Every year, or almost every year, I watch the movie A Christmas Carol. What could be a better descriptor of karma than the scene in which Jacob Marley visits his old business partner, Ebenezer Scrooge, warning: “I wear the chains I forged in life, link by link” (or something approximating that). When Scrooge tries to dismiss this apparition as “a bit of bad beef” and adds that Jacob was, after all, a good business man, Jacob bellows – Mankind IS my business!
Mankind is all of our “business.” Each of us, as we practice the dharma, has something to offer others, altruistically. I am watching this little sprout of a sangha called Tahri Marpo Ling discover their gifts. Some burst into cooking for those who are sick. Some are gifted with the sewing machine and camera. Some just always show up to practice, coming early to make sure that the chairs and altar tables are up, and the practice materials are displayed with care. Some who are in trouble and ask for prayers bless us tremendously by giving us a chance to stop in our busy day and offer prayers and mantras on their behalf. Some who are ailing decide to accept it willingly, dedicating the merit so that another person might not have to go through it. Even those who are very difficult to be around offer one of the most important gifts – to help us challenge our own ingrained habits of negativity, recognizing that the enlightened heart is in everyone.
So, as Buddhists, please enjoy the Christmas spirit of our culture. Let every light on every tree become a luminous light of compassion, radiating outward into the ten directions, touching the wisdom-hearts of all sentient beings. Let every gift be an expression of true generosity. In this spirit, we can see how much the same we all really are, beneath all our baggage and bluster.