People make decisions every day, from what to eat for dinner to what to strive for in life. We tend to think that our life is in our hands; yet, from time to time, we may sense that there is an unseen force behind our decision-making.

In some moments, it feels like we are inspired to make certain decisions, and we feel great conviction while doing so. Where does such inspiration come from? Who or what moves us to make those decisions? Find out in this teaching by Grandmaster JinBodhi.

【You will learn】

  • What makes us like or dislike someone
  • The definition of causality

【Featured aphorisms】

  • We may love or hate people upon meeting them for the first time, not because of appearances but because they kindle immediate unexplainable feelings in us.
  • Inheritance plays a vital role in causality, hence the saying “the past decides the present.”


The law of cause and effect transcends what humans have come to know as this lifetime. It’s like an inherited type of energy. This energy is the karmic result of all past lives.

The Past Decides the Present

Buddha taught us about the law of causality, teaching us how to act and how to make decisions. Throughout our life, right from our days of seeking education at school, all of us are bound to have connections with people we like and dislike. There were times when I tried hard to befriend a classmate, I treated him well, shared food with him, told him my story, yet in the end, he still told lies behind my back or even ignored me. Such situations will always exist. This is called fate.

This fate is beyond normal people’s understanding of fate. It is why you don’t like a certain person, but you like another person as soon as you see him. At first, you don’t understand why. But when you reach a certain age, you will realize people with certain characteristics probably won’t become your friends, while people with other characteristics, or with certain ways of speaking, are more likely to become your friends. This is what happens.

Hence, some would say, “Those with thin faces are my friends”, or “Those with big eyes are friends”, or “People with small eyes are my foes”. I am exaggerating my examples. However, once we have reached a certain age, we will find some rules like these. Once you have gained sufficient experience over time, you will conclude: Those with certain features are friends, while others are not. He may even dislike me; I wouldn’t even try befriending him. Even if we can become friends, we will split sooner or later. You would come to such a realization.

(Every moment, we are facing different choices. It may be small like choosing a meal, or it’s major like deciding your life goal. We have grown accustomed to thinking we control our own lives. But somehow we feel that behind every choice we make, there is a force of energy controlling us. Who is piloting our choices?)

I would still ask why you like this sort of person, instead of the other types? After many years, you conclude that this is someone you dislike. You and he just can’t become friends. Why? I can only say this is accumulated karma from past lives. You dislike him upon seeing him; it is due to problems in your past life. He might have been your rival in love. He might have dumped you in your past life. This may be why you hate him. We will notice that among our colleagues, there will be some we dislike. We would always find a reason to dislike them.

Some children naturally dislike a certain food. Some children dislike eggplant. A boy’s mother used a special method of cooking eggplant into a tasty dish. After eating it, his face swelled up like an eggplant. His mother asked, “What is going on? We didn’t say he can’t have eggplant. But he has always disliked eggplant.” The mother said, “While growing up, kids need to learn to get used to the world. That was why I intentionally searched the Internet for all sorts of methods to make eggplant taste delicious. But he had a severe allergic reaction to it. Why is that so?”

I said it was a natural instinct; he has a reason to hate it. This form of hate is expressed from one’s spiritual feeling. But it stems from biological needs. Our body is like a powerful computer. Before even eating the eggplant, I know it isn’t suitable for me. Especially with regard to kids, they are sensitive and spiritually aware. He firmly believes that he can’t eat eggplant. He may have never eaten one; but he will refuse to eat it.

It is a biological rejection of eggplant. It is his body that is rejecting the food. He knows it, even though he has never eaten it. Like disliking someone upon meeting them; you won’t be friends. From the start, you will form a mental barrier between you and the person you dislike. He will never be my friend, so I don’t need to talk to him. Eggplant doesn’t do it for me, so why should I eat it? I can’t stand the feeling after eating it.

(Our instincts aid us in decision-making during crucial moments. Sometimes, the judgment is inexplicable yet unwavering; where does it come from? What is the foundation for the judgment?)

People aren’t eggplants or chili peppers, nor are they alcohol or vinegar; why then would you reject him? You see a total stranger, he has never lied to you or dumped you in this life, you are only 17, but you hate this person at first sight, why? Everyone has had experiences like this, right? You like some people while disliking others. To find out the reason, you can only trace back to your past lives.

Hence, sometimes, not knowing the past is a good thing. Whether we like or dislike someone we meet for the first time, apart from their appearance, we do have different feelings about them. The law of cause and effect transcends what humans have come to know as this lifetime. It is like an inherited type of energy. This energy is the karmic result of all past lives.

First impressions are the expression of the fated connection between people.