Workshop 1: Myth-busting

Of all the Buddha’s teachings, kamma is one of the best known and at the same time one of the most misunderstood. So before presenting what the Buddha taught we’re going to clear away a bunch of preconceptions that commonly give rise to confusions. Get your beginner’s mind ready, and prepare to have your beliefs challenged.

Here are some of the “myths” that we’ll be looking at. Find out which are true and which need busting!

If you have any other kamma “myths” you’d like us to look at, mention them below, and we’ll try to include it.

  • There is no in-between state.
  • The realms of rebirth only refer to psychological states; rebirth is a matephor.
  • It is better to be reborn as a human than as a god.
  • Collective kamma.
  • Everything is due to kamma.
  • Your last mind moment determines your rebirth.
  • Rituals are powerful kamma.
  • You can burn off your kamma by meditating on pain.
  • Mahāmoggallāna’s death.
  • The law of attraction (good attracts good).
  • The Buddha taught rebirth and kamma because of the cultural views at the time.
  • Consciousness enters the embryo at the moment of conception.
  • Transference of merit.
  • Birth as a woman is because of bad kamma.


We are not supplying a list of suttas for this workshop, as we will be covering a whole range of different issues. But feel free to get started on the readings for the subsequent workshops. Instead, here are some general summaries of the Buddha’s teachings on karma, by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhante Dhammika.



I am looking forward to this one, I am especially curious how the consciousness entering the embryo is a myth.

The point is to see whether they are or are not a myth! Not all myths will be busted…

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Hi there, very much looking forward to this course too. One question I have is: is it valid to say that the merit accumulated through performing physical actions (e.g. doing physical work for a Dhamma centre) can somehow further one’s meditation practice, or is it really only the karma accumulated in meditation that furthers one’s meditation practice? In other words, does the kamma accumulated through physical actions affect our mental condition, and vice versa?

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Dear Bhante,
Firstly, please accept my gratitude for developing such a brilliant platform, where we can both learn and discuss these ‘early’ teachings of Buddha. I live in India, I’m not criticising but nowadays early Buddhism has been a bit distorted here and bizarre rituals, not encouraging reasoning and discussion so on and so forth made it difficult to practice full-hearted. Henceforth, I have been relying on your online services, live steaming of dhamma talks.
If in future, you or any venerable wish to visit India, let me give an opportunity to do best in your services.
Thanks, with metta.

Hi Shivam,

Good to have you on board. Ajahn Brahmali is in India right now, touring the holy sites. If you live nearby, maybe you could meet him. But he’ll be back before the course starts in Perth. For today, I’m preparing the content for the first module of the course, which I’m presenting tomorrow here at the Buddhist Library in Sydney. It looks like we have, once again, a full house. Lots of people, it seems, are interested to know what the Buddha taught!

Thanks for the warm welcome, Bhante. Gladden to know, Ajahn Brahmali is here. I would definitely like to meet him if feasible, may I know how can I contact him here? and which holy sites are you referring, perhaps Bodh gaya? I live in the capital, New Delhi, so nearly most holy sites are equidistant from here.

Oh I wish I could be present there too! May be later this year, for now contented with online classes and guidance.

Hello Bhante,

As I can’t be in Sydney, I’m really looking forward to the online discussions.
My question for myth busting -that we choose our rebirth, the time and place, parents etc.?

By the way, it’s really great that a course like this is being run. We finally get to examine at length and in depth such a central and yet, as you said, misunderstood part of the teachings. Thank-you!

Much metta,

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Firstly, thanks for making this course available online for all the people around the world. I’m really looking forward to it :smile:

warm hugs from Poland,


They’re on a tour with a couple of buses from the BSWA, including some nuns from Dhammasara. They will visit Bodhgaya and other Holy sites, and usually they will end up at New Delhi, so maybe you could catch up there. It won’t be easy for Ajahn Brahmali to read this forum wile he’s travelling, but you never know.

Hi Julian, welcome along. I’ll be in Poland later in the year, hopefully we can meet!

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Sorry, I got to this too late so didn’t get the chance to mention it. I’ll bear it in mind for the Perth workshop next week, though.

But generally I think it is not possible to choose your destination: our minds are too clouded by ignorance. However, there are a number of passages where the Buddha points out that a benefit of meditation is that one will die unconfused. In addition, suttas such as the Sankarupapatti Sutta speak of directing one’s rebirth by making an aspiration:

So I think there is something to this idea, for serious Dhamma practitioners. However, it raises a further question: why would you want to get reborn anywhere?

Thanks very much for reply, Bhante. What could be better than this if they may come at my home town, blessed I’m feeling right now. So may be you have phone number of trip organiser/ co-ordinator or Anyone whom I can call to manage my meeting perhaps a few days travel with them? or should I cal at bodhinyana monastery for these details ?

That would be great! looking forward for more information about your tour in Europe!

As for how to contact them, I must admit I am a bit in the dark. I doubt if anyone at Bodhinyana or BSWA will have contact details. Our best bet might be to hope that Ajahn Brahmali reads this thread.

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Hi Ajahn Sujato,
Chapter " Going beyond kamma-the ultimate aims of path" has description how kamma is generated. Description said that " Kamma is generated du to clinging, clinging to god or bad actions". Can you please give me an example how I can see clinging in every day life.
Also I have two more questions. What is a difference between mind and stream of consciousness? How do they related to each other?
Thank you, Alona.

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Thank you very much for your reply Bhante Sujato.
The answer to yr question-because we are not ‘there’ yet??
I’m certainly looking forward to the uploading of the audio recordings!

Firstly, sorry I was drifting away from thread just I got excited. Yes ‘hopefully’ dear ajahn read our thread, and the guest monk said, tomorrow to cal back, he’ll try to find contact, let’s c. Thanks Bhante, appreciate so much your replys.

Hi, really looking forward to this course. I always consider myself a buddhist by birth. But, now at this moment i really what to know what buddha teaching is and how can it help us to be a better person. In this sort span of time i lived, i hurt many people with my action and speech. Though none of them was intentional, now i really want to learn to be patient and have compassion and be bit selfless.

P.S: where can i find the talk videos to listen to. could you please provide the link please.


Sadhu Bhante,

I would like to suggest as a topic (maybe already implicitly included in one of the above) the Sutras’ / Suttas’ concept of gandharva / gandhabba and its role in the process of rebirth and how, for example, this is or not preserved in the current actual Theravada views on the process of rebirth.

An interesting article on the subject is the one recently written by Jayarava in his blog:

With reverence and respect,


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