17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.



Freedom of action

Lama Gendun Rinpoche

We are all looking for happiness and trying to avoid suffering, every one of us doing what we can to make life comfortable and get rid of everything we find unpleasant or that makes us suffer. In the midst of this conflict of interests, no one has much freedom of choice. Each situation has been woven by the thoughts, words and deeds accumulated throughout countless previous lives that have sown the seeds of the karma we experience at the moment. All of us now find ourselves caught up in this web of ripening karma, so that whether we like it or not, we are carried along by the force of events, suffering even more because what happens is happening despite our wishes to the contrary.

The Buddha said that if we want to know what we did in the past, we simply have to look at our life at the present moment, and if we want to know what will become of us in the future, we have only to look at the actions we are doing now. This is an important statement, because it enables us to understand why we are going through the experiences we have. If we are someone who is naturally joyful, always in good health, whose life is easy, then we can conclude that we are benefiting from the positive actions we have accumulated in the past. If, on the other hand, we are often ill, faced with problems, "unlucky", then it is all because of the negative things we have done in the past, so there is no point in blaming others for what is happening to us at the moment. Since it is our past karma in the process of ripening, we can do nothing about it, and the only choice we have lies in our reaction to the events.

Real freedom means choosing to react in a positive way to what is happening, while ensuring that the behaviour we decide to engage in at the moment is virtuous and will therefore bring the kind of experiences in the future that we would choose to have. We recognise that suffering comes from negative actions and happiness from positive actions. It is therefore up to us to make the right choice. For example, if someone is aggressive to us, it is due to the ripening of the karma we ourselves have accumulated previously, and we cannot prevent it happening. If we now choose to react aggressively, this will only serve to perpetuate the same situation. If, on the other hand, we practise patience and show kindness towards the other person, we create the causes of future happiness. We make the right choice. That is freedom of action.

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