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Karma - The String of Stones

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Part 1 - The String of Stones

Realize that everything connects to everything else.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Karma is a wheel that keeps on turning. It never stops. it is time itself. Impermanence, transformation, change are perpetual.

It is not a moral code. It has no enforcer. It has no rules. What you will return to you.

But, beware!

The idea that if you are just good enough then all good will come back to you is a trap.

We can't fathom beginning-less, multidimensional consequence with our linear ideas of space and time. Seen universally it is the infinitude of causes and conditions that no one controls, giving rise to this moment, whatever it contains.

Yet, within this inscrutable whole, one can trace an individual line. It is like following a single thread in an immense tapestry. You can see the thread on its individual course, but you cannot separate that thread from the whole of the tapestry which both creates the course of the thread, even as the thread creates the course of the tapestry.

In other words, as the great sage Nisargadatta put it with his characteristic succinctness, "Everything causes everything."

What then to do? Is this a resignation to circumstance, a fatalistic fall into despair?

No karma, like all other phenomena of space and time, exists only as the consort of time. And so it lasts, only as long as time lasts. And time lasts only as long as there is karma. The thread and the tapestry.

Every action creates a reaction. The goal of awakened existence is not to simply create better and better reactions. This is, of course, impossible. Even the most perfect attempt will contain the seed of its opposite and ultimately it will sprout and bear fruit.

The goal is to be free of karma.

Buddha was once asked that very question, how to become free of karma. He responded that karma was like a long string of stones and jewels and pebbles, and pearls that everyone drags behind them. Most try to remove all of the items on the string, often one by one, through good works, meditation and the like. But, he said, the better was to simply drop the string.

The act of removing something from the string, be it a stone or a jewel, will inevitable cause a new stone of jewel to be added to the far end, so far away that it is out of sight. So how then to "simply drop the string?" What caused this sting of burdens (and even jewels will become heavy) to collect in the first place?

Again Buddha pointed to the answer. Ignorance! Karma can only exists in the presence of ignorance. And the remedy, the dropping of the string is right understanding.

To the Buddha time and space (and the consequence of karma) began with ignorance. So what is this ignorance? And what is that right understanding.

I will get into that in the next blog (sorry didn't mean it to be a cliffhanger) but for right now I would like you to consider that karma, that is, all the events that happened in your life, including the ones planned and unplanned, welcomed and endured, itself has a cause. It is not an absolute law. It is not something that governs us against our will, but is itself an offshoot of a deep misunderstanding (aka ignorance) of our own real nature.

Yes, karma is not a law. It is misperception of being.

(To be continued)


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