A student wrote to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, asking if he should give his brother a large sum of money as requested to help a girl sold into prostitution. In his response Rinpoche advised the student to think of this payment as a past karmic debt and gave the following teaching on karma:
You should know that karma is definite, which means it definitely brings the result. From virtue the result is definitely happiness, and from nonvirtue the result is definitely suffering.
A suffering result now comes from non-virtue, if the non-virtue is not completely purified and if it hasn’t met the conditions that make it extinct. Similarly with virtue, [the result is happiness] if it’s not destroyed by heresy, anger and so forth.
The second outline of karma is that it is expandable. You have to know that by making charity just one time you will experience the result for many lifetimes, for many eons. This is what you have to really know, to recognize. Happiness is not just received one time from virtue and then it is finished. This is what many people may think, but it’s not correct. We experience the result for eons. We have to experience the result, happiness, for eons. Similarly, we experience suffering as a result of non-virtue. It’s not just one time that we experience it and it’s finished; we have to experience it for eons.
We have to understand that if the karma is not created then the result never happens. If the karma is created then the resultant suffering or happiness—whether great or small—never gets lost, even if it was created billions, zillions, trillions of years ago. We still have to experience the result of negative karma from billions, zillions, trillions of years ago, not just from this past life.
People wonder why in the beginning they have a beautiful body and then suddenly it becomes defective, or they have a lot of mental and physical suffering. So much unimaginable suffering happens, which could be from karma created numberless eons ago. People are very surprised, and they think, “Oh, I haven’t done bad things in this life, so why am I experiencing this now?” Most people think it is just [experienced in] one life. Maybe some people think of karma created from past lives, but most don’t think it can be karma created billions or zillions of eons ago, numberless eons ago. Most people don’t think like that.
In the Tengyur—the commentaries of the great pandits from Nalanda on the Buddha’s teachings in the Kangyur—the Buddha said:
Any sentient being who, during the period of my teachings,
Makes charity well (even if the material is the size of a hair)
For 80,000 eons there will be great results of great enjoyment:
No pain, no disease, and enjoyment of happiness.
Like that, one will be enriched with the desirable things.
At the end you can actually achieve the result—the peerless cessation and completion (enlightenment).
After hearing that there is the great result, who wouldn’t want to collect merit?
There is also a quote similar to this in the Arya Sanghata Sutra by the Buddha.
This advice, “Think of the Kindness of Sentient Beings,” is from “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book,” published in May 2018 on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.
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