Karmic debt

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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tamdrin
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Karmic debt

Post by tamdrin » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:12 am

According to some TIbetan texts I have we have all kinds of karmic debts from having an infinite number of lives in samsara. Debts for bad deeds done, services rendered to us, other beings taking care of us as parents and so forth. These debts can lead to suffering and there are some methods
for paying them back.

What is the Theravada view on this? Has an Arahant paid back all his karmic debts?

Thanks.

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by AgarikaJ » Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:05 am

tamdrin wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:12 am
Has an Arahant paid back all his karmic debts?
An interesting discussion relevant to your question starts here with Bundokji's 2):
viewtopic.php?p=488592#p488592
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

santa100
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by santa100 » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:00 pm

tamdrin wrote:According to some TIbetan texts I have we have all kinds of karmic debts from having an infinite number of lives in samsara. Debts for bad deeds done, services rendered to us, other beings taking care of us as parents and so forth. These debts can lead to suffering and there are some methods
for paying them back.

What is the Theravada view on this? Has an Arahant paid back all his karmic debts?
An infinite number of lives in samsara doesn't mean it's all karmic debts. It could also mean infinite amount of merits if one lived it right. The obvious example was the Buddha. He'd been generating countless karmic merits that finally allowed Him to attain the highest goal of the Path. so did many of His noble disciples. As far as the arahant's cases, s/he still need to settle any residual debt even after attaining arahantship, like the cases of Ven. Angulimala or ven Moggallana, etc.

dharmacorps
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:05 pm

That I am aware of, the word "karmic debt" or "paying a karmic debt" do not appear in the Pali Canon. There are some suttas which criticize such views though.

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Kusala
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by Kusala » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:49 am

tamdrin wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:12 am
According to some TIbetan texts I have we have all kinds of karmic debts from having an infinite number of lives in samsara. Debts for bad deeds done, services rendered to us, other beings taking care of us as parents and so forth. These debts can lead to suffering and there are some methods
for paying them back.

What is the Theravada view on this? Has an Arahant paid back all his karmic debts?

Thanks.
Thanissaro has a Dhamma talk on "dedicating merit", and the importance of paying back Karmic debts...6:24-10:30

https://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/y20 ... _Merit.mp3
Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

James Tan
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by James Tan » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:23 am

santa100 wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:00 pm
tamdrin wrote:According to some TIbetan texts I have we have all kinds of karmic debts from having an infinite number of lives in samsara. Debts for bad deeds done, services rendered to us, other beings taking care of us as parents and so forth. These debts can lead to suffering and there are some methods
for paying them back.

What is the Theravada view on this? Has an Arahant paid back all his karmic debts?
An infinite number of lives in samsara doesn't mean it's all karmic debts. It could also mean infinite amount of merits if one lived it right. The obvious example was the Buddha. He'd been generating countless karmic merits that finally allowed Him to attain the highest goal of the Path. so did many of His noble disciples. As far as the arahant's cases, s/he still need to settle any residual debt even after attaining arahantship, like the cases of Ven. Angulimala or ven Moggallana, etc.
I thought the awakening has to do with the training not accumulation of merits ? Though the merits is beneficial and allows one to have a better life conditions .
:reading:

santa100
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by santa100 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:14 am

James Tan wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:23 am
I thought the awakening has to do with the training not accumulation of merits ? Though the merits is beneficial and allows one to have a better life conditions .
The wholesome kamma the Buddha had done since countless previous lives does accumulate merits regardless of whether He wanted them or not. Being born a royal, showered with all sorts of worldly blessings: intelligence, wealth, power, looks, physical strength, etc. although all those were minuscule in scale when compared to the greatest "merit" of all, the potential/caliber to attain the highest liberation. Even on a mundane level, while diligent training is an obvious requirement, to be the best of the best does require great potential/caliber which apparently requires merit. A regular person can work very hard to become a decent pianist or mathematician, but a prodigy when combined with hard work will become the world's best pianist or mathematician.
Last edited by santa100 on Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Pondera
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by Pondera » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:23 am

santa100 wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:14 am
[quote="James Tan" post_id=488863 time=<a href="tel:1538796217">1538796217</a> user_id=13824]
I thought the awakening has to do with the training not accumulation of merits ? Though the merits is beneficial and allows one to have a better life conditions .
The wholesome kamma the Buddha had done since countless previous lives does accumulate merits regardless of whether He wanted them or not. Being born a royal, showered with all sorts of worldly blessings: intelligence, wealth, power, looks, physical strength, etc. although all those were minuscule in scale when compared to the greatest "merit" of all, the potential/caliber to attain the highest liberation.
He also ate excrement, drank urine, held his breath until his bowels and head were splitting with pain, alongside eating one grain of rice a day to the point of near death. What did he do to accumulate merit towards those various ends?
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

santa100
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by santa100 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:26 am

Pondera wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:23 am
He also ate excrement, drank urine, held his breath until his bowels and head were splitting with pain, alongside eating one grain of rice a day to the point of near death. What did he do to accumulate merit towards those various ends?
Actually all those were also due to exceptional amount of merit that ultimately led to an obvious great outcome. Otherwise, He'd be just like you and me here, chit chatting on DW and not getting anywhere. Even if we ate excrement, drank urine, etc. what are the odds of us achieving the same thing He achieved?

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Pondera
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by Pondera » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:34 am

santa100 wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:26 am
Pondera wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:23 am
He also ate excrement, drank urine, held his breath until his bowels and head were splitting with pain, alongside eating one grain of rice a day to the point of near death. What did he do to accumulate merit towards those various ends?
Actually all those were also due to exceptional amount of merit that ultimately led to an obvious great outcome. Otherwise, He'd be just like you and me here, chit chatting on DW and not getting anywhere. Even if we ate excrement, drank urine, etc. what are the odds of us achieving the same thing He achieved?
Hmm. I get your point - disturbingly enough, it was a very important life lesson for the Buddha. It solidified his confidence in the middle way. I can’t help think of all the mentally ill eating their excrement because a voice tells them to - and wondering if the Buddha was afflicted by Māra in the same way during these times. :shrug:
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

santa100
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by santa100 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:37 am

Pondera wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:34 am
Hmm. I get your point - disturbingly enough, it was a very important life lesson for the Buddha. It solidified his confidence in the middle way. I can’t help think of all the mentally ill eating their excrement because a voice tells them to - and wondering if the Buddha was afflicted by Māra in the same way during these times. :shrug:
As stated in my previous post, merit does play an important role. One can work his ass off to become a decent quantum physicist, but s/he'd have zero chance of beating a prodigy who also puts in comparable level of effort to become the world's best of the best.

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budo
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by budo » Sat Oct 06, 2018 9:59 am

santa100 wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:37 am
Pondera wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:34 am
Hmm. I get your point - disturbingly enough, it was a very important life lesson for the Buddha. It solidified his confidence in the middle way. I can’t help think of all the mentally ill eating their excrement because a voice tells them to - and wondering if the Buddha was afflicted by Māra in the same way during these times. :shrug:
As stated in my previous post, merit does play an important role. One can work his ass off to become a decent quantum physicist, but s/he'd have zero chance of beating a prodigy who also puts in comparable level of effort to become the world's best of the best.
I would say merit and virtue (sila) weaken the 5 hindrances. The Buddha was able to go through extreme circumstances like near starvation because he was fearless, he was fearless because he had nothing to lose, so therefore his 5 hindrances were weakened over the course of his many lives.

In the sutta DN2, the buddha explains the complete path to enlightenment to a rightous king who had murdered his father. At the end of the sutta the Buddha says the king is wounded, had he not murdered his father the king would have become enlightened then and there right in his seat while hearing the buddha speak.

Therefore, sila and merit weaken the 5 hindrances to allow one to slip into jhana and attain enlightenment

tamdrin
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by tamdrin » Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:58 am

I went to Wat Jed Yod in Chiang Mai today. My Thai friend knows the old Ajahn there. I told him I wasn't feeling well and he did the ritual to pacify
any ill will or any kind of problems I may have had with people in the past life. I chanted some things in Pali and made symbolic offerings as well as put water under the Bodhi tree as an offering. I guess this could be one of the methods that Theravada uses to deal with such a thing. It's interesting how this happened without me planning it, thus answering (partly) this question. :smile:

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Karmic debt

Post by AgarikaJ » Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:34 am

tamdrin wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:58 am
I went to Wat Jed Yod in Chiang Mai today. My Thai friend knows the old Ajahn there. I told him I wasn't feeling well and he did the ritual to pacify
any ill will or any kind of problems I may have had with people in the past life. I chanted some things in Pali and made symbolic offerings as well as put water under the Bodhi tree as an offering. I guess this could be one of the methods that Theravada uses to deal with such a thing. It's interesting how this happened without me planning it, thus answering (partly) this question. :smile:
I think you greatly misunderstood what was going on, what you were singing in Pali and what this 'ritual' would/should have tried to achieve.

There is no way of 'pacifying' ill will from past lives; I know, many Thais hold to in essence animist believes and many monks cater to them. But if we believe in Kamma as in the Suttas, Kamma accrued in previous lives simply exists and its fruit must be lived down or emollied by making merit (something only we can do for ourselves).

The only quietening possible would have been your own mind, weakening fetters and preventing further delusions from rising... or at least an expressed wish by this teacher that it could be so.

Your interpretation makes me think, sorry to say it so clearly, that the opposite was achieved. :?


Edit:
reading through your posting history, I see that you are grappling with issues of the mind, which are, so it feels to you, worsened by lengthy meditation. So maybe my post comes over as too harsh.

Still, it is a fact that only you are capable of 'helping yourself', by reflecting on your inner states, see delusiuons rise and fall again, see the impernance of things. A confusion of the mind will be a great hindrance to that.

If the chanting at the temple helped you and made you feel more peaceful, maybe this is something you should do more often: there are many ways to meditate and quieten the mind. The right circumstances and surroundings are often a very helpful inducement for inner progress until you can let those crutches fall away.

I think it only important that you understand, that a monk chanting is not helping you. You listening to it and gaining a wholesome, quietened mental state is -- an achievement all by yourself and your very own triumph over the chaos of the 'monkey mind'.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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