Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Promise of Buddhism

I was reading Brad Warner’s blog today which ended with:

“One of the people I met at Tassajara and talked to about this stuff had been involved in promoting spiritual masters before. He told me the secret was to include what he called a "promise." You have to tell folks they're gonna get something of value from coming to your talk or seminar. That's a tough one for me because I'm so steeped in the "Zen is good for nothing" tradition established by Sawaki Roshi. So maybe I'm screwed.”

           It seems Brad is dealing with the same problem many traditional Buddhist teachers have, how to pay the bills. This started me thinking about just what, if anything is it that Buddha did promise.  After a lot of looking over my books and considering all the teachings I have more or less absorbed for the last few decades I came up with a list of things that Buddhist teachers past and present seem to be saying Buddhism promises. The list is not necessarily in any specific order.

1. The promise to alleviate suffering, both in your life and in others lives. This is what I call the promise of the four noble truths and the eightfold path.

2. The Promise to provide a path to break free of the cycle of rebirth. This promise seems to be more or less meaningless in the twenty-first century as few people today, even those who claim to accept this theory, seem concerned with it.

3. The promise that everyone without exception has the potential to become a Buddha. (This may or may not be the same as promise number 4.)

4. The promise of enlightenment, of the attainment of nirvana, of becoming a perfected person. The promise of attaining spiritual fulfillment.

5. Today the promise that many of the esoteric schools are pushing and pushing hard is the promise of “Happiness”.

6. In Pure land Buddhism we must add the promise of heaven. A Pure Land you are reborn in after you die.

7. In contemporary Nichiren Buddhism we can add the promise of worldly success. Please don’t argue here I have been to the meetings and heard what is said.

                Now most ethical Zen teachers in America and in the west don’t promise any of these things. The teaching of Zen is clear “Zen is good for nothing” it makes no promises. Of course some so called Zen teachers have jumped off the reservation and started “Big Mind” groups and such and are thereby racking in the cash.
                  Many so called spiritual teachers have simply taken Buddhism and Zen, stripped off the name and cranked up the marketing and the promises and they two are reaping the rewards. Eckhart Tolle Takes basic Buddhist teachings and adds a little Christian mysticism and says he teaches the transformation of consciousness and the arising of a more enlightened humanity. Along the way he rakes in the millions.
                  In Japan Buddhism has become so stifled and shop worn that most Japanese simply say “Buddhist temples . . . are for sightseeing. They have no commitment to the modern world, and their teachings are outdated.” So literally thousands join so called new religions , loosely based on Buddhism. Kōfuku-no-Kagaku? is a new religious and spiritual movement founded in Japan in October 1986 by Ryuho Okawa. In February 2008, the official English name for the group was changed from the Romanized Japanese Kofuku-no-Kagaku to the English rendering "Happy Science". Happy fricking science … and it has thousands of followers and is raking in billions of dollars world wide.
          The research firm Marketdata estimated the "self-improvement" market in the U.S. as worth more than $9 billion in 2006 — including infomercials, mail-order catalogs, holistic institutes, books, audio cassettes, motivation-speaker seminars, the personal coaching market, weight-loss and stress-management programs. Marketdata projected that the total market size would grow to over $11 billion by 2008. Leading The pack are the spiritual leaders and gurus teaching Zen and Buddhist teachings and adding the standard self help promise :

“You Can Change Your Life!” A Program To Reinvent Yourself Start Today For A New Tomorrow. Send cash check or money order."
              Buddha was a self help guru, and a spiritual teacher of his time. People gave him gardens and parks for him to sleep and teach in and he accepted a few of these gifts. I am sure they also offered him great riches. The thing was he wouldn’t and didn’t take them. One basic element of Buddha’s teaching you simply won’t find in “Happy Science” or. “Eckhart Tolle ‘s” teachings is renunciation. Just as Christ told the rich man if he wanted to be a perfected person to sell all he had and follow him, Buddha said to renounce your lust for the wealth of this world if you want real happiness.
                As recently as last week I heard that eternal phrase repeated “I just want to be Happy.” The problem is most folks, not even most contemporary Zen teachers have come to terms with the essence of the reality of Samsara and Buddha’s teachings. Today both Buddha and Christ would be considered homeless wandering bums. As time passed and Giant Churches and Temples were built by Popes and Kings this fact seems to have become in substantial.
               To be fair many a Christian and Buddhist monk and laymen have over the years been true to this fact. But nonetheless the majority has always ignored it. The secret to this teaching of course is not to really care, one way or the other. If you teach in a giant televised internet connected Temple in front of thousands or under a tree in some park, the real transformation is that you really don’t care. That’s the trick, and it is a hard one.
             Buddha said to live without hate among the hateful, live without domination of the passions among those who are dominated by the passions, Live without yearning for sensual pleasures among those who yearn for sensual pleasures, live without being impeded by the Three Poisons of craving, anger and ignorance. He taught that we must give up thoughts of winning or losing. Happiness is accomplished by subjugating the passions and to try and not buddy up with the foolish but rather to hang out with the wise and to accept our Karma with the simple courage that all these things bring.
                   He said he knew a path to follow that would help us lower the pain level and make life easier to bear. But he didn’t even Promise it would work for everyone really. From my years of study I believe he made no promises he said simply “try this and see if it works for you.” I can see him as a man watching idiots jumping off a cliff day after day, and one day saying to them I found a path along the cliff face, give it a try.  This is  very helpful information, not a promise.
                  The reason why there are billions of dollars to be made in making spiritual promises is because so many people are suffering in spirit and this suffering can not be eased by material things. No new electronic gizmo is going to ease this pain and no amount of sex, drugs, and rock and roll will cure it. Those that are suffering want to believe someone out there can make it stop. The sad thing is they will pay millions to hear the promises, but almost never to hear the simple truth. There simply is no money to be made in teaching people the truth.
         So all you ethical Zen teachers out there must follow the Buddhist tradition that takes the form of accepting one’s karma. The odds are you are going to be poor, or your going to succumb to the self delusion that any means of seduction used to lead people toward virtue is acceptable. Many Buddhist teachers and schools have given up and are making those wonderful promises of happiness, enlightenment worldly prosperity, a utopian society, worldly wealth and a heaven or “pure land” after death. But in the end of course the choice and the fruits of that karma are all yours to make and have.

I don’t know why, but I seem to smell sulfur and brimestone in the room, or is it just my imagination.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Everything flows”

          I was sitting in a bar in Assos , I think it was the summer of 472 BC. , they had just completed the temple of Athena up on the hill above the city and everyone was celebrating. Assos was the major port and trade city of Mysia , so every body that was anybody was there for the opening of the Temple.
          I usually don’t pay attention to arguments in bars but it was Greece and you know how they love to argue. There was this little guy named Heraclitus of Ephesus, who had had a few and was waxing morose about the nature of the world. He stood up at his table and shouted Ta Panta rhei,! "Everything flows”. We all laughed as we thought it was his cute way of ordering another beer. But you know these dam Greeks..
           The guy just can’t shut up his focus shifts continually between two perspectives – the objective and everlasting processes of nature on the one hand and ordinary human beliefs and values on the other. He challenges everyone in the bar to come to terms, theoretically and practically, with the fact that they are living in a world 'that no god or human has made', a world he describes as 'an ever-living fire kindling in measures and going out in measures'. His great truth he claims is that 'All things are one', but this unity, far from excluding difference, opposition and change, actually depends on them, since the universe is in a continuous state of dynamic equilibrium. Day and night, up and down, living and dying, heating and cooling – such pairings of apparent opposites all conform to the everlastingly rational formula (logos) that unity consists of opposites; remove day, and night goes too, just as a river will lose its identity if it ceases to flow. He then shouts at the top of his lungs, "You cannot step twice into the same river!”
           Just then a tall lanky looking guy with a turban stands up, I think he said his name was Siddhartha Gautama and grabs this guy Heraclitus by the toga and starts shouting about how Heraclitus was ripping off his stuff and how there were copyright laws and such. Heraclitus takes a swing at the guy and I find myself in a bar fight in the only place in the world were a couple of drunk philosophers could cause a riot. Just as its getting good this guy Ananda who was drinking with the tall guy jumps up and breaks up the fight just after the guy from up north lands a sound one on Heraclitus’s jaw.
           Times being what they were I decided to take the guy from Nepal’s case and off we go to see the magistrate. All in all I think I did a good job, in the end the only thing left published by Heraclitus and his work consisted of little more than 100 epigrammatic sentences. Mean while I got his cousin, we decide on the pen name “Buddha“ for the tall guy,  Ananda unlimited publishing rights for the next 2500 years. Not Bad for a country lawyer if I do say so myself.

Heraclitus of Ephesus
Greek Philosopher   540–480  BC
(Asia Minor)

Siddhartha Gautama
563-483 BC
Lumbini in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu,
both of which are in modern day Nepal

Hay, it could happen...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ancient Wisdom

                    When I was about six years old I visited my great aunt on her place in Mississippi. Her name was Nora and she lived in an old colonial mansion set off of the side of the road in rural Tippah County , about 10 miles out from the small town of Ripley Mississippi. She was a self made women who had made her small fortune by being the only trained hair dresser in the county for many years. I was told that in the 1920’s women would ride all day in a wagon just to come and have her “do” their hair. For me her home was like a fantasy land. She had horses and cows, chickens and turkeys that just wandered between the giant oaks around her house. She had rabbits in hutch’s by the well house and out by the tumbled down slave cabins behind the mansion she had half a dozen bee hives. She loved flowers and had the front of the mansion converted into a hot house so she could grow her flowers year round. I will forever remember her wonderful humor and almost pixie like laughter. She lived to be ninety nine, I remember my father throwing a fit when she sold the place at 60, giving the buyer a 20 year mortgage which she herself financed, and she collected every payment.
        But there was something in her home that baffled and bewildered me. I was lead into a small room, little more than 20 feet square. I remember the room was hot and humid almost like a steam room. There in that room lay an old man in a small caste iron bed. His hair was solid white and his face was brown and cracked almost like old saddle leather. I remember him reaching out to me with hands with long emaciated fingers and stroking me on my head. Frankly it was very scary.
         My Aunt told me to say hello to my great grand father. This I was told was my father’s grand father. His face was chiseled and his nose looked like a bird’s beak but despite that I could see my dad in his face. I had never met a great grand father, didn’t know until that day I had one still living. For that matter I had never met my father’s father, I would not meet him until I was sixteen years old. He had abandoned my father and his mother during the great depression and no one knew were he was until he was located by my uncle years later.
        I spent a few minutes letting my great grandfather talk to me and stroke my head; I have no idea what he said I was too freaked out to hear him. He died a few weeks later and I never saw him again. I have one small ancient picture of him feeding chickens when he was about the age I am now.
         I followed Nora from that sick room and its oppressive air into her large bright kitchen. She put on an apron and started working on making us all supper. My Great grand father she told me was a Choctaw Indian. He had been collected up by the Yankee soldiers when he was a boy and put on a wagon for what was to become known as the “Trail of Tears”, President Andrew Jackson’s forcible relocation of the Indian tribes of the south east. He had stolen a horse somewhere along the way and escaped back into the depths of the Mississippi woods. He had changed his name to White so he would be seen as an American. I was told this was a family secret as grand dad had killed a guard during his escape. It was as if they really believed that should the secret get out Yankee soldiers might bang down her door and take the old man off to the gallows.
          I asked about my grandfather. She said he was a brutal man who would beat my father unmercifully. My aunt told me once she had had to use hot towels to separate the cloth of my father’s shirt from his back were my grandfather had beaten my dad so badly stripes of the shirt were embedded in his back. He had run off and left his wife and children to starve to death during the depression. Dam! I never looked at my father after that in quit the same way I had before.
          What you may ask has any of this to do with Zen. For me Zen is ultimately a personal event. While Zen transcends here and now it is still embedded in all the things that we have experienced and are still experiencing as we sit. My father married a red head of Scots descent. My pale skin and shining red hair have always seemed to be a wall between myself and my father and his family history. He looked every bit an American native. His skin was dark and his hair jet black, his cheek bones were high and pronounced he could have walked among his ancestors without comment. I can not.
         In 1831 the Choctaw were the first of the five “civilized Indian tribes” to be removed from the Deep South, and they became the model for all other removals. They were the first Native Americans to walk the Trail of Tears. The process of removal continued until 1838. This means that Great Grand dad was in serious peril for most of his young life probably lived in fear for most of his youth. I can not even begin to understand what his life must have been like. I wonder if his pain was somehow transferred to his son and caused him to be what he was. What part of that history had made my Grandfather a monster and his sister Nora a fountain of love and compassion? I marvel at my father’s loving kindness to me considering his experiences with his own father.
         Zen says there is no me as we would normally understand that word. But I have found as I sit facing the wall that what we call emptiness is in fact complete wholeness. Being empty is my connecting with that sick old man in that room. It makes me party to all the ancient wisdom of his people and part of his pain and his joy. He and I may walk together and share what is timeless.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"All You Zombies." or " Daigo"

Those who know do not speak;
Those who speak do not know.

Then it is only fair to assume you, Loa-tzu
Do not know. – Togen

                              On the Great Realization
                                  Dogen - Shobogenzo

               In this essay Dogen used the symbol  “go” which could mean ”realization” or ‘enlightenment’ or ‘awakening’ or in Japanese satori, or even kenshō usually translated as ‘the encountering of one’s True Nature’.

                     "The inborn abilities of human beings are of many kinds. For instance, there are those who innately know what life really is. Once born, they free themselves from the sufferings and delusions of living. That is, through their own bodily existence they thoroughly master what life really is, beginning, middle, and end. And there are those who realize the Truth through learning. They undertake study and ultimately master themselves. In other words, they thoroughly exhaust the skin and flesh, bones and marrow of learning. And there are those who know what Buddha is. They go beyond those who realize the Truth through living and those who realize the Truth through learning. They transcend the bounds of self and other, are unbounded in the here and now, and are beyond having opinions when it comes to knowing self and other. That is to say, they have a knowledge that has no teacher. They are not dependent on a good spiritual friend, nor on Scriptural writings, nor on the nature of things, nor on external forms; they do not try to open up and turn themselves around, nor do they try to be interdependent with others; rather, they are completely transparent, with nothing hidden. Of these various types, do not conclude that one is smart and another dull. Each type fully manifests the merits from their training.

                 As a consequence, you would do well to explore through your training whether there are any beings, sentient or non-sentient, who cannot come to know the Truth simply by living their daily life. Any who have come to know the Truth through living life will have come to realize that Truth as the result of their living an everyday life. Once they have awakened to the Truth, they will reveal It in their everyday lives as they do their training and practice throughout their lives. Thus, the Buddhas and Ancestors, who are already Trainers and Tamers of Human Beings, have come to be called ‘Those who have fully realized what life really is’ because They have fully grasped what realization means. It will be your realization of what life is that leads you to partake of the great realization, because it will manifest from your study of Their realization. "

          What a nice word "training" is.. what a nice phrase "the Buddha’s and Ancestors, who are already Trainers and Tamers of Human Beings"  It is a simple image of what a student of a teacher needs for his mind from his friend, yet we seldom see it, we ride the wild horse of body and mind and it carries us so far from home and into darkness. -Togen
     " Kegon Kyūjō was a Dharma heir of Tōzan. Kyūjō was his personal name. A monk once asked him, “What is it like when a person who has experienced the great realization returns to being deluded?”
         The Master replied, “A broken mirror does not shed its light again: it would be difficult for a fallen blossom to climb back up on the tree.”

      Tears, it is like tears in the rain. sweet monk, just tears in the rain. --Togen


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tolerating the Intolerant

              Today is the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. I listened today as President Barack Obama Saturday urged Americans to remember that it was al-Qaida - not the Muslim faith - that hijacked and crashed four jetliners New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a grassy field near Shanksville, Pa.

             Our President calls for tolerance and calm came as anti-Muslim sentiment continues to rise in the U.S. and amid controversies over construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero and a Florida preacher's aborted plan to stage a public burning of Qurans.
               But Obama must know that this is not just a question of our smiling and being tolerant, that the issue facing us is much deeper and much more complex. I am republishing a post that was made several years ago, that expresses my own ideas about these questions as well or better than I could. I publish it in its entirety because I have found that postings on the internet, especially thoughtful and well reasoned ones have a short life expectancy.

                          Tolerating the Intolerant

                              By Callimachus

                I've been going back to the sources to try to discover whether the religious tolerance of the American Founders would or should extend to Islamist preaching. Even in a tolerant society, not all things are or should be tolerated. You have freedom of speech, but you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater.
               Freedom of religion -- or liberty of conscience to give it its broadest name -- seems to admit very few exceptions. An astonishing range of religions thrive among us, from Santaria to Southern Baptism. In the name of liberty of conscience we tolerate religions that require their followers to surrender liberty of conscience and follow a preacher or a book.
               But what about Islamist religion, which preaches identification with the worldwide Muslim ummah rather than local civic society, which sets religious authority above any secular state power, and which has a long-term goal of plowing under Western freedoms, including liberty of conscience, and replacing them with shari'a law? Such things existed in the world in the 18th century, too, but the American Founders never addressed them.
             America is not re-invented every generation, despite the appearance, and it has underpinnings in certain currents of philosophy and the thoughts of specific men. Yet to discuss the Founders as a guide to present policy seems anathema to many otherwise thoughtful people on the liberal side; as if to accept the relevance of Madison and Jefferson is to accept the conservative vision of America. To less thoughtful leftists, I suspect, the past is a dead land, populated by monstrous slave-owning philosophes and Indian-killers and sexually repressed Puritans.
           John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration is the philosophical foundation of the American separation of church and state, religious equality and freedom of conscience -- key elements of the Western pantheon, and hateful poisons to its Islamist enemies.
          When it comes to religion, Locke politely tells the political authorites to butt out. He enjoins the would-be religious meddlers:
           If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposest he will be miserable in that which is to come. Nobody, therefore, in fine, neither single persons nor churches, nay, nor even commonwealths, have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of each other upon pretence of religion.
          Locke mainly was concerned with mutual toleration among Christians in England. But he extended this philosophy beyond the Christian churches. Even pagans, who in his day would have been regarded with abhorrence, came in for the hands-off treatment.
          But, indeed, if any people congregated upon account of religion should be desirous to sacrifice a calf, I deny that that ought to be prohibited by a law. Meliboeus, whose calf it is, may lawfully kill his calf at home, and burn any part of it that he thinks fit. For no injury is thereby done to any one, no prejudice to another man's goods. And for the same reason he may kill his calf also in a religious meeting. Whether the doing so be well-pleasing to God or no, it is their part to consider that do it. The part of the magistrate is only to take care that the commonwealth receive no prejudice, and that there be no injury done to any man, either in life or estate.
             Locke wrote at the close of a generation rent by a civil war and a revolution, and in a century when the clash of Crown and Parliament and the overlapping conflicts between Protestants, Anglicans and Catholics, bloodied England.
             Locke's "toleration," however, was not universal. It expressly excluded atheists, because, as is still commonly believed, they had no motive to be moral and therefore could not be trusted to be so. And Locke's toleration, like John Milton's, excluded Catholics, who, at that time, acknowledged the authority of a Pope who was prince of a secular realm, and a power-rival and dangerous enemy of the ruler of Britain.
And it certainly would have excluded the type of religion preached in the West by many Islamist imams. Locke excludes the intolerant from his toleration, a needle's eye that probably excludes a few modern Christian fundamentalists as well.
              These, therefore, and the like, who attribute unto the faithful, religious, and orthodox, that is, in plain terms, unto themselves, any peculiar privilege or power above other mortals, in civil concernments; or who upon pretence of religion do challenge any manner of authority over such as are not associated with them in their ecclesiastical communion, I say these have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate; as neither those that will not own and teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of mere religion. For what do all these and the like doctrines signify, but that they may and are ready upon any occasion to seize the Government and possess themselves of the estates and fortunes of their fellow subjects; and that they only ask leave to be tolerated by the magistrate so long until they find themselves strong enough to effect it?
                 In America a century later, James Madison took Locke one step further. Madison scholar Robert Alley writes that, "toleration presumed a state perogative that, for Madison, did not exist." Madison wrote that "the right to tolerate religion presumes the right to persecute it." Instead Madison argued for "liberty of conscience." The "natural rights of man," centering in the concept of "liberty of conscience," stand, without question for Madison, above and before any other authority.
              No religion, or irreligion, can be banned by the state, even religions that make it a central aim to overthrow the state (up until the point where they act on that aim).
               When Madison took his place in the Virginia legislature after the Revolutionary War, a bill stood in the General Assessment, sponsored by Patrick Henry, that would funnel tax money to support religious education in all denominations.
              Henry justified this as a way to curtail the sin and immorality of young people. But the General Assessment bill would have hatched the monster Madison feared most: a "tyranny of the majority." If the ministers from all the major Protestant denominations were paid from the state treasury, a coalition of Protestant groups would relegate minority views to a "tolerated" status or worse.
             The legislature was on the verge of passing the bill, but Madison convinced his colleagues to postpone a vote until the next session in 1785. Madison used the postponement to take his case to the public, writing a broadside critique, the "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," which has become the classic statement for religious freedom in North America.
             I cannot find that Madison, here or anywhere else, made exceptions, as Locke did, to what the state ought to tolerate in the way of religion. His sole concern was protecting the individual conscience from the intrusion of state power.
            The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

Madison insisted government keep its hands absolutely off religion.

               Before any man can be considerd as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.

                    Madison, it seems, took no cognizance of what Karl Popper, in a later, darker century than the 18th, would describe as the “paradox of tolerance.”

                     Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even though those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

                      In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.
                  We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade as criminal.
                 Who is more suited to the 21st century, Locke, Madison, or Popper? Popper's answer seems closer to the European laws regarding liberty of conscience: General tolerance up to a point, but with clear exceptions. Though Locke is in both the American heritage and the European, America alone seems to have Madison's radical insight that government has no right to "tolerate," because doing so implies a right to refuse toleration.

Posted by Callimachus at July 9, 2006 1:12 PM

               This question of tolerating the Intolerant is going to be the deciding factor of the 21st century -- I wonder if it will be decided by reason or reflex, compromise or genocide? In any case the "Why can't We all just get along?" aproach just isnt going to work here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Nature of Karma

       Much has been written over  thousands of years by Hindu’s Jan’s and Buddhist about Karma. In its basic nature I was taught that it is pure cause and effect, that it simply is justice in its purest form. Karma gives no one a pass. Karma I was taught has a few simple principles that once known can help you be the architect of this and future lives.

       The first principle of karma is that it is assured. Karma is definite. Every intentional action of mind body and speech will have a result. Karma exhibits the ultimate fairness and equality. There are no results without a cause there are no actions without a result.
       The second principle of Karma is that like begets like. It is we who assign the labels good and evil, positive and negative to the fruits and actions that generate Karma. In other words as you sow so shall ye reap. Karma in the end is only moral because that is what we call things dealing with ethics. Some folks in Zen become upset when you add the labels like good and evil, but what the heck, Dogen had no problem saying morality was based on Karma. Buddhist have used the terms good and evil karma for centuries so I say lighten up, don’t be so dogmatic. They are just words after all.
       The third principle of Karma is that it has a tendency to take root and grow. This is why many Buddhist speak of Karmic seeds. Karma expands in such a manner that actions become habitual and these habits leads to others of similar nature. These habits seem to travel with us from life time to life time. This means what we call good or bad habits, and their like results do carry over from life time to life time. The good news here is that if your practice becomes so ingrained as to become habitual it will travel with you. I know there is no you, get off my back I am trying to make a point here ok.
       The fourth principle is once an action is done its results are never lost. But karmic actions and their fruits propagate through time and space like waves traveling through water or air and you can create interference patterns that can cancel or at least mitigate the results you experience. This is true of both good actions and bad. What there is room to do there is also room to undo, or at least mitigate. We do not accept predestination and Buddhist totally reject the kind of karmic analysis that resulted in the caste system in India.
       The really great thing here is that now with these four simple principles you can take control of your karma by accepting absolute and total responsibility for your life. Every moment you live a human life there will be no end to your opportunities to create joy and happiness.
       As the sun rose on the first day of the new millennium a happy little monk named Tenzin Gyatso also know as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama published a post on the internet  what  he called 20 ways to assure good Karma.

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R’s:

- Respect for self,

- Respect for others and

- Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and

think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

I am not much into formulas for good living but these
sound ok to me, I say we give em a shot.