Karma & Rebirth in early Buddhism

Dear friends,

We have finally prepared the detailed reading list for next year’s course in Karma & Rebirth in Early Buddhism.

As with the Early Buddhism Course in 2013, this will be presented each month in parallel at the BSWA by myself and Ajahn Brahmali, and in Sydney by myself alone (unless anyone can persuade Ajahn Brahmali to come to Sydney! That would be very good kamma!)

You can download the reading and other course details from here:

Course outline, BSWA, Perth

Course outline, Buddhist Library, Sydney

And you can register for the course here:

Registration, BSWA, Perth

Registration, Buddhist Library, Sydney

Use Discourse!

For this year, we are facilitating a discussion and exchange around the course using the new forum platform, Discourse. This is something that we have been developing in the background for SuttaCentral. The integration with SuttaCentral is not complete, but it’s ready enough to be used for this course. Ultimately we’d like this forum to be a place where all kinds of material related to the suttas can be gathered and made accessible.

If you’re interested in the course, register at discourse.suttacentral.net, and you can join the online community, discuss issues, ask questions, and so on. This is especially useful for anyone interested in following the course online, but we hope it will be fun for everyone.

To get started, have a look at the course outline for the first workshop: myth-busting. If anyone has any myths they want busted, please let us know!



18 thoughts on “Karma & Rebirth in early Buddhism

    • We will definitely be posting recordings, and we will try to live-stream the events from the BSWA, but this depends on the technicalities. For a big organization, the tech side of things is still handled by one or two overworked volunteers, so we must be patient! We’ll update closer to the time.

    • Just working through tbe first session on YouTube and the related interviews. Thank you very much!

  1. Dear Ajahn,
    I’m a big fan of your talks, esp your encouragement on critical reasoning on Pali on suttas. Grateful for these resources and teachings, thanks venerable.
    Greetings from India, with metta

  2. Dear Bhante. Thank you all so much for making this course available online (I live in Florida). I have, however, tried to sign up by creating a user name and password with no success. Each time I fill out the form it gives me the option to logon and then when I try and do that it gives me a message stating that I am not giving the correct information??? It also promises an e-mail will be sent to me — I have not received that either — have probably tried three or four times now? Looking forward to getting this resolved so that I can join up. with metta — Bridgit

    • Whereabouts are you signing up to? I assume the BSWA, yes? Or are you talking about the Discourse forum? I am aware that the BSWA has been facing some technical problems; if so, give them a couple of days and try again.

  3. “Karma and Rebirth in Early Buddhism”

    Oxford Dictionaries define Buddhism as a religion or philosophy. It doesn’t define early Buddhism.
    A definition of early Buddhism would be useful to scope the discussion.

    • We usually use it to refer to the Buddhism of the time of the Buddha and the century or two afterwards; for practical purposes, the teachings found in the early portions of the Pali Nikayas and Chinese Agamas, etc.

    • Hi Marten, sign up and we’ll be providing online services as we go. We have yet to finalize these, and I expect that it might take a little while till all the glitches are worked out. Bear with us, we are all volunteers!

  4. Hi Bhante,
    A much appreciated course with great interviews and readings. Dhammika’s ebook was a long time coming. I could never understand how anyone could swallow the explanation that some 230,000 people dying all at the same time time on different continents in the 2004 tsunami could all be their ‘kamma’ (collective or not).

    So, understanding that kamma is the action we create that will cause mostly psychological effects, what to make of the story of the Buddha’s bad back? Is the account of his back problems – due to having been a fighter in a past life where he broke a few backs himself – just a story? If it is true, wouldn’t that suggest that some physical results follow our physical actions? Not to mention that being reborn in the hell realms seems to follow rather violent lifestyles. This suggests more than just the successive states of psychological tendencies. It definitely sounds more like some form of payback for nasty past deeds. I think many of the popular notions of kamma are maintained in the Buddhist world because of these accounts. More myth coming from doubtful suttas or is there something to this?

    Thanks for your time.

    • what to make of the story of the Buddha’s bad back? Is the account of his back problems – due to having been a fighter in a past life where he broke a few backs himself – just a story?

      I must admit, I’ve never heard this one! But yes, this is just another myth. The story I heard is that he suffered a bad back because of all the austere practices he did while young, which sounds reasonable. But the suttas don’t give any reason for his bad back.

      Bad things can happen as a result of kamma, but this is not payback. It hurts when you fall over: but that’s not gravity getting its revenge for all those times you stood upright!

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