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Points on karma and purification using the four forces

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.

  • Understanding karma helps to avoid the extreme of nihilism
  • Using mindfulness and introspective awareness to avoid nonvirtue and create virtue
  • The five heinous actions and the five parallel heinous actions
  • Merit acquired in relation to substances
  • The causal and the immediate motivation of an action
  • What carries the karma and how does the potency of karma go from action to result?
  • How to purify by means of the four opponent powers

Gomchen Lamrim 42: Karma and purification (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Consider the point that until we can generate the wisdom that eliminates our ignorance and frees us from samsara, understanding karma and its effects is what gives us power to create the situations we want and avoid the ones we don’t want. What does thinking in this way do for your mind? How does it motivate your practice?
  2. Consider the importance of mindfulness and introspective awareness. How would strengthening these factors in your mind benefit your practice? How would it benefit the lives of the beings around you? Imagine how you might move through space and interact with others with a heightened sense of mindfulness and introspective awareness.
  3. Consider the five heinous and five parallel heinous actions. What makes them so powerfully negative that the Sutrayana says they can’t be purified in this life?
  4. Consider the difference between the immediate (timely) and causal motivation. Think of situations in your life. What was the causal motivation? What was the immediate motivation? How can an awareness of these two types of motivations strengthen your practice and how you go about your day?
  5. Consider the importance of having a conviction in karma and its effects before doing in depth study and meditation on emptiness. Why is this so? What is the danger of not doing so?
  6. Review the four opponent powers (the four forces) of purification. Why are all four steps necessary? Why is regret the most important? What are the various practices you can do to purify using the four opponent powers? Why is it so important to purify our negativities?
  7. Consider this line from the text: “Regarding how negativities are purified, it is taught that the suffering to be experienced is shortened, lessened or neutralized completely; or that which would otherwise be experienced severely in a low rebirth occurs instead in the present life simply as a minor illness.” What does thinking in this way do for your mind? How does it help you bear present suffering?
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.