Lauri Liiders (University of Tartu, Estonia) “The Naturalized Concept of Karma in Contemporary Buddhism”


The traditional Buddhist sense of self considers personal identity to be in a constant flux of karmic conditioning, wherein the individual consciousness shall switch between many modes of being over several lifetimes according to personal karma, which is intrinsically linked with rebirth. This approach no doubt differs from Western cultural assumptions regarding the self and personal identity. These tend to be composed by different and often conflicting strands influenced by many different schools of thought: the Judeo-Christian worldview, Western philosophy, psychology, biology, neurosciences etc. This in turn has caused several contemporary Buddhist authors to re-evaluate traditional concepts of rebirth, karma, and the self. This paper tries to give a short introduction into the trend towards naturalized or de-mythicized concept of Buddhist karma and the possibilities of altering the link between karma and rebirth in the context of those naturalized interpretations.