Four Laws of Karma

Karma Is Dynamic – Reaping More Than Is Sown

Karma increases and expands. The karmic seed we plant in our mind stream will not only produce a result – rather, there will be results greater than the cause.

As an illustration, my father, who delighted in home gardening, each spring planted tomato seeds in carefully cultivated soil furrows. It never ceased to amaze me, seeing my father during late summer standing among the fully grown plants, harvesting tomatoes by the basketful. The few seeds he planted were nothing in comparison with the baskets full of red ripe tomatoes!

“The increasing nature of karma,” writes Yangsi Rinpoche, “means that even a very small negative action can bring forth a tremendous negative effect. In the same way, even a very small virtuous action can bring forth a very powerful positive effect. . . . For this reason, we should work very hard to purify even our most minor negative actions, and rejoice in and cherish even our most minor virtuous acts.”

The fact that karma is expandable is heartening if it is good karma. A person performs a virtuous action. This immediately brings them peace in their mind and more beneficial results in the future. It is an expanded result from one deed. By contrast, a non-virtuous action, such as one prompted by anger, can yield vastly destructive negative results.

In the sayings of the Buddha, it is written:

Do not think ‘The small sins I do will not return in my future lives.’ Just as falling drops of water will fill a large container, the little sins a churl accumulates will completely overwhelm him.

Likewise from the sayings of the Buddha:

Do not think ‘A small virtue will not return in my future lives.’ Just as falling drops of water will fill a large container, the little virtues the steadfast accumulate will completely overwhelm them.

In sum, recognizing how karma greatly increases can prompt one to wholeheartedly desire to practice virtues and to abandon non-virtues.