The wisdom of The Buddha has really taken off in our society. He is constantly quoted on social media and even on pictures hanging in people’s offices and homes. Concepts associated with the teachings of the Buddha have also led to respected theoretical Psychology perspectives and schools-of-thought that have been empirically proven to be effective and helpful for both those suffering and those who just want an enhanced quality of life. Those perspectives would include Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), just to name a few.
But what caused people to even look at those teachings that led to the embrace of ideas like acceptance, mercy, adherence to values, and meditative practices? I believe this is due to the simple concept of Karma. A definition of Karma would be as follows: the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. People just like the idea of cause and effect. They like the idea that there is an order to the universe.
Now, are there previous and future States of existence (reincarnation)? Is there a supreme cosmic force or being that is keeping tally of all things just and unjust? Well, those are answers to be provided by religion and personal faith. However, it has been shown that there does exist, in fact, a real type of Karma-of-the-mind. That is to say that the thoughts and actions that I choose to focus on will have a determining factor on my future thoughts and actions. My focus on things like love and gratitude does matter. These positive states of mind will bring more of those factors into my life (also called The Law of Attraction).
The teachings of The Buddha include The Nobel Eightfold Path. This is an interesting set of rules. It instructs me not just to abstain from doing bad things to others or just to resist saying bad of others, but to actually make sure that I do not even entertain those negative thoughts. This was a tough one for me to understand. I mean, if I hate someone in my thoughts, what does it matter? It’s just my thoughts. My thoughts without action don’t effect anyone, right?
The fact is that those types of thought do matter and do effect myself the world. We have this ideal that if we are good to others, this will have a reciprocating effect and change the world one-person-at-a-time. That is a great idea, the only thing is that I need to include being good, kind, and nurturing to myself in this concept. I need to actively foster and promote goodness and purity of thought in myself. It matters.
Compassion is contagious.