We are not Desperately
Imprisoned in our Past

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The twin teachings on Karma (Action) and rebirth have several important implications for understanding our own lives. First, they allow us to understand that we are fully responsible for who we are. We cannot blame others for our problems, our environment, our heredity, our fate or our upbringing.

All these factors have made us who we are, but the reason we have encountered these circumstances is because of our previous Karma (Action). Initially, this may appear to be a pessimistic doctrine. It seems to imply that we are prisoners of our previous Karma (Actions), and that we have to submit to their effects. This is a misinterpretation and distortion of reality.

It is true that, very often, we have to reap the results of our past Karma (Actions). But the important point to understand is that Karma (the Actions) is an intentional action, it is a voluntary, intentional action, and the voluntary action always occurs in the present, and only in the present. This means that it is possible to change the whole direction of our lives in the present.

If we look closely at our lives, we will see that our experiences are of two types: First, the experience that comes to us passively and which we receive regardless of whether we choose it. And secondly, the experience that is actively created through our intentions, choices, and dispositions.

The passive side of the experience is largely due to the influence of the past Karma (Actions). Generally, we have to deal with it and learn to accept it. But within these constraints there is space: the vast space of the present moment, in which we can rebuild our world with our own mind.

If we allow ourselves to be dominated by evil thoughts, then we will continue to live in misery and pain and we will continue to cultivate the seeds of rebirth in a world of suffering. On the other hand, if our behaviour is pure and our mind is good and understanding, then we can transform our world and build a world of genuine happiness and peace.