Now I will tell you
About my previous existence
And also about yours.
All of you, listen attentively!

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Six of the Lotus SÅ«tra. When the Buddha taught in India 2500 years ago, people took for granted that their lives continued from previous lives and would continue on into future lives. Whatever comforts we enjoy or calamities we endure in this life were thought to be caused by what we did in our former lifetimes. Our actions today were thought to determine what happens in our future lives. To our modern understanding this can sound mystical and unlikely. But if we understand that everything, including our joy and suffering, has causes and conditions, whether or not we realize these results immediately, we know that the result of creating benefit is benefit, and the result of creating harm is harm. When we hold the happiness of all beings to be as precious as our own, we would no more mistreat others than we would want them to mistreat us.

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