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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
buddhadharma| 49 |spring 2007 buddhadharma: First, would each of you like to describe your understanding of karma and its importance in the Buddhist path? ajahN amaro: The basic approach in the Theravada is that karma is based on intention. There’s a frequently quoted passage where the Buddha says, “Intention is karma.” Having will, we cre- ate karma through body, speech, and mind. The intention is what creates the potency behind the action. The word karma simply means “action,” but usually when people talk about karma in com- mon usage, they mean karma and its result – action and the result of action. The technical word for the result is vipaka, the fruit of the action. So it’s the things we intend and then act upon that are the key creators of karma. Those actions arising from our intention that happened in the past we then experience as fruit in the present moment. Often, though, people think of karma in a very fatalistic way or deterministic way. They’ll say, “It’s my karma,” by which they mean it had to happen that way. That view is antithetical to the Buddhist teachings. The effects of past actions can cause a particular tendency, but the ripening of karma is never fixed. Over and over again in the Pali canon, the Buddha tries to counteract the view that life is created according to an inescap- courtesyofJackshainmanGallery,nyc Turning to Spring, 2002