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Troubling thoughts on negative karma and Buddhanature

spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
edited February 16 in Buddhism Basics

Dear friends, I hope all are safe and well. Buddhism has always been a soothing balm to my restless nature and mind. But in recent weeks, I've been troubled (or plagued) by a few thoughts...

  1. Buddha Nature. This isn't a topic I've contemplated deeply on, or grasped tightly to, in the past. But recently I seem to have developed a negative sentiment towards it. This 'concept' of Buddha Nature has started to feel like a carrot being dangled in front of me, creating expectations, attachment and resentment. A thought I've been unable to let go of - if 'Buddha Nature is in all of us', but isn't something easily accessible or even achievable in this lifetime, I'd rather not have known about it at all.

  2. Negative karma. This is more of a gripping fear that has arisen - the fear of some strong negative karma from my past that hasn't ripened...yet. And I'm living in a state of anxiety and fear, not knowing when or how it might manifest itself.

If anyone might have any opinions or nuggets of wisdom to offer, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you for reading.

Shoshin1Ren_in_black

Comments

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    I think hints of our Buddha nature are with us all the time. Whenever you find a moment of equanimity or real peace, I think you connect to it just for a little while. I’m often grateful for its presence.

    Fear can be a difficult emotion to cope with. It has to do with imagination, you’re taking concepts you have learned and your imagination is combining them into a picture of which your mind says, that would be really bad, and then it surfaces as a fear. But the root of it is papanca, proliferation of thoughts. If you can calm that, it will help.

    The other way to deal with it is to carry the imagination all the way to an end result. You say you fear bad karma, maybe it will manifest itself as a car accident. Now what would probably happen. You would crash into another cars rear. You would exchange insurance info. A tow truck might come to collect your car. It might need repairs. But basically you know how to deal with something like that. You see? Nothing really to worry about.

    The key is that you are quite a capable individual, and people will help you. You have never yet encountered a situation that you couldn’t get through, otherwise you wouldn’t be here 😉

    spiderlily
  • @Kerome Thank you for your kind words and advice. I've sensed a fair bit of catastrophizing going on with these thoughts, intellectually, but emotionally I'm having a very hard time catching up. Thank you for putting things into perspective, for me. Thoughts have been going on in circles for weeks now, and I'm hoping some time spent outside will calm this spiral of negativity (or maybe a less sugar-filled diet). Much appreciation 🙏

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    @spiderlily said:
    Dear friends, I hope all are safe and well. Buddhism has always been a soothing balm to my restless nature and mind. But in recent weeks, I've been troubled (or plagued) by a few thoughts...

    1. Buddha Nature. This isn't a topic I've contemplated deeply on, or grasped tightly to, in the past. But recently I seem to have developed a negative sentiment towards it. This 'concept' of Buddha Nature has started to feel like a carrot being dangled in front of me, creating expectations, attachment and resentment. A thought I've been unable to let go of - if 'Buddha Nature is in all of us', but isn't something easily accessible or even achievable in this lifetime, I'd rather not have known about it at all.

    2. Negative karma. This is more of a gripping fear that has arisen - the fear of some strong negative karma from my past that hasn't ripened...yet. And I'm living in a state of anxiety and fear, not knowing when or how it might manifest itself.

    If anyone might have any opinions or nuggets of wisdom to offer, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you for reading.

    In the end the reality of Buddhanature will have to be uncovered, a process which is only partially something that can be verbalised. For example the idea that ‘Buddha-nature is in all of us’is no more true than any other metaphor. It’s just as true to say that ‘we all arise in Buddha nature’.
    If you find a particular metaphor useful then use it. If you don’t...dont.🙂
    Strictly speaking karma is not negative or positive. Karma simply means ‘action’. Our actions then cause the fruit of karma... karmavipaka. We experience this as positive, or as negative or as neutral.
    In reality though it is simply a phenomenon that arises in conditioned living. Like gravity.
    If we fall down the stairs and biff our nose we don’t talk about ‘negative gravity’
    The one way to be sure that in the future we minimise the likelihood of vipaka that we experience as negative lies in the present, and our actions and motives right now.
    As the Zen folk say “ you give..you get “.

    spiderlilyRen_in_black
  • @Choephal Thank you. I have a deep love and appreciation for Buddhist teachings but my methods of learning have been haphazard at best, and I'll gladly accept any nudge in the right direction. Thank you for the insights.

  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited February 16

    @how I very much agree with your assessment, although I wondered if some corrections made to my (most likely misguided) understanding on Buddha nature and karma might help to diffuse the thoughts. I will try out your suggestions as well, hopefully some of these fixations can be alleviated. It rarely goes on for this long, but this time round I haven't been able to pinpoint the cause, especially since everything is going relatively well, so it has me a little more concerned than usual. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 16

    @spiderlily said:
    I've been troubled (or plagued) by a few thoughts...

    metoo

    I gets out the deckchair and listens to the virtual waves ...
    https://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-simplest-way-to-create-more-calm-in-your-life/

    spiderlily
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran
    edited February 16

    @spiderlily said:
    Dear friends, I hope all are safe and well. Buddhism has always been a soothing balm to my restless nature and mind. But in recent weeks, I've been troubled (or plagued) by a few thoughts...

    1. Buddha Nature. This isn't a topic I've contemplated deeply on, or grasped tightly to, in the past. But recently I seem to have developed a negative sentiment towards it. This 'concept' of Buddha Nature has started to feel like a carrot being dangled in front of me, creating expectations, attachment and resentment. A thought I've been unable to let go of - if 'Buddha Nature is in all of us', but isn't something easily accessible or even achievable in this lifetime, I'd rather not have known about it at all.

    2. Negative karma. This is more of a gripping fear that has arisen - the fear of some strong negative karma from my past that hasn't ripened...yet. And I'm living in a state of anxiety and fear, not knowing when or how it might manifest itself.

    If anyone might have any opinions or nuggets of wisdom to offer, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you for reading.

    We are not our thoughts @spiderlily, but more often than not we are what we think...

    The manifestation of the ego-self tends to grasp at anything which will reinforce its sense of being the dominate partner in the relationship...Thoughts like the ones you are having are what it feeds upon...

    One of the first lessons I learnt when I began meditating was this...All a thought wants is to be acknowledged, and by doing so you give it a free passage to dissolve back into the emptiness from which it arose...Trying to supress negative thoughts (not allowing them to run their course ), gives them strength what we resist will persist and grow stronger...They will keep on knock at mind's door louder and louder...

    There's awareness surrounding every thought that arises, and by becoming aware of this awareness, thoughts can pass freely...

    "AWARENESS is fundamentally non-conceptual, before thinking splits experience into subject and object. It is empty and so can contain everything, including thought. It is boundless. And amazingly, it is intrinsically KNOWING"

    They are just thoughts, the level of impact they have upon us, depends upon our acceptance of them being just that...just a thought nothing special...

    If you're going to think then you may find by channeling your thoughts into something more positive/beneficial, like "What can I do to help others?" then doing random acts of kindness, you should start to feel more positive about your self and the more you show kindness towards other sentient beings, the less you think about your 'self'...and that a positive thing/thought...

    Be well @spiderlily and stay mindful <3

    Remember...He who fears he shall suffer... already suffers what he fears
    ~Michel de Montaigne ~

    spiderlilylobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 16

    It's possible that you have a somewhat 'wrong view' on Buddha nature and/or karma. By hearing a teaching about these from someone with a good understanding could help perhaps?

    I do (I think) get what you're saying about how Buddha nature seems discouraging because it's thought of as leading to enlightenment, but that is not readily accessible it seems to us in the present moment and it is something for a long long awaited future.

    Fearing karma ripening could be good if it motivates doing wholesome stuff and abandoning unwholesome, but I don't think it is intended to lead to a state of anxiety that could cause us to shy away from experiencing this world we live in.

    But generally when they say wisdom and compassion that could be same thing as right view and compassion. They go together.

    Shoshin1spiderlilylobster
  • @Shoshin1 Thank you 🙏 I try to be of benefit to others around me, but is a little hard when I'm currently 'stuck' in a state of doom-and-gloom, so am trying to break out of this vicious cycle. Be well too ❤️

    @Jeffrey Yes, quite likely. I'm not the 'scholarly' type and I try to keep things simple with regular daily living practices, so these are not normally topics I would dwell on. But this is my first time developing feelings of aversion towards a set of Buddhist teachings, so it feels particularly troubling to me. I'll try to deal with these thoughts as I normally would with other kinds of 'wrong' views. Thank you 🙏

    Shoshin1Jeffrey
  • Just wanted to add that I am deeply grateful to all of your responses. I don't have many sources (in real life) to turn to for advice when it comes to Buddhist teachings and practices, so many thanks and gratitude to all who have responded with kindness and wisdom, and have lent a listening ear (or eye). I went to a rather dark place in my mind this past week, and it has been a relief to get these thoughts out of my head, and to have been heard and seen. Helps to calm my fears and I feel less alone now. Thank you again for being here ❤️

    ZendoLord84JeffreyDavidlobster
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran
    edited February 17

    One of my teachers once said something which stuck in my mind and I often remind myself of it. He said very often the answers are there in front of us just as soon as we begin to phrase the question in a clear way.🙂

    lobsterspiderlily
  • Negative and positive are ethical ego projections, there is only wise and unwise.

    Buddha nature is....being your true self. Nothing more or less.

    spiderlily
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @Choephal said:
    One of my teachers once said something which stuck in my mind and I often remind myself of it. He said very often the answers are there in front of us just as soon as we begin to phrase the question in a clear way.🙂

    This is definitely true, but the answer you will get if you try to work it out for yourself is usually the obvious one only. It helps to take a question that is really troubling you to a teacher, who may offer a wider perspective or an answer with real depth.

    Choephalspiderlily
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    Yes. I probably didn’t emphasise enough the fact that he meant in part, that frequently the job of the teacher is to work with the student to put the question in a clear way. It then almost answers itself.

  • Helps to calm my fears and I feel less alone now. Thank you again for being here ❤️

    You are never alone with a mind ... Without a mind ... don't expect too much [top tip right there]
    The question is with this heaven/hell mind experience what to do?

    Step one - See mind as source of being.
    Step two - Do good for self and others.

    Dharma. So simple. So good. So real.

    Part of the fuel for compassion is burning our doubts, fears, despair, monkey mind etc into positive practice, action and being ...

    https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page/web-links

    Jeffreyspiderlily
  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited February 18

    @lobster said:
    You are never alone with a mind ... Without a mind ... don't expect too much [top tip right there]
    The question is with this heaven/hell mind experience what to do?

    I understand (I think), and I embrace this (mostly). What I meant was having external guidance and help, because I was struggling to manage on my own.

    Choephal
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    @spiderlily said:

    @lobster said:
    You are never alone with a mind ... Without a mind ... don't expect too much [top tip right there]
    The question is with this heaven/hell mind experience what to do?

    I understand (I think), and I embrace this (mostly). What I meant was having external guidance and help, because I was struggling to manage on my own.

    I think that is what many/ most of us experience.
    In my own Dzogchen tradition a teacher who is a lineage holder authorised to transmit the lineage is seen as absolutely essential to even begin to practice.
    Not all traditions have that strictness of requirement.
    But most Mahayana schools encourage us to find a teacher.

    spiderlilylobster
  • @Choephal said:

    @spiderlily said:

    @lobster said:
    You are never alone with a mind ... Without a mind ... don't expect too much [top tip right there]
    The question is with this heaven/hell mind experience what to do?

    I understand (I think), and I embrace this (mostly). What I meant was having external guidance and help, because I was struggling to manage on my own.

    I think that is what many/ most of us experience.
    In my own Dzogchen tradition a teacher who is a lineage holder authorised to transmit the lineage is seen as absolutely essential to even begin to practice.
    Not all traditions have that strictness of requirement.
    But most Mahayana schools encourage us to find a teacher.

    I've been wondering about this myself, because my practice has been informal and 'solo' (partially because I never felt fully ready for a deeper committment). I'll look into entering a more structured form of practice when I get a chance to. Thank you for pointing this out.

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    It’s worth pointing perhaps that “ teacher” covers a whole spectrum of relationships from full blown Vajrayana guru or Zen Master to spiritual friends who can help us be a little more objective..😊
    Sometimes we sit too close to our own thoughts and feelings, it can help to have input from someone we trust.

    spiderlilyhowlobster
  • @Choephal I see what you mean! It took quite a bit to climb out of my shell and ask for help, but I'm glad I did and very grateful for the insights and pointers I've received, many of which I wouldn't have been able to figure on my own (not intellectually, at least) 🙏🙏

    Choephallobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Finding a teacher can be tricky @spiderlily i am not at all surprised it didn’t happen for you. I am in much the same boat... there are relatively fewer buddhists here in the Netherlands than in the USA, and so teachers are also rarer. I have been in contact with a few but for various reasons it has never really worked out.

    So I am kind of crowdsourcing my buddhism from various forums and books, separating out what I can test and what works for me from the rest which I lay to one side. Questions i bring to the forums, where I gratefully receive words of wisdom from fellow seekers of the path.

    spiderlilyhowChoephallobster
  • Youtube and podcasts have hundreds of masters.
    Ordained monks that give dharma talks.
    The sutta’s are masters too.
    Nobody can truely help you to liberation of suffering but yourself.
    Master only point the way.

    how
  • @Kerome same, but different =) Ironically I'm from Asia where Buddhism is commonplace, but local communities are huge and can get pretty overwhelming; typical practices are infused with cultural beliefs and other religions (Taoism, etc.) which changes quite a lot. Glad to know I'm not the only one seeking the path in relative solitude. Back to the cushion, I guess?

    howChoephal
  • Ordained monks that give dharma talks.
    The sutta’s are masters too.

    Ah ... two of the three jewels ...
    the third being ...

    Back to the cushion, I guess?

    Good guess. The cushion is the Buddha jewel <3

    There are other ways and resources for the bath/path walker ...

    How then to be bathed in, washed away by the three jewels?

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