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I am 34 and I was brought up in this mad rat race of trying to become 'someone' and be somebody successful. I come from a Hindu background and up until I have been introduced to Buddhism I have only asked god in temples for fulfilment of worldly desires. I was a high achieving and hard working person and as a consequence of my lifestyle, I got into severe clinical depression in 2015. My entire life turned upside down, I had to quit my job and since then I am at home.

Luckily few Buddhist books fell into my hand and I started reading books about Buddhism. I read Ajahn Brahma, Thich nhat hanh, Jet-Sunma Palmo, Alan Watts, Bhikku Bodhi...After that, I went to a couple of Vipassana retreats and a Zen Shessin retreat. I also practise Zazen.

But after my mental health partially recovered and with new find solace and wisdom in Buddhism, I contemplated my life and I am filled with Guilt, Regret and Shame to have behaved in an egoistic way with so many people and having hurt and got hurt from so many people.

Intellectually I understand to practise loving-kindness and gratitude but this pain that I feel in my heart never goes away. I feel guilt and regrets. I believe this is result of my own karma and may be karma of my past lives.

I want to ask is there any way to wipe out ones Karma or work or meditate somehow that the Karmic fruits can be dissolved? I dont want to feel bad about my life anymore.

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    @WrittingNewbie Glad to know you want to practice Buddhism. When you realized that what you have done in your past, your practice in present may wipe or wouldn't affect much more as your present deeds. Can't say exactly since we could not control karma. Thanks, welcome to Buddhism. Namo Buddhay – Swapnil Feb 20 at 19:04
  • @Swapnil thank you...Namo Buddhay. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:50
  • Thank you all for the answers, there are multiple answers I feel are correct so I am not choosing the right answer. Thank you very much again. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:52
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You are asking not about how to eliminate kamma, but about how to escape the results of kamma.

There is no escape from the experience of the results of kamma. What there is is modification of the subjective experience of those results. This modification takes place as a result of changing your mental set.

The simile is: Imagine a small cup of water into which is placed a large spoonful of salt. It would taste salty. Then imagine placing that large spoonful of salt into River Gangha. It would affect the water but hardly noticably.

So your job, escaping the results of kamma, is to create a river Gangha of good deeds.

Make a practice of Giving with the intent that the consequences be directed at relief from your depressive mental state.

Do the same thing with the good wishes of the Brahma Viharas: Wishing all beings in all realms of being friendly vibrations, sympathetic understanding, empathy with other's situations and objective detachment.

And any and every other good deed you can think of for as long as it takes.

Guilt and remorse are, by the way, themselves bad kamma. They are willful self-indulgences. You may not like the sound of that, but it is your salvation here in that it being self-made, it can be self-corrected. You should make a conscious effort at the impulse to dwell in misery to change your mental state. Again this is easily and rapidly done with doing good deeds.

Finally: If your interest is in escaping kamma (doing intentional deeds of thought, word and body), you need to ask that as a separate question. Hint: learn from your experiences by examining them objectively, not emotionally, and alter your behavior in the ways suggested by the Ariya Atthangika Magga: High Working Hypothesis, high principles, high talk, high works, high lifestyle, high self-control, high mind, high serenity, high vision and high detachment.

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  • Thank you so much for the answer. It helps a lot. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:29
  • I have read or heard similar analogies about experiencing the fruits of karma before, and mitigating how one experiences the results of karma where one has caused harm in some way, but the salt in a cup/river version is new to me and, please excuse any faulty memory, more comprehensible than any I remember hearing before. – Smartybartfast Feb 27 at 6:19
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In the Dependent Origination, the Lord Buddha explained to us the "element of ignorance or not-knowing" ("avijja dhatu") is the "doer" of unwholesome unskillful action rather than "the self" or "our self".

If we continue to blame "our self" for unwholesome actions, we will continue to suffer, because the Buddha said attaching to things as "self" is suffering.

The cause or object of blame for unwholesome actions is "ignorance". We blame "ignorance" for ignorant actions rather than "our self".

The Blessed One said, "Monks, ignorance is the leader in the attainment of unskillful qualities, followed by lack of conscience & lack of concern".

SN 45.1 Avijja Sutta

Please read SN 12.17 (excerpt below) carefully, with appropriate faith.

"Master Gotama, is stress/suffering self-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it both self-made and other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it the case that stress/suffering, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then does stress not exist?"

"It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress/suffering does not exist. Stress/suffering does exist."

From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications... Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

SN 12.17

In conclusion, the Lord Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path is the path to end kamma. This means the path of not attaching to past kamma as "my own kamma" or "my past lives". Instead, the Noble Eightfold Path views past kamma with right wisdom, namely, it is caused by ignorance or not-knowing.

And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.

AN 6.63 Nibbedhika Sutta

About old kamma, the scriptures are very clear, saying "old kamma" is "not yours":

Bhikkhus, this body [collection of aggregates] is not yours, nor does it belong to others. It is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt.

SN 12.37

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  • Thank you so much for the answer, it helps me a lot. Can you please explain to me what is the meaning of, 'cessation of contact'. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:35
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    "Cessation" in respect to Dependent Origination, refers to the cessation of ignorance and craving. Therefore, cessation of contact means the cessation of contact accompanied/tainted by ignorance. "Ignorant contact" in Pali is called "avijjāsamphassajena".The cessation of contact means the cessation of "avijjāsamphassajena". Kind regards – Dhammadhatu Feb 22 at 23:44
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In the essay "To Suffer Is an Active Verb", Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:

This is one of the reasons why the Buddha doesn’t have us try to go back into the past and ask, “What did I do to deserve an illness, a mental state, a situation in life?” He said that if you tried to trace all those things back, you’d go crazy. In fact, he said, you can’t trace back and find a beginning point for the ignorance that underlies suffering. But you can see what you’re doing to sustain it now.

And also:

So when things come up in life, don’t ask yourself, “What kamma did I do in the past that’s making me suffer now?” or “What is somebody else doing to me that’s making me suffer?” The question is: “What am I doing right now? To what extent am I actively creating the suffering? To what extent can I see that it really is true that to suffer is an active verb, that it all comes from my own actions?” When you see that, you also see the opportunity not to do those things anymore. You’re not compelled to do them anymore. That’s when you’re free. As for where the outside conditions came from in the past, that’s no longer an issue. The suffering you were creating moment to moment was the only suffering that was weighing down the mind. And now you’ve stopped.

The Buddha taught us to cultivate virtues and be ashamed of committing acts of misconduct, in order to avoid suffering in future. But we're not supposed to wallow in remorse over the past. Just learn the lessons of the past and move on quickly.

It's skillful to be ashamed of committing bad kamma, but it is not skillful to feel remorse over past kamma.

From AN 5.57:

“And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do’? People engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, such misconduct is either completely abandoned or diminished.

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  • Thank you so much for the answer this helps me a lot. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:39
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I know that in Diamond Way they have a meditation that they consider really effective at getting rid of karma. I'm quite sure they won't allow you to practice it from the start, so it's probably cumbersome for you to get to it. But the point is, at least in Tibetan Buddhism such practices probably exist.

You can also simply compensate for what you did before. If you stole, then you can be generous. That should help with karma.

Also, remember that your knowledge matters too. For example if you get to Stream-entry (1st Stage of Enlightenment in Theravada) then you can't have bad rebirths anymore and you are guaranteed nirvana in a few lives. Your actions will naturally become more moral/useful after Stream-entry. Even if you killed dozens you can still get enlightened, and you will certainly get rid of that useless guilt as you progress.

Finally, unless you are some kind of serial rapist and killer, then friends or a psychologist will help you a lot. You are trying to make up for what you did, that is already a big step forward. You are practicing Buddhism too. Stick at it and you'll find your solution. To me you are already a really good person.

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  • Thank you so much Exequiel. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:41
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Only what past bad karma ends is when the result is felt. But it can be diluted [Loṇa,phala Sutta]. Also one can end the accumulation of new karma by following the Noble Eightfold Path[(Nava Purana) Kamma Sutta].

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  • Thank you for the answer. It helps a lot. – Newbie Feb 22 at 13:42

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