Power to decide

 

The Press
08/07/2010

Chris Armand

When we observe the physical world around us it is relatively easy to understand that it operates according to a set of fixed laws based upon cause and effect.

The whole of Western science is premised on the idea that these laws exist and that they can be discovered through investigation and experiment. Our modern technological culture is a result of this process over the last two millennia. Although we cannot deny it has led us to a situation in which we must face the challenge of our possible self- extinction, we still look to science to provide some of the answers to our dilemma. We do this because we have trust in the scientific process, although our trust may not extend to those who perform and control the technology of the scientific investigation.

All around us we see and believe in the workings of cause and effect. When we look to our internal world, however, we often disregard this knowledge.

The most common perception of the way in which our mind operates is often a confusing collection of half- truths, unsubstantiated beliefs and, in some cases, downright superstition. We do not understand that there may be a causal connection between what we put into our minds and our internal state at a later date.

This has not been the situation in Eastern cultures. Long before the West embarked on its journey to explain the outer world, in the East there was already a complete understanding of the inner world. The realisation was that the mind worked with the same basic principles of cause and effect. These principles are known in the Buddhist tradition as karma.

Our modern Western understanding of this term is that it means some sort of fate or destiny. This is no doubt heavily influenced by our observations of the caste system that arose in ancient India and the way in which it used an explanation of past events to justify the present.

Karma is, however, cause and effect, pure and simple. It is just as much about our future as our past because what has not yet happened is not predetermined. Our future happiness or misery is in a direct relationship with what we think, say and do today.

To make the most of our lives we need space in our mind to make clear decisions. This comes best through meditation. When we have developed the ability to mentally stand back from our external world, problems appear as opportunities.

Meditation, coupled with the understanding of karma, gives us thoroughly practical tools so that we can develop the ability to control our experience of the world.

We get to choose whether we will partake in the tragedies or the comedies, things that give us good feelings or unhappiness. Our common future is completely within our control and all of us have the power to decide what that future will be and how we will experience it.

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