Question: Often, I am unable to meet the commitments that I have made in my daily and spiritual life. In your teaching, you're always been very kind and advised people not to beat themselves up when we don't accomplish something they set out to do. You've also alluded that it is a bad habit to not meet commitments - especially spiritual commitments. Could you please share a bit about what Buddhism says about commitments? Tulku Thondup: In Buddhism there are many levels of commitments or obligations, but there are two major ones: karmic and samaya.
Karmic obligations are common commitments. It is beneficial to observe positive karmic obligations - secular or religious - and refrain from negative karmic deeds.
Breaking common karmic obligations is harmful — but breaking samaya is more harmful. Observing and protecting samaya, esoteric obligations, and refraining from breaking samaya is both extremely important and beneficial for students on the esoteric path.
So we should dedicate time and energy to create positive karmic outcomes, but it is even more important to do so with samaya, as it is far more powerful.
There are two points that we must consider: (a) It is important to focus on the most powerful and beneficial obligations. Different situations have different potency. We must therefore consider each situation individually and respect each accordingly. (b) It is also important to focus on what is our own cup of tea and what is doable - and learn to be happy with our effort. It is best to take things one step at a time and be happy with what we can do rather than taking on many too many things at once and being unhappy with what we cannot do.
Nevertheless, meditation is about karma and samaya and the attainment of Buddhahood is the result of karma and samaya. So observing them is most important for Buddhist practitioners.