As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. The seeds you plant are the “cause”, and the fruit you reap is the “result”. There will be a result as long as there is a cause; this is the Law of Nature.

In daily life, your behavior and even an initial thought are the “cause”. In the cycle of time and space, they will eventually trigger their corresponding “effect”, and you will realize this “effect” as “retribution”. In reality, what “cause” yields what “effect”? What is the “retribution” ?

Watch this video and follow Grandmaster JinBodhi to learn about causality in-depth, thereby avoiding mistakes and detours, and experiencing less suffering and trouble in life. An initial thought can create a happy and joyful life.

【You will learn】

  • Causality
  • How to “plant a kind seed and yield kind fruit”
  • How to be self-enlightened

【Featured aphorism】

  • Whatever you are feeling, “good” or “not good”, “happy” or “in pain”, that is retribution.
  • When troubles come, you can’t escape; it’s retribution brought about by bad karma.
  • “Self-enlightened” means you understand self-control. Those who have strong self-control are most rational and wise.


Causality is the Law of Nature. Buddha made it clear, so it is easier for us to learn.

Sow Kind Causes and Reap Kind Effects

Let’s talk about “causality”, the most important idea in Buddhism. Causality means there is a cause for every resulting effect. Let’s say you have got a cold and fever because you are tired and have the flu. Your fever has a cause. Why do you sing? Because you are happy. Why do you exercise? You want health. Why do you read? You need knowledge. There is a need, so a result ensues. Causality is the Law of Nature. Different philosophers summarized it in different way. Buddha made it clear, so it is easier for us to learn.

Let’s come back to this fundamental truth of causality. Good or bad, joy or pain are “guobao” or effects. This term seems like a Buddhist term, right? Actually, if we use another term it would be autumn harvest. We harvest fruit in autumn. In autumn, fruit ripens. “Guo” is fruit in Chinese. “Bao” (effect) refers to feelings. The apple tree you planted 3 years ago yields fruit now. We pick the apples when ripe. The fruit is “guo”; what you feel is “bao”. “Guo” is harvest; “bao” is feelings. Putting them together, we say “guobao”.

Let’s say 3 years ago, I planted an apple tree. I worked hard on trimming the branches, fertilizing, watering, managing and taking care of it every year. 3 years later it yielded much fruit, and I am very happy. First, “guo” represents fruit; second, it also means harvest. “Bao” means feelings, feelings of joy. Also, when I planted the tree, I didn’t know what type of tree it was. It turned out to produce sour apples. After a bite, I had a toothache for 3 days. This is also “effect”. Why? Because you planted a sour apple tree. Now we know the general meaning of effect.

The seed you planted is the “cause”. The yielded fruit is the “effect”. The feeling the fruit brings us is “bao”. Relating to our life, our behavior, even arising thoughts or intentions, are “causes”. With the change of time and space, they surely yield fruit. The different emotions we feel are the “bao” or effects.

The given example is about planting an apple tree. Let’s say, 3 years ago, you were involved in a hit and run accident. A person died in the accident. What would the consequences be now, or several years from now? You might feel guilty. You might have nightmares. Though you escaped the law, you are always fearful and jolted awake by nightmares. You might get sick because of this.

Later on you might feel the person isn’t really dead. His soul always appears in your dreams, frightening you and wanting your life. When taking your life, he uses the rope. This is “suoming” or taking your life. If the dead often appear in your dreams, what will happen? You will go crazy; your kidneys and heart will fail, and you will suffer more. “Guobao” appears, and “bao” refers to the feelings. Thus, you will get ill.

We mentioned planting trees and running over a person. Let’s say something positive. Let’s say you are a school teacher. You love children very much. You conscientiously teach and help them. If they make mistakes, you teach, guide and encourage them. 10 years later, they are excellent and talented adults. They will even want to repay your kindness. You feel happy and honored. Your feelings are “guobao”, that of happiness and achievement. You feel your effort has been worthwhile. You are proud. Your students’ outstanding achievements bring you happiness.

When we are happy, we have wondrous feelings. But if the “guobao” is bad, you will feel life is hard, with much suffering. Everyone has experienced “guobao” of suffering, no matter how old. When suffering comes, life becomes difficult. There is no way to escape it. All kinds of suffering exist. Suffering varies for people. There is nowhere to escape. Life isn’t easy when one suffers. Thus, some choose suicide. They felt there was no way out. There is no path to liberation, only obstruction and death. They can no longer face these life afflictions, so eventually they choose to leave this world.

When the good “guobao” arrives, people feel so happy; but when the bad comes, they feel extremely troubled. These afflictions won’t go away just by chatting with friends. When afflictions come, it is almost impossible to escape. Such afflictions are the “guobao” of karma, also called negative karma.

Causality is the concept of reaping what you sow. Good karma is like planting good seeds; negative karma, bad seeds. Eventually, we will reap what we sow.

Knowing causality, we know how to behave. Buddha taught us to do good deeds, and stop doing bad ones. We stop bad intentions and behaviors, and perform all good deeds. We partake in all auspicious, kind deeds. Don’t do any bad deeds; especially when you already know it is bad. Though stealing a small amount is not a big problem, it is bad. Don’t do it. Discipline yourselves to stop doing bad deeds. We call it self-awareness. It is actually self-discipline. The more self-disciplined you are, the more rational and wise you will be.