Carrie Loranger, a student in the Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) distance learning program, examines causes and effects of living the Dharma:

This past week reflections on karma came up quite a bit. We do not know what karma we come into this life with, so that will always play a role in our present lives. However, there seems to be more of a connection between our intentions and actions of this life and the experiences of this life than I have realized.

It is much more subtle and indirect than I have experienced before, and I am beginning to realize fully the nuances and the extent to

Let me explain more: From the time we are little, we figure out that every action has a reaction: we put our finger on a hot stove, we get burned. Action Reaction. Simple.

BUT …  in the last few years, and particularly since I connected with the SAFE course, life has settled WAY down. Drama, disaster, harsh words, turmoil, etc. do not come like they used to. So I have been examining this.

Yes, it could have to do with my stage in life to some extent, but I am still at the same job, live in the same town, associate with the same people, etc., so nothing has really changed there. What has changed is my commitment to living according to the 5 lay precepts, some of the bodhisattva practices that I have learned, practicing kindness and generosity, and applying wisdom before I say or do anything.

I’m talking about even tiny little things….like not taking an extra sugar or salt packet from a restaurant if it isn’t needed for the thing I ordered….or not speaking badly about people (or stopping those thoughts if they even arise and replacing them with thinking of the person’s kindness instead) ….picking up a sharp nail along the side of the road with the motivation that by doing this, some sentient being may not have to go through the anguish of getting a flat tire….surprising my co-worker with a new Wonder Woman doll because her old one went missing from her office (and it’s so worth $15 to see her smile so big!).

The list goes on and on, but these are not direct cause and effect examples like the finger on the hot stove. They are much more subtle and evolve over time.

In reflecting on how chaotic my life has been at different points in the past, I can look back and see that living the Dharma to the biggest extent possible these last few years has somehow set the causes and conditions in motion for a calmer life now and hopefully will also produce a favorable rebirth.