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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Mar 3, 2019

Karma therapy Part II is the practice of trying--every chance we get-- to abandon selfishness. Ultimately this is refraining from actions that create negative karma (actions that harm ourselves or others). Karma Therapy Part I is trying--every day--to create as much good karma as possible. Karma Therapy has the power to transform us into truly happy, peaceful people. To enable such a powerful transformation, however, 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 poor, that reveals that they stole from others in the past or in past lives. If a person is unattractive, it is because they were often angry or unkind.

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 effects coming from giving up selfish actions:

Actions of body:

From abandoning stealing -- comes wealth

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

From protecting others -- comes high status

From abandoning killing -- comes health and long life


Actions of speech:

From abandoning  lying - come others will trust our words

From abandoning slandering others-- come others’ respect

From abandoning harsh speech -- come hearing nice things

From abandoning gossip -- comes others not gossiping about us

From abandoning idle chatter  -- comes others taking our words seriously


Actions of mind:

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

From abandoning actions of anger -- comes beauty

From abandoning jealousy -- comes good fortune being without jealousy


"Mara does not find the path

Of those endowed with virtue,

Living with vigilance

And freed by right understanding.


As a sweet-smelling lotus,

Pleasing to the heart,

May grow in a heap of rubbish

Discarded along the highway

So a disciple of the Fully Awakened One,

Shines with wisdom,

Among the rubbish heap

Of blind, common people.”

--Buddha, The Dhammapada, verses 58-59



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.