When something unexplainable happens in our life, which we cannot seem to figure out, we will usually say, "This is my karma." Therefore although karma can be positive or negative, many associate the word karma with something negative. Viewed from a negative, karma can leave a person with a sense of powerlessness whereby we accept our present sufferings as results of negative causes we have made in the past; with no hope of ever changing it. But this is a distortion of the original meaning of karma. Buddhism teaches that "if you want to know the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present." Therefore as indicated in the Gosho passage above, to accept the idea of karma does not mean to live under a clout of guilt and vague anxiety, not knowing what bad causes we may have made in the past. Rather, it means to be confident that our destiny is in our own hands and that we have the power to transform it for the better at any moment. We must realize that what we are experiencing in our lives at this moment is the result of causes we did in the past. It was not something handed down from above. Since karma is based on the principle of cause and effect, the causes we make now will decide the effects that will appear in the future, that gives our present lives and its accompanying sweet and bitter moments its true significance. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning action. According to Buddhism, karma can be caused by our thoughts, words and action. Although words and action creating causes in our life is easy to understand (the scientific principle of "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,") the notion that our thoughts too can create karma in our life is beyond science. Yet, since our thought is what gives rise to our words and action, its impact on the causes we are making becomes crucial. For this reason, we are constantly reminded about the importance of having a correct positive thought or determination (ichinen) in our practice as this will impact the results we are looking for. As all these causes create a latent effect in our life that will be manifested, through an external cause, as a manifested effect in the future, we cannot in a sense, escape the effects of our karma. It will be manifested, if not in this lifetime then in future lifetimes. But as Nichiren Daishonin said in the Gosho Lessening One's Karmic Retribution, "If one's heavy karma from the past is not expiated within this lifetime, one must undergo the sufferings of hell in the future, but if one experiences extreme hardship in this life (because of the Lotus Sutra), the sufferings of hell will vanish instantly." We must realize that our present sufferings are an opportunity for us to expiate our past karma in this lifetime and change it for the better. Therefore the key to changing our present sufferings into good fortune, now and in the future, depends on whether we have the courage to squarely face our karma with the determination that, no matter what, I will fulfill my vow, my mission as a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. It is to link our karma to our mission. When we work for the sake of kosen-rufu, for other's happiness, we ourselves will be making the greatest causes that will secure our future now and into the eternal future. This is the purpose of our Buddhist practice.