Zen Wisdom 183

The principles of Buddhism come from Sakyamuni Buddha. His principles are not commands telling us what to do and what not to do. They are not a moral code. Rather, they are based on observation. With his wisdom, Sakyamuni was able to tell his disciples what consequences followed certain kinds of action, and he advised them to avoid actions that generated bad consequences and perform actions that generated good consequences.

In society, laws are necessary in order to maintain structure and stability. For this reason, laws are relatively rigid. Karma, on the other hand, is flexible. Suppose I've done something bad, but because causes and conditions are not ripe, I have not yet taken the consequence for that action. If then I do something good, the karmic force may change. However, if instead I do something else which is bad, it may lead more quickly to that consequence. There are people who have never taken the consequence for a bad action because they constantly generate good karma. With this in mind, it should be an encouragement to practice more diligently.