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Christians and Karma?

Do Christians Have Karma?

A Reader recently wrote:

I was born and raised a hell-fire and brimstone Baptist. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher and I literally grew up in church. By the time I was in my teens I had begun to question my upbringing and have finally been able to break the bonds of my teachings and am now trying to follow the Buddhist Way. My deeply religious family do not know of my conversion and it is easy for me to practice my Buddhism as I live in the Southwest and they are in the Midwest.

I have a question, however, regarding rebirth and karma. If a person follows another religion, I assume that they are still subject to accumulating karma and experiencing rebirth(s) until they too reach enlightenment. Is this a correct assumption even though the person may think that their religion is the only true religion and the rest of us are Pagans destined to an eternity in their Christian hell?

Thank you for your daily emails and weekly podcasts. For beginners like myself they have been extremely educational and insightful.

My Response:

Yes, what you said is correct. It doesn’t matter what a person BELIEVES, if karma and rebirth are the way the universe actually works, then religious belief is not going to lock you into damnation or anything of that sort. Everyone’s thoughts and actions raise or lower their karma. Christians or Wiccans or Atheists or (fill in blank) can still accumulate positive karma. Buddhists obviously believe that their way is the best and will lead to full enlightenment and escape from this cycle in the most expedient way.

Can non-Buddhists ever actually escape the cycle of rebirth? I cannot say for a fact obviously, but Buddhist doctrine would say that reaching that point is extremely difficult. Very few of even the “best” Buddhists make it. I guess it’s theoretically possible for a non-Buddhist to achieve enlightenment, but I doubt it’s common or even likely. That being said, I see no reason why a good Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or whatever cannot achieve a good rebirth through good works and a good life. Maybe they’ll pick up Buddhism next time around.

If others think you are wrong, they may tell you you’re going to Hell for your beliefs. If you think ‚Äìthey- are the ones in the wrong, you can only tell them they’re coming back for another chance.

Which is more compassionate in your eyes?

1 comment to Christians and Karma?

  • Timothy Hilgenberg

    While talking to others about hell and damnation, you might find it helpful to think about:

    Verse 235 from the Buddha Vacana:

    235. “If anyone should criticize me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, you should not on that account be angry, resentful or upset. For if you were, that would hinder you, and you would be unable to know whether they said right or wrong. Would you?”
    “No, Lord.”
    “So, if others criticize me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, then simply explain what is incorrect, saying: ‘that is incorrect, that is not right, that is not our way, we do not do that.’ But also, if others should praise me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, you should not on that account be pleased, joyful or puffed up. For if you were, that would hinder you. So, if others praise me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, then simply explain what is correct, saying: “That is correct, that is right, that is our way, that is what we do.”

    Buddha Vacana:

    Be careful not to tell others what to believe if you cannot prove it, you might want to look up the Kalama suta – “Buddha’s charter of free enquiry”:

    Hope this helps?