Karma and the link within generations

In Buddhism, we believe that the karma you bear is carried through generations. Karma can be bad and good. If you have a good karma, it can be carried to your sons and their sons - 7 generations, in fact. Similarly, bad karma affect future generations too. In Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism, we believe that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can help you break the chain of bad karma in this lifetime ie you don't need to die and be reborn to get a better life/karma.

With this in mind, and I am not sure if you believe this, but this is what happened to my family.

As a child, I have OCD symptoms. I loved books and I hated it when the spine of my books were broken. So, when I read books and novels, I held them inches apart so as not to break the spine. When I saw books with many lines of broken spine, I cringed in pain. And this would be on my mind and disturbed me, sometimes I may lose sleep over it. And when I arranged my books, I had the tendency to arrange according to height. Or arranged according to author or to series. And if it is a series, I would look for the matching covers design.

What's worse was that every morning after waking up, I would open my book shelves and eyed each rows of books to make sure they are in order. It's an obsessive compulsion and I could not help myself.

I get very upset when my sister broke my order and took a book, or worse, touched a book and left it in a different heights and order. It just made me mad.

As I grow up, the compulsion is less. I was able to manage myself more. And with the move to digital age, I find that I am freed of the physical compulsion because I could transfer my obsession to the computer. My desktop icons are always arranged in grid. Books in Kindle format does not get crumpled or dog eared so I have no worries there. All my computer files are put in proper order. The digital age let me hide my compulsion so it is not so obvious to other people, but it's still there. My iTunes albums always have the right cover. Fortunately, iTunes have an auto download cover with version 8 onwards - before that, I get uncomfortable when some of my songs have no album arts.

All my iPhone apps have beautiful icon. If an app have lousy icons, I won't download them no matter how good they are. That's the reasons I could not stand Android. But it's ok, these compulsion are kept within the iPhones. No one has to know.

So yeah, digital life saved me.

The strange thing is, I see Jane, my 4 year old, starting to have an OCD. Actually her OCD was around even at year 3, just that we didn't comprehend what was upsetting her. One of them is that she always want her shirt to be tucked in. She also wants that her pyjamas pants is long enough to cover her feet and would get upset if they were too short. She also wanted her possessions and her books arranged nicely.

Just this last week, I introduced Lego toys to her and she asked me to build cars and vans. I built them for her and she would place her cars onto a square car garage and she would make sure the cars are parked in proper order. The blue van always go in first, then the red van, followed by the yellow car. Before she slept, she would want to carry the garage and put into her cabinet. And she would look into the cabinet a few times to make sure all is in order before she would go to bed.

She's just 4. And I don't practice my OCD openly because 1) I was too busy with the family and work to care about proper order anymore and 2) I satiate my OCD-ness in the PC/digital world. I don't believe she picked it up from observing me, because I don't demonstrate this behavior much.. so it must be something carried forward genetically or, as we said, it is a karma that I have not broken and therefore transfered/inherited by the 2nd generation. In fact, it was a surprise to my wife that I was so OCD in my childhood.

I hope this doesn't really affect her life. if it does, it become a real concern, what my friend Dr Love would call a disorder. If it is just a peculiarity, then it is a syndrome, which is not a big deal.

Kat on the other hand, was a happy go lucky person. She tried to emulate her sister and carried her Lego set to the cabinet before she slept but her Lego set was a haphazard mess of bricks. And when she put into the cabinet, she just dumped them inside and the Lego would be all over the place. She doesn't care less, just wanted to emulate her sister to put the Lego into the cabinet. This would not be the case with Jane's. Her Lego were all properly aligned to the Lego dot away.

So when Jane was acting up sometimes, throwing tantrum because something was not in order, how could I get mad at her? Coz I was like that, as a kid. I have to really embrace her with more understanding and love and compassion.

The other day, she had a piece of plastic paper with 8x8 pieces of stickers. They are all stickered in a grid and aligned nicely. She really like this sticker set. And then Kat peeled off one sticker and all hell broke loose. Jane was so upset that she threw a huge tantrum and was inconsolable. My wife had no idea how to handle and asked me to do it - she said you are OCD too, you should know what to do!

At first I just don't know what I would do. I offered to take it back from Kat and paste the sticker back to its place and she just couldn't accept that. Said it was ruined already. As I pondered on a solution, I put myself in her shoe and think what an OCD person like me would do. And I thought of a solution, shared it with her and VOILA.. she agreed! The solution was simple: I said why don't we take a scissor and cut off the row in which the sticker was taken off. Then she would have one piece of 3x8 and one piece of 4x8 which are proper symmetrical stickers. And the piece of 1x7 (one of the sticker was taken out) - we can give to your sister to play with.. and she was ok, because she now have two pieces of rectangle that was not violated.


Anyway, what I worry is that her kids in the future would have this syndrome, because karma is transferrable for 7 generations right? I need to really breaktrhough this by chanting a lot more daimoku.

That's why, if you ever find yourself wondering why you have some deficiencies or if you find that your relationship with your mother is always a fighting relationship.. take a look at your relationship with your daughter - how is it? Is it always a quarreling relationship?  My father in law and his son doesn't get along too well.. and it reflected in his relationship with his son. My bro in law always scold his son. Sometimes, we can't really run away from our relationship karma too and the only way is to chop it off at its roots, via Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

So before you blame you child on 'why are you like that?', take a look at yourself. Buddhism said that if you want to know the causes you created in the past, look at the current self. If you want to know the effect you will have in the future, look at the cause you are creating now.


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