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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
48 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 7 co-arising arises. In the second watch, he investi- gated and reviewed how it quenches. In the final watch, he investigated and reviewed both. This understanding is eminently reasonable and fully supported by the core themes of the discourses. Please consider this important question: Have you ever practiced like this? Have you ever inves- tigated dependent co-arising in the way that the Buddha did before, during, and after his awaken- ing? We suggest that you examine and scrutinize dependent co-arising in the same great detail, with the same sincerity and intensity. Then, you might understand it like he did. You will find it worth your while to follow the Buddha’s example. Two Understandings of Karma This is a good place to consider karma. After all, it parallels the dependent co-arising teaching, though with less precision and depth. In the first account of the Buddha’s awakening, the second knowledge sug- gests that beings carry on after death according to their karma. The difficulty with this understanding is that we cannot take this as the understanding of karma in line with core Buddhist principles. Rather, this understanding is simply the standard version of karma that existed in India before the Buddha’s time. Before the Buddha’s awakening, the Upani- shads already taught that beings are reborn after death according to the workings of karma. Even Christianity, at least mainstream forms, teaches pretty much the same. If that is not the true Bud- dhist teaching, then what is? In Buddhism, the central teaching on karma is about the practice that makes karma meaningless, “the karma that ends karma.” This karma trans- forms us beyond all the influences of karma, which is the unique, more profound aspect of the Buddha’s karma teaching. The idea that doing good deeds leads to good results and doing bad deeds leads to bad results was a general teaching that existed before the Buddha’s time. The Buddha did not deny or object to such karma doctrines, which were already common before he appeared and are found in some form in all religions. However, such teach- ings were not sufficient for his purpose: the end of suffering. Therefore, the Buddha went further. His real teaching is about not being trapped by karma, thus transcending karma and its consequences. Allow me to reiterate that most of the books on Buddhism with chapters on “Karma and Rebirth” are not correct, not if they really intend to represent Buddhism. If we are to explain “Karma in Bud- dhism,” it is not enough to teach that good actions bring good fruits, bad actions bring bad fruits, and we inevitably receive the fruits of our good and bad karma. Properly, a Buddhist explanation must focus on “the karma that ends all karma.” The practice of the noble eightfold path is that karma that ends all karma. The Buddha’s teaching on karma is to be free of karma, not trapped by it, so that karma has no more power over our lives. The Buddha Perfected the Teaching of Karma To be trapped forever in the prison of karma is not Buddhism. If everything constantly happens to us according to karma, there could never be any liber- ation. For a teaching and practice to be Buddhism, we must be liberated from the power and oppres- sion of karma. A teaching that merely reiterates the old approach cannot be the true Buddhist teaching. It must be completed to the extent of liberation to be Buddhism. Thus, the Buddha needed to teach the karma that ends karma. He took the kind of karma that does not explain liberation and perfected it so that liberation from karma became the central point. “Beyond karma” is a teaching above and beyond the world, or a lokuttara teaching. The ordinary karma teachings are part and parcel with the world (lokiya). Lokiyadhamma is for the mind still trapped in worldly conditions. Lokuttaradhamma is