Going Beyond Karmic Causes and Conditions

There are many harmful memes spread around in human cultures like viruses. A half truth is far more dangerous than a total lie, as it is harder to disentangle. One such meme is "karma" (means action) which originated from a simple commonsense observation: Our actions have consequences. This evolved into a complex heavenly accounting of virtues and sins – good and bad karma. Its victims become a prey to many exploitations to get rid of the accumulated bad karma such as simply dipping in the river.

Karma is basically an ancient understanding of "cause and effect" which is a high level (classical physics) emergent property of reality. At a deep, low level of reality (quantum physics), "cause and effect" looses its meaning where elementary particles simply "interact" with each other, "transform" into another and "pop in and out" of existence. From this "interactions" of the subatomic world that is beyond our commonsense intuition emerge "causes and effects" of the high level reality.

Cause and effect is not a simple linear function. Depending on the complexity of a system (such as the human body or mind), there are many levels of convoluted feedback loops. We can simplify it as: Causes-->[Conditions]-->Reactions. Here "conditions" refer to the accumulated effects of the past causes – this is a right way to understand karma. For example, coronavirus is a "cause" and our body may react differently depending on its pre-existing "conditions" – which in turn is caused and conditioned by the genetic, environmental and our habitual factors.

Others actions or words may provoke us depending on our mental conditions. Our reactions not only affect and condition the external situation which may come back and bite us, more importantly they strengthen our internal mental conditions, and so we will be provoked much easier. But suppressing our reactions leads to different conditioning that can be equally damaging as it will grow like a cancer inside. Either way, such unwholesome conditioning is suffering as we lose our peace and joy. Mindfulness is the skillful way to handle our situations and reactions without getting trapped by them.

All our unwholesome conditioning is rooted in our egoic desires and unskillful fears that are ultimately rooted in our ignorance. Unconditioning our mind from this egoic trap is the fundamental aspect of mindfulness and meditation practice, and ultimately going beyond the conditioning mind!