Zen and Karma

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Uniquely, it is one of the few Zen books treating the subject of karma, a principle deeply entrenched in Hindu and some Buddhist traditions, but rarely taught within Zen. Karma generally refers to the principle of cause and effect, acknowledging that each individual will reap what they sow, whether in this lifetime or some future life. Deshimaru, however, explains that this doctrine really has nothing to do with a simple good or bad balance-chart for the individual person, but rather concerns the activity of humanity as a whole. He highlights the necessity for clearly seeing one s own thinking, which is creating the hell that we and others endure an immediate karmic payback. With zazen, a practitioner becomes not only acquainted with the contents of mind, but able to refocus it, allowing the body to think in ways that are beneficial to oneself and others. As he compares this doctrine of karma within Mahayana Buddhism with Western philosophy, he points to the need for wise and ethical action in all aspects of life. His dedication, like that of great masters in all traditions, is with the relief of suffering and the clarity needed to pierce to the cause of suffering. Serious sitting practice, in the way he presents it, creates that access.