Zen Tapes


Zen Tapes - Karma

(Zazen music plays in the background.)

Hi there. Zen Master Rama here, talking with you about karma and reincarnation today.

When you meditate and practice Zazen, when you stop your thought, when you focus, you're creating karmas.

The poignancy of life. Incarnation. The intersection of different spheres of existence in time and space, matter and energy - life.

We are alive, for a brief moment. And there are many, many wonders to see. And sometimes we think that life is random. We just go through life without a plan, without a direction. Things seem chaotic.

Chance. Is there chance? No. There's karma. Karma causes all things to happen. It makes the sun come up every day; the moon go through its 28 phases; it causes your birth, your death. It's what makes your days and nights, days and nights.

Karma. Why do you meet someone? Karma. Why don't you meet someone else? Karma. Why do you love one person more than another? Karma. Why are you in the career you're now in? Karma.

There is only one thing that karma can't decide, and that's how far you will evolve in this lifetime. How much you'll wake up. How much you'll come to see and know before you leave this place again. That is up to you. The rest is karma.

(Zazen music ends.)

It's good not to think of karma as an alien force that's outside of yourself because you are the generator of karma. Karma is your own energy - the energy patterns that emanate from your life, from your actions, from your thoughts, feelings and desires, your attractions and aversions, hopes, dreams, plans and schemes - karma.

The idea is simple. For every action there's a reaction, for every cause there's an effect, for every effect there's a result, and a new situation is created. Karma can be examined within the structure of an hour, a year, a lifetime, thousands of lifetimes. But the active principle is the same - you, your choices, your decisions, your awareness. How aware are you? What determines how aware you can become?

Karma, as I said, indicates action, but not necessarily physical action; nor is karma a result in the sense of a reward. Some people say when something happens to them, "Oh, it's my karma," as if there was someone out there giving rewards or punishments. Something good happens to you and you say, "Oh, it's my karma," meaning you have good karma. You've done something good in the past and it comes back to you. Something bad happens to you, whatever you construe that to be, and you say, "Oh, it's my karma," meaning that something unpleasant has occurred because you've done something that you would consider to be inappropriate, bad, whatever, in a prior time. Karma is really much more complicated than that. That's a very simplistic view of it.

Karma, first of all, comes from the mind. Karma is engendered by states of mind. For example, if you're in a happy state of mind, that will engender one kind of karma. If you're in an unhappy state of mind, that will engender another kind of karma. It's best to think of karma, not so much in terms of physical action, but as waveforms of vibratory energy.

Rama smiling with his arms crossed wearing a designer suit
Seeing is the ability to tell what really is.

The works of Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz are reprinted or included here with permission from

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.