If you believe in karmic law and justification, which is the essence of Dependent Origination (Causality), you may find there are many differences in detail between one person and another in this world. Each person’s status at birth, whether it be wealth, position, appearance, skin texture, quality of voice, and intelligence are different; even the first impression that person gives to others is subject to their Karma; it is not coincidence.
As a Vipassana meditation master, the Karma I’ve seen in most of my students is one of anguish. Whatever they do, they never succeed and encounter obstacles in everything; all they can do is suffer them. This is because, in the past, they opposed or even forbade someone from doing good deeds. If the deeds were for religious reasons or public interest, their Karmic consequence was heavy.
But even though you are born in darkness, don’t follow a darker path. We need to realize that we cannot change the past, but can make the present better, even if that means overcoming one hurdle after another. You can overturn the predestined future by overwriting old Karma with new Karma. Don’t wail over the past; focus on doing good.
In order to do virtuous deeds so powerful that they can change our life, we need to learn how. We humans are born with two hands. Though we are not equal in terms of wealth, physical ability is not so different. Hence, with limited physical ability, do optimize it for your own benefit and that of others.
There is teaching that says, “Cultivate goodness to the highest,” that is, do good deeds endlessly, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.
These are not small, good deeds that most people often do. For example, most people do good deeds for 10% of their life but spend the remaining 90% indulging in cravings. Some give and expect to get rich in return. This, in turn, will diminish the quality of the good deeds as intention is tainted with greed.
When you make an effort to help, don’t do it with your own hands in a way that says you don’t just give it away, but reach out and stretch your limits willingly. That’s when you commit a virtuous deed at the highest level and greatest capacity.
Some give willingly but refuse to go out of their ways. Don’t just tell others to perform a good deed for you or provide mere verbal support. Get down to action from time to time. Some may make physical sacrifices, yet the mental involvement is absent. They cannot abandon their ego and pride, so the deed’s power is diminished and insufficient to turn their lives around.
Such empty actions aren’t powerful enough to turn a life around. True sacrifice not only means physical and financial sacrifice, but also the abandonment of ego or pride. This is what complete goodness is.