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             Web of Connection Newsletter                                                                                            March, 2020


                         Promoting an integrated life rooted in the Buddha-Dhamma
                                                   and regenerative practices. 

 
"Whatever karma I shall do for good or for ill, of that I will be the heir."
 
Karma (Pali: Kamma) is a difficult concept for most people to understand correctly. It is mistakenly thought of as one's destiny and is reflected in the phrases such as "That's just my karma" or "It was meant to be that way". Karma literally means action or cause and effect. If the causes and conditions are present for something to arise, then it does. When those causes and conditions are no longer present, that which depends on them ceases. It's not haphazard, mystical or even personal! It's more like a law of physics, or shall we say metaphysics. 

Another area that people get snagged on in relation to karma is thinking they have to believe in past and future lives. In the Pali Canon - the original text that records the life and teachings of the Buddha - there is definitely mention of past and future lives (not the same as the transmigration of 'souls'). However, the Buddha explicitly cautioned one not to get hung up with questions such as "Who was I in the past?" and "Who will I be in the future?(1)" Instead, he encouraged us to consider karma in a practical way by reflecting on the results of our actions right here and now. (2) If we go around with negative mental attitudes which lead to harmful speech and actions, how do we feel? How is our relationship with others? Are the results satisfying in the long run? The aim is not to earn points for the future or gain recognition in the present, but to experience the goodness that the heart is capable of. 

                                    

Like with many things in life, we want to quantify karma and subject it to a time frame that we are familiar with. We perceive cause and effect in a simplistic, linear way and want to see the "bad guy" get punished immediately. Why is it that some people seem to get away with their harmful actions while other  people suffer undeservingly at their hands? Where's the justice in that? In the Dhammapada, the collection of ancient verses attributed to the Buddha, it is said that
 
     "Even the evil meet with good fortune as long as their evil has yet to
      mature. But when it's matured, that's when they meet with evil. Even
      the good meet with bad fortune as long as their good has yet to mature.
      But when it's matured, that's when they meet with good fortune.(3)" 

                                     

By not understanding karma, people either dismiss it our misuse the teaching. Seeing a homeless person or a crippled child, one might conclude that s/he obviously did something in a past life to deserve this present condition. Since we can't really fathom the depths of karma (the Buddha said if we were to try, our head would split into seven pieces), why should we come to a simplistic explanation if not to feel more righteous about our own position? Maybe we don't want to be held responsible or feel obligated. Could it become our karma to help this person? 

Returning to the essential meaning  of karma, it is the intention behind our actions that is most important. Instead of feeling helpless and despairing over situations that we seem to have no control over, we can make wise choices based in awareness. Recognizing that we do have agency is what empowers us and makes a difference in this world. If we don't believe that our choices will have an impact, we are, in effect, leaving outcomes up to others who may act from unwholesome roots of greed, hatred and delusion. 

I'll sum up with the words of Ajahn Sucitto (4)

        "The teachings on kamma therefore encourage a sense of              
         responsibility for action; the responsibility to give attention to
         the many conscious and half-conscious choices we make in
         terms of what we do. What this means is that in this present
         moment we do have a choice as to how the future pans out:
         whether we will feel joyful and at ease with ourselves, or
         anxious and depressed depends on our actions now." 


(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_unanswered_questions
(2) Kalama Sutta
(3) Dhammapada vs. 119, Thanissaro's translation
(4) Sucitto, Kamma and the End of Kamma
  
Dexter, age two, shows us that anyone can help in the garden. He planted these seeds and is eager to see them grow (This is the essence of karma!). Talk to Ayya if you are interested in volunteering or joining our small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). And keep an eye out for our community work days this Spring.
 

                         
                 

                    Web of Connection Welcomes You 

Saturday Meditation and Inquiry, from 4-6 pm weekly. All are welcome to attend these gatherings where we develop meditation skills, investigate Dharma themes and discover how they apply to our daily lives.


Dharma Contemplation, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month from 6:30-8:00 pmThis is a contemplative practice that gives each participant the opportunity to be still with, reflect on and respond to a particular text within a supportive structure. Listening to the responses of other participants also helps to expand one's perspective and understanding. Each time we meet a different passage will be explored. All are welcome; no prior experience is necessary. For more information on the methodology of Dharma Contemplation, see this link.


Deer Park Learning Center is located at 15 Columbia Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. The house and meditation hall are set back off of Columbia Road, just North of Pikes Peak and before you get to Buffalo Lodge. Turn onto the alleyway where you see the blue Earth flag.

                             
                             
  We hope to see you soon!

 
Web of Connection is a federal non-profit organization. All donations that you make are tax deductible.    EIN#: 81-4552275 

As an alms mendicant living outside the support structure of a monastery, Ayya Dhammadhira relies on the ongoing support of individuals like you to continue her practice and service in community. Your monthly contributions are much appreciated. 

Your generosity is what makes it possible for our programs to continue to touch the lives of many people. As our community develops, we will be able to provide a more extensive example of a sustainable lifestyle that nourishes body, mind and spirit. Each one of us is an integral part of this WEB. Thank you for your support!

 
"When giving this gift, my heart will be glad,
and happiness and joy will arise in me...
one gives because it ennobles
and adorns the mind."

-The Buddha (AN 8:33)
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