Buddha taught that if we become enlightened we will have full clairvoyance (seeing) and audiovoyance (hearing) in the past, present and future. When our conditioned mind is quiet, idling so that it can deal with the demands of daily life, and all our cravings have been extinguished, the clarity of our perceptions will intensify. We will no longer simply react in the ups and downs of subjectivity or duality, being swept along trying desperately to get our feet down on the ground for a few seconds. I have witnessed and experienced past lives and future lives, and I have lived with indigenous people who naturally have these extra-sensory tools at their disposal.
Karma is an absolute proof of our past and our future to come (DNA is the scientific equivalent) which we hand on through the birthing process and the closeness of related spirits to our families. It is a marvel how we inherit our parents’ physical appearance and structure. We also inherit their predispositions and proclivities, their cellular conditions, and very often their diseases, sorrows and losses, come to the surface in our lives. It is also, therefore, logical that we will pass forward our karma and our wisdom to future generations, and that is our responsibility.
How do we create good and bad karma? – respectively the karma to live happily, safely and to fulfill our life’s course; and the karma to have tragic and restless lives, crippling disease and deformity, to be criminals and make others suffer. It is useful to see karma as a seed which we sow with our thoughts, words, and deeds: eventually, the seed germinates and ripens at an indeterminate moment we ordinarily have no control over. But with spiritual practice and elevation, we gradually take some control.
We must accumulate as much merit and virtue as possible while crossing the river of life so that our negative karma will be neutralized and our positive karma will increase. These are the challenges of the world of form which we are deliberately manifest in to overcome. Having good karma will ensure our happiness in temporality, and if we cut the negative karma and console our ancestors their spirits will reside comfortably in the spiritual world. If our ancestors are suffering in the hell realms, then that will reflect in our lives. All things that appear to us are simply reflections of the invisible world.
Look back at photos of yourself as a child, a young adult, and older adult, and you may be so surprised at how different your appearance is. The camera catches glimpses as your karma and DNA flows and transforms, and at any moment, you may resemble your ancestors right back to the beginning of human history, the seeds being planted and germinating as you travel through life encountering suffering and joy. Pure gratitude and appreciation for your parents and theirs, and so on, is the best way to console their continuing journey in the spiritual world. ‘You’ would not exist to have these incredible opportunities if they had not given birth to you.
Floating lanterns inscribed with prayers on the ocean or rivers is one moving way we remember and console our ancestors in Japan. The torrii, large orange gateways to be found all over the country, were expressly constructed to allow the spirits of ancestors to return to the physical plane at certain periods of the year. They visit briefly to gather our prayers and wishes and then return, representing a golden chance to feel their closeness to us.
I am my parents and my grandparents. I can never walk in any other footprints than theirs along the beach, although the conditioned mind may convince me I have taken a new direction.
I smile and shed tears and love and feel and breathe as them. It is my true nature to eternally tend their garden of karma as our seeds ripen and stock dies while they recline on a shady verandah, always watchful.