Greed and karma

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D1W1
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Greed and karma

Post by D1W1 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:11 am

Hi guys,

Please excuse my ignorance.
What is the difference between greed and karma?
For instance, a person eats meat, no direct killing involved but he is greedy. Another person kills a cat (not for food) but he is not greedy. Which one is more unwholesome or causing more suffering, killing or greed?
Last edited by D1W1 on Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

Garrib
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Garrib » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:45 am

Working out the precise karmic effects of our actions is very difficult, if not impossible, because there are so many unknown variables involved (the Buddha said that trying to work out the precise workings of karma would bring on madness and vexation).

Killing is an intentional action, while greed is an unwholesome root (mental defilement). Killing is always unwholesome/wrong (when it is done intentionally), but if you kill an ant, that won't generate the same amount of bad kamma as if you kill a human being. Also, if you have done a lot of good kamma, then you will mitigate the effects of whatever bad kamma you have created. (see simile of the salt crystal, https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html).

Eating meat, in and of itself, is karmically neutral (at least, I think so)...Of course, greed is unwholesome, but you can eat meat without it.

This is my longwinded way of saying "it depends." There are too many factors involved, and context is important. In general, though, I would say killing a cat is much worse than eating meat, provided you have not participated in the slaughter.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:49 am

D1W1 wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:11 am
Hi guys,

What is the difference between greed and karma?
For instance, a person eats meat, no direct killing involved but he is greedy. Another person kills a cat (not for food) but he is not greedy. Which one is more unwholesome or causing more suffering, killing or greed?
The cat-killer is greedy for an experience, is he not? Some state of mind that can only be obtained through the suffering and death of another sentient being. I would say that it is far more unwholesome than the desire for the sensations of taste and filling one's belly, as it is specifically mentioned in the lay-person's precepts, whereas eating is not.

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Bundokji
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Bundokji » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:10 am

Kamma, as i understand it, is the subtle belief that i am the solution to an inconceivable problem/danger/uncertainty out there, and this belief manifests itself in the act of acquisition/grasping/greed/fear/desire.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

chownah
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by chownah » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:51 am

Greed has at least two meanings. It would be good if people defined what they meant by greed when they use it.
chownah

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Bundokji
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Bundokji » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:08 am

chownah wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:51 am
Greed has at least two meanings. It would be good if people defined what they meant by greed when they use it.
chownah
Would you share the meanings of greed you have in mind?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

D1W1
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by D1W1 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:32 am

Thanks all for the reply.
Garrib wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:45 am
Eating meat, in and of itself, is karmically neutral (at least, I think so)...Of course, greed is unwholesome, but you can eat meat without it.

This is my longwinded way of saying "it depends." There are too many factors involved, and context is important. In general, though, I would say killing a cat is much worse than eating meat, provided you have not participated in the slaughter.
The question is not about eating meat but eating meat with greed vs killing. Is killing much worse compare to eating meat with greed?
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:49 am
I would say that it is far more unwholesome than the desire for the sensations of taste and filling one's belly, as it is specifically mentioned in the lay-person's precepts, whereas eating is not.
But greed is mentioned many times in Buddha's teaching, is it not?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:05 am

D1W1 wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:32 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:49 am
I would say that it is far more unwholesome than the desire for the sensations of taste and filling one's belly, as it is specifically mentioned in the lay-person's precepts, whereas eating is not.
But greed is mentioned many times in Buddha's teaching, is it not?
It is, but the person greedy for the food merely fulfills that desire, whereas we would need to look at the motivation or intention of the other person. If he kills the cat out of compassion (i.e. euthanasia) then he has mixed kamma, in that some of it is intention to alleviate suffering. If he kills the animal for his own pleasure, then that would appear to be a particularly potent mixture of greed and hatred.

Greed is mentioned many times, but as a general heading for various desires that things be different. The kamma involved in those different desires is of different types.

chownah
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by chownah » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:30 am

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:08 am
chownah wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:51 am
Greed has at least two meanings. It would be good if people defined what they meant by greed when they use it.
chownah
Would you share the meanings of greed you have in mind?
I can go with any meaning.....but I don't think that people here are all using the same meaning. I think it is best if one meaning is used by everyone and discussed and then if people want they can all change to another meaning and discuss....but it never happens that way. The least people can do is to try to not be ambiguous about the meaning they are using....but really I don't think that most people realize that there in fact are different meanings and they just assume that everyone else shares their meaning but I don't think that is what is happening here.
chownah
edit: I see that the discussion has turned toward a focus on the various aspects of greed as mentioned in the buddha's teachings....that's great.
chownah

D1W1
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by D1W1 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:27 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:05 am
D1W1 wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:32 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:49 am
I would say that it is far more unwholesome than the desire for the sensations of taste and filling one's belly, as it is specifically mentioned in the lay-person's precepts, whereas eating is not.
But greed is mentioned many times in Buddha's teaching, is it not?
It is, but the person greedy for the food merely fulfills that desire, whereas we would need to look at the motivation or intention of the other person. If he kills the cat out of compassion (i.e. euthanasia) then he has mixed kamma, in that some of it is intention to alleviate suffering. If he kills the animal for his own pleasure, then that would appear to be a particularly potent mixture of greed and hatred.

Greed is mentioned many times, but as a general heading for various desires that things be different. The kamma involved in those different desires is of different types.
As far as Buddhist ethics goes, it's intention that matters. Buddhist ethics is not personal value, fashion, etc. As a person who lives in the different time than Buddha's my logic tells me there is difference between greed over meat that comes from farmed factory animals and greed over meat that comes from animals that live in the wild. What do you think guys, is there any difference in terms of unwholesomeness?

Garrib
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Garrib » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:36 am

It is more unwholesome to eat meat if you kill the animal yourself, or if you order it to be killed. Otherwise, it may not be unwholesome at all. http://www.aimwell.org/Amagandha%20Sutta.pdf

(This is no way means I recommend buying a bunch of meat or otherwise supporting the commercial slaughter of living beings.)

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Sam Vara
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:00 am

D1W1 wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:27 am
As a person who lives in the different time than Buddha's my logic tells me there is difference between greed over meat that comes from farmed factory animals and greed over meat that comes from animals that live in the wild. What do you think guys, is there any difference in terms of unwholesomeness?
In the most general terms of craving for a sensory experience, I'm not sure that there is any significant difference to do with the object that is craved. The greed that one feels for a piece of meat could be the same regardless of where it comes from and how it was produced. Once the animal is dead, the provenance of the meat is just a type of thinking that the greedy person might experience along with the greed, rather than some ethical essence which follows the meat around. It's just meat. I believe you are right when you say that it is intention that matters, and so the issue here is the difference between the intention of the person who wants to satisfy hunger by eating meat - which is just meat - and the intention of a person who kills.

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Re: Greed and karma

Post by D1W1 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:26 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:00 am
D1W1 wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:27 am
As a person who lives in the different time than Buddha's my logic tells me there is difference between greed over meat that comes from farmed factory animals and greed over meat that comes from animals that live in the wild. What do you think guys, is there any difference in terms of unwholesomeness?
In the most general terms of craving for a sensory experience, I'm not sure that there is any significant difference to do with the object that is craved. The greed that one feels for a piece of meat could be the same regardless of where it comes from and how it was produced. Once the animal is dead, the provenance of the meat is just a type of thinking that the greedy person might experience along with the greed, rather than some ethical essence which follows the meat around. It's just meat. I believe you are right when you say that it is intention that matters, and so the issue here is the difference between the intention of the person who wants to satisfy hunger by eating meat - which is just meat - and the intention of a person who kills.
Sorry for the late reply.
I believe sexual experience is also considered sensual experience.

For example, third precept is broken when one engages sexual activity with prohibited partner i.e.
women under the
guardianship of parents, family members, relatives and authorities
charged with their care; married or betrothed women; bhikkhunis
and religious women observing the Holy Life. Clearly, the object that is craved is the determining factor whether the precept is broken or not.

We are living interconnectedly rather than in vacuum. Based on this fact it's hard for me to understand that the unimaginable suffering an animal has gone through makes no impact at all to the greedy person who eats it. We are isolating the greediness alone, it's like saying it's ok to waste food, you are only responsible for your own greediness. In case of eating meat, it seems to me that when someone eats meat that comes from farmed factory animal (more suffering) greedily, one doesn't appreciate the suffering of an animal has gone through therefore greater unwholesomeness. I couldn't make it make sense if the suffering of farmed animals make zero impact to the greedy eater, how can I relate that with interconnectedness of human lives?

2600htz
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by 2600htz » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:54 pm

Hello:

I think this sutta answers your question

SN 42.3 Yodhajiva Sutta: To Yodhajiva (The Warrior)
Then Yodhajiva[1] the headman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Yodhajiva the headman said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Yodhajiva the headman sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of warriors who said: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.'

"Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."
Intention matters, but there are actions that are rooted in unwholesomeness.

Regards

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Sam Vara
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Re: Greed and karma

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:45 pm

D1W1 wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:26 am

I believe sexual experience is also considered sensual experience.

For example, third precept is broken when one engages sexual activity with prohibited partner i.e.
women under the
guardianship of parents, family members, relatives and authorities
charged with their care; married or betrothed women; bhikkhunis
and religious women observing the Holy Life. Clearly, the object that is craved is the determining factor whether the precept is broken or not.
It is considered to be a type of sensual experience, but we are talking about two different things here. One is simply indulging sexual desire (i.e. following ones sexual desires through actual physical sexual activity, or even talking or fantasising about it) and this is a type of greed which strengthens that tendency and leads to further becoming. The breaking of the third precept is something different. That is not just a person gratifying their sexual desires in a general sense, which (for one taking five precepts only) is not proscribed. One can crave any person or object except those proscribed, and the precept seems to be more about avoiding the infliction of harm upon the object of one's desires or those close to him/her. There is no equivalent, for lay people, regarding food. Providing one does not kill, there are no foods which are proscribed.
We are living interconnectedly rather than in vacuum. Based on this fact it's hard for me to understand that the unimaginable suffering an animal has gone through makes no impact at all to the greedy person who eats it.
I'm not sure what "living interconnectedly" means in an ethical sense, so I'll not attempt to apply the idea to what we eat. There seem to be two distinct points, though. The first is that all types of greed and desire - including of course the desire for food - have an impact in terms of our future becoming. The second point is that this still does not mean that one has broken a lay person's precept, providing that one has not killed the animal, stolen the food, etc. But if you feel that the cruelty inflicted on some animals makes you uneasy about supporting the trade in their meat, then of course one is at liberty - some would say one has a duty - to avoid that meat. Making choices about purchases and consumption based upon compassion seems to me to be sensible and wholesome.

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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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Bhikkhu Pesala
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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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Sam Vara
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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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