148. Karma

All the different Buddhist forms of expression are sincere attempts by practitioners like ourselves to describe actual experience.

Although the language might be conceptually very different, one does not exclude the other.

So in Tibetan Buddhism for example, there is a strong emphasis on karma, whereas in Zen the emphasis is more on the wholeness and oneness of everything (‘Zenki‘).

It’s easy to see how karma seems very apposite in describing some types of experience we have when sitting. Persistent feelings of shame for instance, seem more readily describable in terms of karma.

And other types of experience, the random mental noise, or the odd sense we have sometimes of thoughts that seem to come from elsewhere, might be more fruitfully described in terms of zenki.

But we need to understand that this karma, although I am experiencing it, is not mine. It is the cascading of life through time. This moment of experience is a drop of water on the tip of an icicle hanging from a glacier of infinite size.

When we imagine the wholeness of everything, zenki, we are inclined to focus on this moment. But if wholeness is simply this moment, there would be an infinite number of wholenesses and that is not so.

So this wholeness must include what we call the past and what we call the future. Pivoted on the drop of water.