Mar 30 2010 in Buddhism Basics by littlebuddha
Karma (from Sanskrit: action, work) is the energy which drives Saṃsāra, the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good, skillful (Pāli: kusala) and bad, unskillful (Pāli: akusala) actions produce “seeds” in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called Śīla (from Sanskrit: ethical conduct).
In Buddhism, Karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent (Pāli: cetana), and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, Sanskrit: phala) or result (Pāli: vipāka). Every time a person acts there is some quality of intention at the base of the mind and it is that quality rather than the outward appearance of the action that determines its effect.
In Theravada Buddhism there is no divine salvation or forgiveness for one’s Karma. Some Mahayana traditions hold different views. For example, the texts of certain Sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra) claim that reciting or merely hearing their texts can expunge great swathes of negative Karma. Similarly, the Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin taught that Buddha Amitabha has the power to destroy the Karma that would otherwise bind one in Saṃsāra.