Befitting a book on Buddhist meditation, Pema Chodron has a chapter in Turning the Mind into an Ally on Karma. Most of us are familiar with the idea of Karma. We think of it as consequences or cause and effect. When we do good things, good things happen. When we do bad things, bad things happen. Chodron suggested that Karma is much broader and more inclusive than our little minded sense that when I do something good or bad this will have a good or bad effect upon me. He sees that the suffering we experience is a consequence of not just our behavior, but the behaviors of our fellow human beings who inhabit the earth with us as well as those who have came before us. We don’t operate in a vacuum.

This idea is both disconcerting and comforting. The comforting part is that I don’t have to take the blame for all the bad that happens in my life. The disconcerting part is that I don’t have as much control over the events of my life as I’d thought. Just altering my own behaviors won’t necessarily eliminate my suffering or the sufferings of others. Nevertheless, I can do my part by examining my own behaviors and making more loving choices. It is a start at changing the world.

And I would add that good behavior begins with good attitude. That is something I can work on every day beginning when I wake up in the morning. Today, I will choose love in each encounter. May the outcome of my actions bring peace and joy for myself and others.