Both karma in its causal sense – producing the karmic seeds that will ripen in the future – and karma in terms of our experience of its results depend on intention. It’s not what we do or say that matters karmically, but rather what motivates what we do or say. And it’s not really about what others do or say to us that matter when it comes to our experience of the results of karma. It is what we suppose to be the intention behind those actions or words.
A “good” karmic action is one that is motivated by kindness, compassion, altruism, and selflessness. Conversely, a “bad” karmic action is one that is inspired by negative emotions and egoistical self-interest. The very same act or the exact same words can be either “good” or “bad” depending on the intention that lies behind them.
And when we are the recipients of the fruition of karma – when somebody does or says something to us – it is what we suppose their intention was that determines whether we experience it as “pleasant” or “unpleasant.” What goes around does indeed come around. We know how to presume that another’s intention towards us was positive or negative because we have had positive and negative intentions towards others in the past. And because we know what it feels like to assume that others have positive or negative motivation, we know how to formulate our own positive or negative intentions.
But we actually do not know what others’ intentions are; we can only imagine what they might be. So one way to change the karmic experience in the moment and make what would be a negative karmic result into a positive one is simply to change what we presume is the intention that motivated the action or the words. If we just assume that others have helpful rather than hurtful intentions toward us, we instantly transform the event into something positive. If nothing else, we can presume that others are trying to teach us about where our buttons are by pushing them. Even actions and words that hurt us can be changed into something beneficial if we assign a positive motivation to the actor or speaker.
By presupposing that others have good intentions toward us, we will be much more likely to generate good intentions toward others. And the converse is also true: When we have good intentions toward others, we will be much more likely to think that the other people we interact with have them towards us.