“I’m no Einstein,” I said, “but I do know it’s all relative.” Someone had just asked me what my views on karma are.
“Well, what does that mean?”, they replied. “Can you elaborate?”
First we have to acknowledge that there are two views of so-called reality, I said. OK, now you’re starting to blow my mind, reality is reality right? My response was one word – Nope. The conversation that followed was pretty lengthy, but here is the gist of it.
Essentially there are two realities. There is such a thing as “ultimate truth” or “real truth.” Let’s use the moon as an example. At any given time the moon is where it is. That is verifiable through various forms of scientific observation and calculation. There is an ultimate truth in regards to where the moon is at any given time. On the other hand, the appearance of the moon is relative to the position of the observer, or in other words, their perspective. That is “relative truth.”
While “ultimate truth” certainly plays its role, our everyday lives are built on and experienced as “relative truth.” Our individual lives, then, are by definition, the realm of “relative truth.” All day, every day, we are constantly processing an endless stream of perspective, interpretation and judgments. To complicate matters further, much of this happens on levels of consciousness we are not aware of, and may not even have access to. This quite often results in self-inflicted wounds manifesting as countless forms of stress and strife.
When you can come to grips with the fact that this applies to everything in your life you increase your ability to manage the three essential building blocks of “your” reality. The three building blocks are your thoughts, your speech, and your actions. Collectively these are referred to as Sanmitsu (sahn-meet-su) in the Japanese Buddhist Mikkyo tradition.
Let’s go back to my student’s question. First we should accept the definition of karma as: consequences to be experienced subsequently, or, cause and effect. Give that a moment to sink in. At any given moment, in any given circumstance or experience, my “relative truth” will be informing/influencing my sanmitsu. My subsequent thoughts, speech and actions will produce results or consequences. My reaction to those results or consequences will give rise to further thoughts, speech and actions influenced by my “relative truth.” And so, on and on goes this flowing river we call life.
Now then, by expanding our level of awareness to include the essential nature of “relative truth,” we can more effectively understand and employ the law of karma as we navigate our way through our day-to-day lives. Not necessarily easy, but worth it if you want what we all want, (and I assume you do) that specifically being more moments of joy and happiness, and fewer moments of suffering.
So, in the final analysis, the “ultimate truth” is that we all live in a world defined by “relative truth.”
Phew! Take a deep breath.
Great conversation to have with an inebriated friend at a party. Have fun, it’s all relative.
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