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Special Lecture

What is Karma?

The word, karma, has been passed on from the past, but today there are very few people who are exactly aware of what karma is. What do we call karma and what is karma like?


Karma is something that exists in people’s fundamental core which moves them. Let’s examine in detail how this karma in the core is made. Karma is made by what has been in the self. Then the understanding of how what has been in the self can cause such thing to come into being is really important. This means that what people have done is inputted in their consciousness.

Now we have no choice but to look into the nature in more detail.


In every phenomenon which occurs in nature, all the things are inputting what has been in them into their seeds. Human beings are beings with consciousness. They input whatever they have done into their consciousness. And this consciousness serves as a soul and when the soul meets its death, it becomes an independent being by becoming separated from its physical body.


If the consciousness in this soul disappears, the soul comes to be born as a new life soon. However, it is not that although the consciousness disappears what was in the past becomes extinct. That is, the consciousness disappears but what has existed still remains in the soul. These complex things which remain in it cause continuous reactions. To continuously try to keep forever what has been in the self is karma and its nature as well.

There are the only two meanings which make everything in the world exist. The world exists by these two meanings.


  One is the law of cause and effect. It is by this law that the phenomena that things are getting better or worse occur.


The other one is reincarnation. Reincarnation means that everything is repeating itself. What exists causes such continuous phenomena of repetitions that these phenomena become to exist. The past, the present and the future are rotating endlessly. Our life exists by this law and all the existing things are repeating their birth and death continuously by the law of cause and effect. Once born in the world, things do not become extinct spontaneously but make efforts to keep their existence.  What exists in ourselves has such meaning that, once inputted, it does not disappear but comes to stay active under the lasting influence of the meaning.


According to what has been made to exist inside the self, the present life is different and so is the future life. In this way, what will exist forever in the self becomes different. Hence, what people should beware of most is building Causality(因緣). If people build In-Yeons with bad things, something bad will occur there and if you build Causality(因緣) with good things, something good will occur. This is also the law of cause and effect.


Karma exists in us by the law of cause and effect. As long as karma exists, we cannot get out of its control. No matter how much they try to live rightly or to do a good thing, what people with big karma practice, far from  making oneself better, spoils even other people and their attempts for making themselves better always afflict themselves.


It is because they need good origins in them but do not have such good ones that it is very rare for good things to occur to them. In such cases, enlightenment can only influence them. Without enlightenment, on no condition, they can defy the commands of the karma that exists in them. These phenomena can be observed at any time around us and they are very important to human life. Therefore, without enlightenment, nobody can get out of these things.


 Natural law is strict. As 2+2 cannot be 1 or 5, in mathematics, what exists in the truth  does not change. It never changes. That is why we say that the most important thing in our lives is enlightenment. If someone has 60% of what they have done, which has let good results happen in people by their doing good things, and 40% of mistakes which have been unconsciously made because of their ignorance, they can suppress their feelings and bad temper. And they can correct bad things with their efforts. However, if the percentage constituents are reversely 40% and 60%, it is very difficult to do good things. It is because the power of karma bigger than that of the good self becomes obstacles. The reason why there are lots of problems that appear in our society is that the society doesn't accept that this karma is formed by what happened in the past.


How is karma formed? It is created by what is in the self. Then, how is karma made? It is made by words and behaviors. Behaviors can make karma and so can words.


What kind of karma is made by words? Telling recklessly what we don’t know about becomes karma. Lies become things which ruin other people as well as ourselves. This is the very karma that words make. Therefore, Buddha’s disciples who learned properly wrote like this on the first page, “I heard like this.” Buddha as an enlightened being explained the world of karma to his disciples. When the disciples delivered what they heard from Buddha, they were afraid that they might convey Buddha’s teachings wrongly. This fear made them write ‘I heard like this.’ in order not to take the responsibility. They did so because they were not enlightened beings and so did not see the world obviously. However, today’s people don’t say so. They say as if they know what they do not know clearly.


Let’s have a look at things of the world through practical problems. Those who are good at farming to harvest good fruits and make profits are good farmers. If so, these people must be professors in colleges of agriculture. That brings up students who can work well. Why? It is because those who work well are right people. When students learn from the right people they can become right people. When they learn from those who work well they can also work well. It is not important whether or not professors of departments of engineering graduated from famous institutes of technology in the United States. If those who have outstanding talents in the areas of engineering become professors in universities, they can pass down their talents to others. That can make their learners become competent in engineering fields.


However, that is not the case in our society. When it comes to teaching economy, nothing else is necessary. We should confirm which people have overcome hard circumstances and difficult conditions, have been successful in life, and have become those who have no problems and appoint them as professors in the department of economy. Then, those professors will be able to teach students how to make money and how to live well. In our society, tens of thousands of teachers are teaching students in schools but it is quite doubtful how many of them have worked properly in their majors. Hence, it is not wrong to think that this bad education has ruined people’s consciousness. Consequently, people have gained karma from school. This is why there are plenty of karma and lots of problems in our society.


As mentioned above, when people make mistakes to do bad things to the self or others, the mistakes are called bad karma. And if what they do unconsciously or due to poor knowledge harm other people, it is also called bad karma. If people keep doing those things, what phenomena will occur to them? To them, endless misfortune continues to arise.


Here, we must have the understandings of why these things influence the future endlessly. Through analyzing closely human consciousness, we can find that consciousness is input on a gas substance. When the consciousness moves the gas, the gas is like being alive. That is, it expresses its intentions through seeing, feeling, and behaving and in a certain amount of time, it gets old and the consciousness disappears from it. The reason why a consciousness(a ghost) appears to be alive vividly is that attachment is active in the consciousness. It keeps moving and being active in order not to die, which is said to be the same as being alive. The gas under this kind of condition becomes extremely cloudy because of the karma, which means that the quality of the gas is very bad. When the consciousness becomes extinct, the gas itself will become the origin of a new life and be born with the things in it which cause the same consciousness that existed in the previous self. When the soul is resurrected, the power of its life comes from the consciousness which is thought to have disappeared. It means that the soul has just lost its memory and has still the origin which causes activities. This is how the present is affected by the past and the future by the present.


Things once formed don’t disappear easily. As long as they are active, they don’t become extinct. If the consciousness is not active, it will die. However, it is impossible to live with no thoughts and activities. There are no substances which are not influenced by reality. The same is true of souls. The difference between souls and grains is that souls come to encounter a few different worlds. Those worlds are heaven, hell, etc.


The world of life is the world where we live, the world of result is the world after death, and the world of origin is the world where there is nothing. Living things continue to go through these worlds. In the world of origin, there is nothing. Even ghosts cannot go into this world. Only the enlightened beings who are alive can enter this world. If a consciousness can go to a world, the world is a living world but the world of origin is neither a living world nor a dead world. The world where there are not any souls is called the world of origin or the world of birth. The world where all the things are made born. All the happenings are visible from that world.

Causality(因緣) creates karma and karma creates new causality(因緣). Those whose karma is big become angry when they hear of the truth. The truth does not match them so repulsion comes into being in them. Those whose karma is medium doubt about the truth. Those who have no karma become delighted with the truth. They say, “That’s it. Right! His teaching is great.” Therefore, trying to teach and enlighten those who have much karma only causes doubts and disputes. This is because the activities of the big karma prevent right things from being accepted.


What we must think highly of is that we have to learn from someone who properly knows what is. That is the way to learn what is. We have to learn from a person with good consciousness rather than with a good educational background. There has been Confucianism in our society. Confucianism is an idealistic study. People have but to memorize things in it. And even after new studies were introduced in our society, people’s good memory has helped them to become judges, prosecutors, administrative officials, members of the National Assembly, professors, and a group of leaders of our society.


However, we cannot say that those who have good memories have good consciousness. People whose brain activity is good can read several books in one evening and put what they read into their consciousness. When they try to solve examination questions, they just can recall the proper things from their consciousness. Some can win first place in the Highest Civil Service and Public Administration Examinations and others can have good academic records to be university professors or leading people of our society.


Much to our regret, these people haven’t had enough contacts with the reality of our society. That causes them to undergo lots of trials and errors and to make false stories to hide their trials and errors. Making stories itself is building karma. To say words which we are unaware of or to tell lies by mistakes is forming karma. This karma passes down to ourselves from one life to the next. This is why the activities of our karma continuously take place. If people want the way to escape from this kind of unhappiness, they have to build good karma by learning how to be helpful to other people and by passing it on. What becomes blessing is good karma and what damages others is bad karma. It is right not to build bad karma but to learn and practice love. This is the very way to save ourselves.


When it comes to this world of karma, we come to feel yet again how important things in reality are. We often encounter unbearable incidents in reality. However, we must not get rid of, from our head, what results what we do bring about.

No matter how much people are taught, those whose origins are bad are bound to live wrongly. In the meantime, those who have good origins are bound to be excellent, even though they are not taught.

We have to confirm these kinds of things through history. In history, there are lots of things we are unaware of. And such things keep taking place repeatedly. As things in human consciousness happen repeatedly, so do things in history. Therefore, what we cannot observe in reality can be seen in history.


The reason why people cannot live well and righteously, although they try to do so, is that their will power is weak. Why is their will power weak? It is because their karma is big. What exists in the world doesn’t exist without any reasons. It has existed through In-Yeons. All the things in the self as well as in the world come into being by causality(因緣) and no In-Yeons can make anything exist. If a persimmon seed had fruited bad wild persimmons, they will continue to fruit bad wild persimmons. That is the reason why bad wild persimmons exist in the world and the same is true of well-grown sweet persimmons. People have to know about these kinds of things.

What is karma? We must not answer that karma is karma. Karma is what comes into being by what happens to me and comes to exist in the origin of my life. Where did this karma in my life come from? It came from what has happened to me in the past.

We have to know that, because karma once formed doesn’t disappear easily, the karma made by our mistakes will be punished hundreds of times. Karma itself has attachment and that is why karma doesn’t disappear easily.


Those who wasted their life like a playboy or by drinking alcohol in the past cannot live righteously in their present life. They repeat the same behaviors as they did in their past life. No matter how much money they inherit, they will soon waste their fortune and fall into a difficult situation. Only after then, they can quit doing so. The problem is that, even though they cannot do the same things in their present life because of the difficult circumstances, the fundamental matter isn’t solved. When they are born in the future, they will do the same bad behaviors. Like this, things repeat themselves. In the end, they will be completely ruined.


The gamblers in the past spend their present lives in gambling places. They do so because that is included in what they did. Those who were good artists in the past become artists. They come to draw well even though they don’t learn how to draw. It is possible because such a thing is inside them. Therefore, from now on people have to think of what kinds of people they will become.


 The way to get out of karma is not making karma and causing good things to exist in the self by doing good to people. If I do good things, it doesn’t end there. The biggest reason why Sakyamuni attained the supreme enlightenment was that he could suppress his karma because he had practiced good karma for a long time. When his bad karma became small enough and his good karma became big enough, he was born to be an enlightened being. Those whose good karma is big can overcome difficult circumstances, no matter how difficult they are. If their origins are good from their birth, they have the strong power of life to show the wisdom that makes it possible for them to live well.

To know correctly what exists is enlightenment. The bigger enlightenment is, the more good karma can be built. It is really difficult to build good karma without enlightenment.


In order to explain things of the world, cause and effect and reincarnation cannot help being referred to. It is because they are the origins of all the things. The origin of life comes from what is, the origin of karma comes from what is, the origin of reincarnation comes from what is, and the origin of cause and effect come from what is. All the existing things come from what is.

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