A Buddha has no karma because there is no ignorance.
Karma is the “work” ignorance does, the effects it generates in the mind-stream.
Karma disappears the moment it is fully understood; that is, the moment the ignorance underlying it is ended.
Some ignorance comes from people around us, our communities, how they define us. If this sort of ignorance is figured out, its karma disappears, the effects disappear. This is why people who have suffered serious psychological trauma and/or profoundly unjust social recrimination sometimes end up saying they are better off for all of it.
This caught my eye this morning:
…I feel that as Western societies we generally tend to label and marginalise mental illness instead of seeing it as a rather normal reaction to extreme and abnormal circumstances,” said Selen Atasoy, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
“This, in my opinion, makes the recovery of a patient from trauma even more difficult, as this perspective of the society may further deepen the ‘dissociation’ – the withdrawal of the person, who experienced the traumatic event, from that painful experience.” (LSD produces a new type of ‘harmonic’ order in the brain, according to neuroimaging study)
Ignorance is less a moral factor in consciousness and much more a functional one. Good morals—that is, proper spiritual methods—lead us out of ignorance, but ignorance itself is by definition blameless.
The societal ignorance described in the above quotation is a crude response, the reasoning of a crowd. If you remove it, some other crudity will take its place.
Buddhism, as do most of the world’s spiritual traditions, honors reclusion, getting away from the crowd, going into the mind-stream unburdened by communal ignorance.
To get anywhere with karma, you have to be an individual and directly face individual realities.