Greed and karma

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retrofuturist
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:54 pm

Greetings,
D1W1 wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:11 am
What is the difference between greed and karma?
Kamma means action.

Actions (thus kamma) can have their roots in different mind-states, one of which is greed.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:02 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:54 pm
Kamma means action.
I recently saw Gombrich make this mistake in a video, so you're in good company.

However, kamma means intention or volition, not action. Kamma can be made at the mental level alone with covetousness, ill-will, and wrong-view, or with generosity, loving-kindness, and entertaining a right-view.
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:23 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:02 pm
retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:54 pm
Kamma means action.
I recently saw Gombrich make this mistake in a video, so you're in good company.

However, kamma means intention or volition, not action. Kamma can be made at the mental level alone with covetousness, ill-will, and wrong-view, or with generosity, loving-kindness, and entertaining a right-view.
I trust that Gombrich (and Retro, come to think of it) was simply using the term "action" to include mental action as well as actions in the physical world.

Bhante, could you please explain how ditthi has kammic significance? I have seen it represented as such in the suttas, but it would seem that it is possible to have a "view" which does not have a volitional element present, in the same way that the other factors (covetousness, etc.) obviously do have. Is it impossible for us to have a view of the world which merely acknowledges how we think things are (no matter how deluded or incorrect) without there being an intention involved?

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:33 pm

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:46 pm

Greetings Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:23 pm
I trust that Gombrich (and Retro, come to think of it) was simply using the term "action" to include mental action as well as actions in the physical world.
Yes, indeed it is so. Alas, if things are explained and explored in detail, some object to that.... if something is said simply and in brief for the benefit of the listener, others object to that too.

Such are the eight worldly winds. :)

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:54 pm

Many thanks Bhante.

The sutta points out how Right View is the "forerunner" (i.e. precondition) for intentions; our understanding of what is right and wrong necessarily informs our intentions. Am I barking up the wrong tree here, in using it to answer my question in that way?

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:05 pm

Greetings Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:23 pm
Bhante, could you please explain how ditthi has kammic significance? I have seen it represented as such in the suttas, but it would seem that it is possible to have a "view" which does not have a volitional element present, in the same way that the other factors (covetousness, etc.) obviously do have. Is it impossible for us to have a view of the world which merely acknowledges how we think things are (no matter how deluded or incorrect) without there being an intention involved?
While you pursue your line of inquiry with Bhikkhu Pesala... I might address this in my own words.

The roots (mula) of kamma are explained well in AN 3.69 - Mula Sutta.

It explains moha and amoha thusly...
"Delusion itself is unskillful. Whatever a deluded person fabricates by means of body, speech, or intellect, that too is unskillful. Whatever suffering a deluded person — his mind overcome with delusion, his mind consumed — wrongly inflicts on another person through beating or imprisonment or confiscation or placing blame or banishment, [with the thought,] 'I have power. I want power,' that too is unskillful. Thus it is that many evil, unskillful qualities — born of delusion, caused by delusion, originated through delusion, conditioned by delusion — come into play.

...

"Lack of delusion itself is skillful. Whatever an undeluded person fabricates by means of body, speech, or intellect, that too is skillful. Whatever suffering an undeluded person — his mind not overcome with delusion, his mind not consumed — does not wrongly inflict on another person through beating or imprisonment or confiscation or placing blame or banishment, [with the thought,] 'I have power. I want power,' that too is skillful. Thus it is that many skillful qualities — born of lack of delusion, caused by lack of delusion, originated through lack of delusion, conditioned by lack of delusion — come into play.
However, it would be wrong IMO to conflate Moha with Wrong View, and Amoha with Right View.

Why? Because whether someone has Right View or not, they can still do kamma which is rooted is non-delusion, non-greed and non-aversion.

If it were otherwise then:

- All actions done by non-Buddhists would be inherently unwholesome or evil
- The Buddha could never have become enlightened.

Thus, whilst Right View promotes and is conducive to the wholesome, and Wrong View promotes and is conducive to the unwholesome, the link is not inextricable.

The sutta linked to by Ven. Pesala shows the ideal role of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness, in their dynamic relationship to Right View. This leads to better outcomes than Right View alone, as one is more diligent in maintaining and generating kusala action of mind, speech and body.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:05 pm
Greetings Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:23 pm
Bhante, could you please explain how ditthi has kammic significance? I have seen it represented as such in the suttas, but it would seem that it is possible to have a "view" which does not have a volitional element present, in the same way that the other factors (covetousness, etc.) obviously do have. Is it impossible for us to have a view of the world which merely acknowledges how we think things are (no matter how deluded or incorrect) without there being an intention involved?
While you pursue your line of inquiry with Bhikkhu Pesala... I might address this in my own words.

The roots (mula) of kamma are explained well in AN 3.69 - Mula Sutta.

It explains moha and amoha thusly...
"Delusion itself is unskillful. Whatever a deluded person fabricates by means of body, speech, or intellect, that too is unskillful. Whatever suffering a deluded person — his mind overcome with delusion, his mind consumed — wrongly inflicts on another person through beating or imprisonment or confiscation or placing blame or banishment, [with the thought,] 'I have power. I want power,' that too is unskillful. Thus it is that many evil, unskillful qualities — born of delusion, caused by delusion, originated through delusion, conditioned by delusion — come into play.

...

"Lack of delusion itself is skillful. Whatever an undeluded person fabricates by means of body, speech, or intellect, that too is skillful. Whatever suffering an undeluded person — his mind not overcome with delusion, his mind not consumed — does not wrongly inflict on another person through beating or imprisonment or confiscation or placing blame or banishment, [with the thought,] 'I have power. I want power,' that too is skillful. Thus it is that many skillful qualities — born of lack of delusion, caused by lack of delusion, originated through lack of delusion, conditioned by lack of delusion — come into play.
However, it would be wrong IMO to conflate Moha with Wrong View, and Amoha with Right View.

Why? Because whether someone has Right View or not, they can still do kamma which is rooted is non-delusion, non-greed and non-aversion.

If it were otherwise then:

- All actions done by non-Buddhists would be inherently unwholesome or evil
- The Buddha could never have become enlightened.

Thus, whilst Right View promotes and is conducive to the wholesome, and Wrong View promotes and is conducive to the unwholesome, the link is not inextricable.

The sutta linked to by Ven. Pesala shows the ideal role of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness, in their dynamic relationship to Right View. This leads to better outcomes than Right View alone, as one is more diligent in maintaining and generating kusala action of mind, speech and body.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thanks, this is helpful as it clarifies my own thinking. I tended initially to draw a line between volition, and the viewpoints which inform it. Obviously, I thought, Right View is better than Wrong View, but in a different sort of way that good kamma is better than bad kamma. One can, presumably, have Right View, and yet not act upon it. Conversely, as you say, one can generate good kamma even though one does not have or even know about Right View. Does a reclusive silent person who doesn't act upon the world all that much or communicate with others still rise or fall according to his/her Weltanschauung? Quite simply, a view is merely a way of seeing things, an organised perception if you like, a matter of epistemology and what we know of our world; whereas kamma is a matter of practical ethics, and an answer to the question of "what to do?".

The sutta (which I thought I knew quite well, and to which I have often returned!) has got me thinking, though. Does Right View being the "forerunner" of the other path factors mean that it is an indispensible condition for their existence, and thus any wholesome kamma? It might, in two separate senses. First, that simply subscribing to Right View - making the effort to think about it, reflect upon it, and ultimately to consent to it - is in itself an intentional act. It therefore carries kammic force.

Second, the "forerunner" aspect might mean (contrary to my initial thoughts, and your above post) that it is impossible to separate any wholesome kamma from a particular view of the world. I take the section on mundane right view to refer to the reality of objective goodness and its results. Without such a view, would a volition to do action x be the same as one without that view? I can think of many reasons to perform an action. Good kamma must be capable of being generated by a person with less than perfect Right View, but it might be the case that the goodness or skillfulness of any particular action is at least in part constituted by what the actor at that moment thinks they are doing; which is their view.

I might be way off the mark here, so I'm interested to see if Bhante replies to this one. I'll try to return to this tomorrow, as bed now beckons and we have a full house entertaining the family. In my house, there is neither mother nor father, but there are mother-in-law and father-in-law, so to speak. :)

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by DooDoot » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:54 pm
Actions (thus kamma) can have their roots in different mind-states, one of which is greed.
Whilst the above is obviously correct in its intent & the explanation I personally prefer (given it is based on AN 3.69 & MN 9), to avoid quibbling, this can also be explained in terms of primal elements (dhatu), underlying tendencies (anusaya) & eruptions/leakages/outflows of underlying tendencies (asava), which are not mental, verbal or bodily kamma (intentional actions), as demonstrated below:
4 THE SENSUALITY ELEMENT AS SOURCE.

Bhikshus,
dependent on the sensuality element, perception of sensuality arises;
dependent on perception of sensuality, sensual intention arises;
dependent on sensual intention, sensual desire arises;
dependent on sensual desire, sensual passion arises;
dependent on sensual passion , sensual quest arises;
engaged in the quest of sensuality, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in these three
ways—with the body, with speech, and with the mind.

5 THE ILL WILL ELEMENT AS SOURCE.

Bhikshus,
dependent on the ill will element, perception of ill will arises;
dependent on perception of ill will, ill-willed intention arises;
dependent on ill-willed intention, ill-willed desire arises;
dependent on ill-willed desire, ill-willed passion arises;
dependent on ill-willed passion , ill-willed quest arises;
engaged in the quest of ill will, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in these three
ways—with the body, with speech, and with the mind.

6 THE VIOLENCE ELEMENT AS SOURCE.

Bhikshus,
dependent on the violence element, perception of violence arises;
dependent on perception of violence, violent intention arises;
dependent on violent intention, violent desire arises;
dependent on violent desire, violent passion arises;
dependent on violent passion , violent quest arises;
engaged in the quest of violence, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in these
three ways—with the body, with speech, and with the mind.

SN 14.12

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Nicolas » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:53 pm

I understood “intention is kamma” as “intention is action” in the sense of intention being the root of all action (“intending, one acts”), kind of like “birth is dukkha”, and so intention and kamma/action being equivalent in a sense. Is it wrong understanding? It seems more of a semantical question, with kamma:=action or kamma:=intention being equivalent.

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:40 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:53 pm
I understood “intention is kamma” as “intention is action” in the sense of intention being the root of all action (“intending, one acts”), kind of like “birth is dukkha”, and so intention and kamma/action being equivalent in a sense. Is it wrong understanding? It seems more of a semantic question, with kamma:=action or kamma:=intention being equivalent.
When talking about kamma, it is important to emphasise the role played by intention in affecting the result of action.

For example, one person who holds wrong-views might give alms reluctantly to a monk standing outside his house thinking that he is just a useless beggar, only so that he will go away. Another with right-view might give alms respectfully to a monk inviting him to come again whenever he wishes. Outwardly, the actions might be very similar, but the intentions are poles apart, so the wholesome kamma made and the results derived are also poles apart.

During the action of giving, wholesome intentions can arise multiple times, or in one of wrong-view who is conflicted, wholesome kamma may be preceded by unwholesome kamma, or followed by it, e.g. regret after giving that it might have been better to give the food to his own family or animals. The result of the unwholesome kamma may overwhelm and dominate the meagre result of the feeble wholesome kamma.

There are cases cited in the Commentaries of one reborn as a multi-millionaire due to giving some alms to a Pacceka Buddha, but not being able to enjoy any of the resulting wealth due to great miserliness, as a result of regret and "wasting" the food by giving it to the monk, quite oblivious of the importance of intention as kamma.
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by DooDoot » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:42 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:40 pm
When talking about kamma, it is important to emphasise the role played by intention in affecting the result of action.
This may be true, however, within the sphere of morality (sila), namely, how kamma (actions) affect others, the mental kamma is not so relevant & a mental asava is itself not yet kamma. In the Noble Eightfold Path, for example, greed is a factor of mind (2nd path factor) to be abandoned but not a factor of morality (3rd, 4th & 5th path factors).

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Garrib » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:11 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:42 pm
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:40 pm
When talking about kamma, it is important to emphasise the role played by intention in affecting the result of action.
This may be true, however, within the sphere of morality (sila), namely, how kamma (actions) affect others, the mental kamma is not so relevant & a mental asava is itself not yet kamma. In the Noble Eightfold Path, for example, greed is a factor of mind (2nd path factor) to be abandoned but not a factor of morality (3rd, 4th & 5th path factors).
From the Upali Sutta ( https://suttacentral.net/en/mn56 ) :

...“Then, Venerable Gotama, of these three actions, thus analyzed and differentiated, which action do you declare to be the most heinous in doing and perpetrating evil deeds? Is it bodily, or verbal or mental action?”

“Of these three actions, Tapassī, thus analyzed and differentiated, mental action, I declare, is the most heinous in doing and perpetrating evil deeds. Bodily action and verbal action are not so (heinous).”

“Mental action! you say, Venerable Gotama?”

“Mental action! say I, Tapassī.” ...

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