Don’t Let Your Negative Karma Hinder Your Faith

Don't Let Your Negative Karma Hinder Your Faith
Religious discourse by Seijun NAGAMATSU, head priest of Myoshinji Temple, Honmon Butsuryu Shu (HBS), Yokohama, Japan.
Translated by fluteman3
When we smell danger in the wind, instinct pushes us into a protective posture. Similarly, the world charges toward protectionism when it is trapped in an economic predicament. What concerns us today is how we can protect ourselves against and prepare for the unpredictable; we are too self-centered to look after other people and tend to the needs of other countries.
When the world seems harsh and discomforting, it is because the minds and hearts of the people are harsh and discomforting. It appears as though we are becoming increasingly egotistical, blaming others for all the woes that we experience in our daily lives. We are permitting the occurrence of incidents such as miscommunications and misunderstandings with the people who are closest to us more frequently than ever before. Everyday conversations are often marked by complaints about and criticisms of someone different. Given the current socioeconomic realities of the world, we are encountering more cases like this than ever before, so we must ask ourselves if we are sane to live like this.
One unhappy event can cause people to hold grudges against each other. They ask themselves why this is happening to them without arriving at a convincing answer. They maintain that they have done nothing wrong and ask why they have reached a dead end. Lamenting and pondering why so many outrageous things are happening around us and holding grudges against cold-hearted and uncaring neighbors will inevitably lead us nowhere but to a nervous breakdown.
Now is the best time to change and start living the Buddhist way.
People who are unaware of their negative Karma are not Buddhists. Today, the word “Karma” is widespread in Japan, but very few people understand its true meaning. The “mediocre persons” of the Mappo era have long lost this awareness. These people are referred to as “mediocre persons with three poisons” because their lives are heavily influenced by their desires, anger, and lack of enlightenment.
Our past deeds (three forms of Karma, from the body, the mouth, and our emotions, inclusive of our thoughts) do not evaporate in the moment of action. What we have done, what we have said, and what we have thought are all recorded in our soul. Dreadful though it may be, these actions, words, and thoughts are all accumulated in the innermost part of the subconscious and the deeper part of the soul as “seeds.” All of our emotions, words, and actions are planted as seeds in the soil of the deepest strata of our subconscious.
However, we want to know when these seeds will sprout into leaves. This depends on the

weather and environment
” or the conditions in which they grow and the amount of nurturing they receive, but there is no denying that our behaviors constitute the seeds.
In Japan, popular contemporary hobbies include gardening and cultivating small family farms. Everybody who has experience in growing flowers and vegetables knows the wonder of seeds. A variety of miniscule seeds that are only a few millimeters in diameter produce a range of flowers and vegetables in the same soil. Because the seeds look alike, very few experts have the ability to distinguish between the tens of thousands of different species contained therein. Once planted, under the proper conditions, seeds never fail to spring forth leaves; without seeds, there can be no buds.
There is a religious poem written by Master Nissen Shonin, the founder of HBS, and it reads as follows:
Remember: without seeding, there is no sprouting.
Sow the seeds. They will always mature into leaves.
The occurrences that we see every day around us are the results or the buds (effect) of the seeds (cause) that we planted in the past, either immediate or remote. This is what the Law of the Universe is all about. We can also refer to this as the General Law or the Law of Cause and Effect. Buddhists call this 果報 [kahoo] (this literally means “good news,” but it should be understood as “capacity” or “potential”), or 罪障 [zaisho] (negative Karma), or simply カルマ [karuma] (Karma).
We are inclined to think that everything is acceptable as long as it remains masked or unnoticed. On the contrary, each act is documented in the soul as though the seeds are being planted in the soil of the soul day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment. One of the teachings of the Great Master Nichiren is that we plant seeds 840,000,000 times a day.
Bad seeds give life to bad buds and good seeds, good buds. This is what we call 善因善果・悪因悪果 [zenin zenga, akuin akuga] or “good cause, good effect; bad cause, bad effect.” We should know that self-centered behavior caused by the three poisons translates into bad seeds, which then get planted. The seeds sprout one after another and start swaying our lives in a certain direction. Buddhists should wholeheartedly acknowledge this factual truth.
Sometimes, a succession of negative occurrences in daily life distresses us. All of the inconveniences and hardships that we face certainly have causes. An accident waiting to befall us is surely the result of the seed. This seed was planted by you and nobody else. To live a truly happy life, we should uproot the bad seeds and buds and freshly plant good seeds instead.
Tell a lie and sooner or later, somebody, not necessarily the person who you deceived, will get even with another lie. Strike somebody and sooner or later, you will be hit by somebody who may or may not be the same person who you struck. The same thing can be said for name calling and gossiping. Likewise, a person who acquires money by cheating will eventually be cheated out of money by somebody else.
Preaching about ethics and codes of conduct is not necessarily the most significant part of Buddha’s teachings. Buddhists know that teachings such as “do a good thing” and “do not do a bad thing” are not effective enough to change people. This may be the case because the so-called mediocre persons of the Mappo era are often overwhelmed by their deep desires; their bad deeds outnumber their good deeds. Such people waste their lives in this way, as they are perpetually stuck in the vicious cycle.
It is essential to know what is important in life. The reason why we remain unhappy and full of anxiety is because we do not recognize the cause and effect relationships of the events that unfold in front of us. In short, we do not see the true nature. The idea that the individual is responsible for the good things, while the people around him or her are to blame for the bad things is utterly incorrect. We must face the truth, and the truth is that you and you alone are accountable for all of the bad things and bad situations that arise. Remember that everything results from the seeds that you have planted. Therefore, be cognizant of the kinds of seeds that you are planting at this moment.
Let us take a look at another religious poem by Nissen Shonin:
Seeds matter for all things. Enlightenment can be achieved
only when we plant good seeds of the fine Dharma.
Human beings are creatures that cannot be controlled by the simple moral dichotomy of “good versus evil” that instructs us to undertake good deeds and forsake bad deeds. This is why the great masters of the past have taught us the importance of the action of “planting the best and most excellent seeds.” We are bestowed with the Odaimoku (sacred mantra) of the “cause, essence, and seeds of illumination (or enlightenment).” The fine mantra of Namumyohorengekyo itself constitutes the “seeds of the fine Dharma,” the most precious seeds, the seeds that contain all of Buddha’s virtues.
The “seeds of 本因妙 [honinmyo] (the true and ultimate cause, or the fine Dharma)” lie at the base of all cause-effect relationships. Take a step forward, acknowledge the precious seeds, and start planting the seeds of happiness; then, you will surely have a better future, eliminating your bad Karma and bad buds. Do this and I am certain that your future will be bright.
Everything results from the seeds that you plant. Nobody is responsible but you. Thus, you should plant the “seeds of the fine Dharma” so that you can eradicate the bad seeds and buds that you have been accumulating since your remote past.
Buddhism is action. Regretting your past deeds and blaming other people will lead you nowhere. We are so inflexible with and critical of others and yet so easy on ourselves We can tell other people what to do because we see them from a distance, but we do not know what to do with ourselves because we do not see ourselves. We experience the pitfalls of human relationships this way. We are so sensitive to other people’s deeds and yet so insensitive when it comes to our own actions and words. With a human nature such as this, we often find ourselves in unhappy situations. Therefore, we must be sensitive to our bad Karma and take a step forward to plant new seeds of happiness in our soul. I am certain that if you start to live this way, you will be rewarded with a new, truly happy life. However outrageous the world may be, your destiny and connections will begin to move forward in a positive direction.
Let me cite one more religious poem by Nissen Shonin:
Your destiny will turn in a better direction
as soon as you have decided to practice faith.
The moment when you decide to live with faith and you begin to practice your faith in your daily life will be the moment when you bring luck on your side. However, beware that your bad Karma might hamper your precious first step in that direction.
Never let your negative Karma hinder your faith.
Take a step forward into faith!

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