Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Baking A Kamma Cake

It's like baking a cake: kamma defines what ingredients you have, what you have got to work with.

So a person with unfortunate kamma, maybe as a result of their past actions, has not got many ingredients. Maybe they have just got some old stale flour, one or two raisins, if that, and some rancid butter, and - what else goes in cakes? - some sugar... and that is all they have got to work with.

And another person might have very good kamma, all the ingredients you could ever wish for: whole wheat flour, brown sugar and all types of dried fruit and nuts.

But as for the cake that is produced in the end... Even with very meagre ingredients some people can bake a beautiful cake. They mix it all up, put it into the oven - delicious! How do they do it?

And then other people might have everything, but the cake they make tastes awful.

So kamma defines the ingredients, what we have got to work with; but that does not define what we make with it.

So if a person is wise, it does not matter what they have got to work with. You can still make a beautiful cake - as long as you know how.

Of course the first thing to know is that the last way to make a good cake is to complain all the time about the ingredients you have.

Sometimes in the monastery, if there is an ingredient missing the people who are cooking look in the pantry and just use whatever is there. They have to be quite versatile and you get some very strange cakes, but they are all delicious, because people have learned the art of using what they have and making something of it.

So where is kamma heading? What are we actually making of it? Is it to be wealthy or to be powerful?

No. This meditation, this Buddhism, the direction we are going in, is towards enlightenment. We are using the ingredients we have to become enlightened.

But what does enlightenment actually mean?

Enlightenment means there is no anger left in your heart. There is no personal desire or delusion left in your heart.

Extract from: On Making a Mistake, by Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso