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  • Healing from past kamma

    Dear Venerables,

    I am wondering what specific practices may be used to help atone for past negative actions, specifically breaking one of the five precepts. I broke a precept and have not only needed to work through much guilt, but I have also had recent health issues that I believe were a direct kammic result. This is not the first time this has happened this year, and I am eager to apply myself more diligently to keeping the precepts rigorously. However, apart from keeping the precepts and meditating, I am unsure what else to do to try to make amends kammically. I am considering volunteer work for charity as a donation of time, since monetary donation isn't fitting at this time. Is this a fruitful practice, and are there any other practices that may be beneficial? Perhaps dedication of merit? Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    Jenny

  • #2
    Hi Jenny!

    The best way is to forgive yourself and let it go. Realise that you just as everybody else are not perfect and forgive yourself for whatever thing you've done. It's really that easy. If you really let it go, the kamma has no result. Kamma isn't a bank account where you stock up on 'bad kamma' that you have to eliminate through 'good kamma'. Kamma's results are only as bad as you let them be. In other words, if you can't forgive yourself and realise that you just made a mistake then you'll drag that around with you and that's really the main kamma result--the guilt. But if you instead let go and allow yourself to make mistakes then that kamma has no power.

    It's ok! We're all human. Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes, you make mistakes, the next person makes mistakes. Just learn from them and then let them be in the past. Why keep dragging them around? Every day is a new day if you let it.

    With kindness,
    Sunyo

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    • #3
      Thank you so much, Venerable Sunyo. Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

      Sincerely,

      Jenny

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      • #4
        My question also concerns past acts. i acted wrong but this was before i took the five precepts. I may say i took the precepts and became a buddhist because i realised that i was wrong and that i was acting out of ignorance. I can add that my intentions never were bad and that i never wanted to hurt anybody. Now i follow the precepts, but still guiltiness is with me. May i ask when kamma begins? I feel silly asking this but if one doesn't know the precepts and the buddhist teachings and one day feels that this is the way to follow , how do past negative acts from before the non buddhist life influence then kamma? I hope my question is clear.
        With metta, Denise

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        • #5
          Dear Venerables,
          I realise that i was impolite, my last message didn't include the words dear Venerable, i apologize for this.
          With kindness, D. assié

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          • #6
            Hi Assié,

            Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. It's OK!

            The mistakes are not really the problem. There is only a problem if we don't make amends and try to not make the same mistake in the future. But exactly that is what you've avoided by recognizing the mistake and taking the precepts. You've intended to try to not make the same mistake again, and that's what it's all about. That is how we learn and grow.

            This, by the way, is also exactly how the monastic rules were set up by the Buddha: 95% of the rules involves no penalty if broken! The only thing the monk or nun is required to do is admit the mistake, and try to avoid it in the future. The Buddha explicitly said this method leads to growth in the Buddhist path. He did not punish nor encouraged us to punish ourselves.

            Karma is often seen as a purely mechanic principle: you do a certain thing, and another set thing must happen as a consequence. This idea is refuted by the Buddha, and I also don't agree with that. Karma is much more flexible. Karma is patterns: getting stuck in a certain way of dealing with things is more like what karma points at. If you don't get out of the pattern, it'll happen again and again, leading to the same results as before. But intending to stop is the opposite: it is getting out of karma.

            The Buddhist path is all about realizing we are not perfect, and trying to learn to become a bit wiser. It's not about starting off as a perfect being, otherwise there would be no point to it!

            Hope I've understood your question correctly.

            Sunyo

            PS: don't worry about the Venerable. I personally like to just be addressed informally, and many monks are the same, especially Western ones. (Somebody else created this name on the forums for me, starting with "Venerable" and I can't change it. I prefer just "Sunyo".)

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            • #7
              dear Sunyo,
              Thank you so much for this answer. It makes things clear for me and helps me. Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu ,
              With metta Denise Assié

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