Working through our negative karma towards others

I once had a strange dream. Claudine was some sort of holy being, and I had a very high state of relationship with her. At some point, I committed some sort of negative karma towards her, and then I was thrown back down many levels. I then had to work my way back up to get where I was. I did the first couple of relatively easy levels, and then I reached a point where I had to repeatedly do some seemingly innane thing. About half-way through doing that, I grew frustrated at having to do so, and stopped doing it well. I remained in the same room (level), but I moved back again and the task grew harder. There was no way around it, I had to do it if I was to advance.

At some point later in the dream, I was somewhere else in some sort of Dharma setting. It was at some point in the distant future. I had some vague memory of having been close to the Dharma before, but it was in the distant past. I then saw one of my former teachers, and she too had been around a long time and she was back just like me. What I understood to be VGL or the Buddhas was there. My former teacher looked old and ugly, with disheveled hair and a distorted face. But she had made it back. She then lead everyone in a prostration towards the Spiritual Guide. As she prostrated, she said “I prostrate to the dictator.” She was trying to make a joke about how in worldly society we in effect prostrate to dictators, but the people who were following her in the prostration misunderstood that she was saying that the spiritual guide was a dictator and they giggled like she was giving voice to their views. It came out wrong and made things worse.

When I woke up, what I understood from the dream was as follows: it doesn’t take much to create some real serious negative karma towards holy beings, and other beings in general. This then creates karmic distance between ourselves and the beings. If we want to repair our relationship with the being, then we will need to do the work of working through that negative karma. This is not a punishment, it is just karmically how things work. If we don’t do the work, we will never find our way back. It may take a long time, but we have no choice but to work through it. When we grow frustrated by the fact that we have to do this, we fall back further and the task grows harder. So we need to accept that this is what we need to do and just diligently get on with it. We can view our relationships with each and every being in this way. We have committed countless negative actions towards each being and this has thrown us down in our relationship with that being. Each being is (from one perspective) like a holy being and we need to do the work to diligently repair our relationship with each being. Sometimes we make mistakes and fall back down, but we then need to start over. My former teacher had turned ugly due to having generated anger. A long time had passed and through persistent hard work she had dug herself back out. She was still ordained and had done what it took. She tried to tell a joke, but was misunderstood and wound up creating negative karma. When you are that close to that which is perfectly pure, it doestn’t take much to make a mistake. Even the slightest mistake has disproportionate consequences. It is like a marble trying to be centered on a very large and relatively flat surface. Even a slight movement of the surface and the marble will be displaced by great distances. I then thought of poor Gen-la Samden. He had gotten so so close, but then committed some hugely negative actions not only towards the spiritual guide but towards all of his students in the NKT. This has no doubt thrown him back tremendously. It will take him a tremendously long time to work his way back. It will take aeons. VGL said in his letter to him ‘I have no connection with you’, seemingly implying that he had destoyed all of his karma towards VGL. ex-Gen-la had said in his letter that he had done nothing wrong and he remained committed to VGL. But then VGL put squarely on the table in a very public way all that he had done wrong and said that no connection remained. I believe this was done to help the former Samden can overcome his pride and attachment to reputation and then develop deep regret for what he had done so he could begin the long process of purification.

One way of looking at all of the senior teachers being cleared out of the NKT is they had grown very close to the spiritual guide, but each in their own way committed small (sometimes large) errors, which as the example of the marble shows, can have huge displacement consequences. Their motivation to practice and their commitment to the Kadampa path remains in place, but they now need to do the work of getting back. I am no different. Not only do we have to do this with the spritual guide, but also with all other beings. No point wishing it was otherwise, rather we should accept this fact and get on with what needs to be done.

7 thoughts on “Working through our negative karma towards others

  1. After my Vajrasattva retreat some time ago i concluded that i need to be forgiven by each and every being in existence. Even the woodlice i see in my house i should treat with nothing but respect and with a sense of gratitude. The feeling of wanting to be pure, wishing to be pure is so important.

    Vajrasattva practice is probably the most important of all the Buddhist practices in conjunction with abandoning the 8 worldly concerns. Lamrim, Lojong, HYT etc are immense but it wont matter if there’s still a ton of stuff in the basement when you die. Lives go on. If a person really masters this practice everything gets easier. Trijang Rinpoche advises saying the Vajrasattva mantra when ever you notice a delusion or create negativity. For example, for us Tantric practitioners it’s easy to fall back into ordinary deluded view, all we see is ordinary: a self-cherishing created world pervaded by our own ignorance. We need help purifying.

    I definitely believe in my heart that i was a high teacher (after having many different visions of past lives/dreams). I failed to master purification practice. But, even the heaviest karma can be purified EASILY in this life.

    Love Vajrasattva practice, it’s amazing!! And it makes you sleep like a baby.

    I brought a woodlice back from the dead the other day by using this mantra (seriously!) that’s how magical it is. And i’m just deluded ordinary being, i’m looking forward to becoming a holy being with real abilities that are extra-ordinary, how cool is that?!!! 🙂

  2. Thanks,this is what i needed to read today,i have been working to improve the relation with my resident teacher , and i know it is no so easy…i had created this experiences now i need to work even harder, i am sure it will take time…but as you said i have no choice but to work through it.
    I feel lucky i have this wonderful opportunity,to purify and to repair my relationship with her…

    • VGL gave a teaching several years back about maintaining healthy relationships with our resident teachers. His basic advice was we should be totally honest with them about what we are thinking, what delusions we might have, etc. If we see our resident teachers doing something we don’t understand, we go to them and say, “I see you doing X, this doesn’t seem right to me because of Y. Perhaps I am misunderstanding. Can you please help clarify for me.” Then, one of two things will happen: either you will receive a clarification and you learn something or the resident teacher will receive some constructive criticism and they will learn something. Either way, everybody is better off. If we keep our doubts or issues all bottled up, they tend to just fester and eventually evolve into a cancer that destroys our relationship with our teacher. When you think about it, it is really the same with our relationships with everybody. But I guess that is the point – what is healthy and normal in our relationships with one person is equally healty and normal in our relationship with our teachers. It is just our misunderstanding that we need to think everything our RTs do is perfect that gets us into trouble. No, pure view does not mean we say everything they do is perfect, rather pure view says we learn perfectly from everything they do, the good and the bad.

  3. I guess there needs to be a total honesty with yourself. If there are communication issues with the RT’s, then first off is admitting it to yourself. Take a real good look at how your mind behaves when you think about this person. This is like how silent watcher meditation works and is best looked at from meditation. You watch, then you notice that there is resentment, ill-feeling, awkwardness, strong self-cherishing and so on when you think about the person. You don’t get involved, the silent part of your mind sees what is going on from a distance. The idea of the person is part of the mind that apprehends the person.

    Then when you see this idea, you can realize that person who invokes all those feelings is in fact currently an object of your mind which you can choose to view in any way you like. That’s why silent watcher meditation can be so powerful. Our delusions are lying to us constantly.

    I have spent a lot of time in silent watcher observing myself arguing with various people or saying certain things i should have said or whatever, this is all basic imagination. Parts of my mind in conflict with other parts of my mind. Its funny, but its easy to get sucked in by it and actually believe they are anything other than dream-like ha ha

    Silent watcher is amazing for detaching from strong emotions others appear to invoke in us. Letting go and not needing to be approved of etc. RT’s are great for this. Seeing is releasing that negative energy that festers but i agree with Kadam Ryan’s conventional way of speaking to RT’s.

  4. KR i am very grateful…for this…it is been difficult to talk with my teacher…we seems to have very strong connection yet very hard…we normally have different ways of thinking about certain things,and even in class,she seems kind disconcert with my questions or not well understood, I think my questions are silly or way too complicated so that at the end my teacher says we do not have the capacity sufuciente to pretend to understand that. and that we have to leave our present understanding in our hearts and ask for blessings. On the other hand I admire her she is a great teacher.also i can say that throughout the years our relationship has improved a bit, I also think that this inability to speak with her,comes from many lives ago, I also feel that it would hurt me to say something inappropriate that she could misinterpret , yet i can see that every day she strives to be better, and it shows, Kadam, perhaps this is not only a matter to purify karma? we are very different styles , I know, and if there have been times when I’ve been able to say what I think, on the other hand …there had been many great moments where we have had a wonderful relationship, especially when we travel together and go on retreats or celebrations, she shown loving and caring, sorry for say much, but I think this happens to me with my ex-partner all the time … (20 years) 80% of our relationship was very stressful and 15% regular and 5% very good … ha, ha, I know that everything depended on my mind and my karma.
    now i see i have so much to learn for a better communication, and it depends on me most of the time,i am happy i feel light in the way with her and when i see her and talk to her, i have nothing but to be grateful.Kadam Ryan,
    I appreciate your response and your advice i really want to put into practice the next time to be needed. not only with my teacher but also with others.
    Thanks again…your words bright my mind…: )

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