Karma and Emptiness Are Your Greatest Friends

emptiness find true refuge karma purification shame Mar 04, 2021
The following is a lightly edited excerpt from Find True Refuge.

How many of you feel like you're a terrible sinner? How many of you went through all the hell realms in the Yangsi [Rinpoche] book and all the negative karmas and all the things that can befall you and felt like you were a terrible sinner?

Before you even get to the remedies, you also have to remember the paradigm in which we're experiencing the lam rim. The cosmology and the perspective is so beautiful. Karma and emptiness are actually your friends. Karma and emptiness are your greatest friends. Start with emptiness. Emptiness means you are already pure. Your nature is flexible. Your nature is adaptable. There's no you in there, therefore there's no bad you in there. You're not a sinner right out of the gate since beginingless time. No one gave you Buddha nature. No one gave you soul plasticity. No one gave you openness. No one gave you emptiness. You were born with it. As long as there has been mind, as long as there has been mind stream there has been emptiness. Rejoice. That is your biggest friend. That's your greatest ally. That makes everything possible. That makes you already free.

I don't take it to the extreme that a lot of people in pop culture are, trying to market this stuff which is you're already free, so don't worry. No, you're already free, work your fucking ass off. You're already free but you're not free because you're bound by the constrictions of all your tightly wound habituations through countless living experience. That you're already free doesn't mean you're a sappy soft rice pudding. You're free means that you're also free to screw up and knot up your mind with kleshas and karmas. You're free means you're totally free like big boy, big girl free. Not little girl free, everything's fine. Your nature is free, which explains why you're all bound up and you can't do this and you feel inadequate and you feel anxious and this and that. You're free enough for karma to ripen. The only way that karma can ripen is because you're free. But your karma is is not predetermined. You can change your karma. If you allow yourself to become earnest and intervene in your openness. You can change your karmic patterns.

It's worth while before you go into a purification practice to remember not to go in unconsciously as a sinner. It couldn't be more antithetical to monotheism. Christ had to die for us because we were born in sin. Maybe you didn't go to Sunday school but that has infiltrated your psyche. Then it has been co-opted and used against you to make you a good little boy or girl and to sit nicely in school hasn't it? Guilt and shame. Carrots and sticks. What a different and profound and liberating message it would be to continually remind ourselves and others that your nature is open and boundless. Can you imagine if you heard that your nature is open and boundless when you were a kid? I hope you'll remind me that I remind my kids: I know you're anxious but your nature is boundless.

You can do anything.

If you work hard, you can do anything. You can be anything.

You can experience anything.

Because your nature is already free you're already pure.

There's nothing stuck about you.

Isn't it a wonderful message? Let's just sit around the campfire and remind each other of this message. That's the karma piece. For those of you that are worried 'oh I'm so bad and I don't want to tell anybody what I did and now we've got to do this purification practice and I might as well just get the whip and take my shirt off and mea culpa, mea culpa I'm so bad, but it just looks like Vajrasatva samaya manupālaya...It's the same thing.