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Fundamentals of Buddhism

Today we have come to a couple of related ideas
which are common in Buddhism and they are the ideas
of karma and rebirth. These ideas are closely inter-
related, but because the subject is a fairly wide one, we
will begin to deal with the idea of karma today and
rebirth in the following lecture.
We know that what binds us in samsara are the
defilements — desire, ill-will and ignorance. We spoke
about this when we talked about the Second Noble
Truth — the truth of the cause of suffering. These
defilements are something which every living being in
samsara shares, whether we speak of human beings or
animals or beings who live in the other realms which we
do not normally perceive. In this, all living beings are
alike and yet amongst all the living beings that we can
normally perceive, there are many differences. For
instance, some of us are wealthy, some are less wealthy,
some are strong and healthy, others are disabled and so
forth. There are many differences amongst living beings
and even more so there are differences between animals
and human beings. These differences are due to karma.
What we all share – desire, ill-will and ignorance – are
common to all living beings, but the particular condition
in which we find ourselves is the result of our particular
karma that conditions the situation in which we find
ourselves, the situation in which we may be wealthy,
strong and so forth. These circumstances are decided by
karma. It is in this sense that karma explains the differ-
ences amongst living beings. It explains why some
beings are fortunate while others are less fortunate,