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What makes karma powerful

What makes karma powerful

Having generated the motivation for a good rebirth, the text turns to creating the causes for that goal. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Responses to questions on karma
  • Karma is intention but it can also be an action, physical or verbal
  • Four ways in which karma is powerful
    • Powerful with respect to the field
    • Powerful with respect to the basis
    • Powerful with respect to the action itself
    • Powerful with respect to the intention behind it
  • How to deal with income from Dharma books

Gomchen Lamrim 30: What makes karma powerful (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Spend some time considering the four factors that make karma heavier or lighter according to the text: powerful with respect to the field, the basis, the action itself, and the intention behind it. Think of specific examples in your life of things you do that create strong virtuous and non-virtuous karma. What are specific examples of weak virtuous and non-virtuous karma. With this knowledge, what specific things can you do to weaken the negative and strengthen the positive karma?
  2. Powerful with respect to the field (the recipient of the action): Actions done in relationship to the Three Jewels, our spiritual mentors, our parents, and the ill and poor create heavier karma for us. Why is this the case?
  3. Powerful with respect to the basis (you as the person creating the karma): Consider the ways in which we affect the heaviness of our karma: not concealing our negativities and practicing the four opponent powers, increasing our wisdom, taking (and keeping) precepts, etc.)
  4. Why are the negativities of the wise lighter?
  5. Why does having (and keeping) more precepts make actions heavier?
  6. Powerful with respect to the action itself: Why are sharing the Dharma with others and offering your practice both the highest forms of generosity and the most powerful karma with respect to the action itself?
  7. Powerful with respect to the intention behind it: Consider the role of intention in making an action heavier or lighter (actions motivated by bodhicitta vs. by strong affliction, things done over a long time, etc).
  8. Venerable Chodron said studying what makes karma powerful is helpful in getting to the heart of what is valuable to do and not do. Have you found that these teachings have begun to transform your actions?
  9. Venerable Semkye commented that what has been powerful for her in these teachings is recognizing just how often she runs on automatic, isn’t paying attention to her motivation, and misses endless opportunities to create virtue. Do you find the same true for yourself? What can you do to increase your awareness so that you can make use of the many opportunities you have each day to create virtue?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.