A Preface to The Hundred Deeds
Homage to the Omniscient Teacher!
The Hundred Deeds focuses on the way happiness and suffering manifest as the results of virtuous and non-virtuous actions, and it includes ancillary discussions on past and future lives. Generally speaking, the teachings on the principle of karmic causality and on past and future lives are either presented by means analytical reasoning, or through scriptures that express the Buddha’s wisdom on the topic. This sūtra follows the latter approach, and it contains a variety of stories that make it easy to understand.
Karmic causality and past and future lives are natural aspects of the true condition of phenomena. Different results arise on the basis of different causes and conditions—this is the way things are. Not only do causes and results not differ from each other in terms of their virtuous or non-virtuous characters, there is actually a strict correspondence between them. It is said in The Rice Seedling Sūtra:
Here, outer dependent arising is to be seen in terms of five aspects. What five aspects? As not permanent, as not discontinuous, as not involving something that is transferred, as the production of a large result from a small cause, and as a continuity of similar type.
In the context of external things such as plants, (1) the principle of karmic causality is not permanent, since causes cease once the results have arisen. (2) It is not discontinuous, since the results definitely arise when all the required causes and conditions are present. (3) It does not involve something that is transferred, since the results are not the advent of something that was already present. (4) Large results may be produced on the basis of small causes, just as large fruits like watermelons grow from small watermelon seeds. (5) There is a continuity of similar types, since the results always correspond to the types of causes they arise from; they can never be of different types, just as watermelons always grow from watermelon seeds and beans always grow from bean seeds. These five aspects also apply to the strict correspondence between virtuous and non-virtuous actions and the arising of happiness and suffering that ensues.
This true condition of phenomena has not been created by anyone. It is said in The Rice Seedling Sūtra:
Whether tathāgatas appear or not, this true nature of things will remain.
It is explained here that, whether buddhas appear in this world or not, results always arise on the basis of their respective causes and conditions. This has always been the true condition of the natural realm; it is not something the buddhas have created. The buddhas are therefore the knowers of the principle of karmic causality, not its creators.
For those reasons, if human beings engage in positive or virtuous actions, the result they will experience will be happiness, but if they engage in negative or non-virtuous actions, the result they will experience will be suffering. Whether we will experience happiness or suffering in the future depends solely on ourselves, so we shouldn’t put our hopes on others as no one will be able to protect us. We are therefore reminded that it is crucial to accomplish positive actions. Such a consideration will bring peace, happiness, and serenity to our individual lives, our societies, and our entire environment—this is highly relevant to our actual lives. If we understand well the principle of karmic causality and past and future lives, we will be able to gain a complete comprehension of both our lives and the world, and we will therefore have the capacity to live meaningful lives, and to pursue our long-term aspirations with far-reaching vision.
Nowadays, these sūtras are being translated into Western languages under the leadership of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. This enormous project will undoubtedly benefit many beings, so I rejoice and make the aspiration that all his wishes become fulfilled without obstacles.
This was composed by Tsultrim Lodrö on the twenty-third day of the final month of autumn of the Earth Dog year (2018), during the auspicious day of the convergence of Puṣya and Bṛhaspati, at the Lotus City.