Karma: What the Buddha Taught

with Thomas Berthoff

July 12th—July 14th

Date details +
  • $70 Program Price
  • $95 Patron price
Room: Main Shrine Room

Life can feel like a not very amusing amusement park ride, spinning around - sometimes gently, sometimes at high speed - that won't stop and we can't get off of. Brief pleasant moments are followed by chaos and upset. We're born, we exist, and we die. It seems inevitable, inescapable and painful; every strategy we come up with seems to work for a while but is ultimately unsuccessful.

How did we get in this situation? What is the driving force that keeps the wheel spinning? Is there any way to stop the forward momentum? And how do we ultimately step off of the ride?

"Dependent origination" (Sanskrit: pratityasamutpada) is one of Shakyamuni Buddha's core teachings, expressed in the ancient image of the Wheel of Life (Sanskrit: Bhavachakra). Prince Siddhartha took the time to look at his life and experience, to examine every moment closely, and to finally understand how our reality works. These are the teachings on "karma": the constant web of causes and conditions that produce our existence and set the stage for future existences - near and long-term. Understanding karma provides the framework for Buddhist ethics, meditation practice, and the guidelines for how to live our lives.

In this intensive, we'll learn about karma and the Wheel of Life from the Buddha's own words and from commentaries by Buddhist teachers. We'll also practice meditation informed by the understanding of karma, and explore methods for working with karma in our daily activities.

Tom Berthoff

Tom Berthoff


Tom Berthoff has been practicing meditation since 1982, when he did his first Shambhala Training level in Aspen, Colorado.

After moving to Boulder, Colorado in 1984 to be part of the Shambhala Buddhist community, he started formal study with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche at the 1985 Vajradhatu Seminary.

He graduated from Naropa University in 1987 with a Master's Degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy.

He has been a meditation instructor and teacher since 1987, both in the US and Europe.

Together with his wife Lisa Kraus, he founded the Arnhem Shambhala Center in the Netherlands, where they lived from 1991 to 2000.

Tom has worked in Information Technology since 1994, specializing in relational databases and ETL, focusing on the Informatica toolset since 2008. He lives in Philadelphia and has two children - Thea (27) and Ryan (24).

His particular areas of expertise are mindfulness/awareness meditation, Lojong (mind training), and Buddhist and Shambhala liturgy and ceremony.