As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

Posted by on Feb 25, 2008 in Philosophy | No Comments

I like the English adage “As you sow, so shall you reap.” I think this concept is inherent in Buddhism philosophy, especially “karma” and “samsara”.

I would like to talk about this concept from two different viewpoints:
1. In practice: Regardless of what kind of martial arts you do, Zen, meditation or T’ai Chi Chu’an, I think you must choose a right way for you, then wholeheartedly plunge into it. Then you can reap/get what you want.
However, sowing is usually lonely. Before Prince Siddhartha reached enlightenment and became a Buddha, he wholehearted practiced religious ascetic discipline for six years. However, he still couldn’t reach enlightenment because his starting point was wrong. After he revise his way of practicing from asceticism to the “Middle Way”, he told himself “ Even if I still can’t reach Enlightenment this way, and my only result will be death, I won’t get up!” With this resolve he sat down under a Bodhi tree in meditation. After seven days and seven nights he finally reached Enlightenment.
We see that Zen Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, Tai Chi, Chi Kung… etc are becoming more and more popular here in the West, but most of the people who’ve taken up the practice do it just for a short time. Only a few people can/do spend some time everyday practicing what they’ve learned. May I ask how someone, with an interest in Zen and meditation, practicing only twice a week for an hour each time, and spending all his or her other time habituated to a un-Zen way of thinking, can reach enlightenment? I wonder.
2. One’s philosophy toward the world: “As you sow, so shall you reap” talks about “cause and effect.” This is just the same as how we talk about “Karma” in Buddhism. If you believe you have an important influence on cause and effect then you will be careful when handling matters in your life. This is because you know you will reap the fruits of your action. So before people start to murmur against God and grumble about others they should first look at themselves. What part of their actions, beliefs and influences brought them into this situation?

I think reaping what is sown is a truth found in every religion. However it is not just a belief, it is a scientific fact i.e. Newton’s third law: Action=Reaction. It warns us that if you want a specific kind of result you have to care which kind of seed you plant. Planting the “wrong” seed or even a bad seed will result in a harvest that will not benefit you or may even end up harming you. But not planting anything means you will reap nothing In contrast, planting too many seeds inevitably means you must neglect some part of tending each one, resulting in weaker/stunted harvests or even missing the reaping all together. If you don’t continue to tend what you have sown, the harvest certainly won’t be good. Your efforts/time/energy/money etc. will be wasted.
So, choose your seeds wisely and make a commitment to whatever it is you have sown. Then your harvest will be rich and rewarding.

–Danny

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