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Episode 139 - How To Purify Bad Karma

Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Release Date: 05/16/2022

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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There is a way to purify negative karma! Phew. Buddha taught the Four Powers of Purification. The first power is healthy regret. This type of regret stands in contrast to guilt. Healthy regrets teaches us that we should try to not be angry or unkind to ourselves when we experience regret. Regret makes us naturally desire not to repeat that action and the harm we caused. The second power of purification is applying remedies. In this episode, JoAnn Fox shares a traditional method for applying remedies, reciting the mantra of Vajrasattva, Buddha of Purification (see the mantra below.) The third is the power of promise, in which we promise to try to refrain from that harmful action in the future. Finally, the power of reliance is to ask for help to a higher power; for some this could be praying to Jesus or it could be asking the objects of Buddhist refuge (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) for help. The powers of purification act together or alone. For example, as soon as we regret some harm we have done we start to purify that karma. This practice illuminates Buddhism’s most essential tenet, we can change...Profoundly change. 


How to purify negative karma through the 4 powers:

  1. Regret
  2. Applying Remedies 
  3. Promise 
  4. Reliance 


The short mantra of Vajrasattva, For purification

Om Vajra Sattva Hum


Just as kusa grass cuts the hand 

That wrongly grasps it, 

So the renunciant life, if wrongly grasped, 

Drags one down to hell. (311) 


A lax act, corrupt practice, 

Or chaste life lived dubiously 

Doesn’t bear much fruit. (312)* 


With steady effort 

One should do what is to be done 

Because the lax renunciant stirs up 

Even more dust. (313)* 


A foul deed is best not done— 

The foul deed torments one later. 

A good deed is best done— 

For, having done it, one has no regret. (314) 

-Buddha, The Dhammapada

References and Links


Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 77 (Link)


Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy .of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.



Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Je Tsongkhapa, Volume 1. (Kindle). Pages 251-253. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.