Pushy-Crowdy-Karma – A conversation with Shamar Rinpoche by Lawrence Tung

Pool at Tokyo Summerland theme park Image courtesy David Pegg - www.list25.com

Pool at Tokyo Summerland theme park
Image courtesy David Pegg – http://www.list25.com

Shamar Rinpoche visited Pasadena recently and we had the fortunate opportunity to meet him in a small group last Friday evening. I was the first to arrive and had the rare chance to ask him a couple of questions. I didn’t record the conversation, so I am writing this while it is still fresh in my memory. Any mistakes are certainly mine, but I wanted to share Rinpoche’s answers with those who read this blog.

Lawrence & Rinpoche

Lawrence & Rinpoche

My first question was general and concerned karma. Rinpoche said that karma is a difficult concept. There are 3 aspects: the intention, the action and the result. We think there will be no karma if there is no action. However, there is still some karma created by intention. For instance, if I planned to rob a bank but decided to stop because either I was too scared of getting caught or I simply felt that I should not rob a bank (not stealing is one of the precepts) but I still had the desire to steal there would be “intention” karma even if there was no bank robbing, no “action” karma. Having the “intention” not to steal would result in good “intention” karma.


Then Rinpoche went on to explain a process he calls “pushy crowdy karma”. He said that we are here in this human life because a karmic seed to be born in a human form ripens. A mind carries many karmic seeds and any one of them can catch and manifest depending on the specific causes and conditions that are present during the process of rebirth. There are many examples of beings who have accumulated a great amount of good karma but who experience rebirth in an animal realm. King Ashoka, himself a great patron of Buddhism, was reborn as a python for a short while.

I then went on to ask Rinpoche about Buddha Nature. Recalling a statement in a text called, The Mulamadhyamakakarika, that things are non-existence, not non-existence, both, or neither, I asked if Buddha Nature is like that too. Rinpoche said that Buddha Nature is beyond concepts. We cannot conceive of what it is. I wondered if the idea of sentient beings having Buddha Nature makes sense even if I don’t have a clear picture of what it is. Rinpoche said that yes, we can make the statement, but to make concepts about it is of no use.

Train in India Image courtesy David Pegg - www.list25.com

Train in India
Image courtesy David Pegg – http://www.list25.com


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