Tibetan Buddhist monk


Understanding Karma

Friday 18 - Sunday 20 November 2005





Karma is the Law of Cause and Effect. This is a scientific law that governs all phenomena in the Universe. Put simply, our actions of body, speech and mind have consequences. We create and experience the effects of our own actions. As you sow, so shall you reap. Nothing is random: positive actions result in positive karma and happiness; negative actions result in negative karma and suffering.


Buddhism proposes that everything arises from causes that have been produced by ourselves, in many previous lifetimes, since beginningless time. Everything depends on causes and conditions ie nothing arises or exists independently. We inhabit this particular Universe, this samsaric realm, because of the karma we have produced. In this way we are all creators in that we create our own reality, and experience it according to our own karmic vision. We do not receive a lucky packet of qualities and circumstances when we are born, and we are not victims of an unfair Universe. We are personally responsible for what happens to us, because it is our own karma that we have created.


Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘action’. It refers to our intentional actions of body, speech and mind. Human beings are creatures of habit. We engage in similar behaviours repeatedly, and we respond in predictable and habitual ways. Each time we do so, we strengthen this behaviour. Unfortunately, the mental habits and ensuing actions we engage in, are mostly guided by selfish ignorance and not by enlightened wisdom. This results in us constantly creating negative actions that are the cause of suffering and dissatisfaction. Karma refers to the cycle of cause and effect of our habitual actions and reactions that keeps us bound in the cycle of suffering called samsara. Karma is very powerful. We are all under the control of karma. The force of our habits propels us to act in certain ways. We may be conscious or unconscious of these habit energies. When we act on them, we reinforce them and loose our freedom of choice to act differently.


This retreat will give you a greater understanding of what karma is, what it isn’t, and how it works. It will explain the mechanics of karma and how it ripens into results, depending on various factors. It will explain how to purify karma, and how to free yourself from the cycle of cause and effect to which you are bound. Karma is not fatalistic – it is possible to purify past karma, and we have the power to influence future karma. The Buddha taught a variety of methods to help us break the cycles of suffering caused by karma, and change our habitual ways of thinking and acting. There are methods to transform negative qualities of mind into more positive qualities, and there are purification practices to transform past negative karma. Only enlightened beings are free from karma. Until you get enlightened, you need to watch your karma! It is probably the most important thing you can do. This is why understanding karma is so essential.


GESHE PHENDE ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of 12 years. He studied Buddhism at monasteries in Nepal and India, and obtained the prestigious Geshe Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) after 18 years of monastic study, training and practice. Thereafter he went to Tantric College to further study the (secret) higher Buddhist teachings. Geshe-la is presently resident teacher at the Lam Rim Buddhist Centres in Johannesburg and Durban. Sat Chit Anand is privileged to host such a highly qualified Buddhist Teacher.


SAT CHIT ANAND is a Buddhist Centre and Guesthouse in Plettenberg Bay. It has been hosting meditations and Buddhist teachings for several years, and in 2005 it is pleased to host weekend spiritual retreats, which may be attended on a residential or non-residential basis. A retreat is a time to remove oneself from the distractions of the world, and focus intensely on one’s spiritual practice. Traditionally this involves receiving and contemplating teachings, meditating and doing spiritual practices.





19h00: Free talk by Geshe Phende: Introduction to Buddhism

You are invited to meet this warm, friendly, wise, compassionate monk



19h00 – 21h00: Retreat introduction and meditation

Residents maintain noble silence in evenings 



09h00 – 10h00: Dharma teaching

10h00 – 11h00: Question and answer session


11h30 – 12h30: Guided meditation

12h30: LUNCH

14h00 – 15h00: Dharma teaching     

15h00 – 16h00: Question and answer session               

18h00: SUPPER (residents only)

19h00 – 20h00: Evening meditation (optional)



09h00 – 10h00: Dharma teaching

10h00 – 11h00: Question and answer session


11h30 – 12h30: Guided meditation

12h30: LUNCH

14h00 – 15h00: Dharma teaching     

15h00 – 16h00: Sharing

TEA and depart home               




RESIDENTIAL: Retreats commence on Friday evening and finish on Sunday afternoon. Price includes 2 nights shared accommodation in garden cottages, specified meals (vegetarian food only), and teacher’s dana. Residential: R600


NON-RESIDENTIAL: Special price for local residents who wish to attend the retreats, excluding accommodation, but including specified meals (bring and share vegetarian food only), and teacher’s dana. Non-residential: R300


Deposit of 50% is payable upon reservation of place for residential retreats, and balance payable in cash or cheque upon arrival. Deposit may be posted or paid into bank account, details of which will be provided when booking is made. If booking is cancelled 2 weeks prior to retreat, the deposit will be refunded, less cancellation fee of R100.


Plettenberg Bay is a popular holiday destination. It is possible to come early and/or stay after the retreat. Special rates for retreatants participating in our conducted retreats, who wish to stay longer in our self-catering cottages, are R150 per person per night.




SCA is a non-smoking space. Retreatants to uphold the 5 Buddhist Precepts (see Code of Conduct). We hope you can join us on the retreat. You don’t have to be a Buddhist, because anyone can benefit from the Buddha’s teachings. Number of places limited, so early booking is advisable: phone (044) 533 0453 or email for further enquiries and bookings.




There are 3 entrances to Plett: Coming from Cape Town side, take first entrance into Piesang Valley. Coming from Port Elizabeth side, take third entrance into Piesang Valley. Drive down the valley, till end of the road. There is a traffic circle, garage and some shops. Turn right towards the BI Hotel (left goes up the hill into town). Pass 1st right being Longships Road. Take 2nd right into Longstone Road. There will be a small park on your left hand side, and we are in the road that runs behind this park: no 16 Great Basses Road. NB please phone on arrival, because we do not always hear the doorbell.


J SAT CHIT ANAND namaste to you Buddha-to-be!