We talk this topic to help each of us know what cause will result in what effect so that we can determine what we should do to get good results and what we should not do to avoid bad results.
The law of Cause and Effect is absolutely fair and no one can cheat it. We often hear, “One good turn deserves another,” or “we reap what we have sowed.” That means those who live a righteous life will achieve happiness and those who live a bad life will experience suffering. The basic principle of Buddhism is that if we bring happiness to others, we will find happiness and if we cause others suffering, we will experience suffering.
However, the rule is not exactly right because the law of Cause and Effect is extremely complicated and we and other people may think differently. We think we make someone happy but actually, they feel annoyed and when we think we make someone miserable but actually, they feel happy. Therefore, it’s hard for us to know the results for our actions.
For example, we hit someone on his face in front of a crowd because we want to make him humiliated. We can easily reason what the retribution for making someone miserable is. That we hit someone in front of a crowd has two causes. The first cause is making that person physically painful and the second cause is defaming that person. So, in the future we will be hit and defamed.
The longer our retribution comes, the more terrible it will be. That is unlikely that the person whom we hit will later hit us in front of a crowd like the way we treated him. Perhaps we will be hung and tortured in a public yard so that everyone can see us in a terrible situation. The retribution will be multiple times more terrible than what we caused.
For example, in our neighborhood, there is a child who is ethical and does well in school. He respects the elderly and helps the disabled. So in a parent-teacher conference or in a meeting of neighbors we praise and give him a bicycle as a gift. We invite his parents and several people to join the meeting and say, “I see though your child is young but very well-behaved and study well, so I am on behalf of these people here praise him and give him a bicycle as a gift.” This action has two causes. The first cause is about giving alms and the second cause is to honor the child in front of people. Because we produce two causes so that we will get two different results. What are they? Maybe not in this life but in our next life, we will become a world – famous scientist or a professor that will win a world prize because we will get more than what we give. We just praise a child in front of people and in our next life we will win a world prize and maybe earn a big amount of money. Producing a cause is similar to sowing a litchi seed or a grain of rice, it will develop into a tree and will give us so many grains of rice or a lot of litchis.
Likewise, if we do an evil thing, we will experience suffering in a very long time. When we do a good thing, we maybe enjoy its good results in all our life and maybe in next lives. The results and retribution, according to the law of Karma, are very great or terrible like that. So, those who understand the law of Karma are always careful with their actions and words. There are things that we think are good but others think otherwise. For example, on our teacher’s birthday, we give her a birthday cake as a way of expressing our gratitude to her. The cake is made of flour, eggs, sugar, milk, cream, and fat.. We think our teacher will be happy with this cake. However, unexpectedly, she is on diet to reduce sugar and fat in blood. We want our teacher to be happy but the result is the opposite. The result/retribution for such an action is hard to predict.
Or another example, a bad guy who argued with a man and accidentally killed him. Normally, when we kill someone, we make their family miserable but this case is totally different. The victim’s wife will no longer be miserable anymore because her husband tortured the family for many years. Besides, he drank a lot and was involved in prostitution. His family was very afraid of him but had to live with him. They lived as in hell. Nobody dared to do anything because he was too aggressive. However, it didn’t occur to him that he was killed by a bad guy on the street. The bad guy thought that he caused a disaster so he hurriedly ran away. He didn’t know that the victim’s wife and children were very happy about that.
Life is so strange! There are things you think will bring suffering to people, but on the contrary, they bring happiness. That’s why it is hard to know the effect of an action.
The basic principle here is what we cause someone will be back to us either in this life or in another life. We gave our teacher a cake and thought she would be happy but she was not. The result for us should be that in the future, we will receive a gift from someone and we don’t like it much and we will have to give it to another one.
In the case the bad guy accidentally killed the man then the result for him will be, in this life or in his next life, he will have both fortune and misfortune at the same time as he caused a disaster but this disaster, by accident, makes others happy (the wife and the children of the victim). For example, he will win the lottery, after that, someone will come to beat him and steal his money. Or he will fall down into a river and people think that he will die from drowning, but unexpectedly, he will not only survive but also get a bag of money in the river. This means, when in distress, we will have fortune and when having fortune, he will maybe encounter problems. This is because in his previous life, he sowed such a cause.
In this world, there are some religions that encourage their believers on terrorism, bombing, shooting to kill people to honor their religions. Those believers were instilled the belief that they will go to heaven if they kill many people. They have set off bombs in crowded places to kill many people. They disturb the peace but believe they will go to heaven. Those religions do not mention about the law of Karma but only belief which is totally wrong.
Their belief does not have any connection to the retribution they will receive. Here is the retribution for them: If in a bomb explosion of theirs, twenty people were killed and thirty people were injured then in their consecutive twenty lives, they were killed in a bomb explosion. They will live is fifteen or twenty years then will be killed by bombs to expiate their sin. They make thirty people injured then in their consecutive thirty lives, they will be wounded, their legs or hands will be broken… It is very tragic.
But it is not all. The death of each person causes their family extreme misery. So, the deaths of fifty people cause fifty families to be miserable. And if each family has seven to eight people, we have so many miserable people. Therefore, the retribution for the terrorists is extremely terrible. They will never have happiness and know heaven in thousands of years onwards. If they are reborn as humans, they will become orphaned right after their births. They will be lonely on the street, begging for food, and will often be chased and insulted. And if they are reborn as dogs, then these dogs will have scabies and live in poor families, and will be killed or have a road accident someday. All for them is suffering.
The way of the law of Karma is very objective and does not depend on any religion. Even though someone says that his religion is number one, his religion still cannot escape the law of Karma. So, definitely, those who bring suffering to others will receive suffering in return. You cannot say you do something for your religion, so you don’t fear suffering.
There was a ranger who devoted his lifetime to protecting the forests. Thanks to him, it is hard for loggers to cut down trees for wood, so they hate him very much and want to harm him. The merit of protecting the forest cannot easily be recognized and praised as other merit, especially what brings immediate benefit. A business that earns a big profit will be praised by the State; a doctor who cures many patients will be honored; a teacher who is good at teaching will be awarded the title of meritorious teacher… However, security guards who protect the forest are not rewarded because humans cannot clearly understand the benefit of the protection of trees.
But the law of Karma does not miss any detail. The forest creates life on this earth. Without the forest, all will die. Thus, that forest rangers protecting the forest is protecting life on this earth. They help to keep the weather good, maintain water supply, so they will be greatly blessed. However humans cannot recognize this because they don’t clearly see the benefit of protection of the forest brought to humans. However, in the future and in many next lives, those forest rangers will always have a happy life, and will be loved and successful. It is the preservation of the good weather, maintaining the water, and he will be greatly blessed. The place where they live has good weather and no accidents. Such blessing is not only in a life but in so many lives.