How Realizing Emptiness of the Agent, Action, Result, Purifies Karma (Video)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
North Carolina, USA

In this video, Lama Zopa Rinpoche responds to a question from Ven. Gyatso about emptiness meditation. Rinpoche explains that the wisdom realizing emptiness eradicates ignorance, just as a vacuum cleaner or broom removes dust. This teaching was given on 26 August 2017, at the Light of the Path retreat, Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA.

You can watch the video and read along with the transcript overlay on the FPMT YouTube channel or alternatively, you can watch the video only. The video is from the FPMT's Essential Extracts series, which is a selection of important teaching excerpts on a range of topics.

In this teaching extract, Rinpoche explains that the wisdom realizing emptiness cuts the root of samsara (cyclic existence). This is how we purify negative karma and become free from the sufferings of the six realms.

Read the video transcript below.

How realizing emptiness of the agent, action, result, purifies karma

Ven. Gyatso: Rinpoche, could you explain how seeing a past negative karma, the circle of three, the agent, action, result, seeing it in emptiness, how seeing it in emptiness actually purifies the past negative karma?

Rinpoche: By meditating on the emptiness?

Ven. Gyatso: By looking at the action and the result, the karmic imprint, and the person who created the karma in emptiness, is supposed to purify that karma. How does that happen?

Rinpoche:  That is the same as a vacuum or broom, then you do like this. How does it clean the garbage, the dust? You see, all the sufferings of samsara, the suffering of pain, the suffering of change, temporary pleasures, all the samsaric temporary pleasures and pervasive compounding suffering, all came from the root, ignorance holding the I as truly existent while it is not. So meditating on emptiness is the only thing, emptiness only, tong pa nyi, shunyata, is the only one that directly ceases the ignorance, the root of samsara. That’s the only one, not bodhicitta, that directly ceases ignorance; only the wisdom directly realizing emptiness.

That is how you can be free from the whole entire three types of suffering of samsara—the oceans of suffering of the hell realms, the oceans of suffering of hungry ghosts, the oceans of suffering of animals, the oceans of suffering of human beings, the oceans of suffering of suras and asuras. How you can be free from all that, the root, is by the wisdom realizing emptiness. It eradicates ignorance, the root of all suffering. That is why it purifies the defilements. Because of that, it ceases ignorance, so that purifies the defilements. It’s so powerful, very powerful. Bodhicitta helps, but it doesn’t directly cease ignorance, that is why arhats they can’t achieve enlightenment; they only realize emptiness up to that state of nirvana but not enlightenment.

It is similar also, how does negative karma to be reborn in the lower realms, how does negative karma you have been suffering in the human realm, like the possessed result, creating a result similar to the cause, experiencing a result similar to the cause, from negative karma, that is negative way. Emptiness that cuts the root of everything, of suffering, it is amazing, amazing. Ha ha. So it is the power of the mind, emptiness, so a broom or vacuum, whatever it is, it cleans the dust, the power of that material, it has the power to do that. That is all I can say.

Ven. Gyatso: Thank you, Rinpoche.

Click here to watch the video and read along with the transcript overlay, or alternatively, you can watch the video without the transcript. To browse more video extracts from the series, visit Lama Zopa Rinpoche Essential Extracts webpage.