The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

96 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGnever the same as the milk, but they depend on it entirely fortheir production.The King then asks: "If there is no being that passes onfrom body to body, wouldn't we then be free of all the negativeactions we had done in past lives?"Nagasena gives this example: A man steals someone's mangoes.The mangoes he steals are not exactly the same mangoesthat the other person had originally owned and planted,so how can he possibly deserve to be punished? The reasonhe does, Nagasena explains, is that the stolen mangoes onlygrew because of those that their owner had planted in the firstplace. In the same way, it is because of our actions in one life,pure or impure, that we are linked with another life, and weare not free from their results.KARMAIn the second watch of the night when Buddha attainedenlightenment, he gained another kind of knowledge, whichcomplemented his knowledge of rebirth: that of karma, thenatural law of cause and effect."With the heavenly eye, purified and beyond the range ofhuman vision, I saw how beings vanish and come to be again.I saw high and low, brilliant and insignificant, and how eachobtained according to his karma a favorable or painfulrebirth." 15The truth and the driving force behind rebirth is what iscalled karma. Karma is often totally misunderstood in theWest as fate or predestination; it is best thought of as theinfallible law of cause and effect that governs the universe.The word karma literally means "action," and karma is boththe power latent within actions, and the results our actionsbring.There are many kinds of karma: international karma,national karma, the karma of a city, and individual karma. Allare intricately interrelated, and only understood in their fullcomplexity by an enlightened being.In simple terms, what does karma mean? It means thatwhatever we do, with our body, speech, or mind, will have acorresponding result. Each action, even the smallest, is pregnantwith its consequences. It is said by the masters that evena little poison can cause death and even a tiny seed canbecome a huge tree. And as Buddha said: "Do not overlooknegative actions merely because they are small; however small

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