So I was issued a challenge of sorts on Facebook:
So, don’t facts like these fly in the face of karma & Diamond Cutter principles? I anxiously await your apologetics.
This was in reference to an article online about how poor people are more ethical than rich people. The challenge is, if the idea of planting mental seeds to reach your goals is true, wouldn’t that necessitate that studies would find it worked the other way around? If the laws of seeds are true, then what goes around comes around, and rich unethical people should have problems and the meek should inherit the earth.
That’s true, but there are several problems. The first, which I wrote about on my logic blog, is that there are a lot of generalizations and stereotypes at play in this article. But that’s a bit besides the point; the point is here that the easiest answer has to do with the way seeds work.
In traditional Tibetan Buddhism the answer to the question, “When will a seed ripen?” is this life, next life, or lifetimes after that (phyi ma). This is an unsatisfactory answer to the western mind, so let’s use an analogy. I love fresh grapefruit juice. So when I squeeze my last grapefruit, I take a seed out of the pulp, and I go in my backyard, and I plant it, and I get grapefruit. Right?
Sure, but it might take twelves years or more. So mental seeds are the same, except they can take even longer. As in, lifetimes from now longer. So… one answer to “why do the wicked prosper?” is that wicked people weren’t always wicked; no one has never not done anything nice. So, if for example, Mr. Mean Rich Guy did something nice for someone in his past life and that seed ripens now, he’s rich. He might cheat on his taxes, not care about other people, and focus on himself, but still be rich. At least until the seed he planted in his past life to be rich wears out. Which actually happens quite often.
What about the other side, the poor people who don’t cheat as much, care more about other people, and who don’t focus on themselves? We could give the same answer (the time gap); no seed in the past to produce wealth. They might be more generous now, but if they weren’t in the past, it could be lifetimes before the seeds of being generous catch up to them. But we can go deeper with this question.
I’ve worked with people who have told me that planting seeds doesn’t work; they tried giving money, or visiting the old lady, and nothing happened. So what’s going on?
There’s a lot of stories I could tell, but my favorite is about exaggerating. I had a friend who was frequently exaggerating. Not a big deal, but it was causing us problems (basically a Peter and the wolf scenario). So I decided to plant a seed to fix it. I tried to stop exaggerating myself; I kept it in my six-times book and checked. Anytime I caught myself exaggerating, I immediately did the four powers. I trained my mind to the point that I couldn’t exaggerate: I was down to see my brother for Christmas, and his kids (my nephews) asked me to tell them a story. They wanted a story of how my brother had done something “interesting” when he was a kid. And, as a story-teller, sometimes you bend the facts a bit to make the story more interesting. Instead, I started the “story” off this way: “Okay kids, here are the facts.” I said that. To my ten-year old nephews, because I don’t want to exaggerate.
But nothing changed. My friend was still telling fish stories himself. So, seeds don’t work. That’s one conclusion. The other might be, as I reasoned, that exaggerating wasn’t the seed that was causing me to see my friend exaggerate. I thought about it; what else could it be?
I had worked with some friends trying to figure it out, and one of my friends said, “What does it make you feel like when you see him exaggerate?” I thought about it, and, to me, it felt like pride. So, I decided to check pride in my book. Within a week, my friend stopped exaggerating, and was asking me what was true, in public. I have recordings; you can listen to them.
So the point is, the workings of seeds are deeply hidden phenomena (shin tu lkog gyur). So it’s difficult to know what seeds we need to plant to get the result we want. So sometimes we have to be like a scientist; run an experiment.
This also assumes, of course, that you’re using the four steps and know how to do the four powers practice. If so, it’s been my experience that you can create a situation that you’re after (within reason, bigger changes require bigger seeds and more time) using a mental seed planting practice.