(Zazen music plays in the background, and Rama speaks to the beat of the music.)

Hi there. Zen Master Rama here, talking with you about karma and reincarnation today. The poignancy of life. Incarnation. The intersection of different spheres of existence in time and space, matter and energy—life.

We are alive, for a brief moment. And there are many, many wonders to see. And sometimes we think that life is random. We just go through life without a plan, without a direction. Things seem chaotic.

Chance. Is there chance? No. There’s karma. Karma causes all things to happen. It makes the sun come up every day; the moon go through its 28 phases; it causes your birth, your death. It’s what makes your days and nights, days and nights.

Karma. Why do you meet someone? Karma. Why don’t you meet someone else? Karma. Why do you love one person more than another? Karma. Why are you in the career you’re now in? Karma.

There is only one thing that karma can’t decide, and that’s how far you will evolve in this lifetime. How much you’ll wake up. How much you’ll come to see and know before you leave this place again. That is up to you. The rest is karma.

(Zazen music ends.)

It’s good not to think of karma as an alien force that’s outside of yourself, because you are the generator of karma. Karma is your own energy—the energy patterns that emanate from your life, from your actions, from your thoughts, feelings and desires, your attractions and aversions, hopes, dreams, plans and schemes—karma.

The idea is simple. For every action there’s a reaction, for every cause there’s an effect, for every effect there’s a result, and a new situation is created. Karma can be examined within the structure of an hour, a year, a lifetime, thousands of lifetimes. But the active principle is the same—you, your choices, your decisions, your awareness. How aware are you? What determines how aware you can become?

Karma, as I said, indicates action, but not necessarily physical action; nor is karma a result in the sense of a reward. Some people say when something happens to them, “Oh, it’s my karma,” as if there was someone out there giving rewards or punishments. Something good happens to you and you say, “Oh, it’s my karma,” meaning you have good karma. You’ve done something good in the past and it comes back to you. Something bad happens to you, whatever you construe that to be, and you say, “Oh, it’s my karma,” meaning that something unpleasant has occurred because you’ve done something that you would consider to be inappropriate, bad, whatever, in a prior time. Karma is really much more complicated than that. That’s a very simplistic view of it.

Karma, first of all, comes from the mind. Karma is engendered by states of mind. For example, if you’re in a happy state of mind, that will engender one kind of karma. If you’re in an unhappy state of mind, that will engender another kind of karma. It’s best to think of karma, not so much in terms of physical action, but as waveforms of vibratory energy.

Example—if you and I were to go today to a nice still pond, one of those lovely still ponds that dot the New England landscape, and there was no wind at all and the pond was mirror smooth, and we were to take a small hippopotamus and drop him from a height of about 50 feet into the water, OK, the hippo would crash into the water and waves would be generated throughout the pond—also, probably a lot of scandal and controversy because in small New England towns, they’re not used to the hippopotamus descending from the sky, as we are out here in California. These things happen all [the] time; it is no big deal at all. But be that as it may, the hippo drops, hits the water and ripples occur, OK?

Two kinds of ripples will occur from the dropping hippo. One kind will be ripples on the lake, and as the hippo crashes into the water, the ripples will go out in a circular direction and they will cause an effect. Perhaps there was someone in a very small boat, and as the hippo comes down and crashes into the water, the ripples or waves will overturn the boat causing one of the two passengers of the boat, Sally, to drown. Bob will now inherit Sally’s estate since he had recently married her, and he saw in a psychic vision that a hippo was going to be falling from the sky in Massachusetts and hitting this particular lake on that particular day. Knowing that Sally couldn’t swim and he could, he thought it was a hot opportunity to take her out on a boat trip. So, the karma of the hippo falling, the result, is Bob’s inheritance of a large amount of money that previously belonged to Sally.

Now, other aspects of this—well, Bob would therefore engender another kind of karma because he caused Sally’s death. Causing Sally’s death—the courts can’t get him, obviously, because they don’t believe that you could psychically see that a hippo was going to be striking the water in a small New England town just outside of Boston. So it would be ruled an accident, act of God or whatever. However, if you had dropped the hippo, if you had arranged for it, naturally, you could be sued for involuntary woman-slaughter or something like that. Because what business do you have dropping hippos from way up in the sky onto small lakes? Also, a great amount of controversy would be generated probably, if you left the scene and you didn’t identify yourself as the dropper of the hippo, as to what to do with the hippo.

Now we’ve got a hippo in a small town, OK. We’ve got a dead woman floating around. We’ve got Bob going out and buying his new Volvo, or whatever else, with the money that he inherited from Sally. Now we have a slew of headlines in local papers and maybe even a few television crews going down to the lake, OK? “Hippo Strikes Lake!” You know, that sort of thing, and I don’t know what could happen.

Whole careers could change—somebody did a good story on the news, might be able to leave Boston and get a job in New York at a larger station—move their family. The hippo-landing site could become a new place of worship for people who believe in extraterrestrial hippopotami. People would start to tell stories and gossip about the meaning of it. At Harvard they’d immediately dispatch a research team, and MIT would probably dispatch another competitive research team, to try and understand exactly where this hippo came from, calculate the angle of impact, so on and so forth. Do studies. Graduate students would do dissertations on the subject because hippos just don’t normally strike small ponds in New England. Meanwhile, Bob is now vacationing in the Bahamas, with his latest prospect, Mary.

Karma. Karma comes about from actions. The karma that is most interesting is the mental karma because ultimately it generates physical action. Let me explain what I mean. Most people think of karma in terms of doing something. OK, Bob drops the hippo, hippo wipes out small town, whatever it may be. So—this is a ridiculous tape I realize, but bear with me, it will make sense eventually—so you could say Bob’s action caused a reaction and that’s karma. OK, now does this mean that in some future life that a hippo will be dropped on Bob? No, not at all. See, that’s where the most common misunderstanding of karma comes in. Just because you do something or create an action of some type, it does not mean that an action of the same type or nature will be returned to you. That is absolutely not the case.

What karma means is that a mental state will shift. Let me explain. Bob has been a nice guy, OK? He never really liked hippopotami anyway. But he conceived of this wonderful plan when he had the psychic vision of seeing the hippo strike the small New England pond—maybe Lake Waban, let’s say, which is a ridiculous name, which is by Wellesley. Now, the hippo strikes Lake Waban in Wellesley and Bob, who was prior to this a pretty nice guy, wipes out his wife and inherits the money. Bob will now change because Bob wantonly took her life. Because the hippo was just innocently falling from the sky; the hippo did not intend to wipe out Sally. Bob’s intent was to wipe out Sally, and he succeeded. Bob will now change.

When you cause something to happen, whether it’s physically or you simply think a thought or feel an emotion, it causes a shift in your attention field, in your awareness. Shifts in your awareness ultimately will result in a pattern shift in your life. So Bob, who previously was your easy-going guy, will now be in a very different mental state because he just killed somebody for profit. This will cause Bob’s attention field to drop. When Bob’s attention field drops, he will now be on a new pattern in life. Certain things that might have come to him, won’t come to him. Certain things that wouldn’t, would.

Bob, for example, now will become a different kind of person as his mental state shifts, because we only are our mental state. And as he becomes that different kind of person or personality, he will make choices that he wouldn’t have made. He will associate with people he wouldn’t have associated with. In other words, a new future will open up to Bob, and in Bob’s case, the future will not be as bright. Because whenever we wantonly destroy, injure, harm or take life, unless it’s a case of self-defense, we are employing an aggressive, primal energy that puts us in an aggressive primal awareness field, which limits the structure of awareness, which causes an end to happiness, which requires an unimpeded state of awareness.

Let me get even more graphic here. Let’s say that you are sitting around at home and you feel perfectly good and you’re having a nice time. Really nothing has to be added—you feel really good today or this evening and you’re just sitting at home and having a nice time. Suddenly, as you’re sitting there, and you’re completely peaceful and you just feel good to be alive—this is one of those rare moments when you feel good—your body feels good, your mind feels good and you’re just happy, you don’t have to do anything—suddenly, you start to think about someone you know, who you think is very, very attractive sexually. Now prior to this, you hadn’t been thinking about them. They didn’t exist for you. Suddenly they pop into your mind, and as you begin to think about them and turn them over in your mind, you begin to fantasize a little bit. And you begin to think of them without their clothes on. You begin to think of them cavorting with the hippopotamus. You begin to think of them doing weird and kinky things with you, whatever it would be.

As you start to think about this, of course, your blood pressure rises a little bit, you start to get a little bit jazzed and excited, the kundalini starts to move around and you begin to have a good time—so it appears. You begin to fixate, or think more about this person and you begin to desire them. You begin to become a little bit sexually aroused. Now what will happen is now you’re jazzed, and this person will be someone who is perhaps available to you or perhaps is not. If they are available to you, now that you’re excited, you might call them up on the phone, get together with them, go to bed with them, whatever, which would create an interaction between the two of you, an energy transfer between the two of you. Maybe it would produce an offspring; maybe it would produce an argument. Maybe it would change your life.

On the other hand, they may not be available to you, in which case, suddenly, you’re going to find yourself in a state of desire—meaning your awareness field has moved into the desire plane. When your awareness field has moved into the desire plane, you’re not going to be happy. You can’t have them. That is what you want. Suddenly you were sitting around at home having a good time and now you’re not having such a good time because your mind, which was in a state of equilibrium and tranquil composure, has moved to the desire plane—which is not necessarily a bad place to be. But the desire plane brings about results. The result of the desire plane is desire and either fulfillment or frustration.

Fulfillment in the desire plane normally leads to another desire. It does not put an end to desire per se, but it causes a brief hesitation. So you have sexual desire, you have sex, you fulfill the desire. There’s no desire for a while, but then later on, the desire will come around again. It’s just a brief hesitation—it’s a hyphen between desire.

Before, you were not in the desire plane at all. You were satisfied and content. This was not a big issue in your life. But by focusing on something that stimulated your senses, i.e., the naked body of the individual whom you would like to enjoy, you aroused your senses. You stimulated something in yourself that led you into the world of desire. Once you are in the world of desire, it’s a real bitch to get out of it. That is why almost everybody is unhappy all the time—because everybody is in the desire world.

There are two worlds—count them, two—the world of desire and the world of enlightenment and they are definitely not the same thing. It pays not to get them confused. The world of desire leads to more desire. The world of enlightenment doesn’t go anywhere. It just is in itself what it is—endless, luminous perfection, happiness and freedom. The world of desire leads to more desire.

The world of desire is the world of karma. All action is generated by desire. It is the desire to move that causes us to stand up. It is the desire to live that keeps us here or that causes us to reincarnate. It is the desire for a sentient experience that causes someone to come back. Aversion is another type of desire—not wanting something. It is just reverse desire. It’s as strong and powerful a karmically binding force as desire is, because it engenders action.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, the famous Indian spiritual book, they discuss karma and reincarnation and enlightenment and other things. Krishna, in conversation with Arjuna, says, “Arjuna, you cannot avoid action.”

Everyone acts. Even if you keep your body from moving, that does not stop action. Your cells are moving, your thoughts are moving, your moods are shifting. Everyone acts; everyone is stuck in the world of action—the world of action is forever. Your awareness field, that which you consider yourself to be, is in bodily form at the moment. At the end of a lifetime you’ll leave this world, and then you will go beyond the body. But your awareness field will stay together in a certain sense and then it will seek, after a while—because it’s in the desire plane—to return to things that are familiar. It will seek a new body in a new lifetime, and you will reincarnate. Then you will go through more desires, more fulfillments and more frustrations. This goes on forever.

Life is forever. Death is only a temporary abridgement, a short pirouette through time and space, where you don’t really die. We talk about death as if it is an ending. It is just a state of transition where you will move from one world into another. You will move from the physical planes into the causal planes and from the world of matter into the world of pure energy. Then the essence of your being reincarnates.

Your next incarnation is largely determined by this incarnation. As I mention in my other tape on reincarnation, which discusses the more esoteric aspects of reincarnation, whereas this tape is more concerned with the exoteric or physical effects of reincarnation, your next incarnation is based upon your awareness at the time of death. When you die in this life, whatever your awareness is—awareness meaning not just the mood at the moment but the total overall awareness that you have, i.e., not just at the very moment that you die, meaning your mood—you might be experiencing pain and confusion—but your overall perceptual field, the structure of your overall perceptual field, will determine your next lifetime. That structure has been determined by the way you’ve led this life. If you’ve been very aware, if you’ve meditated, if you learned to still your thoughts, if you’ve become more aware of the inner dimensional planes, then that awareness is yours.

You are your awareness. And that awareness, at the time of death, moves forward. The personality structure at the time of death dissolves. You will never be exactly the you you are again. But the essence of your awareness field definitely goes on after death. It goes through death, it goes into non-physical states for a time, and then eventually it’s pulled back and it reincarnates. The level of incarnation that occurs will be largely dependent upon the state of awareness that you had at death. In other words, that’s karma.

There are also physical karmas that carry through. So for example, in a prior lifetime you’ve set in motion certain vibratory currents, and those currents will continue to work their effect in the world. Jesus Christ may no longer be with us, or John Kennedy or Adolph Hitler or Marx or Lenin or John Adams, but their effects continue on in the world, just like the hippo that fell from the sky and created waves—waves in a pond, waves in the world, changes in people’s lives. Those waves will be passed on from one person to another to another.

Each of us is endlessly generating waves with our physical actions. When you say something to someone, it has an effect on them. That effect will be passed on by them to someone else because you’ll change the way that person thought or felt, causing them to react differently. That reaction will be passed on to everybody they encounter. In turn that subtle change will be passed on, and so on and so forth.

If you could see the earth from a vibratory point of view and not be distracted by the physical, you would see something like radio waves, billions of them, cascading constantly in very complex patterns all over the earth. These waves are emitted from the thoughts, feelings and actions of each individual life form here. That’s what karma is. So you do have an effect on the universe around you. If you think positive thoughts, if you’re happy and progressive, then that energy goes out and affects everyone on the whole planet, in subtle ways, perhaps, but it does.

If, on the other hand, you are filled with hate and you’re morose and you’re depressed, that energy will live on also—if you’re cruel to others and so on. Never feel that you don’t have an effect. You do have an effect. No action is wasted. That’s karma.

Now, karma doesn’t always mean that everything works out justly. For example, you’re walking down the street, you’re in a nice state of mind and someone mugs you. They attack you. They hold you up. They steal your wallet, maybe they hit you over the head, maybe they shoot you. Is that your karma? Have you done something in a prior lifetime that wasn’t so good? Did you do that to someone else in this lifetime? Not necessarily. That may just be what’s happening. In other words, you are not always receiving things that you have done. There’s just some off-the-wall sucker out there who decided to do that. Now they are generating karma for themselves of a negative type. But you were innocent.

Innocence does not protect you from the evil designs of others. Just because you’re innocent that does not mean that others cannot harm you. History teaches this lesson. Some people are under the assumption that because all of their lives something like that has never happened to them, that nothing ever will. They think that they’re “protected.” There are certain protective forces in the universe that do watch over us, but the innocent die, too.

Karma, then, is a very sophisticated and very complicated thing, but what it really has to do with are mental states. The state of mind you’re in causes you to act in a certain way. Your actions will bear results. The things you do will come back to you, not always physically though. Let’s say for 20 years you gave lots of money to spiritual causes because it really turned you on to do it. Now, does that mean that in your golden years, suddenly people are going to start showing up at your door with checks for you because you gave $100,000 over a number of years to spiritual causes that aided the enlightenment of others? Not necessarily. But what will happen is, you will be in a better state of mind—that will be the karmic effect.

The purpose of life is life, and the ultimate result of all karmas and actions is state of mind. You are your state of mind—happiness, completion, awareness, enlightenment and so on. These things do not occur to us randomly. They occur because of vibratory and karmic patterns. There are certain things that you can do that will have a karmic effect, which is happiness, illumination, fulfillment. There are others things you can do that will have a karmic effect, which is unhappiness, misery and so on.

You hear the preacher on the radio say, “For every dollar you send in, God is going to send you back five.” Not necessarily, unless you’ve gotten the five recently. That’s not karma—that’s a quick way to hustle up some money. What will happen is, whenever you engage in a selfless action that contributes to the welfare of others, this will create a vibratory pattern that will lead you into a higher state of mind, and the result will be that you will be much more happy, fulfilled and aware. What more could one ask? Whereas, when you do things in a selfish way, let alone in a destructive way to others, then you are bound by that karma. Your state of mind will go down. You will find yourself becoming depressed, nervous, anxious and upset.

There are selfish actions and there are selfless actions. Selfless actions create a higher karma, which brings you into higher states of mind. When you’re in a higher state of mind, you will see things that you never saw before. So for example, you gave money to the United Fund or to your local spiritual cause or whatever it is that turns you on. When you did this—and you could have just kept that money for yourself, or maybe you put in a few extra hours at work so you could do that—when you did this, you did something noble. This will cause a release of energy. It causes a vibratory shift. It means you’re moving into a different plateau of consciousness. Just like there are different roads that lead different places, so there are different levels of awareness that lead different places and we shift in and out of them. These are the ten thousand states of mind that we study in Zen.

When you give—let’s say you gave to United Fund or your local spiritual cause—when you give, what happens is you go onto a certain highway. That action of giving is in a certain vibratory level, meaning “giving” exists in a certain plane of consciousness. It’s a highway we call “giving.” To give means you got on that highway. That highway will have a certain view. Let’s say that highway runs way up to the top of the mountain. From the top of the mountain, you can see things that you couldn’t see on another highway, which was called selfishness.

Selfishness is a state of mind. It is a plateau of attention, and it has a certain view. All states of mind have certain views. So in the case of selfishness, now you’re on a lower highway and the view is obstructed—you can’t see very well, so you might have an accident. On the higher plateau, on the higher highway, you’ll suddenly see a career opportunity. You will meet somebody you wouldn’t have met. You will attract people who are more selfless. Opportunities will open to you because you can see them. That’s what karma really is. Do you follow?

Karma means that through your thoughts and feelings and actions, you are generating a state of mind. That state of mind has a view. That view will cause things to happen to you or not happen to you. So the real active force behind action and interaction is state of mind. There is a point, in other words, to noble thoughts and noble actions. It’s not simply a moral fantasy. You can experiment with this—like dropping the hippo into the water, ripples are created.

When you meditate and practice Zazen, when you stop your thought, when you focus, you’re creating karmas. You’re shifting your state of mind to a higher vibratory level that will give you a much more expansive view. When you allow desire, anger and frustration to dominate you, you’re losing power, your airplane is falling to a lower altitude. If it falls too low, it will crash.

Everyone experiences desire. Desire is not bad. It’s not bad to desire someone. It’s not bad to have sex with someone. It’s not bad to do whatever. There is no good or bad from the point of view of karma. There is only reaction, structured reaction. Love leads to one state of mind, hate leads to another, indifference to another. All states of mind continually revolve in the cosmos.

There are ten thousand states of mind. Each has a different view. Each brings about different results. And as I indicated, at the end of this lifetime, the culmination of the states of mind you have gone through will create your next lifetime. So there is good karma and bad karma, which means, in other words, karma will lead you to a state of mind that has a larger more expansive, happier view, or a dingy, darker view that’s much more limited. That is all karma really is, and that view will enable you to make choices and have experiences.

Now, there are physical karmas. Physical karmas are a little bit different. Again, those are the reactions of the ripples. OK, the boat is in the water, the hippo hits the water and the boat turns over. Those are physical karmas. Those are on a physical level. They are reactions and results from action. But those are bound to a particular lifetime. The only thing you take with you when you die is your state of mind.

It is your state of mind that affords everything that happens to you. For example, you could be a real nice person. By that we mean that you have created a lot of good karma, which has led you into higher levels of mind. You die and you’re reborn into this current incarnation. You could have had a really tough life. That doesn’t mean that you had a lot of bad karma. That’s just how it was. You were born into a country, let’s say, that went through an economic depression. Everybody experienced that to one degree or another. That doesn’t mean that your karma led you to that state. Your karma is the state of mind that you’re in, and that state of mind will cause you to deal with every moment in your life in a certain way.

If you had good karma, meaning you’re in a really good state of mind, when the depression comes to the land, it won’t throw you. You will keep a positive and optimistic attitude, you’ll generate energy, you’ll go through it happily because you’re in a good state of mind, and also you will see opportunities that others wouldn’t. Whereas, if you had bad karma, meaning you were in lower states of mind from the actions, thoughts, feelings and impressions from your previous life, then when the depression comes, you’ll be overwhelmed by it and you won’t see opportunities and you’ll suffer more.

We can’t help what happens to us physically all the time. You are going to die. Your physical body will disintegrate. You can’t help that. You can prolong your life, make it a little longer. You can make it a little shorter depending upon how you eat, whether you exercise or not, what you expose yourself to. But sooner or later the cells will give out. They transmute. What you can do is determine the state of mind you are in, and the state of mind you are in, is heaven or hell. All heavens and hells are within the mind, within your mind. Heaven is a state of awareness. Hell is a state of awareness. There are lots of states in between that are mixtures of both—ten thousand of them, ten thousand states of mind.

So then, let’s think of karma this way—there are several different types of karma.

All karmas, however, originate in the mind because of mental activity.

The types of thoughts that you think create a state of mind. The reason you think the thoughts that you do, results from your level of energy or power. The level of energy or power that you have is caused by various forces that you expose yourself to in the universe, and the way you lead your life, the way you structure your intelligence. While this is a result from a previous mental condition, it’s a carryover, yet you have the ability to modify—to a certain extent—the characteristics of your current state of mind. That modification will be somewhat restricted to the state of mind that you were in previously.

In other words, you can only conceive of what lies beyond the state of mind you’re in from the point of view of the state of mind you’re in. However, within any state of mind there is a gradation, since all states of mind are basically structurally the same. That gradation will run, we could say, from darkness to light. So, for example, [suppose] you’re in a really confused state of mind. But even in that confusion, there will be a higher and lower end to it. And in the higher end of the confused state of mind—meaning there’s more light or there’s more view—you would be able to conceive of something that is beyond the confusion that you’re in. Whereas, in the lowest end of it, you might be able to conceive of something even more confusing; and then there’d be a central point.

Anyone has the ability, if they choose to—and this is the freedom of perception—to move to the higher end of the state of mind that they’re in. From that higher end of the state of mind, they can generate another state of mind, which is successively higher. So by generating good karma, even within the limited state of mind, you can move to the next state of mind, and so on and so forth, up the ascending ladder to the higher states of mind. Or you can move downward by dwelling in the lower states of mind.

There is no “specific gravity.” In other words, some people believe that they are drawn to lower states of mind and that enlightenment is really hard because you’re working against gravity. Not really. Not really. All that exists is the state of mind that you’re in. That state of mind has been generated by causal activities, by previous states of mind that go all the way back forever. Yes. But it really doesn’t matter what happened in the past. All the past has done is generated the you that you are now. Dwelling on the past isn’t going to change anything. You are whatever you are at the moment.

That is to say, you are your state of mind. But you can choose to move to the higher end of the state of mind that you’re now in, in a way of speaking, and from that point of view you will be able to glimpse the next state of mind. If you dwell on that highest aspect of the state of mind you are currently in long enough, eventually you will tip the scales and move to another state of mind that’s more luminous. And you’ll start in the bottom of that state of mind and you can work higher, or you can go in the other direction. States of mind change continuously. We don’t always walk from one state of mind into another. We might just oscillate back and forth for a whole lifetime within one, within the polarities of a certain state of mind.

Now, as I mentioned, there are different types of karmas. Let’s reexamine, just for a moment, all those different ones, just so they’re nice and clear for you because this is what makes up your lifetime and your world.

To begin with, there is the type of karma that you experience within a given lifetime. That is a physical and a mental karma. There are two kinds. But let’s talk about the physical karma for a moment. The physical karma you experience within a given lifetime comes back to you. But it can’t come back to you after you’re dead. It will reflect in a mental karma after death and into the next life, but it will not recapitulate again, although it will continue on and affect others. Let me give you a for instance.

Let’s say that you go to school and you do really well in your classes—you get very good marks. That will create a karma, an effect that will allow you to get into a good college. Let’s say you do well there and you get a degree and that degree enables you to get a certain type of job. That job provides a certain level of income, which will allow you to live in a certain way. Now, at the end of this lifetime, when you die, you won’t carry any of that with you.

In other words, the karma will continue throughout the life, that degree will always be there, your career knowledge will always be there. That will carry with you. But in your next lifetime, when you’re born again, of course, the fact that you had a degree in your previous lifetime won’t impress an employer. You’ve got to get another one.

If you committed a crime and went to jail, and let’s say you got a life sentence, you would spend all your life in jail. When you die, that’s not going to have any effect on your next life. The karma is complete within a lifetime. They are not going to lock you up as soon as you are born again because you didn’t finish all 150 years of a sentence; you only did 70 of them. But the karmic patterns that you set into motion will continue.

So Gandhi and his passive resistance or the words of John Adams or John Kennedy or Martin Luther King, or the effects of a [dictator such as] Idi Amin, or whatever, will continue. Their words will live on, their actions will live on, the effects that they have had on others—or the effects that you have on others—will continue on and be passed on. That continues, naturally. But the karmas that you physically create in a given lifetime, that you create this lifetime, will end with your death, and they don’t carry to your next life. But they do, in a certain way.

The mental karma, which is our second kind of karma, will continue. Because what you do in this lifetime will generate a certain state of mind, and as I indicated before, at the time of your death, that state of mind will stay with you. You may not remember the particulars—what you did, what you thought, what you felt—but the sum total of that awareness will generate a state of mind, which is the state of mind that you will be born into. It will come back to you after a while.

Let’s say that you committed a crime and you went to jail. Let’s say that while you were in jail, all you did was dwell on more crimes, and you beat people up, and you just did a lot of horrible stuff and you were filled with hate and anger. While in your next lifetime they won’t lock you up at the time of birth, the physical karma will continue. If that’s what you were all your life, then in your next lifetime, you will be born into the same state of hateful mind with all its limitations. So what you do does go with you. It does follow you, and because you’re born into a life with that state of mind, it will provide you with a certain window or view on existence, which will then cause you, perhaps, to steal things, to commit crimes, to get locked up again, or just to be unhappy and miserable. You will start out unhappy and depressed because that’s the state of mind you left off in. In other words, it does matter what you do and think. It does affect your next life, not as some people tell us. It doesn’t have a direct physical effect, but it does, through the state of mind that you carry with you.

Then there’s the “ripple effect karma,” which is just something that you set in motion by your actions, which affect others. It doesn’t affect you after you leave this world, after your body dies. You might incarnate in another world, not necessarily on the planet Earth. Obviously, things that you set in motion will not necessarily affect you. But you do bring the cumulative state of mind with you. If you went to jail and you were put in jail—let’s say you committed a crime, and your crime was the result of a crummy state of mind. Let’s say you murdered someone, you’re in a horrible state of mind. If, however, when you got to jail, you thought about it and you realized that you were in a screwed-up state of mind to do something like that, and you started to live a different type of life there, and you started to think better thoughts, you started to control those desires, you started to clear yourself up and you went into better states of mind—at the time of your death, you would be in a better state of mind. In your next life you’d be born into the world with that state of mind, and that state of mind would provide more opportunities for you.

The person who gives selflessly in this lifetime immediately goes into a better state of mind. That is “instant karma.” You could be in a good mood and you start to get upset or angry or worried. Immediately that will cause your energy level to drop, and your state of mind will drop, and suddenly you’ll be unhappy. You could be unhappy or even happy, and decide to do something for someone else that was not ego-oriented—some kind of pure giving. And if you did that immediately, your state of mind will brighten. Again, that doesn’t mean that because you contributed $1,000 to the United Fund that someone’s going to rush up to you now, or in your next life, with a check for $1,000. What it means is that you’ll be happy and aware in all circumstances in this life and in your next life. It will carry over in your state of mind. Your state of mind, again, will, in a certain way, influence your destiny. It will cause you to see opportunities that you would not have seen otherwise, or perhaps to avoid problems that you would not have been able to avoid, had you not been in as clear a state of mind.

Now, enlightenment is a little different. Good karma leads to good karma, and bad karma leads to bad karma; that’s true. If you create nothing but good karma, you will only experience lovely states of mind. Again, what we would call painful experiences can occur to you, and you didn’t have to generate them. There are wars in the world. There are wars in the mind. But your good karma will protect you, meaning it won’t necessarily stop you from experiencing a war, but it will stop you from experiencing an inner war. You will be in a higher state of mind regardless of the physical activities that are taking place around you, which will guarantee your happiness and peace of mind.

Good karma leads to good karma, and it leads to rebirth. Now this is—we’re getting a little bit technical here, and this part might not be of interest to you or it might. Good karma leads to rebirth also. In other words, the urge to do things that are positive and selfless is a desire. The desire for higher states of mind is a desire. That desire, while a nice desire that leads to more pleasant experiences, is still a desire and it still causes you to reincarnate. It causes you to seek nobility and higher plateaus of awareness. And that causes you to fixate on higher states of mind, and when you’re fixated on higher states of mind, you don’t really become what we would call enlightened.

Enlightenment doesn’t simply mean being in heavenly states of mind. It doesn’t mean being a saint. A saint is someone who has been very selfless and, over a period of lifetimes, generated a tremendous amount of good karma, which has caused them to enter into very lovely states of mind which they experience, and for them, the world is beautiful all the time. They are at peace with themselves. They’re happy, they’re bright, they’re aware. On the other hand, the insane fiend, the crazy person, the psycho killer, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. They are tormented beings who are confused, frustrated, filled with anger and hate. These individuals have created a lot of bad karma, and now they are reaping the reward of their bad karma, which is that state of mind that is total misery, no matter what they do. While they may injure others, they can only injure their bodies, not their minds.

Your state of mind can’t be affected by another, really. Someone can temporarily cause you pain, or even mental pain, but your overall state of mind is impassive to outer suggestion, unless you personally make a modification. True, you can alter your state of mind by associating with others closely who are in a different state of mind. That can happen. And sometimes it doesn’t happen. It depends. If you’re hanging around with a lot of people who are doing drugs, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to use drugs also. It might. But, then again, it might not.

Enlightenment, then, does not come about from creating good karma. Nor does it come about from creating bad karma. Certainly, good karma leads you to a closer window to the enlightenment experience. Because it’s very, very difficult to make the jump beyond finite states of awareness to infinite awareness when you’re in confused and lower states of mind. If you could get into the highest state of mind that you could—if there are ten thousand states of mind, let us say, and the ten thousandth state of mind is the highest state of mind—from that state of mind you would have a window whereby you could perhaps move beyond all states of mind, metaphorically speaking, to enlightenment, which doesn’t preclude the ten thousand states of mind—it’s just an endless condition of infinite, perfect awareness.

Simply by performing good actions and thinking goods thoughts and doing good deeds you will not attain enlightenment. That is the point here. It takes something more. But in order to get to that place where you can add something more, you need to first purify your thoughts, have happy emotions, give as much as you can, be charitable, kind, honest, strong. By doing all those things and moving to higher states of mind, the window will open whereby the possibility of enlightenment will come about. That is why it’s necessary to gain control of your time and your life and your awareness and to have some understanding of the workings of karma and reincarnation, if you’re interested in enlightenment or success. Success will come about because you are in higher states of mind—whether it’s business success, personal success—any kind of success will be determined by your state of mind.

If you create good karma, then you’ll go into a higher state of mind and in that higher state of mind, you might be more apt to meet someone. Let’s say you wanted a romantic partner who is in a higher state of mind, a nicer person. The reason you will meet that person is because you are in a state of mind that will cause that meeting to occur. On the physical level, it will look like chance, but there’s no chance in the universe. Because you are in a certain vibratory pattern, you will know on that certain day, without knowing necessarily how or why, to drive down a certain street, to go to a certain store where you might meet someone. If you’re not in that state of mind, it won’t happen. You’ll meet somebody else.

The same is true of business opportunities, personal growth opportunities—the higher your state of mind, the more in touch you are with the psychic aspect of yourself, the more success you will have. The more control of your mind, the ability to concentrate, and so on, will create success. And naturally, if you explore the higher states of mind as far as you can, you will create that window to enlightenment.

Enlightenment is different. And on this tape, I’m not going to discuss how that happens. But let’s say that it’s only by creating as much good karma as possible that you generate the possibility of enlightenment. Without that, there is really no possibility of enlightenment. It could happen. Yes. It is possible to move to an enlightened state of mind from a lower bardo or level of awareness. It can happen, but it’s extremely unlikely. Extremely.

So now you know lots and lots about karma—good for you. The point of all this is that it is always possible to get into a higher state of mind. The way you get into a higher state of mind is by generating good karma. Good karma is generated by lots of things—anything that will bring you into a higher state of mind. But if you allow yourself to be depressed, to think negative thoughts, to get angry, to be jealous, if you allow yourself to dwell on those things, you’ll pull your state of mind lower. You will pull it down, and then that will cause you to make mistakes, do things you wouldn’t do if you were in higher states of mind, which will generate more karmic patterns. You will get momentum going, you’ll go further and further down and become depressed and discouraged and miserable. At any point, you can turn it around and go up. At any point, you can turn it around and go down. That’s up to you.

You need to realize that no matter what your state of mind, you can always go up or down. That’s what’s fun about the process. What’s fun about the process is that no matter how low your state of mind is, you can always go up instantly by doing something selfless, by sitting and meditating, by reading a book or listening to a tape that discourses on higher states of mind where there’s higher vibratory energy present, by doing something for someone else, by giving selflessly of your time, energy, money—whatever it is—by stepping outside of yourself. There is an art to generating higher states of mind. There is an art to generating lower states of mind, degenerating, and you have practiced both in your life and in other lives. That’s the science of mind.

(Zazen music begins in the background.)

So this is Zen Master Rama, in one state of mind or another. Looking at limitless horizons of mind. Always looking at limitless horizons of mind. Watching the procession of infinite and eternal being playing itself out in countless, myriad forms and formations. In essence and in substance, in sickness and in health, and there’s no real parting in death. There is only eternal awareness. So be cool.