Letters to the Editor—Summer 2008

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KARMA RULES?

David Loy (“Rethinking Karma,” Spring 2008) states that karma has traditionally been used to justify racism, the caste system, economic inequality, or the status quo. The suttas, though, show that the Buddha never used karma to justify any of these things. In fact, he used it to expose these things as empty conventions. Many suttas state unequivocally that a person’s worth is determined by his or her behavior—present karma—rather than by status or birth. Examples include Suttas 93 and 96 in the Middle-Length Discourses, and Sutta 3:24 in the Connected Discourses. The last chapter of the Dhammapada is devoted to the theme that a person is a true brahmin not because of birth but because of his or her present karma.

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