by Venerable Master Hua

Karma is what embellishes the mundane destinies at all times and in all places. And yet we do not ever think about seeking to get free of it in order to get out of this world. And so the retributions we undergo in the paths of rebirth are varied and their manfiestations different. Nonetheless, we should know that they are all due to the power of karma.

Wise Ones' knowledge of karma is profound and deed. However, most ordinary people are skeptical about it. Why? They see that at present in this world there are people who do good and yet encounter adversities; and those who do evil and yet meet with favorable conditions. And so they say that there is no distinction between good and evil in this universe. People who perceive like that have not been able to deeply penetrate into the principle of karma. Why?

There are three kinds of karma. First is present retribution; second is next life's retribution; and third is later retribution.

Karma that brings present retribution means that one does evil now and undergoes the retribution for it in this present life. Karma that brings the retribution next life means that the rewards or retributions for good or evil one does in this life are undergone in the next life. Karma that brings retribution later means that perhaps in one of the infinite lives past one did good or evil and now in this life is undergoing the reward or retribution. Or perhaps one will undergo that reward or retribution in one of the infinite lives in the future.

If someone who is doing evil deeds now has good fortune, then that is because good karma from past life's retribution or a later retribution has become ripe enabling that person to enjoy pleasant rewards now. How could those rewards be related to the evil karma the person is presently creating?

If someone who is doing good deeds now has to undergo suffering, then that is because bad karma from past life's retribution or a later retribution has become ripe and at present his good roots are too weak to dispel the karma. Therefore, he receives the retribution of having to suffer now. How could that bad retribution be related to the good karma the person is presently creating?

From this we know that those in this world who are currently good, who are praised, honored, and respected by others will, in the future, certainly receive pleasant rewards.

And since, in the past, most of us have created many kinds of bad karma, we need to repent of those deeds and to reform our behavior.

For all bad karma
created in the past,
based upon beginningless
greed, hatred, and delusion,
and born of body, mouth, and mind,
I now repent and reform.

Offenses arise from the mind;
repentance is by the mind.
If the mind is quieted,
offenses are forgotten.
The mind forgotten, offenses gone--
both are empty.
That is called true
repentance and reform.

As to the three karmas of the body, the first is killing and harming. In practicing forgiveness we can be models and not kill or beat any sentient creatures. Although birds and beasts are of many different kinds, first and foremost, they all want to protect their lives and they all fear death.

If we trace the past of these beings, we will find that from beginningless time until the present, they have perhaps been our parents, our brothers, or other members of our immediate or extended families. Now, due to the causes and conditions of their karma, they are revolving in the paths of rebirth, getting born and dying. The changing forms they undergo asa they move through their different retributions, causes us to fail to recognize each other.