Seeing Your Own Karma


Letter From A Student

Hey Ken, 

How are you? I have a question about seeing one's Karma...I have been trading “only don’t know” and Seung Sahn talks a lot about seeing your Karma and then being able to use it to help others. I also listened to Carlos podcast on Sit, Breathe, Bow and he discusses the same thing. It all makes me want to move to a Zen center to practice but this is not my Karma at this time. Being my children’s father is my Karma and I guess I’ve always known being a dad was my Karma. I’m pulled in both directions though. How do I see my Karma when I don’t have a practice group that I attend regularly? 

About the compass of zen homework you gave me...don’t know what I’m doing when I look at it as a painting. Fingers typing on an iPhone, email is a convenient way to say 👋 

Also, answer for homework, what did it mean when Joju put his sandals on his head and walk away? My sandals are in my head, goodbye Ken. 

Response by Zen Master Jok Um (Ken Kessel)

Thanks for writing.  We just returned from out of state, so I'm getting to your e-mail now.

You have some typos in your e-mail.  How did they happen to appear? What can you do about them?  If you see that, then you understand seeing your karma.  It's not a special thing, and karma is not hidden or mysterious.  It's also not a thing.  It's a way of talking about your tendencies, habits, character, affinities, thoughts, feelings, relationships and actions.  How could this be hidden from your view?  Setting up the right external circumstances is also not required to see your own karma.  Wanting special circumstances to help you see your karma is a kind of karma to see through.  If you want to honor your karma as a father, then learn to see your children's mind-light.  That will be your best guide.  They are most intimate with you.  Because of that, you have the most opportunity to practice with them.  Are they not your home sangha? 

If you're not sure how to look at the Compass of Zen as you'd look at a painting or a landscape, then spend a week first looking at paintings and landscapes.  Then you'll see more easily what this means.  You're already very good at looking at the ocean, so you have something to go on. 

Regarding JoJu -- please take your sandals out of your head.  There's a place where they do more good.

Take care,

Zen Master Jok Umkarma