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Excerpted from Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be by Lama Surya Das. Copyright 2004 by Lama Surya Das. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Since we are not omniscient, since we have limited view and weak foresight, we don't know exactly why things happen."

  Lama Surya Das
Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be
, Part 2

I am a Buddhist and, as such, I accept the reality of karma and the law of cause and effect. It makes good sense to me. But I also know that the laws of karma are far more complex than any simple sitcom version. We are living not only with our own personal karma, but also with the karma of every other being we meet. When my karma meets your karma, something happens. And, of course, it isn't only about individual karma; there is group karma as well. 

In this speeded-up world, where we have access to the CNN crawl and minute-by-minute news broadcasts from around the world, think about the karmic repercussions. Shooting breaks out between Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank. A traumatized tourist with a video camera gives the footage to CNN. It is on the air within the hour. Someplace in Montana, a young mother, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her five year old, is watching. She gets so upset that she drops the jar of jelly, which crashes to the floor. Her barefoot little girl walks in the kitchen at that moment and cuts her toe. More blood flows. How is this all karmically connected? It's impenetrable to mere mortals. "The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder." Virginia Woolf said that.

Only omniscient awareness can totally comprehend causation with all its details, interconnections, and ramifications. The Buddha said that only an omniscient Buddha, a perfectly enlightened and fully awakened being, could understand the myriad causes and conditions that bring about the color of a single peacock's feather.

Since we are not omniscient, since we have limited view and weak foresight, we don't know exactly why things happen. However we do know that it is impossible to avoid all of life's negative experiences. Recently I was standing in a corner coffee shop, waiting at the cash register to pay my bill when a distraught couple came into the restaurant. Both the man and the woman were very excited and talking rapidly. They reminded the cashier that when they left the restaurant about an hour earlier, they had been accompanied by their eighteen-month-old toddler. At the time the little boy had been clutching his favorite stuffed animal -- a small purple cow. Whey they arrived home and tucked the sleeping child into his crib, they discovered that he had loosened his grip on his furry toy. Now the purple cow was missing! What could have happened to it?

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