In life we experience togetherness and separation. We may meet lots of people, but how many of them eventually become our close friends? We often use “fate” as an explanation for coming together with someone.

【You will learn】

  • What is fate?
  • Why does it take hold?
  • Once we understand it, how do we live with it?


Meditation Master JinBodhi’s Dharma Teaching

— On Karmic Connection (March 13, 2016)

Good day everyone! (Good day Master!)

Everyone is enthusiastic. However, most people are staring at me… wondering: “That’s him? He looks like this?” Don’t blame me. I am just a human after all. Today, we have many new students who may be seeing me for the first time. We have a karmic bond. Don’t try to “tie” us together, alright? I am already “round” enough. (“Round” sounds like “karmic bond” in Chinese) Who dares to say that we have a karmic connection? Raise your hand. This is insight. So whenever meeting someone who looks pleasant to you, you can say you have a karmic connection. OK? (OK.)

Does anyone here have a karmic connection with me? (Yes.) Now it doesn’t count. You are copying those with great insight just now, right? Let’s talk about “fate”. There are lots of explanations from different masters. “Master, what is fate?” Most masters will reply, “This is the hardest question to answer.” There are countless conditions that form “fate” or “karmic connection”. At first sight of someone, you might feel a sense of affection. Have you experienced feeling a special connection with someone? Raise your hand if you have. (Yes.) You have. Normally those who say that to you may want something. Or you look handsome, just like me. Or you are rich, just like all of you.

It is hard to explain this connection clearly. I have such feelings too, having that connection with someone. However, I don’t blindly believe it. I believe either they owed me money or I owed them in a past life. What is our relationship? I usually have to dig deep. Sometimes, I can’t see it with my eyes, so I meditate. Of course, when I open my eyes they are gone. But I keep tracing our relationship. Why does my heart pound when I see them? It may sound superstitious, but sometimes I have found that they are my enemy, my rival in love. I feel uncomfortable seeing them. They had conned my money, and created disputes and conflicts. Or someone that you were deeply in love with, upon seeing them, you feel nervous. That is the feeling of love. It is a wonderful and amazing feeling. If you meet such a person, make sure that you are single and available. If you are not, then forget it. Just let go. Close your eyes and forget about it. You must avoid the mistake of having an affair.

Don’t use it as an excuse to keep people around you. That is greed. But many people use “fate” to ask for favors or sell insurance. “Oh, you must be my sister, daughter, grandson, or grandpa in previous lives.” According to your wealth, they make up relationships with you. Who knows about past lives. You just feel good when others praise you. No one praises you normally. All of a sudden, you are being praised, hugged and even kissed, which impresses you so much that you say, “I feel so close to you.” Two days later, the person sells you insurance. You feel bad if you don’t buy it from your “sister” in a past life. Take heed to this, alright? (Sure.)

So regarding fate, or karmic connection, first, don’t force it on anyone. Second, be rational when facing fellow practitioners. However, a karmic connection, is still hard to explain. There are truly many “previous-life connections” that exist. Other than those you expect to form a connection with to sell insurance or accept as your girlfriend, sometimes you are not intended to do so. With some, you feel a sense of familiarity and fondness; it is not due to their good looks. Normally, we say that is a karmic connection. Some are like you; some your relatives, your dad or mom.

Also, many girls find partners who look like their brother or father, right? They might not even notice. Think again. That is the man you want to marry. He may look like your dad or brother, or share their personality. It makes sense. Why? Cows marry cows; goats marry goats, right? If cows marry goats, mutation arises. It doesn’t work. So people tend to find a spouse who looks like them, and has a compatible horoscope. Between animals, of course they will marry their same species. You don’t need your spouse to have the same zodiac sign as you, but you do want the one who looks good to you. What look is it? It is the look of your family.

When we feel fondness for a person, it is for various reasons. Besides looks, there must be reasons someone really moves your heart. Maybe you had unfinished love or unavenged hatred in a past life. Like in a movie, they are after you from the Qin or Ming Dynasty. It is all possible.

A myriad of ties form a karmic connection. Face a karmic connection rationally and don’t force it on anyone.

You have heard of the reincarnation of living buddhas in Tibet, right? Do you believe it is true? (Yes.) Do you believe you are also reincarnated? (Yes.) Don’t rush. Think before you answer me. Some scientists and professors researched and studied reincarnation. Some reincarnated people remember their previous life clearly. Scientists, especially in Europe, only accept scientific means to prove the truth of reincarnation. One person isn’t enough; they need more evidence and witnesses.

I know a man now in his 30s, married with children. When he was just 3 and could barely speak, he told his parents where he used to live. The place was about 100 km away from his present home. His parents ignored him at first, but he kept saying, “Take me home. I want to see my girlfriend and my dad.” How could a 3 year old have a girlfriend? He said that in his previous life he died in a fight. He was stabbed to death in the liver at 17. The child died in a fight, not from a conspiracy. After death, he soon reincarnated and came to this family. He remembered everything, even the details of his previous life. This is strange. So when he was 3 and nagging his parents, they were annoyed but curious, so they decided to take him there. There was no highway. They took a boat, a bus, and a truck. There wasn’t direct transportation. Hainan Province is an island. They traveled for a full day, before arriving at the village he talked about. There they spoke a different dialect. People in this region couldn’t speak their dialect. No one understood each other if they didn’t listen carefully. Arriving at the village, the kid was so tired that he couldn’t walk anymore. Sitting on his dad’s shoulders, he told his dad where to go, to the left or right to get to his home.

When they entered the courtyard, they saw a grandpa sitting there. The kid knelt down and said, “Dad, your son is back.” His son was killed at 17.

After several years, he was back. His dad was lost, asking, “Who are you?” He said his name from his previous life. This family was very poor; they had nothing but family members. There wasn’t any treasure or mineral resources in the area. Those who forced a connection were mostly cheaters looking to exploit. Such a lonely poor old man, suddenly meets a stranger who calls him dad. When his previous siblings arrived, he recognized them immediately – his sister, elder brothers and younger brother.

Before he had died, he had a girlfriend. “Let me take you to my girlfriend’s home,” said this 3-year-old boy. His “girlfriend” was married, maybe in her 20s or 30s. He called her name and said, “You are my girlfriend.” “What? You are a little child. Don’t talk nonsense.” “Don’t you believe me? That evening, we were holding hands walking into the woods. We did something nice…” “Wait! Don’t make up stories! Hey, how do you know all that?” He told her who he was. Everyone was scared upon hearing it. Every incident was true. How can a 3 year old possibly remember so clearly? His facial expression was not that of a 3 year old, but of an adult. He even spoke the local dialect which his current parents didn’t understand at all.

In a village in Hunan Province where most minorities such as the Yi and Miao ethnic groups live, over 100 people were reincarnated from their previous lives. There was a pattern: Most of those who died young or as a child, after reincarnation, clearly remembered their previous lives. In fact, all of us are reincarnated but few remember their past lives. Some come back to fulfill their previously unfinished wishes. Some come back to marry someone they wanted in their past life. Due to the love in their previous lives, they made a pledge: “I will marry him and wait on him.” Some came back to pay off their debts. Some couples were young and good-looking when they got married. But 2 years later, the husband was paralyzed in a car accident. The wife was tested, taking care of him for 30 or 50 years. Why? Paying debts.

Thus, don’t vow or make promises easily. If you do so and it is unfulfilled, you will have to fulfill it in the next life. It is that serious. It is not a joke. Especially when you are angry and curse yourself or others to die. Don’t say such words. Don’t swear. If you do, say “pei, pei, pei” (spit out the bad words). But don’t spit on others when you say “pei”. So mind your words. They could bring horrible outcomes.

In fact, I have had many such experiences. When my master first met me, he said, “You have come back. I thought you would arrive in 2 months, but you are here now.” Wow, I thought he was talking to someone behind me. No one was there. “Master, are you talking to me?” “Yes. I am talking to you.” Not only did he know me, he started teaching me. He felt like my father, dignified, dear to me, and I revered him. I didn’t even need to say, “Master, I am sincere.” He just understood me. He knew the state of my day-to-day practice. He didn’t need to stand beside me and ask, “What are you doing? Playing with toys? Playing video games?” He wasn’t there, but he knew all. Verbal expression wasn’t needed to show how he loved me. It wasn’t necessary to test me. It seemed like we had known each other for years.

Sometimes, someone suddenly shows up to help you. Such coincidences are also fate. Just like the Potala Palace in Tibet that you have seen on TV. Some of you have been there. One time I passed by the foothills. It was midnight and the street lamps were broken. Some of the kids were naughty and had broken the lamps with stones. Or perhaps there had been a power failure. It was really dark, but I wasn’t afraid to walk in the darkness. A robber came up, pointing a knife at my lower back, and said, “Give me your money.” I said, “I have no money. I want to rob others too.” “Shut up and give me your money.” I said, “I really don’t have any. I want to rob for money. We should be partners and rob together. Don’t you recognize your partner? I am a robber too.”

“Shut up.” He put the knife on me and reached for my pocket. At that moment, another more threatening voice said, “Don’t move or I will shoot.” I thought how unlucky I was to have met 2 robbers. When I turned around, I saw the second robber put the gun on the first robber. “Wow! Great timing! Thank you for coming to help me, my friend!” “Don’t talk.” He didn’t want me to say anything. He took the first robber’s knife and $20, and gave them to me. Then the second robber grabbed the first one and said, “Let’s go have a drink.” Since then, we have become friends. At a most dangerous moment, someone showed up. At that time, I didn’t fight with others. I was learning Buddhadharma, although I was young.

They were both 2 years older than me, and after drinking they said, “Brother, Tibet is a dangerous place with too many robbers. Let us protect you.” I brought them to my master. My master seemed to know them. He called them by name and asked them to pour tea. I asked my master, “Did you send them to rob me?” My master said, “Why would I do that?” “How did you know their names?” I asked. “I just felt those were their names,” master replied. “Why did you ask them to work?” “They look just like laborers or bodyguards. Got it?”

My master said that they were actually dharma protectors. At a critical moment, they showed up. “That is why I asked if you sent them.” He said, “I asked the deities to protect you. I didn’t know they would show up. As long as someone is protecting you, everything will be okay.” I asked the first robber, “How did you know I was passing by?” He said, “I didn’t care who passed by. I was hungry and had no money. I would rob anyone. I was so hungry. Then I saw you.” What a coincidence! It was fun.

Such life experiences make me ponder past, present, and future lives. I thought again about the Truth in Buddhist sutras. I won’t push you to believe in Buddhism. You choose your belief. As long as you feel happy when you have money, nothing wrong. It is practical. You just need to open your mind and elevate your intelligence. Your world view is too small. I feel happy when I see mountains or hear people sing. You need spiritual pursuits. Being rich is not the only way to find happiness. Surely, you won’t be very happy if you are poor.

If you remember your past lives, whether you learn Buddhism or Taoism, it doesn’t matter. The higher your pursuit, the better you will become. After studying and reading about reincarnation in Tibet, I deeply believe in reincarnation. None of us came from nowhere. We came to connect with our previous acquaintances, our parents, teachers, and our families, or to learn more. You might also reincarnate because of your vows, including self-cultivators who continue their practice. Truly, if Buddhist cultivators vowed to practice dharma, they often follow the same master, reincarnating for many lives. Such probability is very high.

Documentaries of living buddhas reincarnating in Tibet are easily found online. I know several of them who, after reincarnation, were tested with different things, such as an old mala used by a deceased living buddha. It was put among dozens of other malas. The returning little living buddha grabbed it and put it around his neck. The inspectors were lamas with good social status and great energy of whom others were afraid. Yet, a 4-year-old kid would touch the dignified master’s head and say, “Come here and massage my feet.” Wow! It shocked everyone. The master’s deceased master made him do the exact same thing. For a kid to order him to massage his feet while patting his head was as easy as ordering his puppy to do something.

If other kids saw such a stranger with a solemn face and long beard, they would be scared or cry. But not this kid. When this kid came to the temple where he used to stay, the dog that barked at strangers listened to his order and obeyed; because he had been the master of the temple in his previous life. Thus, reincarnation does exist.

The karmic connection in this life may be a continuation or realization of promises and wishes from a previous life.

How should we conduct ourselves in this life? Just think about it: Why did you come here today? Most people say they have pain. Some who believe in science say, “The doctor told me there is no cure for my sickness. I am just trying everything that might possibly help. I heard that you could help so here I am.” There is nothing wrong with this as anyone can get sick. Many people start self-cultivating due to their illness.

I met many meditators practicing in the mountains. I asked them, “Brother, why do you practice so strictly for over 10 hours a day, sitting cross-legged without leaving the room? You are so diligent. I admire you.” “Nonsense. If I don’t practice diligently, I will die.” “Oh, really? I admired you so much, but it turns out you are just afraid of death.” Later, I found most people come to practice for this reason.

They are given a chance to correct their karma. Please remember the term “karma”. “Karma” in Chinese is “ye-li”, which means “career” and “power”. What is karma then? It is a collection of good and bad, or a ball of energy. “Karma” doesn’t only refer to bad deeds, but also good ones. Yet it can be distinguished clearly by the deities, and the Universe which is where energy is naturally stored, unlike the computer that needs a USB to store data. The energy we need is in the Universe. We don’t need a USB. Understood? All your information is automatically stored in Nature.

When you reach a certain age, starting with your marriage, to when you are about 50, your karma in this life is settled, like a freeze-frame. Everything about your life stabilizes. Both bad and good karma stabilize and won’t change much. A Chinese saying says “Know one’s fate at 50.” Then, fate is almost fixed. For good fate, significant moments in life are crucial. The first significant moment is when you marry. Your spouse could impact your fate for the rest of your life after marriage. Think about it: Who have you married? Why did you do poorly? It might be due to your partner who has brought you down. What made your life become so good? Some ladies might say it is because of them.

“Wow, you are great! Your husband is so lucky to have married you.” “Yes. He was penniless. He became rich after marrying me. I am a wife who brings prosperity to my husband.” It is better not to argue with her at that moment. She ran after the husband when dating, but she said, “Honey, you were crazy about me, right?” Many ladies are unreasonable. Yes, you were wooed because you set many traps and seductions. If you hadn’t enticed him, how would he have fallen in love and married you? Anyway, this is their business. We leave them alone. This is destiny, isn’t it?

If a married woman falls in love with another man, it is negative karma. Why would you marry a bandit? It is also your negative karma. If you marry a man who becomes a Prince Charming eventually, it is your good deeds and merits. After marrying you, your husband has a successful career and prosperous posterity. It is due to your merits and virtues. Though not old, I have spent almost all my life studying the existence of merits, karma and reincarnation. Then I realized these myths or legends really do exist. Whatever religion you believe in, you can research online and find many stories about reincarnation, and also about whether doing good or bad deeds creates retribution. These are also true. Consequences truly exist.

Before Buddha, bodhisattvas, and the deities you believe in, if you vow to do good deeds and refrain from harming, cheating, cursing, or stealing, you will be punished if you violate your vows. When I was young and practicing with my master, I had a young dharma brother who attended to my master and didn’t have much time to practice, often helping my master and me run errands. He didn’t know much about religion. Tibetans mostly believe in Buddhism, so he naturally believed in it. He didn’t have a deep belief and was illiterate. He told me everything.

One day he said, “Is causality real or not?” I said, “It is probably real.” “I don’t believe it. I want to cheat master and see if he will punish me.” I asked, “How would you cheat master?” He replied, “I will find a way.”

One day, when he served rice to the master, he mixed the leftover rice with the newly cooked rice. We shouldn’t serve master leftovers. He brought the mixed rice to my master. He told me, “I just want to see if he knows, and if I will be punished.” He said, “Master, it is time to eat. This is the rice you like.” My master said, “You had better bring me the fresh rice.” He insisted, “Master, this is fresh rice.” My master said, “Are you looking for a beating?” He was scared to death this time. He said, “This old man has real power.”

One time he smoked secretly and was caught by my master. My master pinched his ear and said, “You little brat, If you smoke again, I will tear your ear off. Got it?” “I won’t smoke again.” he pleaded.

Another time, my master left for a trip and we were free. He said, “Let’s go to a movie in Lhasa.” I said, “Sure. I want to see a movie too.” There was an outdoor cinema. They would just set up a projector and played the movie. The men around him were smoking. He asked me, “Brother, you want one?” I said, “No.” But he said, “I want to smoke.” “You forgot what Master told you?” “But he is not here. Why take it so seriously? I will smoke one. Don’t tell master.” I said, “Alright.” I thought I wasn’t loyal to him if I told Master, so I said, “Go ahead.”

As he puffed on the cigarette and ate peanuts, I grew very angry. I said, “You promised master you wouldn’t smoke again.” Though I wouldn’t tell my master, I hoped the dharma protectors would punish him and see if he would then stop smoking. I prayed for a while but it didn’t work. He still smoked and ate. Then something happened. He screamed and spat out the cigarette butt. As he smoked, he had put the cigarette in his mouth thinking it was a peanut. His tongue was burnt and he got a blister. I said, “See, master is powerful.”

Since then, I have been timid and chicken-hearted. Although my voice is loud, as if I were bold, I am fearful. I believe deities exist and are everywhere. They are watching you all the time. You just can’t see them. That is scary.

Do you want to be a kind person? (Yes.) Speak louder. (Yes.) That is good. If you make a kind vow, try to fulfill it. If you don’t, it is not good. If you vowed to be a good person before Buddha or deities, when dealing with people, especially if there is a conflict of interest, you have to be compassionate, less greedy, and give more. Not only will you not lose money, you will make more money. After that, I began to study the way of being a human. After that, I learned the proper way of doing business, the way of teaching, being a boss or an employee, or any role in the family. They are all the same.

Crooked business people won’t make a big fortune. Even if they make big money, they may lose their lives. Remember this. When you are greedy for money, ask yourself if you are fated to hold it. When greed arises and you face wealth, sex, and other temptations, you should also think about how long you have got to live. These words sound too serious. I am sorry. I said them without thinking. Maybe this is the voice of my heart. So, when greed arises, take one step back. When doing good deeds, take one step forward. We should follow others in doing good deeds. Give money to a beggar on the street, whether he is fake or not. What if he is the embodiment of a deity? To a Buddhist, he may be the embodiment of Guanyin Bodhisattva.

You try hard to be near rich people but avoid a stinky, dirty person. I don’t think there is anyone poor and hungry who exudes fragrance. Is there such a person? (Yes.) Who? Are you? Let’s verify it later. You better use less perfume in the future. Often the poorer we are, the dirtier we tend to be. Especially in the south, if you don’t take a bath or shower after sweating, no one likes your stinky smell. Whether male or female, anyone who doesn’t clean themselves will be avoided. They won’t be attractive. But these are the people we should help and offer more to.

In Vancouver, some fellow practitioners who are rational and educated, asked me, “Master, why should we help them? They deserve it. It is their karma. We shouldn’t help them.” Yes. You sound reasonable. But, if this 70-year-old beggar was your mother, what would you do? If this crippled old man, wearing shabby clothes and begging in such snowy, freezing cold weather, were your father, what would you do? They said, “Well, my parents are living very well.” Yes, they are now. What about tomorrow? With your snobbery and disregard, can you guarantee that they won’t be begging in the future? Every dog has its day. Today you are rich, but you may be penniless tomorrow. If this person were your mother, father, or son, would you ignore them? Whether the example is reasonable or not, let’s feel for others.

What is “learning Buddhadharma?” Are we learning to ignore Truth? Do we learn to be a bad person? No. All major religions believe in compassion. Right? “Loving all beings” in Christianity is almost the same as “All-Compassion” in Buddhism. Only the two deities look different. Because of his great love and compassion, we worship him. But to help only the rich is totally unnecessary. It is just “icing on the cake”. It is all greed for fame and fortune. Those who add “icing on the cake” are flatterers. They seek something. They do it for more personal gain. Only giving timely help is truly All-Compassion. So, we are willing to provide timely help.

Anyway, because of good deeds you did in the past, you have the chance in this life to learn dharma from me. I won’t let go of you easily. I will help to eliminate your negative karma, to expel your previous wrong doings, and teach you what is good and bad. Then you will make the right choice.

First, have a thought to become a kind person. Help the poor, suffering, and weak who are in need. Don’t just donate all your assets to eliminate your negative karma. You should take care of your family and use a small portion, from $1 to $1,000, just enough to show that you are compassionate. Your compassion cultivates slowly, like nourishing a kid or a seedling. I hope you will be good people, slowly cultivating yourselves and adapting compassionate behaviors. It is doing good deeds.

After understanding cause and effect, do more good deeds, plant good seeds, and reap good fruit.