Kamma

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Kamma

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:17 pm

Dear Folks,

I am new to this forum and investigating Buddhism, please be patient with my funny questions :reading:

A question about kamma (karma).

Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ? Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?

For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ? Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?

I look forward to your answers,

Best wishes to all

Mike
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Re: Kamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:54 pm

Bohemian Seeker wrote:Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ?


No.

Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?


No, not necessarily.

For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ?


Maybe, maybe not; no need to speculate. Maybe you just happened to cross paths with a bad guy. The kamma is on him.

Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?


Yes.

There are five levels of cause and effect and kamma is only one of them. For example, the weather might be really windy and cold one day, which makes you more susceptible to catching a cold, which you do and suffer from that. This is due to the cause of the physical world, not any past deeds.
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Re: Kamma

Postby IanAnd » Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:38 pm

Hello Mike,
Bohemian Seeker wrote:Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?

In addition to David's fine response to your questions, you might wish to consider how Gotama defined kamma within his system of Dhamma.

In the Anguttara Nikaya at 6.63 he stated: "It is volition, monks, that I declare to be kamma. For having willed, one performs an action by body, speech, or mind."

Now, spend a moment and just contemplate that statement. Contemplate the implications of that statement. Come to know it inside and out. And in that process, relieve your mind of any wrong views about kamma so that it might be at ease.

Anguttara Nikaya 6.63 wrote:(5) "Kamma should be understood; the source and origin of kamma should be understood; the diversity of kamma should be understood; the result of kamma should be understood; the cessation of kamma should be understood; the way leading to the cessation of kamma should be understood." ...

"And what is the source and origin of kamma? Contact is its source and origin. [Contact at the six sense spheres: the eye, ear, nose, tongue, bodily tactile sense objects, and mind or mental phenomena.]

"And what is the diversity of kamma? There is kama to be experienced in hell; there is kamma to be experienced in the realm of afflicted spirits; there is kamma to be experienced in the human world; and there is kamma to be experienced in the deva world. This is called the diversity of kamma.

"And what is the result of kamma? The result of kamma, I say, is threefold: [to be experienced] in this very life, or in the [next] rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion. This is called the result of kamma.

"And what, bhikkhus, is the cessation of kamma? With the cessation of contact there is cessation of kamma.

"This noble eightfold path is the way leading to the cessation of kamma, namely, right view, right thought (intention), right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration."

"When, bhikkhus, a noble disciple thus understands kamma, the source and origin of kamma, the diversity of kamma, the result of kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the way leading to the cessation of kamma, he understands this penetrative spiritual life to be the cessation of kamma.

In peace,
Ian
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Re: Kamma

Postby Bohemian Seeker » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:11 pm

Thanks David and Ian, that is a comforting answer.
Best wishes
Mike
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Re: Kamma

Postby suwapan » Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:00 am

Bohemian Seeker wrote:Dear Folks,

I am new to this forum and investigating Buddhism, please be patient with my funny questions :reading:

A question about kamma (karma).

Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ? Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?

For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ? Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?

I look forward to your answers,

Best wishes to all

Mike


Dear Bohemian Seeker,

Abhidhamma's answer is somewhat different. Here's an extract from "A Manual of Abhidhammattha Sangaha" translated by Narada Maha Thera (Chapter V, page 255-6):

Kamma, Sanskrit Karma, lit., means action or doing. Strictly speaking, Kamma means all moral and immoral volition (cetana). It covers all that is included in the phrase- "thought, word and deed." It is the law of moral causation. In other words, it is action and reaction in the ethical realm, or "action influence" as Westerners say. It is not fate or predestination. It is one's own doing reacting on oneself.

Every volitional action, except that of a Buddha or of an Arahant, is called Kamma. The Buddhas and Arahants do not accumulate fresh Kamma as they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Kamma.

Kamma is action and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction. It is the cause and effect. Like a seed is Kamma. Vipaka (effect) is like the fruit arising from the tree. As we sow, we reap somewhere and sometime in this life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past.

Kamma is the law in itself, and it operates in its own field without the intervention of an external, independent ruling agency.

Inherent in Kamma is the potentiality of producing its due effect. The cause produces the effect; the effect explains the cause. The seed produces the effect; the fruit explains th3e seed; such is their relationship. Even so are Kamma and its effect; 'the effect already blooms in the cause."


In Buddhism, there are no such things as luck, fortunate, coincidence, chance, because the law of causality applies to our lives.

If you were to confront a robber with a knife, you should try to dissuade him not to harm you by e.g. giving him the money in your wallet, pushing him away and run, shout for help etc. After having attempted to the best of your ability to avoid being harmed, and you still got stabbed, yes, this is your Vipaka, the consequence of your past Kamma ripening.

Feeling the suffering and pain after having been stabbed, what would be your thoughts: anger, revengeful, punch him, steal his knife and stab him back? These feelings are exactly what Buddhists should try to avoid. Understanding, that what happened was your Vipaka is the only way to rationalise the event and prevent you from acting upon your retaliatory thoughts, which would be new unwholesome Kammas awaiting ripening in future.

Here is the story of Maha-Moggallana, the Buddha's left-hand disciple and his final Vipaka from http://www.accesstoinsight.org

At that time, Maha-Moggallana lived alone in a forest hut at Kalasila. After his encounter with Mara he knew that the end of his days was near. Having enjoyed the bliss of liberation, he now felt the body to be just an obstruction and burden. Hence he had no desire to make use of his faculties and keep the body alive for the rest of the aeon. Yet, when he saw the brigands approaching, he just absented himself by using his supernormal powers. The gangsters arrived at an empty hut, and though they searched everywhere, could not find him. They left disappointed, but returned on the following day. On six consecutive days Moggallana escaped from them in the same way. His motivation was not the protection of his own body, but saving the brigands from the fearsome karmic consequences of such a murderous deed, necessarily leading to rebirth in the hells. He wanted to spare them such a fate by giving them time to reconsider and abstain from their crime. But their greed for the promised money was so great that they persisted and returned even on the seventh day. Then their persistence was "rewarded," for on that seventh day Moggallana suddenly lost the magic control over his body. A heinous deed committed in days long past (by causing the death of his own parents) had not yet been expiated, and the ripening of that old Kamma confronted him now, just as others are suddenly confronted by a grave illness. Moggallana realized that he was now unable to escape. The brigands entered, knocked him down, smashed all his limbs and left him lying in his blood. Being keen on quickly getting their reward and also somewhat ill as ease about their dastardly deed, the brigands left at once, without a further look.

But Moggallana's great physical and mental strength was such that his vital energies had not yet succumbed. He regained consciousness and was able to drag himself to the Buddha. There, in the Master's presence, at the holiest place of the world, at the source of the deepest peace, Moggallana breathed his last (Jat. 522E). The inner peace in which he dwelt since he attained to sainthood, never left him. It did not leave him even in the last seven days of his life, which had been so turbulent. But even the threat of doom was only external. This is the way of those who are finally "healed" and holy and are in control of the mind. Whatever Kamma of the past had been able to produce a result in his present life, nevertheless, it could affect only his body, but no longer "him," because "he" no longer identified himself with anything existing only impermanently. This last episode of Moggallana's life, however, showed that the law of moral causality (Kamma) has even greater power than the supernormal feats of this master of magic.
:anjali:
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Re: Kamma

Postby Ananda26 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:38 pm

Bohemian Seeker wrote:Dear Folks,

I am new to this forum and investigating Buddhism, please be patient with my funny questions :reading:

A question about kamma (karma).

Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ? Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?

For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ? Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?

I look forward to your answers,

Best wishes to all

Mike


Not everything that happens is attributable to kamma. In addition to practicing abstaining from stealing and abstaining from harming, you could also practice avoiding robbers and using Akido to protect yourself.
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Re: Kamma

Postby culaavuso » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:37 pm

suwapan wrote:Abhidhamma's answer is somewhat different. Here's an extract from "A Manual of Abhidhammattha Sangaha" translated by Narada Maha Thera (Chapter V, page 255-6):


Buddhism in a Nutshell by Ven. Narada Maha Thera wrote:We reap what we have sown. What we sow we reap somewhere or some when. In one sense we are the result of what we were; we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, we are not totally the result of what we were and we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. For instance, a criminal today may be a saint tomorrow.

Buddhism attributes this variation to Kamma, but it does not assert that everything is due to Kamma.

If everything were due to Kamma, a man must ever be bad, for it is his Kamma to be bad. One need not consult a physician to be cured of a disease, for if one's Kamma is such one will be cured.

According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (Niyamas) which operate in the physical and mental realms:

Kamma Niyama, order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.
Utu Niyama, physical (inorganic) order, e.g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains.
Bija Niyama, order of germs or seeds (physical organic order); e.g., rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar cane or honey etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.
Citta Niyama, order of mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness (Citta vithi), power of mind etc.
Dhamma Niyama, order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisatta in his last birth, gravitation, etc.

Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves.

Kamma is, therefore, only one of the five orders that prevail in the universe. It is a law in itself, but it does not thereby follow that there should be a law-giver. Ordinary laws of nature, like gravitation, need no law-giver. It operates in its own field without the intervention of an external independent ruling agency.


A number of references can be found for where the niyamas are discussed in the Abhidhamma commentaries at Niyama (Buddhism) on Wikipedia.
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Re: Kamma

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:59 pm

I remember reading a pithy one-liner, and it has stayed with me as a 'caveat' ever since:

'Kamma means you don't get away with anything; and it all counts'.

Great show-stopper when you think about doing something....
You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Meditation instruction in a nutshell: "Mind - the Gap." ‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word
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Re: Kamma

Postby Aloka » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:44 pm

Hi Mike,

There's an enjoyable talk about kamma which was given by Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK. Its called "Who is pulling the strings" and its underneath the Question & Answer session with the same name on the list at the link. (Dated 23rd September 2012)

http://www.amaravati.org/teachings/audio_compilation/2083

With kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: Kamma

Postby Bakmoon » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:23 pm

Bohemian Seeker wrote:Dear Folks,

I am new to this forum and investigating Buddhism, please be patient with my funny questions :reading:

A question about kamma (karma).

Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ? Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?

For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ? Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?

I look forward to your answers,

Best wishes to all

Mike


Hello, Mike.

The Buddha never said that everything that happens to us is the result of our Kamma. In fact, he said the opposite. In the Tittha Sutta the Buddha said:

Tittha Sutta wrote:"Monks, there are these three sectarian guilds that — when cross-examined, pressed for reasons, & rebuked by wise people — even though they may explain otherwise, remain stuck in [a doctrine of] inaction. Which three?

"There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by what was done in the past.' There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation.' There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all without cause & without condition.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

In the full Sutta theBuddha said that saying that everything that happens is the result of Kamma is a doctrine of inaction, and is on par with denying causality all together or saying that everything is fated by a creator God.

The teaching of Kamma-Vipaka, or action and result is a teaching about how we have the ability to influence our futures. The Abhidhamma explains it in terms of our mind states by saying that mindstates which are based on greed, hatred, or delusion incline the mind towards unhappiness, and mindstates which are based on the opposite of these incline the mind to happiness. It shouldn't be understood as a teaching that we are fated to a certain result, but a teaching empowering us to develop our minds and have confidence that we can gain benefit from it even if it isn't immediately apparent.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Kamma

Postby starter » Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:32 am

Ananda26 wrote:Not everything that happens is attributable to kamma.


Hello Bhante and other friends,

Thanks for your input. Would it be convenient to provide me with some sutta references for the above quote, so that I can understand kamma better?

Metta to all!

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Re: Kamma

Postby walkart » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:39 am

All is due to law of kamma, law of causes and consequences. It is impossible that somethink heppens without any cause or condition.
When somethink heppens without cause or condition it's called "chaos", but there is no "chaos" there is only order, so - yes all is due to kamma.
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Re: Kamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:19 am

walkart wrote:All is due to law of kamma, law of causes and consequences. It is impossible that somethink heppens without any cause or condition.
When somethink heppens without cause or condition it's called "chaos", but there is no "chaos" there is only order, so - yes all is due to kamma.
Not all causes and conditions are a result of kamma.


    Samyutta Nikaya, IV 230. vedanasamyutta, sutta 21. page 1279 (Wisdom Publ.):

    "some feelings, Sivaka, arise here originating from bile disorders... originating from phlegm disorders,.... originating from wind disorders....originating from an imbalance <of the three>.... produced by change of climate... produced by careless behavior... caused by assault... produced as the result of kamma: how some feelings arise here produced as the result of kamma one can know for oneself, and that is considered to be true in the world." Now when those ascetics and brahmins hold such a doctrine and view as this, 'Whatever a person experiences, whether it be pleasant or painful or neither-pleasant-nor-painful, that is caused by what was done in the past,' they over shoot what is considered to be true in the world. Therefore I say that this is wrong on the part of those ascetics and brahmins.”

See Ven Payutto's book chapter 6: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/good_evil_beyond.pdf
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Kamma

Postby walkart » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
walkart wrote:All is due to law of kamma, law of causes and consequences. It is impossible that somethink heppens without any cause or condition.
When somethink heppens without cause or condition it's called "chaos", but there is no "chaos" there is only order, so - yes all is due to kamma.
Not all causes and conditions are a result of kamma.


    Samyutta Nikaya, IV 230. vedanasamyutta, sutta 21. page 1279 (Wisdom Publ.):

    "some feelings, Sivaka, arise here originating from bile disorders... originating from phlegm disorders,.... originating from wind disorders....originating from an imbalance <of the three>.... produced by change of climate... produced by careless behavior... caused by assault... produced as the result of kamma: how some feelings arise here produced as the result of kamma one can know for oneself, and that is considered to be true in the world." Now when those ascetics and brahmins hold such a doctrine and view as this, 'Whatever a person experiences, whether it be pleasant or painful or neither-pleasant-nor-painful, that is caused by what was done in the past,' they over shoot what is considered to be true in the world. Therefore I say that this is wrong on the part of those ascetics and brahmins.”

See Ven Payutto's book chapter 6: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/good_evil_beyond.pdf


Thanks for this quotation. I agree. Perhaps my is using and understanding of word kamma is not exact, and it refers not to all kinds of causes and conditions but only to those of living beings.
What i meant is that all phenomenons have some cause. If we read this quotation we can remark it.
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Re: Kamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:07 am

walkart wrote:it refers not to all kinds of causes and conditions but only to those of living beings.
Kamma has to do with causes and conditions that result from volition, intention.

    A. VI 63: Volition [cetanaa; intention, volition, choice], Monks, is what I call kamma [kamma: action].
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Kamma

Postby walkart » Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:
walkart wrote:it refers not to all kinds of causes and conditions but only to those of living beings.
Kamma has to do with causes and conditions that result from volition, intention.

    A. VI 63: Volition [cetanaa; intention, volition, choice], Monks, is what I call kamma [kamma: action].


It's true, i forgot. :anjali:
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Re: Kamma

Postby starter » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:Not all causes and conditions are a result of kamma.

    Samyutta Nikaya, IV 230. vedanasamyutta, sutta 21. page 1279 (Wisdom Publ.):

    "some feelings, Sivaka, arise here originating from bile disorders... originating from phlegm disorders,.... originating from wind disorders....originating from an imbalance <of the three>.... produced by change of climate... produced by careless behavior... caused by assault... produced as the result of kamma: how some feelings arise here produced as the result of kamma one can know for oneself, and that is considered to be true in the world." Now when those ascetics and brahmins hold such a doctrine and view as this, 'Whatever a person experiences, whether it be pleasant or painful or neither-pleasant-nor-painful, that is caused by what was done in the past,' they over shoot what is considered to be true in the world. Therefore I say that this is wrong on the part of those ascetics and brahmins.”


Hi "tiltbillings",

Thanks for the very helpful sutta reference. The suttas cited by Bhante "IanAnd" are also very helpful.

I'd like to add the following teaching in S.III.132 (S.18/227-230/166) to the discussion:

“Bhikkhus, I will expound new kamma, old kamma, the cessation of kamma and the way leading to the cessation of kamma … What is old kamma? Eye … ear … nose … tongue … body … mind should be understood as old kamma, [color=#0000BF]these being formed from conditions, born of volition, and the base of feeling. This is called ‘old kamma.’

“Bhikkhus, what is ‘new kamma’? [Volitional] Actions created through body, speech and mind in the present moment, these are called ‘new kamma.’

“Bhikkhus, what is the cessation of kamma? The experience of liberation arising from the cessation of bodily kamma, verbal kamma and mental kamma, is called the cessation of kamma.
“Bhikkhus, what is the way leading to the cessation of kamma? This is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, Right View … Right Concentration. This is called the way leading to the cessation of kamma.”
[/color]
Since the body and mind are ‘old kamma’ born of volition, I wonder why the Buddha classified bodily or mental feelings "originating from bile disorders... originating from phlegm disorders,.... originating from wind disorders....originating from an imbalance <of the three>.... produced by change of climate... produced by careless behavior... caused by assault..." other than results of kamma. It seems to me they are also results of old kamma. Since all our experience in the world are the results of the six senses born of volition, it seems to me that all we experience in the world are the results of old kamma. Probably "kamma" the Buddha taught in the vedanasamyutta sutta refers to new kamma?

Please correct me if I'm wrong. Metta to all!

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