Chapter 6: Karma and its Result

These sufferings are not independent or without cause.

Knowing their causes and effects will release ignorance.

The first moment of positive thought brings happiness in the second moment.

The first moment of negative thought brings suffering in the second moment.

All phenomena exist in the momentary flux of cause and effect.

Therefore, the ten non-virtues are the general cause of suffering in samsara, particularly the suffering of the three lower realms.

The joy and happiness of the higher realms of samsara and enlightenment itself are based on the ten virtues.

This law of cause and effect is the constitution of all phenomena.

When you don’t know this law, you are called “ignorant.” Should you make a great effort—even sacrificing your life—there is still no way to be free from suffering.

When you know this law, you are called “free from ignorance.” Then, all your efforts in every moment become a cause of freedom from suffering.

When you are ignorant, no matter how little you are attached to yourself, you don’t know how to sincerely benefit yourself or others. But when you have this wisdom, you have the ability to be sincere to yourself.

Everything is interdependent. A particular circumstance doesn’t arise without a cause, from a wrong cause, or from an incomplete cause.

So therefore, for something to manifest it has to have complete causes and conditions.

Take a car for example—to make it and operate it, you need all the necessary causes and conditions. If even one is missing, the car won’t run.

Similarly, our inner peace and balance also depend on many different causes. No matter how much one tries or expects the result, unless the proper causes and conditions have been developed, the effort is in vain.

The law of the causes and conditions that result in samsara and nirvana is most important to know. Without such wisdom, we cannot create a positive environment.

It is said, “Even though we desire happiness, due to ignorance we destroy it as if it were an enemy. We want to be free from suffering, but chase after it.”

The details and the subtle manifestations of karma are harder to investigate and understand than emptiness.

So it is very important to study this section on karma carefully, not merely as a Buddhist tradition, but rather as the line between the cause of suffering and the cause of happiness for every sentient being.

Source: Gampopa, Dharma Lord. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings. Translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Edited by Ani K. Trinlay Chodron. Boulder, Colorado: Snow Lion, 1998.