Carlos Montero, 3

Interview with Carlos Montero


Thank you for going into the distinction between needs and desires, and giving an account of your experiences and understanding of meditation. I have one more question to do with this, and then I would like to move on to a more detailed account of bowing meditation and perhaps chanting, as well. My question has to do with something you just said, and that was that- "Our actions usually have a reason behind them. Most of the time that reason is selfish. Through practice and the uncovering of our innate compassion, we begin acting more for all beings." If I am doing my math here, then the "reasons" you speak of are our motives- and the motiveless alternative would mean encountering each moment with nothing in mind. Are you saying that this would necessarily yield all that is needed?


Yes, our reasons are our motives, same thing. Motiveless action means selfless action in other words, not-for-me motives. If you act only to help this world then whatever ensues after that is no problem. I don't know if it would yield all that is needed, I also don't know if you will like the outcome, but there will be an outcome and this outcome will be perfect as it is. Sometimes we just try to help but our actions cause others to be upset or it may even seem it made the situation worse. We mustn't be concerned about the outcome, only the willingness to try is necessary. The rest is just karma playing itself out and really not a problem at all.


Is it fair to ask you for a brief explanation of karma? I have my own way of understanding karma and my ideas about it, but I would like to hear about it from you, as you refer to it here. I am not sure I believe it exists on an individual basis.


Oh sure, Karma is very simple. We say that a person's karma is his/her's mind habits. My mind, my thoughts, likes, dislikes, opinions, history, etc is different from yours and from everyone's in this world. This is just the energy that our mind has accumulated and keeps on going on and on as we keep on having life experiences. Karma is not good and bad, we all have our mental make-up or karma. The problem is when this karma controls us.

Also karma can change as it is created moment to moment by our actions. So for example, if one day you have an alcoholic drink, then next day two, then three and so on you, those actions will have a consequence, maybe you become an alcoholic and then your mind just thinks of that constantly. That is just an example of how an action can turn into some mind habit. There could be a million examples like this one.

Also if you stop drinking and moment to moment keep a clear mind then new karma is created, another consequence to your actions. Again, it is very simple. Karma is not something you have to believe in or not, it just happens to everyone. It is not some esoteric concept but part of our lives as human beings. Only the word is sorta weird. Regarding my use of karma in my previous message, it means that actions will have consequences- some of these consequences may not be evident or right at that moment.

For example, you smoke very day, eventually you may get lung cancer but not right away. So this consequence took a while to come but still it did. This is karma playing itself out. Some say that some of these consequences may even come from previous lives. That I can't really prove or disprove but it would explain many things. How do we end up being born where we are, and from the parents we have, some rich, some poor, some sick, some healthy, etc etc.

Again, I am not a proponent of rebirth or past lives but I don't object to it either. I just don't know. That not-knowing is our true nature. Even more important, we we are truly in don't know mind 100%, then no thoughts appear, then no karma appears, that is enlightenment- that is Zen. That is why in meditation we practice don't know. That's really all there is too it.

Don't know does not mean blankness, it means keeping a great question while not holding on to anything, especially the thoughts that are bound to come and go. Even if for a split second, all thinking stops, then at that time it is possible to perceive clearly. With practice we return to this point more and more and learn what it has to offer. This is why practice is so important in Zen.

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