How is it that harmful results follow from harmful actions? It is by the
force of an imprint placed on our mind that the potential to experience
future suffering comes about. For example, a person who commits murder
plants a very strong negative impression on his or her own mind and that
impression, or seed, carries with it the potential to place that mind in a
state of extreme misery. Unless the impression of that non-virtuous action
is purified this latent seed will remain implanted in the mind, its power
dormant but unimpaired. When the appropriate circumstances are eventually
met, the potential power of this impression will be activated and the seed
will ripen as an experience of intense suffering. . . . The situation is
analogous to that of an arid piece of ground into which seeds were placed a
long time ago. As long as these seeds are not destroyed somehow, they will
retain their potential to grow. Should the ground be watered sufficiently
these long-forgotten seeds will suddenly sprout forth. In a similar fashion
our karmic actions plant their seeds in the field of our consciousness and
when we encounter the proper conditions these seeds will sprout and bear
their karmic fruit. 


Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Meaningful to Behold from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle
book edited by Jean Smith













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