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3 levels of Karma, and the end of suffering

b-air overcomeing suffering psychological psychological awakening spiritual spiritual awakening suffering Mar 29, 2022
3 levels of Karma, and the end of suffering

(By Eldad Ben-Moshe Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Hey there Better Lifers!


Three levels of karma:

1. "Spiritual" karma:

That's the most famous one. 
It relates to past lives, reincarnations, etc.

It can be helpful if you use it in certain ways, 
but for most people, it's more interesting than useful
(and perhaps even works against them by investing too much into their story of individual existence).


2. "Psychological" karma:

This one is super useful to all of us, including those who don't believe in spirituality at all.

And, most people don't even know about it, let alone that it is part of what classic Buddhism relates to the term karma.

The term karma means action, work, or deed -
all of which seems almost irrelevant to karma's familiar, "spiritual" aspect.

As the psychological aspect of it goes, you can describe it as a process of:

Perception->Habitual Pattern->Action->the action creates a new Perception-> which in turn activates again a habitual pattern-> a new Action (aka reaction)

and on and on it goes.

Now, why is that so important and useful?

Because the key for breaking this automatic chain that inevitably creates suffering in your life is very clear when you see it like that:

Your perception (of events, people, world, self) is the key.
You can also relate to it as your beliefs (even though they are different, but the essence of the point is similar).

Change your perceptions/beliefs...
And you change your entire life.

The same idea can be seen through the Buddhist principle of Dependent Origination (/Dependent Arising).
It describes 12 links in the chain of cause and effect (sometimes called the 12 links of causation).

For our purpose, we can focus for the moment on 4 of them:

Senses Impression->Feelings->Desire/craving (or aversion)->Clinging/attachment (or avoiding).

Sense impression means the impressions we receive through our sense faculties (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, and mind (thoughts and perceptions)).

When I come in touch with anything thorough those sense faculties, at least one of 3 feelings will arise: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral.

Those will create either desire for more or aversion from having more of what we came in touch with.

And as a result, our minds would desire more and get attached to having more.

For example, if I eat a really yummy watermelon, I'll feel a pleasant feeling, and desire more.
You might say "yes, Eldad, but I don't get attached to the watermelon!"

So as good as watermelons are,
let's take it up a notch.

When we're talking about stronger desires such as sexual desires, desire to be right, desire to be seen, and above all - our desire for (individual) exitance, you could more easily see how the next step of attachment follows the desire.

And so it is with desires that are not as strong, like the desire for more watermelon - it's just that the attachment is not as strong as well.
The attachment's strength follows the strength of the desire.

And here too, just like with the 1st chain we saw (
Perception->Habitual Pattern->Action->Perception->Habitual Pattern->Reaction), the importance of seeing this process and working with it is in its extreme usefulness:

In the case of the 12 links of causation, we can see that the way to break the automatic chain that leads to inevitable suffering is through working on our attachment/clinging/avoiding.
The other links are unavoidable, but you can enjoy the watermelon without clinging for more.

This brings us back to "spiritual" karma and the quest for enlightenment, the end of suffering and the end of samsara, the cycle of birth and rebirth:

To break that chain, 
work on the attachment to your individual existence (as opposed to existence as perfect oneness).

To do that?

Work on your perceptions and beliefs (as we saw in the 1st chain).

That's where it's always at - whether you learn Buddhism, practice the Enneagram,  use the B-AIR process or follow A Course in Miracles.

Because they all go to the cause of the problem, and the cause is the same no matter what path you took to get there.

I hope that now this is clearer and thus more useful to you.
No, you will not become enlightened just by understanding this.

But it can help guide your practice to the right place, focus your efforts on the true causes, not the effects.
That's the only way for a real, long-lasting change.


To your better life,
with tons of đź’–

Eldad Ben-Moshe
Founder, Teacher, and Coach
Better Life Awareness Center                                                                      


1. "A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing." 
- A Course in Miracles, Workbook, Introduction

2. "The most important part of the practice is when you sit to start it."
- Proverb


The 3rd level of karma is that there is no karma in the absolute reality, in which all is one/perfect oneness, no one was ever born and no one will ever die, and everything is eternal (as opposed to the relative reality we're all experiencing here).