The Karma cycle


In Tibetan, the word Karma is also called “action” & it is often referred in its plural form as actions. While reading about Buddhism & Buddhist philosophy, I have read about Karmic cycle and some very intriguing texts & poetry about the actions/Karma. Being not so religiously oriented (that’s an understatement) & owing to my incorrigible scepticism, I have my own doubts about the theory of actions/Karma. And based on my own experiences, I’d say that I don’t really believe in this whole theory as such. Yet, I’d like to hope that good actions should indeed result in something nice and vice versa. We all have this reward-punishment system so well conditioned within us! And I’d like to believe that most of us don’t like bad people getting away with their evil acts; though we often see otherwise. Anyway!

Despite all my scepticism about all this actions/Karma theory, some of those sutras & poems that I’ve read while studying Buddhist psychology & ethics have stayed with me fondly. They are indeed lingering and so beautifully written! I can’t resists the temptation to quote a few here –

The joys & sorrows of beings
All come from their actions, said the Buddha
The diversity of actions
Creates the diversity of being
And impels their diverse wanderings.
Vast indeed is the net of actions!

And I love this one –

When the moment comes to leave, O King,
Neither possessions, friends nor family can follow.
But whatever beings come from, wherever they go,
Their actions follow them like their own shadow.

The theory of actions/Karma according to Buddhism says that the effect of our actions (positive or negative) may not be immediately evident or identifiable, but they don’t just fade away.  We will experience each one of them when the right conditions come together. It’s again put so beautifully here –

Even after a hundred kalpas
Beings’ actions are never lost.
When the conditions come together
Their fruit will fully ripen

Excerpts from “The Words Of My Perfect Teacher” By Patrul Rinpoche (1)

. . . . . . .

Anand Gandhi is really an interesting man!  I’ve loved his Ship Of Theseus  (SOT) and I have been curious about his past Karma as well… 🙂 As in, I am really curious about his previous work and all that he has done before making this unusual, thought provoking & brilliant film. Though I was shocked to know about his saans-bahu & related “K” work, I think I can forgive him for SOT alone!  While finding out more about his previous work, I came across his directorial debut short-film Right Here, Right Now  made back in 2003, a decade ago. I was curious to know what kind of work he did 10 years ago, which was his first film as well. Luckily, I found the short-film on YouTube and just marked it to watch later.  Few months just passed by…..Meanwhile I read about the Karma theory and those poems that I mentioned above.  I had some spare time today and suddenly thought of watching this short-film. It looked a bit raw, but interesting nevertheless…. Kabir’s ‘jhini jhini bini chadariya‘ was good enough to get me absorbed instantly and I was glad that I spent those 30 minutes to watch it completely without any interruptions. I request you to spend 30 minutes now to watch both the parts of this short-film before you read further.

It is fascinating how Anand Gandhi completes circle of Karma from both sides. One is the ‘Frustration Cycle’ that the boy starts through one action, and the other is the ‘Joy Cycle’ that he starts through another action. These cycles continue at their own pace of propagation and meet to complete a circle. It has been shown so effectively that I could instantly relate it to what I had read before, and I could see those connections, I could see the pieces falling into places. Not that I have started believing in this theory, but the impact of this film is undeniable. Kabir’s song just flows in the film so effortlessly and it adds depth to the narration as well. It reminded me once again how effective this medium could be if it is used properly. It is not that the actors are outstanding, but this film definitely makes a good impact. No wonder it won many awards & critical acclaim when it was screened. It is an engrossing visualization of actions/Karma, which is perhaps much more effective than most books. And I am glad that we can share & access such films these days with YouTube and likes. I sincerely hope that this film can become part of learning for the courses on Buddhism that teach actions or Karma. And I also hope that we could see more such experiments in the full-length feature films as well!


(1) The book “The Words Of My Perfect Teacher” is freely available on Google Boks for anyone to read, so I think quoting few verses from the book here should be accepatble.

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