The word karma has a following among folks who think it is inevitable going around and coming around. Next to the word Zen, Karma is a close second in being used one way in our vow of practice as Buddhist, and another by people who have a passing sense of interconnectivity. As to a passing sense, the word reflects first inevitability, and second, a kind of good and bad catching up with us.

Karma is often attached to good and bad and the importance of doing the former to avoid the latter. This is not the use in Zen. Karma is any action we take in life. I chant in our FSZS service: "All my past and harmful karma, born from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion I now fully avow." I am repenting when I speak these words. This is a statement of accepting. To "Avow" is to vow this is what has taken place.

Avow is a turning word in Zen practice. A turning word opens insight into ego and delusion. Th