Joseph Goldstein – Insight Hour – Ep. 144 – The Law of Karma

Joseph Goldstein takes a deep dive into the law of karma, how it affects us in our practice and daily lives, and how can we apply it in a way that it becomes the condition for our happiness.

This dharma talk from November 11, 2003, at the Insight Meditation Society, was originally published on Dharma Seed.
The Law of Karma

Joseph begins by exploring the connection between the principles of emptiness and the law of karma, which are the two most basic aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. The challenge is to integrate our understanding of emptiness with the truth of the law of karma. Joseph turns his full attention to the law of karma, talking about different ways of understanding this law of cause and effect. He covers present karma first, and then the karmic effects of past actions that get stored as impressions in the mind.

“So we can see these are karmic results of one thing or another coming as impressions in the mind. But when we bring awareness to them, when we bring a certain compassionate understanding, then our practice becomes a great purifying process.” – Joseph Goldstein

Jack Kornfield talks about karma and the power of intention in Heart Wisdom Ep. 3
Causes and Conditions (22:00)

Joseph warns us about falling into the trap of guilt when dealing with the results of past karmic conditioning. He talks about how karma influences our meditation practice, and also how karma can unfold in the way that the mind develops certain patterns through habitual actions. Joseph covers how each of our actions is the seed of a habit, how specific actions lead to specific results, and why it’s important not to misinterpret these teachings on the law of karma.

“We can understand that all situations have causes and conditions behind them. Because this is what the law of karma is saying, everything is arising out of causes and conditions, including our own past actions. Our own past actions are part of the causes and conditions which bring about results.” – Joseph Goldstein

Dr. Robert Svoboda and Dr. Vignesh Devraj discuss analyzing karma in Living with Reality Ep. 23
Drop By Drop (40:00)

Joseph explores how reflecting on the law of karma changes our relationship to experience. We’re more inspired to take responsibility for our lives and take a longer-range view of things. Joseph talks about how every action we take makes it easier to do that same action again, so it’s worth focusing on what kind of acts we’re doing. Understanding the law of karma can really empower us to shape our lives by making wise choices.

“Each of our actions, they’re like drops of water filling a bucket. And each drop seems so insignificant. But as we know, you leave the bucket there, drop by drop, that bucket gets full. So drop by drop our minds get filled. Every action of body, speech, and mind, every volitional activity, is putting another drop of one quality or another into our minds, is strengthening that quality.” – Joseph Goldstein

Alan Watts talks about dropping out from karma in Being in the Way Ep. 2

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