Karma and Rebirth

Contrary to common misconception, the Buddhist interpretation of karma does not refer to preordained fate. Karma refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime. Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation, bring about happiness in the long run. Bad actions, such as lying, stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run. The weight that actions carry is determined by five conditions: frequent, repetitive action; determined, intentional action; action performed without regret; action against extraordinary persons; and action toward those who have helped one in the past. Finally, there is also neutral karma, whcih has no benefits or costs.

Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn—three fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms. The realm of man is considered the highest realm of rebirth as it offers one other aspect lacking in the other five planes—an opportunity to achieve enlightenment. Given the sheer number of living things, to be born human is to Buddhists a precious chance at spiritual bliss, a rarity that one should not forsake.

An introduction to karma and rebirth

An introduction to rebirth

Another basic introduction to karma and rebirth

Peter Della Santina

Buddhist Karma

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Good and Evil in Buddhism
Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto

Kamma on the Social Level
Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto

Dr. Sunthorn Plamintr

Buddhist Theory of Kamma
Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

Ethical Implications of the Buddhist Theory of Kamma
Bhikkhu Thich Nhat-Tu

Rebirth and Death
John Snelling

Peter Della Santina

Death, Intermediate State, and Rebirth
H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama