Was the Tsunami Caused by Karma? - A Buddhist View --
The world is filled with so much pain and suffering and now
a Tsunami kills over 170,000 people. Why did so many people
have to die, was it their karma?
was watching the news, listening to a famous American Buddhist
scholar say the death and destruction caused by the Tsunami,
"Was karma." A simple answer and a great sound bite
to a complex question, but to say the reason behind this tragic
event was simply karma appears glib and indifferent.
never found the cause of anything in Buddhism to be just
one thing. Saying the reason for a complex chain of events
is the result of one action-- whether it's God, sin or karma--
doesn't seem like a viable option for a Buddhist. Buddhist
cosmology is non-theistic and lacks a first cause. I admit
some Buddhists feel karma can replace God as a first
cause, because Buddhism has a moral code and lacks a divine
law giver... But is it fair to say that a Tsunami is the
moral consequence of unskillful intention, speech and action?
Buddha was clear on this. We lack a realistic world view
because of lust, greed, hatred and delusion. Science can
add some clarity and meaning, but the Buddha warned us about
this world of ours (samsara) being unsatisfactory,
it's the place where birth, death and change occur. We experience
pain because we have a body/mind, and suffer because
of desire and impermanence.
injury, aging and death are simply the signs of flux in an
Early Buddhism gives us something called the five Niyamas,
or the five aspects of cosmic order. These Niyamas can deepen
our understanding and give meaning to why things happen. Niyama
is a Pali term (language of early Buddhism) for cosmic order.
The Niyamas show how certain conditions, laws of nature, work
at different levels of cause and effect.
The First Niyama (Utu Niyama) is the law of physical
matter. It is the physical, inorganic order of existence.
Seasonal changes, earthquakes, floods, gravity and heat are
some of the many examples. It roughly embraces the laws of
physics and chemistry.
The Second Niyama (Bija Niyama) is the law of living
matter, the physical organic order, like cells and genes,
whose laws are similar to the science of biology.
The Third Niyama (Kamma Niyama) is Karma. Karma is
the activity of transforming energy through intention, speech
and action. The result of this energy transformation is only
considered wholesome or skillful if less suffering or no
suffering is produced. Karma is the cause, and Vipaka (Pali)
is the result. It is the principle of conditionality operative
on the moral plane. This sequence of cause and consequence
replaces a divine law giver. In Buddhism there is a moral
law, but no lawgiver and no one to administer it. This Niyama
pertains to the world of ethical responsibility.
The Fourth Niyama (Dhamma Niyama) is the Spiritual
or transcendent. This principle of conditionality operates
on the spiritual level. The natural phenomenon that occurs
with the birth of a Buddha, and the reasons for Buddhist
Practice are in this group. This Niyama has to do with the
spiritual laws that govern ultimate reality.
The Fifth Niyama (Citta Niyama) is mind. This Niyama
implies mental activity such as consciousness, perception,
conception, etc. Mental phenomenon arises because of conditions;
the mind is not an independent agent. This is like the science
The Utu, Bija, Kamma, and Citta Niyamas
are types of conditionality in the relative sense, the cause
and consequence of everyday life. Dhamma Niyama has
to do with the spiritual laws that govern ultimate reality,
like emptiness, not-self or our progress through the different
stages of the Buddhist path.
ever changing physical, biological, psychological, ethical and
spiritual components give life to our pain and suffering. Our
existence, and ultimately our death and rebirth depend on a
complex combination of aggregates. There is no 'One Thing' that
determines anything in Buddhism it is always the interconnected
and interdependent flux of 'Many Things.'
Urban Dharma Newsletter... November 2, 2004
This Issue: Kamma/Karma and Buddhism
1. Karma/Kamma ~ The Laws of Cause and Effect
2. Karma by His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama.
3. THE LAW OF KARMA
5. QUESTIONS ON THE THEORY OF KARMA
6. What Kamma Is -- By Ven.
7. Temple/Center/Website: The Buddhist Channel
8. Book/CD/Movie: Karma and Chaos:
New and Collected Essays on Vipassana Meditation -- by Paul
R. Fleischman M.D., Paul R. Fleischman
Karma ran over your dogma. -- Unknown
men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
science is concerned with the relationship of cause and effect.
Each scientific discovery increases man's ability to predict
the consequences of his actions and thus his ability to control
future events. -- Lawrence J. Peters
Karma/Kamma ~ The Laws of Cause and Effect
is the physical manifestation of the law of balance and harmony,
as it applies to the results of decisions reached and attitudes
held by beings capable of free will and choice. A karmic experience
is a challenge to a individual to reconsider a choice that has
been made, or an attitude that has been held, to see if these
decisions were founded upon a misunderstanding of The Laws
of the System. You are bound karmically to anything that
you accept, or misunderstand, until you understand it. Karma
is merely a gap in your understanding. And, karma applies only
to beings who have advanced to the level of experiencing in
the forms of the human kingdom.
individual creates their own karma by experiencing results,
their ability to learn, and their disregard for experiencing.
We creates our own capacities and limitations. Karma is the
need to know more about a feeling, or an action, to make one's
knowledge more complete and whole. It is the necessity to experience
an action or thought more fully, or from a different perspective,
so that you understand it as completely as possible in order
to maintain balance in your mental creations. You cannot project
perfect creations unless you understand the materials, tools,
and processes of creation completely, and have experienced the
repercussions of your actions.
person exists to experience all forms of materiality, to understand
each thoroughly, and to learn how to manipulate and maintain
these forms in balance and harmony. As the individual evolves,
studies his progress and finds there is a gap in his understanding,
at some point in time the gap must be filled with the appropriate
experience to balance it out. Karma is, therefore, the need
to experience, and to fill gaps in the understanding of the
experiences gained. It is a lack of understanding of all the
points of view that apply, that must be changed, and an awareness
that is necessary to be gained.
law of Karma (Sanskrit), or Kamma (Pali) originated in the Vedic
system of religion, otherwise known as Hinduism. As a term,
it can at the latest be traced back to the early Upanishads,
around 1500 BCE.
its major conception, karma is the physical, mental and supramental
system of neutral rebound, "cause and effect," that
is inherent in existence within the bounds of time, space, and
causation. Essentially what this means is that the very being
which one experiences (say, as a human being) is governed by
an immutable preservation of energy, vibration, and action.
It is comparable to the Golden Rule but denies the ostenisble
arbitrariness of Fate, Destiny, Kismet, or other such Western
conceptions by attributing absolute reason and determinism to
the workings of the cosmos.
for these reasons, naturally implies reincarnation since thoughts
and deeds in past lives will affect one's current situation.
Thus, humanity (through a sort of collective karma) and individuals
alike are responsible for the tragedies and good 'fortunes'
which they experience. The concept of an inscrutable "God"
figure is not necessary with the idea of karma. It is vital
to note that karma is not an instrument of a god, or a single
God, but is rather the physical and spiritual 'physics' of being.
As gravity governs the motions of heavenly bodies and objects
on the surface of the earth, karma governs the motions and happenings
of life, both inanimate and animate, unconscious and conscious,
in the cosmic realm.
what certain philosophical viewpoints may term "destiny"
or "fate" is in actuality, according to the laws of
karma, the simple and neutral working out of karma. Many have
likened karma to a moral banking system, a credit and debit
of good and bad. However, this view falls short of the idea
that any sort of action (action being a root meaning of 'karma'),
whether we term it 'good' or 'bad', binds us in recurring cause
and effect. In order to attain supreme consciousness, to escape
the cycle of life, death, and rebirth and the knot of karma
one must altogether transcend karma. This method of transcendence
is variously dealt with in many streams of not only Hinduism
and Buddhism, but other faiths and philosophical systems as
Hinduism the concept of karma was absorbed and developed in
different manners in other movements within the other Indian
subcontinental (South Asian) religions of Buddhism, Jainism,
and Sikhism. Although these religions express significant disagreement
regarding the particularities of "karma", all four
groups have relatively similar notions of what karma is.
recently the concept has been adopted (with various degrees
of accuracy and understanding) by many New Age movements, Theosophy
and Kardecist Spiritualism.
in the Dharma-based Religions
first came into being as a concept in Hinduism, largely based
on the Vedas and Upanishads. One of the first and most dramatic
illustrations of Karma can be found in the great Hindu epic,
the Mahabharata. The original Hindu concept of karma was later
enhanced by several other movements within the religion, most
notably Vedanta, Yoga, and Tantra.
sees karma as immutable law with involuntary and voluntary acts
being part of a more intricate system of cause and effect that
is often not comprehensible to one bound by karma. It is the
goal of the Hindu, as expressed succinctly in the Bhagavad Gita,
to embrace a 'sattvic' lifestyle and thus avoid creating more
karma (karma is not qualified as good or bad). By ceasing to
create more karma, the jiva-atma or individual soul is able
to move closer to moksha, or liberation.
the Hindu, karma is the law of the phenomenal cosmos that is
part and parcel of living within the dimensions of time and
space. All actions, thoughts, vibrations of any sort, are governed
by a law that demands perfect rebound. So all jiva-atmas (individual
souls) must experience karma if they live and experience the
phenomenal universe. To escape the cycle of life, death and
rebirth, one must exhaust one's karma and realize one's true
Self as the highest truth of Oneness that is Brahman (or for
dvaitists (dualists) bliss with the Supreme Godhead).
Hinduism, karma is of three kinds:
karma is unchangeable within the scope of one life, since it
is the 'setup' for the life in question. It is the karma of
one's past lives. After death, the atma leaves the body, as
the casting off of old vestments, and carries with it the samskaras
(impressions) of the past life of thoughts and actions and events.
These samskaras manifest themselves in the unchangeable situation
into which one is born and certain key events in one's life.
These include one's time of death (seen as governed by an allotment
from birth of the total number of one's breaths for that life),
one's economic status, one's family (or lack of family), one's
body type and look: essentially, the setting of one's birth,
the initial base.
samskaras that one inherits from the last lives create one's
personality, inclinations, talents, the things that make up
one's persona. One's likings, abilities, attitudes and inclinations
are based on the thoughts and actions of past lives. One's samchita
karma is somewhat alterable through practice and effort towards
change. This might be seen through the Hindu system of yoga
and the dynamic of the gunas. An example would be someone who,
through meditation, slowly evolved into a more stable personality.
karma is the karma of the present life over which the soul has
complete control. Through it one creates one's karma in the
present for the future of the current life and in life-times
Hindu cannot say, sometimes, if a major event in life is the
doing of Prarabadha or Agami Karma. The idea of "bad things
happening to good people" is seen by the Hindu as a result
of Prarabadha Karma, more simply understood as karma from a
Hinduism, karma works within a cyclical framework that sees
the phenomenal universe being created and eventually dissolving
back into itself, back into realization that it was nothing
other than Maya imposed on the truth of Brahman. So Karma will
eventually be worked out.
does allow for anirudh (Divine Grace). Through exceeding devotion
and love of God, the Hindu believes one can be helped to speed
through Karma phal (Karmic fruit). By developing 'vairagya'
or 'detachment' from the fruits of one's karma, as Lord Krishna
most famously summarized, one can transcend karma and be liberated.
One is aided by love of God. All the Yogas of Hinduism seek
to transcend karma through different means of realization.
Buddhism, only intentional actions are karmic "acts of
will". Often misunderstood in the West as "cause and
effect", in actuality, Karma literally means "action"
- often indicating intent or cause. Accompanying this usually
is a separate tenet called Vipaka, meaning result or effect.
The re-action or effect can itself also influence an action,
and in this way, the chain of causation continues ad infinitum.
When Buddhists talk about karma, they are normally referring
to karma that is 'tainted' with ignorance - karma that continues
to ensure that the being remains in the everlasting cycle of
samsaric karma comes in two 'flavours' - good karma, which leads
to high rebirth (as a deva, asura, or human), and bad karma
which leads to low rebirth (as a hell-sufferer, as a preta,
or as an animal).
is also a completely different type of karma that is neither
good nor bad, but liberating. This karma allows for the individual
to break the endless cycle of rebirth, and thereby leave samsara
seems to imply that one does not need to act in a good manner.
But the Buddhist sutras explain that in order to generate liberating
karma, we must first develop incredibly powerful concentration.
This concentration is akin to the states of mind required to
be reborn in the Deva realm, and in itself depends upon a very
deep training in ethical self-discipline.
differentiation between good karma and liberating karma has
been used by some scholars to argue that the development of
Tantra depended upon Buddhist ideas and philosophies.
the universal law of Karma provides order to a beginningless
and endless universe. Alongside this view is the related notion
of Buddhist rebirth - sometimes understood to be the same thing
as reincarnation - which has its roots in the principle of Karma.
believe that karma is a form of matter. Mahavira described karma
as "clay particles". Jains do not believe in "good
karma" or "bad karma"; they try to avoid all
teachings do not usually include the idea of Karma, although
some parallels can be made, as exemplified by biblical verses
of 'God is not mocked, what a man sows he must reap' and 'Vengence
is mine says the Lord'.
the most part, however, the idea of the Abrahamic God makes
the concept of Karma redundant for Christians.
is also worth noting that most interpretations of Christianity
do not emphasize the religious importance of thoughts and intentions
(volition), that are usually understood to be a major form of
Karma by the doctrines that use that concept.
to Karma, performance of positive action results with the reaction
of a good conditioning in one's experience, whereas a negative
action results in a reaction of a bad response. This may be
an immediate result following the act, or a delayed result occurring
either in the present life or the next. Thus, meritorious acts
may create rebirth into a higher station, such as a superior
human being or a godlike being, while evil acts result in rebirth
as a human living in less desirable circumstances, or as a lower
animal. While the action of karma may be compared with the Western
notions of sin and judgment by God or gods, Karma is held to
operate as an inherent principle of the Universe without the
intervention of any supernatural being.
teachings say that for common mortals, having an involvement
with Karma is an unavoidable part of day-to-day living. However,
in light of the Hindu philosophical school of Vedanta, as well
as Gautama Buddha's teachings, one is advised to either avoid,
control or become mindful of the effects of desires and aversions
as a way to moderate or change one's karma (or, more accurately,
one's karmic results).
Age and Theosophy
idea of karma was popularized in the west through the work of
the Theosophical Society. Kardecist and Western New Age reinterpretations
of karma frequently cast it as a sort of luck which is associated
with virtue: if one does good or spiritually valuable acts,
one deserves and can expect good luck; contrariwise, if one
does harmful things, one can expect bad luck or unfortunate
happenings. In this conception, karma is affiliated with the
Neopagan law of return or Threefold Law, the idea that the beneficial
or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself.
Relationships, Abilities, Genius, Free Will, Opportunities
or afflictions have been attributed to misdeeds in the past,
as well as merits, fortunes, etc. to meritorious works, etc..
Karma is said to affect the quality of relationships. For example,
people who either love or hate each other tend to attract each
other (See also Parabadha Karma). Karma dictates that an individual
is responsible for his current situation and future situation.
Current abilities, talents and inclinations can attributed to
past development of these talents or involvement with the same(See
also Sanchita Karma and Samskara). In this context, DNA and
genes only accomodate and do not determine talents and abilities.
In other words you can develop more talents and abilities. Karma
however is not a rigid iron-cast system. e.g. Accidents happen
outside the workings of karma and free will is a powerful factor
in determining the course of life. Getting hit by a car may
really be accidental and not karmic at all. A person must also
exercise his free will in determining his destiny despite karmic
factors. Karma also dictates that opportunities are also increased
depending on how one deals with what one has. i.e. Take advantage
of what is already available at hand and more will be given.
be sure, this subconscious memory has an effect and influence
on how we think, how we react, what we choose, and even how
we look! But the component of free will is ever within our grasp.
pertains mostly to attitudes and consciousness. The Cayce readings
did not indicate adverse karmic effects for policemen or soldiers
who are compelled to maintain safety or under orders , and had
to execute people or employ violent methods. The readings however
indicated severe karmic penalties for jeering mobs during the
Roman persecution of Christians and in a particular, a spectator
who laughed when a lion ripped out the side of a Christian girl.
Neither the spectator nor the mob did any actual physical harm.
of the most distorted views of karma is the idea that nothing
can be done about it (destiny).
matter how terrible the predicament, there is always something
that can be done, even if it's a patient smile or maintining
a good attitude.
adverse conditions often lie the opportunity. The Chinese character
for crisis '??', as pointed out by the late J.F. Kennedy, is
a combination of the characters of danger and opportunity. The
readings recommend taking advantage of what is available, meager
as it may be, and better opportunities will be made available,
as karmic forces may simply be redirecting. Karma is an educative
process. Learn whatever needs to be learned or harsher conditions
to drive in the lesson will arise.
according to Cayce Reading
of the interesting aspects about karma in reincarnation is that
talents and skills are never lost according to the Cayce files.
Someone who has developed an ability in one life will still
have it to draw upon later through karma. One may be born for
example as a genius or prodigy, in math for example, if he develops
this skill or have been of service now or having done so to
a prodigous degree in the past or present.
Karma by His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama. -- Contributed by
and pain come from your own former actions (karma). Thus, it
is easy to explain karma in one short sentence: If you act well,
things will be good, and if you act badly, things will be bad.
means actions. From the viewpoint of how actions are done, there
are physical, verbal, and mental actions. From the viewpoint
of their effects, actions are either virtuous, non-virtuous,
or neutral. In terms of time, there are two types - actions
of intention which occur while thinking to do something and
the intended actions which are the expressions of those mental
motivations in physical or verbal action.
instance, based on a motive, I am now speaking and thereby accumulating
a verbal action of karma. With gestures of my hands, I am also
accumulating physical karma. Whether these actions become good
or bad is mainly based on my motivation. If I speak from a good
motivation out of sincerity, respect, and love for others, my
actions are good, virtuous. If I act from a motivation of pride,
hatred, criticism, and so forth, then my verbal and physical
actions become non-virtuous.
therefore, are being made all the time. When one speaks with
a good motivation, a friendly atmosphere is created as an immediate
result; also, the action makes an imprint on the mind, inducing
pleasure in the future. With a bad motivation, a hostile atmosphere
is created immediately, and pain is induced for the speaker
in the future.
teaching is that you are your own master; everything depends
on yourself. This means that pleasure and pain arise from virtuous
and non-virtuous actions which come not from outside but from
within yourself. This theory is very useful in daily life, for
once you believe in the relationship between actions and their
effects, whether there is an external policeman or not, you
will always be alert and examine yourself. For example, if there
were some money or a precious jewel here and no one was around,
you could take it easily; however, if you believe in this doctrine,
since the whole responsibility for your own future rests on
yourself, you will not.
respect to the effects of actions, many different types are
explained. One type is called "effects which are fruitions".
For instance, if someone, due to a non-virtuous action, is born
in a bad transmigration as an animal, that rebirth is an effect
which is a fruition in another life. Another type is called
an "effect experientially similar to its cause"; for
instance, if after being reborn in a bad transmigration due
to an act of murder you were subsequently reborn as a human,
you would have a short life, - the effect, a short life being
similar in terms of experience to the cause, cutting short someone
else's life. Another type is called "effect functionally
similar to its cause"; an example would be naturally to
have tendencies toward the same non-virtuous action, such as
for all of these can similarly be applied to virtuous actions.
Also, there are actions the effects of which are shared - many
beings having similarly done similar types of actions and thereby
undergoing effects in common, such as enjoying a certain physical
important point is that such presentations of Buddhist theories
about actions can make a positive contribution to human society.
It is my hope that whether religious or not, we will study each
other's systems to gather helpful ideas and techniques for the
betterment of humankind.
THE LAW OF KARMA
Buddhism, the Law Of Karma states that for every intentional
action there is a corresponding consequence. Beneficial actions
produce beneficial results, and harmful actions produce harmful
results. It is important to understand that the consequence
of anything you do depends on your motive for doing it, so the
deed itself is not as important as the intention, with regard
to your own karma. It is also important to know that in this
context the word `action' includes all intentional conduct,
thought and speech.
is the law of moral causation
is the doctrine of Karma that gives consolation, hope, reliance
and moral courage to a Buddhist. When the unexpected happens,
and he meets with difficulties, failures, and misfortune, the
Buddhist realises that he is reaping what he has sown, and he
is wiping off a past debt. Instead of resigning himself, leaving
everything to Karma, he makes a strenuous effort to pull the
weeds and sow useful seeds in their place, for the future is
in his own hands.
who believes in Karma does not condemn even the most corrupt,
for they, too, have their chance to reform themselves at any
moment. Though bound to suffer in woeful states, they have hope
of attaining eternal Peace. By their own doings they have created
their own Hells, and by their own doings they can create their
own Heavens, too.
Buddhist who is fully convinced of the law of Karma does not
pray to another to be saved but confidently relies on him for
his own emancipation. Instead of making any self-surrender,
or calling on any supernatural agency, he relies on his own
will power, and works incessantly for the well-being and happiness
of all. This belief in Karma validates his effort and kindles
his enthusiasm, because it teaches individual responsibility.
the ordinary Buddhist, Karma serves as a deterrent, while to
an intellectual, it serves as in incentive to do good. He or
she becomes kind, tolerant, and considerate. This law of Karma
explains the problem of suffering, the mastery of so-called
fate and predestination of other religions and about all the
inequality of mankind.
QUESTIONS ON THE THEORY OF KARMA
Do the Karmas of parents determine or affect the Karmas of their
Physically, the Karma of children is generally determined by
the Karma of their parents. Thus, healthy parents usually have
healthy offspring, and unhealthy parents have unhealthy children.
On the effect or how the Karma of their children is determined:
the child’s Karma is a thing apart of itself – it
forms the child’s individuality, the sum-total of its
merits and demerits accumulated in innumerable past existences.
For example, the Karma of the Buddha-to-be, Prince Siddhartha
was certainly not influenced by the joint Karma of his parents,
King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. The glorious and powerful Karma
of our Buddha-to-be transcended the Karma of his parents which
jointly were more potent than his own.
If the Karma of parents do not influence those of their children,
how would the fact be explained that parents who suffer from
certain virulent diseases are apt to transmit these evils to
Where a child inherit such a disease it is due to the force
of the parents’ characteristics because of the force of
the latter’s Utu (conditions favourable to germination).
Take, for example, two seeds from a sapling; plant one in inferior,
dry soil; and the other in rich, moist soil. The result is that
the first seed will sprout into a sickly sapling and soon show
symptoms of disease and decay; while the other seed will thrive
and flourish and grow up to be a tall and healthy tree.
will be observed that the pair of seeds taken from the same
stock grows up differently according to the soil into which
they are put. A child’s past Karma may be compared to
the seed: the physical disposition of the mother to the soil;
and that of the father to the moisture, which fertilised the
soil. Roughly speaking, to illustrate our subject, we will say
that, representing the sapling’s germination, growth,
and existence as a unit, the seed is responsible for one-tenth
of them, the soil for six-tenths, and the moisture for the remainder,
three-tenths. Thus, although the power of germination exists
potentially in the seed (the child), its growth is powerfully
determined and quickened by the soil (the mother) and the moisture
even as the conditions of the soil and moisture must be taken
as largely responsible factors in the growth and condition of
the tree. So must the influences of the parents (or progenitors,
as in the case of the animal world) be taken into account in
respect to the conception and growth of their offspring.
parents’ share in the Karma determining the physical factors
of their issue is as follows: If they are human beings, then
their offspring will be a human being. If they are cattle then
their issue must be of their species. If the human being is
Chinese, then their offspring must be of their race. Thus, the
offspring are invariably of the same genera and species, etc.,
as those of the progenitors. It will be seen from the above
that, although a child’s Karma is very powerful in itself,
if cannot remain wholly uninfluenced by those of it parents.
It is apt to inherit the physical characteristic of its parents.
Yet, it may occur that the child’s Karma, being superlatively
powerful, the influence of the parent’s joint Karma cannot
overshadow it. Of course, it need hardly be pointed out that
the evil influences of parents can also be counteracted by the
application of medical science.
beings born of sexual cohabitation are the resultant effects
of three forces:
The old Karma of past existence;
2. The seminal fluid of the mother, and
The seminal fluid of the father.
physical dispositions of the parents may, or may not, be equal
in force. One may counteract the other to a lesser or greater
extent. The child’s Karma and physical characteristics,
such as race, colour, etc., will be the produce of the three
On the death of a sentient being, is there a ‘soul’
that wanders about at will?
When a sentient being leaves one existence, it is reborn either
as a human being, a celestial being, (Deva or Brahama), and
inferior animal, or a denizen of one of the regions of hell.
sceptics and the ignorant people held that there are intermediate
stages – antrabhava – between these; and that there
are being who are neither of the human, the celestial, the Deva
or the Brahma worlds nor of any one of the stages of exist recognised
in the scriptures – but are in an intermediate stage.
Some assert that these transitional stages are possessed of
the Five Khandhas ( Five Aggregates: they are Matter (rupa);
Feeling (vedana); Perception (sanna); 4. Mental-activities (sankhara);
and Consciousness (vinnana).
assert that these beings are detached ‘souls’ or
spirits with no material encasement, and some again, that they
are possessed of the faculty of seeing like Devas, and further,
that they have power of changing at will, at short intervals,
from one to any of the existence mentioned above. Others again
hold the fantastic and erroneous theory that these beings can,
and so, fancy themselves to be in other than the existence they
are actually in. Thus, to take for example one such of these
suppositious beings. He is a poor person – and yet he
fancies himself to be rich. He may be in hell – and yet
he fancies himself to be in the land of the Devas, and so on.
This belief in intermediate stages between existences is false,
and is condemned in the Buddhist teachings. A human being in
this life who, by his Karma is destined to be a human being
in the next, will be reborn as such; one who by his Karma is
destined to be a Deva in the next will be appear in the land
of the Devas; and one whose future life is to be in Hell, will
be found in one of the regions of hell in the next existence.
idea of an entity or soul or spirit ‘going’, ‘coming’,
‘changing’ or ‘transmigrating’ from
one existence to another is an idea entertained by the ignorant
and materialistic, and is certainly not justified by the Dhammas
that there is no such thing as ‘going’, 'coming’,
‘changing’, etc., as between existences. The conception,
which is in accordance with the Dhamma, may perhaps be illustrated
by the picture thrown out by a cinema projector, or the sound
of emitted by the gramophone, and their relation to the film
or the sound-box and records respectively. For example, a human
being dies and is reborn in the land of Devas. Though these
two existences are different, yet the link or continuity between
the two at death is unbroken in point of time. The same is true
in the case of a man whose further existence is to be in hell.
The distance between Hell and the abode of man appears to be
great. Yet, in point of time, the continuity of ‘passage’
from the one existence to the other is unbroken, and no intervening
matter or space can interrupt the trend of a man’s Karma
from the world of human beings to the regions of Hell. The ‘passage’
from one existence to another is instantaneous, and the transition
is infinitely quicker than the blink of an eyelid or a lightening-flash.
determines the realm of rebirth and the state of existence in
that realm of all transient being (in the cycle of existences,
which have to be traversed till the attainment, at last, of
results of Karma are manifold, and may be effected in many ways.
Religious offerings (dana) may obtain for a man the privilege
of rebirth as a human being, or as a deva, in one of the six
deva worlds according to the degree of the merit of the deeds
performed, and so with the observance of religious duties (sila).
The jhanas or states of absorption, are found in the Brahma
world or Brahmalokas up to the summit, the twentieth Brahma
world: And so with bad deeds, the perpetrators of which are
to be found , grade by grade, down to the lowest depths of Hell.
Thus are Karma, past, present and future were, are, and will
ever be the sum total of our deeds, good, indifferent or bad.
As was seen from the foregoing, our Karma determines the changes
of our existences.
spirits" are, therefore, not beings in an intermediate
or transitional stages of existence, but are really very inferior
beings, and they belong to one of the following five realms
World of Men: 2. The Lowest plane of deva-world; 3. The region
of hell; 4. Animals below men, and 5. Petas (ghosts).
2 and 5 are very near the world of human beings. As their condition
is unhappy, and they are popularly considered evil spirits.
It is not true that all who die in this world are reborn as
evil spirits; nor is it true that beings who die sudden or violent
deaths are apt to be reborn in the lowest plane of the world
Is there such a thing as a human being who is reborn and who
is able to speak accurately of his or her past existence?
Certainly, this is not an uncommon occurrence, and is in accordance
with the tenets of Buddhism in respect to Karma.
following (who form, an overwhelming majority of human beings)
are generally unable to remember there past existences when
reborn as human beings: Children who die young. Those who die
old and senile. Those who are addicted to the drug or drink
habit. Those whose mothers, during their conception, have been
sickly or have had to toil laboriously, or have been reckless
or imprudent during pregnancy. The children in the womb, being
stunned and started, lose all knowledge of their past existence.
following are possessed of a knowledge of their past existences,
viz: Those who are not reborn (in the human world) but proceed
to the world of the devas, of Brahmas, or to the regions of
Hell, remember their past existences.
who die suddenly deaths from accidents, while in sound health,
may also be possessed of this faculty in the next existence,
provided that their mothers, in whose womb they are conceived,
are healthy. Again, those who live steady, meritorious lives
and who in their past existences have striven to attain, often
the Buddha, the Arahantas and Ariyas attain this gift which
is known as pubbenivasa abhnna (Supernatural Power remembering
Which are the five Abhinna? Are they attainable only by the
The five Abhinna (Supernatural Powers): Pali - abhi, excellent,
nana, wisdom) are:
= Creative power;
Dibbasola = Divine Ear;
nana = Knowledge of others’ thoughts;
= Knowledge of one’s past existence;
= The Divine eye.
Abhinna are attainable not only by the Buddha, but also by Arantas
and Ariyas, by ordinary mortals who practise according to the
Scriptures (as was the case with hermits etc, who flourished
before the time of the Buddha and who were able to fly through
the air and traverse different worlds).
the Buddhist Scriptures, we find, clearly shown, the means of
attaining the five Abhinna. And even nowadays, if these means
are carefully and perseveringly pursued, it would be possible
to attain these. That we do not see any person endowed with
the five Abhinna today is due to the lack of strenuous physical
and mental exertion towards their attainment.
What Kamma Is -- By Ven. U.
Thittila -- (from Gems of Buddhist Wisdom)
is a Pali word meaning action. It is called Karma in Sanskrit.
In its general sense Kamma means all good and bad actions. It
covers all kinds of thoughts, words and, deeds. In its ultimate
sense Kamma means all moral and immoral volition. The Buddha
says: "Mental volition, O Bhikkhus, is what I call action
(Kamma). Having volition one acts by body, speech and thought".
(Anguttara Nikaya III.415).
is neither fatalism nor a doctrine of predetermination. The
past influences the present but does not dominate it, for Kamma
is pas as well as present. The past and present influence the
future. The past is a background against which life goes on
from moment to moment. The future is yet to be. Only the present
moment exists and the responsibility of using the present moment
for good or for ill lies with each individual.
action produces an effect and it is a cause first and effect
afterwards. We therefore speak of Kamma as "the law of
cause and effect". Throwing a stone, for example, is an
action. The stone strikes a glass window and breaks it. The
'break' is the effect of the action of throwing, but it is not
the end. The broken window is now the cause of further trouble.
Some of one's money will have to go to replace it, and one is
thus unable to save the money or to buy with it what one wants
for some other purpose, and the effect upon one is a feeling
of disappointment. This may make one irritable and if one is
not careful, one may allow the irritability to become the cause
of doing something else which is wrong, and so on. There is
no end to the result of action, no end to Kamma, so we should
be very careful about our actions, so that their effect will
be good. It is therefore necessary for us to do a good, helpful
action which will return to us in good Kamma and make us strong
enough to start a better Kamma.
a stone into a pond and watch the effect. There is a splash
and a number of little rings appear round the place where it
strikes. See how the rings grow wider and wider till they become
too wide and too tiny for our eyes to follow. The little stone
disturbs the water in the pond, but its work is not finished
yet. When the tiny waves reach the edges of the pond, the water
moves back till it returns to the stone that has disturbed it.
effects of our actions come back to us just a the waves do to
the stone, and as long as we do our action with evil intention
the new waves of effect come back to beat upon us and disturb
us. If we are kind and keep ourselves peaceful, the returning
waves of trouble will grow weaker and weaker till they die down
and our good Kamma will come back to us in blessings. If we
plant a mango seed, for instance, a mango tree will come up
and bear mangoes, and if we sow a chilli seed, a chilli plant
will grow and produce chillies. The Buddha says:
to the seed that's sown,
is the fruit ye reap there from,
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps.
is the seed, and thou shalt taste
that comes to us is right. When anything pleasant comes to us
and makes us happy, we may be sure that our Kamma has come to
show us what we have done is right. When anything unpleasant
comes to us, hurts us, or makes us unhappy, our Kamma has come
to show us our mistake. We must never forget that Kamma is always
just. It neither loves nor hates, neither rewards nor punishes.
It is never angry, never pleased. It is simply the law of cause
knows nothing about us. Does fire know us when it burns us?
No. It is the nature of fire to burn, to give out heat. If we
use it properly it gives us light, cooks our food for us or
burns anything we wish to get rid or, but if we use it wrongly
it burns us and our property. Its work is to burn and our affair
is to use it in the right way. We are foolish if we grow angry
and blame it when it burns us because we made a mistake.
are inequalities and manifold destinies of men in the world.
One is, for example, inferior and another superior. One perishes
in infancy and another at the age of eighty or a hundred. One
is sick and infirm, and another strong and healthy. One is born
a millionaire another a pauper. One is a genius and another
is the cause of the inequalities that exist in the world? Buddhists
cannot believe that this is indeed all against the theory of
"chance", in the world of the scientist all works
in accordance with the laws of cause and effect. Neither can
Buddhists believe that this unevenness of the world is due to
or the three divergent views that prevailed at the time of the
happiness or pain or neutral feeling the person experiences
all that is due to the creation of a Supreme Deity".
Sayings, I. 158). Commenting on this fatalistic view the Buddha
said: "So, then, owing to the creation of a Supreme Deity
men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers,
abusive, babblers, covetous, malicious, and perverse in view.
Thus for those who fall back on the creation of a God as the
essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor necessity
to do this deed or abstain from that deed." (ibid.)
to the naked ascetics who practised self-mortification, the
Buddha said: "If, O Bhikkhus, beings experience pain and
happiness as the result of God's creation, then certainly these
naked ascetics must have been created by a wicked God, since
they are at present experiencing such terrible pain". (Majjhima
Nikaya, II 222).
to Buddhism the inequalities that exist in the world are due,
to some extent, to heredity and environment and to a greater
extent, to a cause or causes (Kamma) which are not only present
but proximate or remotely past. Man himself is responsible for
his own happiness and misery. He creates his own heaven and
hell. He is master of his own destiny, child of his past and
parent of his future.
Laws of Cosmic Order
Buddhism teaches that Kamma is the chief cause of the inequalities
in the world yet it does not teach fatalism or the doctrine
of predestination, for it does not hold the view that everything
is due to past actions. The law of causes described in Buddhist
philosophy is one of the five orders (Niyamas) which are laws
in themselves and operate in the universe. They are:
Utu Niyama, physical inorganic order, e.g., seasonal phenomena
of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic
seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature
of heat, etc., belong to this group.
Bija Niyama, order of germs and seeds (physical organic
order) e.g. rice produced from rice seed, sugary taste from
sugar cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits,
etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and physical similarity
of twins may be ascribed to this order.
Kamma Niyama, order of act and result, e.g., desirable and
undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.
As surely as water seeks its own level so does Kamma, given
opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form
of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence
of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of
the moon and stars.
Dhama Niyama, order of the norm, e.g. the natural phenomena
occurring at the advent of a Bodhisatta in his last birth. Gravitation
and other similar laws of nature, the reason for being good
and so forth may be included in this group.
Citta Niyama, order of mind or psychic law, e.g. process
of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents
of consciousness, power of mind, etc. Telepathy, telesthesia,
retrocognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading,
all psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science
are included in this class. (Abihdhammavatara p. 54).
five orders embrace everything in the world and every mental
or physical phenomenon could be explained by them. They being
laws in themselves, require no lawgiver and Kamma as such is
only one of them.
is classified into four kinds according to the time at which
results are produced. There is Kamma that ripens in the same
lifetime, Kamma that ripens in the next life, and Kamma that
ripens in successive births. These three types of Kamma are
bound to produce results as a seed is to sprout. But for a seed
to sprout, certain auxiliary causes such as soul, rain etc.
are required. In the same way for a Kamma to produce an effect,
several auxiliary causes such as circumstances, surroundings,
etc., are required. It sometimes happens that for want of such
auxiliary causes Kamma does not produce any result. Such Kamma
is called "Ahosi-Kamma" or "Kamma that is ineffective".
is also classified into another four kinds according to its
particular function. There is Regenerative (Janaka) Kamma which
conditions the future birth; Supportive (Upattham-bhaka) Kamma
which assists or maintains the results of already-existing Kamma,
Counteractive (Upapidaka) Kamma which suppresses or modifies
the result of the reproductive Kamma, and Destructive (Upaghataka)
Kamma which destroys the force of existing Kamma and substitutes
its own resultants.
is another classification according to the priority of the results,
There is Serious or Weighty (Garuka) Kamma which produces its
resultants in the present life or the next. On the moral side
of the Kamma the highly refined mental states called Jhanas
or Ecstasies are weighty because they produce resultants more
speedily than the ordinary unrefined mental states. On the opposite
side, the five kinds of immediately effective serious crimes
are weighty. There crimes are: matricide, patricide, the murder
of an Arahanta (Holy-one or perfect saint), the wounding of
a Buddha and the creation of a schism in the Sangha.
(Asanna) Kamma is the action which one does at the moment before
death either physically or mentally - mentally by thinking of
one's own previous good or bad actions or having good or bad
thoughts. It is this Kamma which, if there is no weighty Kamma,
determines the conditions of the next birth.
(Acinna) Kamma is the action which one constantly does. This
Kamma, in the absence of death-proximate Kamma, produces and
determines the next birth.
(Katatta) Kamma is the last in the priority of results. This
is the unexpended Kamma of a particular being and it conditions
the next birth if there is no habitual Kamma to operate.
further classification of Kamma is according to the place in
which the results are produced, namely:
Immoral Kamma which produces its effect in the plane of misery.
Moral Kamma which produces its effect in the plane of the world
of the desires.
(3) Moral Kamma which produces its effect in the plane of form.
(4) Moral Kamma which produces its effect in the plane of the
immoral actions and their effects:
Immoral Kamma is rooted in greed (Lobha) anger (Dosa) and delusion
are ten immoral actions(Kamma) - namely, Killing, Stealing,
Un-chastity, (these three are caused by deed). Lying, Slandering,
Harsh Language, Frivolous talk, (these four are caused by word).
Covetousness, Ill-will and False View, (these three are caused
these ten, killing means the destruction of any living being
including animals of all kinds. To complete this offence of
killing, five conditions are necessary, viz: a being, consciousness
that it is a being, intention of killing, effort and consequent
evil effects of killing are: Short life, Diseasefulness, Constant
grief caused by the separation from the loved, and Constant
complete the offence of stealing five conditions are necessary,
viz: Property of other people, consciousness that it is so,
intention of stealing, effort and consequent removal. The effects
of stealing are: poverty, wretchedness, unfulfilled desires
and dependent livelihood.
complete the offence of un-chastity (sexual misconduct) three
conditions are necessary, viz: intention to enjoy the forbidden
object, efforts and possession of the object. The effects of
un-chastity are: having many enemies, getting undesirable marriage
complete the offence of lying four conditions are necessary,
viz: untruth, intention to deceive, effort, and communication
of the matter to others. The effects of lying are: being tormented
by abusive speech, being subject to vilification, incredibility
and stinking mouth.
complete the offence of slandering four conditions are necessary,
viz: division of persons, intention to separate them, effort
and communication. The effect of slandering is the dissolution
of friendship without any sufficient cause.
complete the offence of harsh language three conditions are
necessary, viz: someone to be abused, angry thought and using
abusive language. The effects of harsh language are: being detested
by others although blameless, and harsh voice.
complete the offence of frivolous talk two conditions are necessary,
viz: the inclination towards frivolous talk and its narration.
The effects of frivolous talk are: disorderliness of the bodily
organs and unacceptable speech.
complete the offence of covetousness (abhijjha) two conditions
are necessary, viz: another's property and strong desire for
it, saying "would this property be mine". The effect
of covetousness is the un-fulfillment of one's wishes.
complete the offence of ill-will (Vyapada) two conditions are
necessary, viz: another being and the intention of doing harm.
The effects of ill-will are: ugliness, various diseases and
view (Micchaditthi) means seeing things wrongly without understanding
what they truly are. To complete this false view two conditions
are necessary, viz: perverted manner in which an object is viewed
and the misunderstanding of it according to that view. The effects
of false view are: base attachment, lack of wisdom, dull wit,
chronic diseases and blameworthy ideas.
Pt. 1.p. 128).
Good Kamma which produces its effect in the plane of desires
are ten moral actions - namely, generosity (Dana), morality
(Sila), meditation (Bhavana), respect (Apacayana), service (Veyyavacca),
transference of merit (Pattidana), rejoicing in other's merit
(Pattanumodana), hearing the doctrine (Dhammadesana), and forming
correct views (Ditthijukamma).
yields wealth. "Morality" causes one to be born in
noble families in states of happiness. "Meditation"
helps you to be born in planes of form and formless planes and
helps to gain Higher Knowledge and Emancipation.
giving respect we gain respect. By giving service we gain service.
"Transference of merit" enables one to be able to
give in abundance in future birth. "Rejoicing in other's
merit" is productive of joy wherever one is born. Both
hearing and expounding the Doctrine are conducive to wisdom.
Good Kamma which produces its effect in the planes of form.
is of five types which are purely mental, and done in the process
of meditation, viz:
The first state of Jhana or ecstasy which has five constituents:
initial application, sustained application, rapture, happiness
and one-pointedness of the mind.
The second state of Jhana which occurs together with sustained
application, rapture, happiness, one-pointedness of the mind.
(3) The third state of Jhana which occurs together with rapture,
happiness and one-pointedness of the mind.
(4) The fourth state of Jhana which occurs together with happiness
and one-pointedness of the mind.
(5) The fifth state of Jhana which occurs together with equanimity
and one-pointedness of the mind
Good Karma which produces its effect in the formless planes.
is of four types which are also purely mental and done in the
process of meditation, viz:
Moral consciousness dwelling in the infinity of space.
Moral consciousness dwelling in the infinity of consciousness.
(3) Moral consciousness dwelling on nothingness.
(4) Moral consciousness wherein perception is so extremely subtle
that it cannot be said whether it is or is not.
as has been stated above, is not fate, is not irrevocable destiny.
Nor is one bound to reap all that one has sown in just proportion.
The actions (Kamma) of men are not absolutely irrevocable and
only a few of them are so. If, for example one fires a bullet
out of a rifle, one cannot call it back or turn it aside from
its mark. But, if instead of a lead or iron ball through the
air, it is an ivory ball on a smooth green board that one sets
moving with a billiard cue, one can send after it and at it,
another ball in the same way, and change its course. Not only
that, if one is quick enough, and one has not given it too great
an impetus, one might even get round to the other side of the
billiard table, and send against it a ball which would meet
it straight in the line of its course and bring it to a stop
on the spot. With one's later action with the cue, one modifies,
or even in favourable circumstances, entirely neutralizes one's
earlier action. It is in much the same way that Kamma operates
in the broad stream of general life. There too one's action
(Kamma) of a later day may modify the effects of one's action
(Kamma) of a former day. If this were not so, what possibility
would there ever be of a man getting free from all Kamma for
ever? It would be perpetually self-continuing energy that could
never come to and end.
has, therefore, a certain amount of free will and there is almost
every possibility to mould his life or to modify his actions.
Even a most vicious person can by his own free will and effort
become the most virtuous person. One may at any moment change
for the better or for the worse. But everything in the world
including man himself is dependent on conditions and without
conditions nothing whatsoever can arise or enter into existence.
Man therefore has only a certain amount of free will and not
absolute free will. According to Buddhist philosophy, everything,
mental or physical, arises in accordance with the laws and conditions.
If it were not so, there would reign chaos and blind chance.
Such a thing, however, is impossible, and if it would be otherwise,
all laws of nature which modern science has discovered would
real, essential nature of action (Kamma) of man is mental. When
a given thought has arisen in one's mind a number of times,
there is a definite tendency for recurrence of that thought.
a given act has been performed a number of times, there is a
definite tendency to the repetition of the act. Thus each act,
mental or physical, tends to constantly produce its like, and
be in turn produced. If a man thinks a good thought, speaks
a good word, does a good deed, the effect upon him is to increase
the tendencies to goodness present in him, to make him a better
man. If, on the contrary, he does a bad deed in thought, in
speech or in action, he has strengthened in himself his bad
tendencies, he has made himself a worse man. Having become a
worse man, he will gravitate to the company of worse men in
the future, and incur all the unhappiness of varying kinds that
attends life in such company. On the other hand, the main part
of a character that is continually growing better, will naturally
tend to the companionship of the good, and enjoy all the pleasantness
and comforts and freedom from the ruder shocks of human life
which such society connotes.
the case of a cultured man even the effect of a greater evil
may be minimised while the lesser evils of an uncultured man
may produce its effect to the maximum according to the favourable
and unfavourable conditions.
Taught by Kamma
more we understand the law of Kamma, the more we see how careful
we must be of our acts, words and thoughts, and how responsible
we are to our fellow beings. Living in the light of this knowledge,
we learn certain lessons from the doctrine of Kamma.
that the Law is our great helper if we live by it, and that
no harm can come to us if we work with it, knowing also it blesses
us just at the right time, we learn the grand lesson of patience,
not to get excited, and that impatience is a check to progress.
In suffering, we know that we are paying a debt, and we learn,
if we are wise, not to create more suffering for the future.
In rejoicing, we are thankful for its sweetness, and learn,
if we are wise, to be still better. Patience brings forth peace,
success, happiness and security.
law being just, perfect, it is not possible for an understanding
person to be uneasy about it. If we are uneasy and have no confidence,
it shows clearly that we have not grasped the reality of the
law. We are really quite safe beneath its wings, and there is
nothing to fear in all the wide universe except our own misdeeds.
The Law makes man stand on his own feet and rouses his self-confidence.
Confidence strengthens, or rather deepens, our peace and happiness
and makes us comfortable, courageous; wherever we go the Law
is our protector.
we in the past have caused ourselves to be what we now are,
so by what we do now will our future be determined. A knowledge
of this fact and that the glory of the future is limitless,
gives us great self-reliance, and takes away that tendency to
appeal for external help, which is really no help at all "Purity
and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another"
says the Buddha.
if we realize that the evil we do will return to strike us,
we shall be very careful lest we do or say or think something
that is not good, pure and true. Knowledge of Kamma will restrain
us from wrong doing for others' sakes as well as for our own.
more we make the doctrine of Kamma a part of our lives, the
more power we gain, not only to direct our future, but to help
our fellow beings more effectively. The practice of good Kamma,
when fully developed, will enable us to overcome evil and limitations,
and destroy all the fetters that keep us from our goal, Nibbana.
The Buddhist Channel
Buddhist Web-Site with News, Features, Reviews, and much, more.
Karma and Chaos : New and Collected Essays on Vipassana Meditation
-- by Paul R. Fleischman M.D., Paul R. Fleischman
Description - These eight essays explore the interface between
psychiatry, science, and the timeless teachings of the Buddha.
Drawn from the personal experiences of a therapist and practitioner
of Vipassana meditation, this work explores meditation's similarities
and differences with psychotherapeutic and scientific endeavors.
In the title essay, parallels are drawn between the atomic synthesis
of free choice and lawful consequence in Chaos Theory and karma,
offering contemporary insights into one of Buddhism's core concepts.
The empirical roots of meditation, its relevance to daily life,
and the challenges and benefits of daily practice of Vipassana
meditation are also addressed. Practical examples for continued
observation outside of formal meditation retreats guide readers
in incorporating Buddhist practice into daily life.
Reviewer: In Karma and Chaos a scholar (professor/psychiatrist/meditation
teacher) and his son examine the ancient doctrine of karma in
the light of modern Chaos Theory. Though most religious and
moral philosophies express a belief in some law of "you
reap as you sow," from the limited perspective of an individual
this seems to be contradicted by accidents, luck, and an unscientific,
mystical cosmology. The idea that there might be a higher moral
law that functions independent of capricious, supernatural powers
in a complex but rational way is intriguing.
this book the complexities of karma are made more intelligible,
even rational, by applying an overview of Chaos Theory. This
helps one transcend the limited linear rationality of the individual
and examine karma within a cosmic framework.
your views of karma, Karma and Chaos provides unique and interesting
insights. And it's only one of seven essays in the book. It's
worth a read.
Reviewer: Paul Fleischman's writing stirs more ideas than
could be followed tghrough in the space of an essay. His language
has a technical tone yet tends toward the poetic. Some sentences
need to be read more than once. But for those who find themselves
drawn into his writings, these challenges fall away to reveal
a rare gem. His unique style is integral to the power it evokes,
and he writes things I have always wanted to be able to read.
My favorite was the title essay, Karma and Chaos, where he explains,
and better yet, demonstrates, how a life in line with karma
can yield a balanced personality without sacrificing intellectual
integrity. To me this book exudes compassion, wisdom, and joy.
Reviewer: This collection of essays is the most lyrically
beautiful and forcefully personal account of the effect of the
Buddha's teachings in real life I have ever read. Dr. Fleischman
writes with the soul of a poet and the critical thought of a
scientist. His and his family's life and growth together in
Dhamma shine through again and again as the real theme of the
essays. Anyone who wonders about the amorphous interface between
modern psychotherapy and the Buddha's path should not miss the
essay, "Vipassana Meditation: A Unique Contribution to
the title essay, "Karma and Chaos" is an amazingly
fertile presentation of the ancient and timeless teachings of
the Buddha in light of the cutting edge discoveries of western
Soeng, director of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, has
said of it: "I just finished reading the essay on Karma
and Chaos from your book and I want to congratulate you on an
extraordinary piece on Dhamma and scientific perspectives. I
would like to say that it is one of the shining moments of how
ancient wisdom tradition from the East is being received in
the West. The language is beautiful and there is a cogent and
passionate communication of some very complex ideas in ways
that do not oversimplify them and yet make them accessible."
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