Four Parts of Karma

find true refuge karma lam rim merit random acts of kindness virtue Mar 03, 2021

There are what are called the four parts of karma. We think of karma as one thing but karma is actually many things. Not only is karma cause but karma is also the effect. They come together. They are interdependent. You can't have a cause without an effect.

The root verb for karma in Sanskrit really is pointing to the cause because the cause creates the effect. In pop culture we think about karma like a car accident for the person that you don't like, you go 'they got theirs, bad karma.' Karma is more than this. If you want to get into trying to understand and explain how you have varieties of karma, different degrees of heaviness they're called, different ripening contingencies, different ways that things ripen, you can look at what are called the four parts of karma. There is the object, the intention, the action and the completion. If all four of these variables are in the equation you get a very powerful, full effect karma, both virtue and vice.

What is the object? The object is always somebody else. It is always the subjectivity. You can be the object of your own loving-kindness you can be the object of your own hatred. Someone else can be the object of your loving-kindness. Somebody else can be the object of your hatred. The door that I hit can be the object but in that case there's no subjectivity there. It can't have the completion because no one's there to feel the completion. I can have the intention and the action so I get portions of the karmic reaction.

The object is either your own subjectivity or someone else's subjectivity. The intention is obvious. The intention is that motivation that causes the action, virtue or vice, ill will or love and compassion. The action is the follow through, the behavior and the completion is the subjective experience of the action. Once there is a subjective experience either to yourself or the other, then that karmic domino effect has reached its completion. That's why it's called the completion. Object, intention, action, completion.

If all four are present in the equation it would attest to a very heavy karma, both positive and negative. The minute you start having one or less of the variables it becomes lighter in its karmic repercussion. The classic one that's in the text that they debate on is if you find a monk's robe in the street and we could just say if you found someone's wallet in the street. There is no object. The object is not the wallet. The object is the person that's missing the wallet.

You have the wish to take the extra effort to find the recipient because you want to return the wallet, virtue or vice? Virtue. You take the steps to call the cab driver that you found it in so that they can call the dispatch to see if they can find the last person in the cab. It may take fifteen minutes of your time. That's the action. Somebody gets a random act of kindness phone call from the dispatch saying 'we found your wallet". What do they feel? They feel joy. That's the completion. Who gets the merit? Who gets the wallet? Everybody's happy.

Random acts of kindness are so cool. Let's make the whole program about random acts of kindness. But first, let's learn how it works. Why is Geshe Tenzi Zopa flying high on life? Because his main preoccupation is random acts of kindness. How many of you in Nepal and in India felt that you were too scared to ask him something and he sought you out to give the very thing that you were wanting? I know that's how I feel with Geshe Tenzin Zopa. I'm sitting in my bed and I see a little ping and it's from him and he's sending me some little picture and some little quote. Random act of kindness. Makes my day. .

Object, intention, action, completion. If some of them are not there you can still get some semblance of the karma. For example, you could try to deliver the wallet to somebody and it never makes it to the recipient. Does that mean there's no karma involved? No. We can try to make our target twenty thousand and we can only raise five thousand for the nuns. Maybe it gets siphoned off let's say, because some of these NGOs like to pocket the donations of innocent Westerners who are trying to help people. It happens. So it never makes it to the nuns. Do we lose the merit? No. It's just not as substantial as if it finally arrives there. This is what is called the heaviness of karma.


From the course Find True Refuge