the object. When evaluating people, if you check what exists in them, that is, their words, actions, and life, you will be able to get a rough idea of ​​what kind of people they are. If we ignore these things and only listen to what others say, we will only end up being deceived. We should make efforts to be enlightened in order not to be deceived.


Why do you want to be enlightened? Aren’t you doing this to live well? Why is your life not good? Even if you try to live well, why doesn't it work out? Even if you try to live well, if you don't succeed, it means your will is weak. Why are you weak-willed? It is because karma is big.


Things that exist in the world do not exist without any reason. Everything in the world exists due to causality. Everything within yourself and in the world came into existence due to causality, and nothing exists without causality.


"If a persimmon tree produces inedible persimmons, it will continue to produce inedible persimmons. That's the nature of why inedible persimmons exist in the world. Similarly, the persimmon tree that produced sweet persimmons continues to produce sweet persimmons, resulting in the existence of sweet persimmons."


You must know these things well. What is karma? You should not answer that karma is karma. If you ask what karma is, no one will know exactly.


Karma refers to what came to exist at the fundamental cause of my life due to things that happened to me. Where does the karma that exists in the fundamental cause of life come from? It is what came into existence due to something that happened to me in the past. And we must keep in mind that once something comes to exist, it does not easily disappear, so if you make a single mistake, you can endlessly receive the consequences. The big karma that is created due to a single mistake is repeated countless times and exists within oneself. Because karma also has the nature of attachment, it never dies.(front end)


People who went to gisaeng houses and drank a lot in their previous lives will not take care of their household well when they are born in their present lives. Just like in their previous lives, they go to the gisaeng house and drink alcohol. No matter how much wealth they inherit, they squander it all. Only when they become broke can they stop bad behavior that has continued into this life. However, just because they become penniless and suffer a bit, their bad behavior does not end. When the environment changes, previous behavior appears again. Eventually they will fail. This happens endlessly.


People who were gamblers in their past lives spend their time at the gambling table in their present lives. It is because karma exists within them. Because what they did is embedded in their consciousness, they repeat the same behavior over and over again.


People who were good at drawing in their past lives become painters in their present lives. They can draw well even without learning. Such things are possible because the corresponding causes exist within them.


From now on, you must think clearly about what kind of person you should be. Once you have decided what kind of person you want to be, you must try to become that person. The way to escape from karma is not to create karma, but to do good karma to people and thereby bring about good things within yourself.


"If I do something good, it doesn't end just there. Even if others criticize or curse, the good deed doesn't disappear. It remains within me. Therefore, I can continue to do good things in the endless future."


One of the biggest factors that allowed Shakyamuni to attain the supreme enlightenment was the accumulation of good karma over countless lives. Thanks to this, he was able to suppress his bad karma, and as his bad karma decreased and his good karma increased, he was finally born into the world for the supreme enlightenment, and was eventually able to achieve emancipation and reach the supreme enlightenment.


Without good karma, you can never reach emancipation, under any circumstances. That's why I just laugh when monks say they have achieved enlightenment.


An enlightened person will take root and grow well even if he is placed on sandy ground. People with good fundamentals from birth have strong vitality. They are born with the wisdom to enrich themselves.


When you look at things that exist, you should always see what matches what exists. You can't become an outstanding person in a short period of time. By studying hard for a short period of time, you can pass the bar exam and become a judge or prosecutor or a doctor. However, a good person is not created overnight. I hope you always keep this in mind and never forget it.


I'll tell you once again. I have decided not to have too much greed for people anymore. There is an old saying that without causality, even Buddha cannot save sentient beings. How can we save sentient beings when there is no causality? I will cherish causality.


When explaining things and affairs of the world, the concepts of reincarnation and cause and effect inevitably come up. The same words are repeated over and over again. Why do these words keep coming out? What exists is the fundamental cause of all things. All things, including the fundamental cause of life, the fundamental cause of karma, the fundamental cause of reincarnation, the fundamental cause and the fundamental cause of cause and effect, are things that arise from existing events. Therefore, until you open your eyes to what exists, you must not forget about cause and effect and reincarnation even for a single day. If you leave this out, it is not the truth.


You will have to hear about these things until the day you die. Why should you listen? This is because only then will you be able to live with at least one true knowledge of what exists. Once you know one thing, it's very easy to know the next thing. Buddha also said that all laws will return to a single law.


In mathematics, once you can understand and solve one problem, you can automatically solve other problems. If you know one formula properly, you can see what exists, freely judge and solve problems in the world, and live according to the will of the world. If you live according to the will of the world, you can live in harmony and with good wisdom without difficulty.


There is a saying.


“Great teachers must also live according to the times.”


The reality of that era cannot be rejected. Living with the times means that we cannot reject reality. You too cannot escape this meaning.


You must continue to think about how you can open your eyes to at least one thing within this principle. You need to think about how to open your eyes to what exists in the law of the world. You have to drill this into your head and keep thinking about it. Then one day, you will gain great enlightenment and see the world because of that.


If you look at the world, it's simple. Problems create problems. Problems create problems and enlightenment solves them. Nothing else. Enlightenment is knowing properly what exists. The greater your enlightenment, the more good karma you can accumulate within yourself. It is difficult to accumulate good karma within yourself without enlightenment.


I hope that you will be familiar with these matters and that they will be helpful in your life in the future.


Now, I’ll take questions. If there are no questions, finish. It's a little late.


Bugun Choi: You said that karma itself has the nature of attachment. Please explain in more detail.


Now, let me give you a simple example. If you look at what exists, the answer is there. People who have done a lot of good things die comfortably. They don't have much attachment to life. They face death naturally. People who have done a lot of bad things, people who have made mistakes, and people who have fallen behind in life struggle not to die when it comes time to die. Why is this so? It can be said that the level of attachment to living beings is greater for those who have had greater bad karma than for those who have had greater good karma.


You see this phenomenon everywhere. In most cases, unhappy people live longer. Among those who have lived without regrets, who have not made enemies in the world, or who have not lived harshly, there are not many who have lived long. If you survey all the people who have lived a long time, you will see that most of their lives were not that happy. If you go and check what the life of a person who is 102 years old was like, you will be able to see the reason.


Whoishim Jung: “When you said it was a formula, did you mean to say that seeing what is happening is a formula?”


"It's not about properly seeing what exists, but rather, when a thing and another thing come together and produce a certain result, we call it 'causality.' We use the term 'formula' to describe the phenomenon that occurs when certain things and certain elements of destiny intersect. For example, if a specific paint of a certain color is made in a specific process with specific ingredients, it means that you can always create the same color by using the same ingredients and going through the same process. The same applies to creating a specific alloy."


These things are called formulas like a mathematical formula. The phenomenon that appears is different depending on what things are combined with each other. There are so many substances that exist in the world that it is impossible to describe them all. You can explain formulas using analogies, using examples such as paint or iron.


This formula also applies to what happens to humans. People with great fundamentals and no bad karma rarely do bad things. It is because they restrain themselves from doing evil things. However, the phenomenon that it is almost impossible to suppress people with small good roots and large karma from doing evil things can be said to be based on a formula.


Then, I will conclude here.



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