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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Mar 31, 2019

Suffering happens. Sometimes people experience periods of chronic suffering, as when a loved one passes away or a physical illness debilitates them. We must find a way to transform our suffering into something meaningful. The practice of karma therapy provides three ways to meaningfully transform suffering. These ways of thinking apply to lesser pain, like a frustrating coworker, as well as deeper and long-term suffering.

  1. This is my karma. When we accept our suffering patiently, without retaliating and creating negative karma, we purify the karma we created in the past.
  2. Imagine that we draw the suffering of others who are experiencing something similar into our own pain, and we lessen their suffering. This is very powerful purification of our karma and also greatly increases our compassion.
  3. We can dedicate our acceptance of this suffering to our spiritual awakening. The practice of dedication is to make an intention that our karma will produce a certain result. At the end of each podcast recording, for example, those gathered dedicate in this way “We dedicate the good karma we created together tonight to the happiness and inner peace of all beings--without  exception, and to lasting peace in this world.” We want our spiritual practice to ripen as the happiness of all beings. Similarly, you can dedicate your acceptance of suffering to your own spiritual awakening (and the spiritual awakening of all beings if you wish). We can let or suffering crack us wide open and bring about our own transformation.

A fool conscious of her foolishness

Is to that extent wise.

But a fool who considers himself wise

Is the one to be called a fool. (63)


A fool associating with a sage,

Even if for a lifetime,

Will no more perceive the Dharma

Than a spoon will perceive the taste of soup. (64)


A discerning person who associates with a sage,

Even if for a brief moment,

Will quickly perceive the Dharma,

As the tongue perceives the taste of soup. (65)


Fools with no sense

Go about as their own enemies,

Doing evil deeds that

Bear bitter fruit. (66)


No deed is good

That one regrets having done,

That results in weeping

And a tear-streaked face. (67)


A deed is good

That one doesn’t regret having done,

That results in joy

And delight. (68)


As long as evil has not borne fruit,

The fool thinks it is like honey.

But when evil does bear fruit,

Then the fool suffers. (69)


The foolish ascetic who month after month

Eats food with the tip of a blade of grass

Is not worth a fraction

Of a person who has fathomed the Dharma. (70)


Like fresh milk,

Evil deeds do not immediately curdle;

Rather, like fire covered with ash,

They follow the fool, smoldering.(71)



The Dhammapada, by Buddha. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 16-18

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.