Buddhism Kicks Ass: The Four Karmas & Mahakala [protector principle; transmuting aggression].

Via Waylon Lewis
on Dec 2, 2010
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Buddhism is all about peace, love and understanding. Generosity, Discipline, Patience, Exertion, Meditation and Wisdom. True, true. Still, there’s a long proud tradition of warriorship in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, full of stories about cutting off folks’ heads and burying them upside down. Is this just a barbaric hangover from pre-Buddhist Tibetan days? Or is there a place for ‘kicking ass’ within a peace-focused life?

We all know and understand the notion of “tough love”—a momma hollering at a child about to touch a hot oven. That kind of aggression is with the benefit of others in mind. Conventional aggression—my temper tantrums, for example—rises rather out of confusion, neurosis, frustration, klesha.

In my days as a Dharma Brat, growing up in an American Buddhist family, we studied the Four Karmas. Karma, in Buddhism, simply means action. The four actions, which are sequential, are:

1. Pacifying. If that doesn’t work, you move on to…

2. Enriching. If that doesn’t work, you move on to…

3. Magnetizing. If that doesn’t work, you move on to…

4. Destroying.

Here’s a link I found re the four karmas on Psychology Today, of all places.

Thank you to Dharma Gallery for the featured image.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


11 Responses to “Buddhism Kicks Ass: The Four Karmas & Mahakala [protector principle; transmuting aggression].”

  1. BenRiggs says:

    I liked this post a lot. I was actually quite surprised to read about the four karmas in psychology today, and even more surprised that I liked it… His example of applying the four karmas was very practical, simple, and direct. Good read.

  2. Padma Kadag says:

    Nice new pic of yourself….Now you've done it!!!! The "yogis" in the Yoga studios will be itching to beat someone with a hammer if they are not peaceful enough! Every other aspect of the Vajrayana has been mixed in with the spiritual melting pot…now this? Hahahaha! You should warn the "yogis" who will dare to dabble in Mahakala that it could "render them mad"

  3. […] War or Murder be Moral? I’ve covered this sort of “tough love” question before. It always comes back to intention: is your action about yourself, or is it service for the benefit […]

  4. pathoutz says:

    I really like this artical. Thanks for posting it Waylon. This is Pat from The Elephant. The sailboat in Baltimore.

  5. […] when it comes to Boulder, in my backyard, I’m not so sure. I think it might be time for different sort of Buddhism, one with backbone—with a notion of ahimsa that’s […]

  6. Isabelle says:

    I just stublemed on this article now and I LIKE it 🙂 Thanks!

  7. Pamela says:

    I have never seen a more perfectly timed article for me. As this week I stood up to my boss who I have been a willing victim of bullying to for seven years. Eventually I realised that I had to act in accordance with my core beliefs and that I needed to help reduce the suffering she caused to herself when she passed her aggression on to me. I have done all the steps above, without realising that this even existed.

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  10. […] Aggression is not “Dharma.” In fact, it’s one of the three root poisons, in Buddhism, along with ignorance and attachment/craving. But, transmuted, the three poisons become the three amritas, or skillful means…and this enlightened fury does have its fourth-resort uses. […]

  11. […] And, finally, his violent, quick involvement reminds me of a Gesar, or a Dharmapala, a Mahakala—the fourth karma in Buddhism. […]