My father was mentally very unwell. As a result my mother worked to support her children. We grew up embarrassed by my fathers behaviours and effectively excluded him from our lives even though he still lived in the house with us. To be fair though, he was not capable of interacting, mostly staying shut in his room during the day, and living nocturnally. My mother who was a very kind person found solace by having a relationship with a married man whilst my father was at home . On leaving home, marrying and having my own children, I became reflective and angry and confused so for a short while I cut my mother out of our lives. Now, my own children grown, have done the same to me. Am I witnessing Karma in action? Does Karma that’s played out in the same lifetime mean that you won’t have to carry the consequences into you next lifetime? I see so many examples of direct cause and effect in my own life that I hope that if I deal mindfully with my feelings as a result, that I am paying Karmic debt now .. not in future reincarnations. Is this possible?

6 Answers 6


Sue. While I am not suggesting you write an auto-biography, your post is lacking in information. However, making assumptions based on what you wrote and offering mere speculative examples based on what you wrote:

  1. Your mother was probably lonely and without support.

  2. Having an affair with a married man was possibly a way to have a relationship or gain some companionship and physical affection without the perceived threat of a committed relationship that impinged upon her family and a duty of care she felt she had towards her disabled husband.

  3. If you cut your mother out of your life because she had a affair with a married man, this can be perceived as both reasonable and unreasonable.

  4. HOWEVER, IMPORTANTLY, you should list or define (to yourself) the reasons why you cut your mother out of your life because these are the actual causes of why you cut your mother out of your life.

  5. You should then list or define the reasons (to yourself) why your own children cut you out of their life.

  6. These reasons could be related to the mental attitude you had for cutting your mother out of your life; such as you having a lack of forgiveness, a lack of tolerance, being demanding, having a lack of understanding, being morally overzealous, etc.

  7. Or the reasons for your children's decision could be due to their own unwholesme mental attitudes.

  8. The point is the reasons & causes are either your mental tendencies, your children's mental tendencies or a combination of both.

  9. Buddhism teaches various mental attitudes & behaviours are either: (i) wholesome; or (ii) unwholesome.

  10. If you get angry a lot or criticise a lot, this can be unwholesome. Therefore, others may reject or avoid you for this.

  11. In summary, its all about current attitudes, habitual tendencies & behaviours rather than past & future lives.

  12. Therefore, if you have habitual unwholesome qualities that are not changed; the same rejection from others may occur in the future.

  • There is merit in much of what you say. To be fair to myself I am very open to learning through helpful critiquing. I have not written a ‘biography’ because I see both sides of everything much of the time so it could have become too complex to read. I appreciate your time Oct 21, 2019 at 1:48
  • I will sit and thoroughly work out why I cut my mother from my life for a time. It’s a very thought provoking exercise. Oct 21, 2019 at 1:50
  • Ok. Best wishes. Oct 21, 2019 at 2:44
  • Thank you. I did what you suggested. I discovered. I did not judge my mother, but her affair ( she was working nights till 7am with a Chinese family who accepted my mother as second wife and loved her very much) stopped me from being protected from the madness of my fathers night excursions. On marrying very young, my husbands family offered me normality . I bought into their judgement of my own unusual family. Interestingly, my husband subtly turned my own children against me to elevate himself and put me down. I believe I’ve witnessed karma in action on this occasion and many more. Oct 21, 2019 at 20:02
  • We practise Buddhism to develop a heart of pleasant emotions. Old karma is merely something we use various methods to resolve; so we come to a heart of peasant emotions. With metta Oct 21, 2019 at 22:24

Now, my own children grown, have done the same to me. Am I witnessing Karma in action?

The Buddha specifically warned against trying to speculate about the workings of karma:

“There are these four inconceivables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four? [...] “The [precise working out of the] results of kamma.…

AN 4:77

So it is futile and unhelpful to speculate about karma.

Does Karma that’s played out in the same lifetime mean that you won’t have to carry the consequences into you next lifetime?

Yes, according to the Buddha in AN 3:100:

“Now, a trifling evil deed done by what sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment? There is the case where a certain individual is developed in [contemplating] the body, developed in virtue, developed in mind, developed in discernment: unrestricted, large-hearted, dwelling with the immeasurable. A trifling evil deed done by this sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.

In short, karma may manifest quickly, in the same life. Such manifestation will necessarily mean that you won't carry it to your next rebirth.

The earlier caveat still applies: you can't know with any certainty or precision whether that has happened. To wit, you don't know if what you experienced is the result of karma gained from ignoring your mother, and whether it is manifestation of all the karma you might have gained from that action. In fact, you can't know how much karma - if any - you gained from those past actions.

I see so many examples of direct cause and effect in my own life that I hope that if I deal mindfully with my feelings as a result, that I am paying Karmic debt now .. not in future reincarnations. Is this possible?

I recommend you read the entire Salt Crystal sutta. The Buddha taught that people who are more advanced in their practice will experience karma more immediately, and in that sense "purify" their karmic burden more quickly.

This may or may not apply to your situation, and it's inadvisable to contemplate it too much, much less to get attached to such notions.

Regardless, according to the teachings of karma, if some karma manifests in any life, it is thereby extinguished. Therefore, indeed, if you experience a karmic result, that karma has dissipated.

  • Laozi, this has been a very skilfully explained answer.i will read the Salt Crystal. Oct 20, 2019 at 23:51
  • Laozi. I read the Salt Crystal and whilst I will not pay to much attention to it by either feeling elevated or put down, I feel great hope and caution at the same time . In my life I am constantly experiencing, bizarrely intricate replications of my own bad deeds, thoughts and words, happening back to me. It’s very thought provoking. Oct 21, 2019 at 20:29

It can be a result of many factors:

  • Consequences of how you treated both your mother and father
  • If you raised your children merely with food but without taking the time to instill moral values in them.
  • Your current and past behavior with your children

  • Children becoming genuinely busy in life after getting jobs or getting married

  • Consequences of Karma in a past life

What you can do about it?

  • Ask forgiveness from your mother for how you treated her in the past. Whether she cheated on your father is not really your business. It's her Karma. She is still your mother in any case.
  • Treat both your parents well and with respect as much as you are able
  • Without getting into emotional arguments try to talk to your children nicely and ask if there is a real reason behind them cutting you off
  • Practice Upekkha(equanimity) like all parents should when their children leave them after growing up
  • Practice Satipatthana mediation to counter your sorrow and expectations. It is the best meditation if you are interested in depleting Karma(Vipaka) and reducing the making of new bad ones within this life itself.

Nope, it is just the result of being born into a mixed up family. You were coping as best you could and that may not have had the best effects on you. At least you can see your problems and try to do something about them. See everyones point of view and try and make amends. Of course I would say that as I don't believe in reincarnation.

  • An equal possibility. Fortunately I am content to sit with this without concern. Probability has shown itself too many times in my life to need to choose the answer. It chose me. Oct 22, 2019 at 19:39
  • Possibly it's this passive response to problems that has caused the situation in the first place? There aren't many problems that can be solved by waiting for them to sort themselves out. Just a thought.
    – ThirdPrize
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:36
  • Very insightful. But it’s served me well . I’m happy in the face of what others would call adversity. Oct 23, 2019 at 19:34
  • I should clarify that. I am very capable of seeing both sides of the situation very clearly. In the case of my children cutting me out of their lives I struggled for a long time wanting them to connect. I sent many messages of love and openness ( and still do) to listen. It was a struggle until I realised that the best thing I could do was be happy in myself, and hope that their choice to not have me in their lives was a positive thing for them. I have learned to master my own feeling of ‘need’ and reconciled myself to learn to be content without them in my life. Oct 23, 2019 at 20:50

I think I understand "kamma" as having two meanings.

One is that it's description of how the present situation (as you see it) came to be -- it results from a (vast) lot of different factors, and not only from your own intentions but other people's too -- for example, whatever your parents' intentions were at the time, had effects and side-effects on you and what you learned from them.

In English there's a phrase "unintended consequences" -- there are, also, "intended consequences" -- so I think of the law of kamma as a law of consequences. It's a very general law? I think it's said that kamma is so complicated than only a Buddha can really understand how it has worked in particular cases.

The other defines kamma as "intentional action" which I think means that we're not helpless to affect the future. The future -- what will happen, how we might feel about and react to that, what we'll do -- is something we have some effect over.

So for example you can intend to be harmless and so on, altruistic, be kind to the people around you -- that is "intention" -- and, acting on that intention should have good (kammic) result.

I think that the four brahma-viharas are recommended as a 'right' way to interact with (a position from which to interact with) people socially.


Sue Hamilton What you called Karma is actually result of Karma ..or the response recieved from commiting a Karma. Karma is a verb not a noun this is a century old mistake ..o k now What you did is DEED Response you recieved ..is REACTION Now I ll explain When you do something you pay then and there not later not in next life How Whatever you do, would intensify your habit of doing that Next time you would commit the same crime with much ease , not so difficult. That is the price you pay for a bad deed. That is ...it becomes easier to repeat

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