American Buddhist Monk, Editor of Yoga Journal, Zen Teacher and Author of Meditation for Dummies and Buddhism for Dummies
We’re not talking about rewards and punishments here when we talk about karma. You’re not a bad boy if you cheat on your taxes or a good girl if you help the old lady across the street. The law of karma doesn’t carry that kind of judgmental baggage; it’s much more practical and down to earth. The point is simple: If you act with ill will, you’ll experience ill will in the future. If you act with love, you’ll experience love in return. Or to continue the metaphor of the seeds: As you sow, so shall you reap.
In genuine spiritual awakening, you finally recognize this ego for what it is—an illusory construct held together by a sense of separateness and the need to control—and realize that you’re the looker, the silent presence, the limitless space in which this construct arises. In the wake of this transformative insight, the construct loses its hold over you, at least temporarily. But because it has developed over a lifetime and gained its strength in situations where you believed your survival was at stake, the ego has tremendous power and tenacity and doesn’t let go of control without a fight.
When you see everything as the divine expression, including what you once took to belong to you—your body, your thoughts, your feelings—you move with the flow of life instead of struggling against the current.
Indeed, awakened people seem to function more effectively in everyday life because they act in harmony with what is, rather than in conflict or resistance. At the same time, they see the empty, dreamlike nature of reality—you could say that they awaken out of the illusion of substantiality into the reality of the empty, ungraspable nature of what is. The awakened person is in the world but not of it—or as Walt Whitman put it, in and out of the game.
is a way of becoming so familiar with yourself — with your thoughts, sensations, feelings, behavior patterns, and attitudes — that you get to know yourself more intimately than you ever thought possible. Some teachers describe meditation as the process of making friends with yourself. Instead of turning your attention outward, to other people or the external world, you turn it inward, back on yourself.
Give up the notion that there is a final state to attain. Spiritual life consists of ongoing practice undertaken as a lifetime work. This realization breeds humility, especially when we realize that in our initial infatuation with enlightenment, we underestimate the amount of inner work necessary to free us from our addictive patterns of thought and behavior.