A) Explain the Relationship Between Karma (Kamma), Dependent Origination and Rebecoming in Buddhist Thought.

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  • Topic: Buddhism, Buddhist philosophical concepts, Karma
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  • Published : March 21, 2013
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Karma, dependent origination and rebecoming are all big parts of the Buddhist religion and link quite closely – dependent origination basically teaches that everything is connected, which corresponds with karma, the teaching that good behaviours will have good consequences and bad behaviours will have bad consequences, and generating bad karma will result in being trapped in samsara, the process of rebecoming that is structured by suffering or dukkha – another concept dependent origination explains. Dependent origination or the principle of conditionality (paticca samuppada) is the principle that nothing exists independently of anything else. Everything depends on something else in order for it to exist, and is part of a web of conditions whereby when the conditions one thing relies on cease to exist, it does too. These conditioned states define us as we constantly change whilst we are in samsara, however they cause dukkha to arise as they are impermanent and caused by craving or tanha. Karma is within dependent origination. The literal meaning is ‘volitional (willed) action’ or ‘volitional actions have consequences’. Good or skilful actions, kusala, generate good merit, punna, and bad pr unskilful actions, akusala, generate bad merit, apunna. The general understanding of karma is that if you do something bad then the universe will cause something bad to happen to you. In Buddhism it is believed that karma is carried through the process of samsara, be it good or bad karma, and it shapes who we are – as the Dhammapada says, ‘our life is shaped by our mind, we become what we think’. It is often likened to a seed (bija) as it is stored in the unconscious mind, and it will ripen (vipaka) and produce fruit (phala) when under the right conditions, caused by positive karmic action. It does not necessarily mean that if you cause something bad to happen to someone or something then you will generate bad karma – the nature of the karma relies on the intention of an action...
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