Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel 41

Previously we said that karma-as-intention was less severe than the karma-as-intention-manifested. lf we think something but don't act on it that is less consequential for retribution. As an analogy think of a pot of water on the stove, and imagine that the water consists of karma-as-intention. Now imagine that we light a flame under the pot. Think of the flame as our countless vexations. Eventually the hot flame of our vexations will cause the water (karma-as-intention) to boil over into speech or action (karma-as-intention-manifested) with future consequences. You can see from this analogy that if we put out the flame of vexation to begin with, we will remove the means by which future cycles of karma and suffering are created. With this understanding, we can see that the purpose of practicing Buddhadharma is to cut off vexation, and thereby terminate suffering.

In our first talk on the Four Noble Truths, we discussed the twelve links of conditioned arising. The twelve links are stages in the birth and death cycle (samsara), that determine conditioned arising, one stage leading to the next. One of those links is existence--the coming into being of the individual. In the twelve-linked chain the first link, fundamental ignorance, leads to attachment and so on. Eventually this occasions the eleventh link, our coming into existence as a new round of birth and death. Existence, or the existence of future lives, has two qualities: that of 'flowing with vexation' and 'accumulation of suffering.' Through these two forces we propel our own being into the future cycles of birth and death.