Karma What It Is, What It Isn’t , Why It Matters

Karma What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters

karma what it is what it isnt why it matters

Book Title: Karma: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche
Year Published:
Paperback Price: $11.27
Kindle Price: $9.99


Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche (1955-2012) was born in eastern Tibet and was the ninth incarnation of the Traleg Tulku line. He was educated by many great Buddhist philosophers of all four of the main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

He is also the founder of the Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute in Australia where he was a pioneer in bringing Buddhism to Australia.  He relinquished his monastic vows, married, and became a lay Buddhist teacher

Traleg Kyabgon is also the author of such books as: “The Benevolent Mind”, “The Essence of Buddhism”, “Mind at Ease”, and “The Ninth Karmapa, Wanchuk Dorje’s Ocean of Certainty” and many others.

Book Summary

karma what it is what it isnt why it matters

Traleg Kyabgon Image: YouTube

This book deals exhaustively with the Buddha’s teaching on karma (lit. action) and rebirth.  It examines the origins of the idea and the various theories that have arisen on the subject since the Buddha’s time.

He skillfully destroys all misconceptions of the concept of karma that have come up over the years.  Karma is not simple, and there are many factors that you will learn in this book. He argues that a correct understanding of karma can provide a foundation for a moral life and can have an effect on the way relate to our thoughts and feelings as well as the thoughts and feelings of those around us.

Chapter 1: The Origins of the Concept of Karma
Chapter 2: The Buddha’s View of Karma
Chapter 3: The Yogacara School’s Contribution to Karmic Theory
Chapter 4: The Bardo Teachings on Death, Intermediate State, and Rebirth
Chapter 5: No Karma – Emptiness and the Two Truths
Chapter 6: Meaning in Life and Fear of Death
Chapter 7: Immortality, Reincarnation, and Rebirth
Chapter 8: Karmic Theory as a Possible Foundation for Ethics
Chapter 9: The Empirical Aspects of Karmic Theory and Rebirth
Chapter 10: Working with Karma

My Critique

I found this book to be immensely interesting.  You can tell that the author has a very solid grasp of the concept of karma.  I found that what I thought to be karma had little to do with the reality of the concept in the Buddhist context.  I learned quite a bit from this book and I plan to re-read it in the near future.

I was especially interested in the idea that rebirth does not equate to reincarnation, and what rebirth means to various schools of Buddhist thought.


I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the concept of Karma and those who are interested in Buddhism in general since the author covers the main teachings of the Buddha throughout his book.

This is definitely a book to read through a few times because of the wealth of the information that it contains.  A truly fascinating and stimulating book.

Buy your own copy of Karma: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It Matters from Amazon today!

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4 Responses to Karma What It Is, What It Isn’t , Why It Matters

  1. George says:

    I’ve always been interested in this subject and thought that once retired I would spend some time finding out more. The retirement is now well and truly not happening, but I read enough here to think that making time now isn’t a bad idea. This book seems like a good place to start. Good review.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi George,
      Thanks for your comment! I think you’re right, there’s no time like the present moment. 🙂

  2. Steph says:

    Wow, Thank you for the review. My husband Has been researching a lot on meditation, yoga, and has been reading into different religions. I think this is something he would really enjoy. I’m sure karma is something we have altered with time, so it sounds like a very informative book. I will have to get this to add to his collection.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Steph,
      It is a very interesting and informative book that I have read several times already. It is also a good reference book for those interested in the various understandings of karma in Hinduism and Buddhism.

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