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Q266. How can I be free from all past karma if causation is inevitable?

A. ‘Cause and effect’ is a rule for explaining the world of form. No one can escape it. Buddha, while alive, said that he himself couldn’t avoid it as well as long as living in the world of form. To become free from karma is not to remove, or do away with it, but to realise that karma is empty.

Let’s suppose there is a golden cup. It can be dented, or crushed when dropped from a height, or hit on a hard thing. It is dented in just the same way regardless of whether a foolish man drops it or Buddha does. This is called karma, or cause and effect.

To be free from karma is not to remove it, but to change our view of it.

People who see the cup only as a cup, without realising that its essence is gold, will get upset and disappointed when the cup loses its form of a cup, or is disfigured by any number of causes such as dropping or hitting it. Thinking that all of its value is gone, they are sometimes so frustrated that they may even give it up.


However, those who are aware that the cup is made of gold know that the essence and its intrinsic value never change regardless of what form it takes on. They are not swayed by the change of the form of it because they know that the essence of the cup is not the form of a cup but gold itself, and that there is no change at all in the essence. To realise the emptiness of things and not to be swayed by the change of them is said to be freedom from karma.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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