Numata Lecture: Karmic Mindfulness

M. Editor  |  October 26, 2011

Please join us this Friday, October 28, for the Fall 2011 Numata Lecture

Karmic Mindfulness: Rethinking Morality in Contemporary Buddhism

Professor Dale Wright, Occidental College


As a basic principle governing moral thinking, the Buddhist concept of karma is brilliant. With clarity and simplicity, it informs participants in Buddhist cultures that what becomes of them in life is dependent on the quality of their relations to other people and on what they do in life. The fact that the concept of karma was transferred from one religious tradition to others in Asia has meant that its early mythological foundations have been weakened, to some extent allowing it to stand on its own.

Although western religions have moral principles that function in similar ways, in each case these concepts cannot so easily be severed from their mythological grounding in the ideas of the will of God, heaven and hell. That difference suggests that karma’s potential as a moral principle for contemporary global culture is outstanding. In order to live up to that role, however, some dimensions of the concept of karma would require rethinking. In this lecture, I assess the strengths and weaknesses of the idea of karma, and suggest how certain aspects of the idea can be developed into a powerful and realistic moral framework for the approaching global society.

Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2140 Durant Ave. Friday, October 28, at 3:00 p.m.