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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Feb 24, 2019

Karma therapy is the practice of trying--every day--to create as much good karma as possible. Karma therapy is also refraining from actions that create negative karma, namely, actions that harm ourselves or others. In the daily practice that follows this episode, we are mainly engage in this practice by seizing every opportunity to do good, help others, cherish others, or engage in spiritual practice. Though this seems simple enough, karma therapy that has the power to transform us into truly happy, peaceful people requires a gradual increase in the belief in the law of karma so that it affects our behavior.

Karma means “action”. The law of karma is the universal law of cause and effect that explains why we experience everything that we do. From each action, there is a similar result. A “virtuous action”, like Buddha refers to in the verses, is an action that brings about happiness in the future. A non-virtuous action is one that harms our self or others and will create the causes of suffering for our self in the future. It is said that karma is like a mirror; if we look deeply into the mirror of our present circumstances, environment, body and personality, we can know what we did in the past. For example, if today a person is wealthy, that reveals that they practiced generosity in the past or past lives. If a person is beautiful, it is because they practiced patience. If one is healthy or has a long life, that is a result of having taken care of the sick, or saving the lives of others in the past.

We can also hold up the mirror of karma to see our future. If we are often loving and kind, others will be loving and kind to us in the future. If we steal from others, we will have little resources or be stolen from ourselves. By changing our habits of mind to virtue, in this life we can become happy and peaceful. 

A list of some causes and effects for your own karma therapy:

Actions of body:

From giving -- comes wealth

From abandoning stealing -- comes wealth

From maintaining pure sexual conduct -- comes having a good partner and few enemies

From protecting others -- comes high status

From caring for the sick -- comes health and long life

From rescuing living beings (event insects) -- comes health and long life

From refraining from harming or killing -- comes health and long life


Actions of speech:

From avoiding lying  - come others will trust our words

From avoiding slandering and by making peace between people -- come others’ respect

From avoiding harsh speech and by talking calmly and kindly -- come hearing nice things

From giving up gossip -- comes others not gossiping about us

From avoiding talking on-and-on about unimportant things -- comes others taking our words seriously

Actions of mind:

From avoiding malicious thoughts or planning retribution -- comes being free of fear and anxiety

From developing wisdom -- comes having a correct and intelligent vision of reality

From patience or kindness -- comes beauty

From kindness -- comes beauty

From rejoicing in others’ happiness -- comes good fortune

From rejoicing in others’ happiness -- comes being without jealousy


"Just as from a heap of flowers,

Many garlands can be made,

So, you, with your mortal life,

Should do many skillful things.


The scent of flowers--

---sandalwood, jasmine, and rosebay--

Doesn’t go against the wind.

But the scent of a virtuous person,

Does travel against the wind;

It spreads in all directions.


The scent of virtue

Is unsurpassed,

Even by sandalwood, rosebay,

Water lily and jasmine.



Is the scent of rosebay or sandalwood,

But the scent of the virtuous is supreme,

Drifting even to the gods.” 

--Buddha, The Dhammapada, verses 53-56



The Dhammapada, by Buddha. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 13-14

Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Je Tsongkhapa, Volume 1. Pages 297-301. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.

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