Kamma or not?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ceisiwr
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Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings everyone,

I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic last week. Apart from the obvious health issues this brings, it’s also come at the worst time as it puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. Its likely that it has been caused by weight gain, which happened because of past intentional action rooted in greed and ignorance. My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma or would that still be an unknown speculation? I’ve been viewing it as being the result of past unwholesome kamma. Is it wise for me to do that, in your opinion?

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

SteRo
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by SteRo »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
... it puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. ... My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma ...?
Yes, of course.

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cappuccino
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by cappuccino »

"Form, O monks, is not-self; if form were self, then form would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding form:
'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus';
and indeed, O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to affliction and it does not obtain regarding form:
'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus.'

Anatta-lakkhana Sutta

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

We cannot say that all health problems are caused by past kamma. Many are caused by diet and lack of exercise. Some may be caused by pollution or by adverse climate. Some are caused by mental habits such as anger, fear, or worry. There are four kinds of nutriment (āhāra).
  1. Physical Food
  2. Climate
  3. Thought
  4. Kamma
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled. It is common in Sri Lankan monks; I presume due to excess of white rice and sweet foods, plus lack of exercise. There are medicinal foods like bitter gourd that may help. Seek for medical advise from experts.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:46 pm
We cannot say that all health problems are caused by past kamma. Many are caused by diet and lack of exercise. Some may be caused by pollution or by adverse climate. Some are caused by mental habits such as anger, fear, or worry. There are four kinds of nutriment (āhāra).
  1. Physical Food
  2. Climate
  3. Thought
  4. Kamma
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled. It is common in Sri Lankan monks; I presume due to excess of white rice and sweet foods, plus lack of exercise. There are medicinal foods like bitter gourd that may help. Seek for medical advise from experts.
Greetings Bhante,

Thank you for your post. My doctor and I agreed the diet route to manage and hopefully reverse it. In terms of kamma, there does seem to be a direct link here between my intentional action and it’s result in diabetes during a pandemic.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Sam Vara
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Sam Vara »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
Greetings everyone,

I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic last week. Apart from the obvious health issues this brings, it’s also come at the worst time as it puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. Its likely that it has been caused by weight gain, which happened because of past intentional action rooted in greed and ignorance. My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma or would that still be an unknown speculation? I’ve been viewing it as being the result of past unwholesome kamma. Is it wise for me to do that, in your opinion?

Metta

:)
I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, C., and I hope all turns out well.

I think the wisest course would be to not worry at all as to how the situation came about, but to focus instead upon what you can do to improve your situation and to gain insight into how it works now, and how it makes you suffer. The kamma that you do now in meeting this knowledge is what is important.

But if you insist on knowing as an aid to understanding kamma in general, then I think it depends on whether you favour the view given in the Sivaka Sutta, or that explained in the Kamma Sutta. The former is used to support the view that much of what happens to us (feelings, at least) arises from causes other than kamma:
"Master Gotama, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of this doctrine, this view: Whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before. Now what does Master Gotama say to that?"

[The Buddha:] "There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile.[1] You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."
(and so on for other causes...)
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

The latter is consistent with the view that those causes are themselves informed by past kamma, or are the means by which the kamma operates according to the scientific laws of this world:
Now what, monks, is old kamma? The eye is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. This is called old kamma.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
According to this, a physical condition has a possible cause in one's earlier actions, but of course we still don't know whether we are correct in attributing that particular cause.

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DooDoot
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by DooDoot »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
Its likely that it has been caused by weight gain, which happened because of past intentional action rooted in greed and ignorance.
Likely
Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma
Of course it is knowable past kamma (which thus can be reversed).
Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
or would that still be an unknown speculation?
Dude. Get real. Its not unknown speculation. Its a knowable past cause.
Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
I’ve been viewing it as being the result of past unwholesome kamma. Is it wise for me to do that, in your opinion?
Yes, very wise. But its not "your" past kamma. Its just past kamma, which the Buddha said is "not yours" (SN 12.37). Its the past kamma of ignorance, sensual desire, restlessness, negligence & other hindrances that cause over-eating.

I lost 12 kilograms over 12 months; when I was advised i had a very slight but notable blockage of a heart artery. You are only a young man. Lots of time & opportunity to change.
Dhammapada 185: Knowing what is right in taking food.
Last edited by DooDoot on Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings Sam,

I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, C., and I hope all turns out well.
Thank you. I’m actually fine with the diagnosis. I knew I had the symptoms so it wasn’t a surprise. Im working on controlling it and possibly reversing it. It has come at an awkward time though.

I think the wisest course would be to not worry at all as to how the situation came about, but to focus instead upon what you can do to improve your situation and to gain insight into how it works now, and how it makes you suffer. The kamma that you do now in meeting this knowledge is what is important.
True, but it seems to me that this at least looks like the result of past kamma. I do find it helpful to view it this way.
But if you insist on knowing as an aid to understanding kamma in general, then I think it depends on whether you favour the view given in the Sivaka Sutta, or that explained in the Kamma Sutta.
Both make sense to me.

Thanks for the wise comments, as ever :)

Metta
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Hi Nick,

Yes, very wise. But its not "your" past kamma. Its just past kamma, which the Buddha said is "not yours" (SN 12.37). Its the past kamma of ignorance, sensual desire, restlessness, negligence & other hindrances that cause obesity.
I know that :)
I lost 12 kilograms over 12 months; when I was advised i had a very slight but notable blockage of a heart artery. You are only a young man. Lots of time & opportunity to change.
Congrats. How did you do that? I’m on a keto diet atm. I’ve lost 25 lbs so far and my eyesight has actually improved due to lower blood sugar (optician confirmed my sight is better). I think I can manage this with Dhamma and good diet.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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DooDoot
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by DooDoot »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:33 pm
Congrats. How did you do that?
To be frank, I had no bad habits to break. I was getting older, had a sedimentary office job and I ate lots & lots of fruit, which it thought was good for me. But I learned most fruits are loaded with fructose, which, if not utilized, turns into fat. I lost weight by:

1. Reducing (cooked) brown rice of only exactly 2 measuring cups per day.

2. Cutting out most of the fruit; particularly fruits with fructose. Eat avocado, papaya, other low fructose.

3. Banning cheese (yum), pizza and those occasional indulgences.

4. I was never a sugar person but also being vigilant with sugar.

I eat brown rice, lots of veggies, lots of fish & beans (legumes), some eggs. I just had breakfast - 1 cup of brown rice, steamed broccoli-carrots-tofu, chili, garlic, two spoons of unhulled tahini, a handful of nuts. Lunch will be similar, except 200 grams of fish instead of tofu & nuts. No dinner.

I would recommend browsing YouTube for dietary options for your situation. :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:58 pm, edited 11 times in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
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Spiny Norman
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Spiny Norman »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
Greetings everyone,

I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic last week. Apart from the obvious health issues this brings, it’s also come at the worst time as it puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. Its likely that it has been caused by weight gain, which happened because of past intentional action rooted in greed and ignorance. My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma or would that still be an unknown speculation? I’ve been viewing it as being the result of past unwholesome kamma. Is it wise for me to do that, in your opinion?

Metta

:)
I don't think Type 2 diabetes is a high-risk factor for Covid-19, and I'm pretty sure you won't be getting a self-isolation letter. Those will be directed at people with serious health problems.
Forget kamma, and just accept the medical/dietary advice you've been given. You'll be OK.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Dinsdale wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:31 am
Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:14 pm
Greetings everyone,

I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic last week. Apart from the obvious health issues this brings, it’s also come at the worst time as it puts me at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. Its likely that it has been caused by weight gain, which happened because of past intentional action rooted in greed and ignorance. My question is, in this case, can I safely say this is the result of past kamma or would that still be an unknown speculation? I’ve been viewing it as being the result of past unwholesome kamma. Is it wise for me to do that, in your opinion?

Metta

:)
I don't think Type 2 diabetes is a high-risk factor for Covid-19, and I'm pretty sure you won't be getting a self-isolation letter. Those will be directed at people with serious health problems.
Forget kamma, and just accept the medical/dietary advice you've been given. You'll be OK.
I won’t be getting a letter, no, but diabetes does put me in a higher risk category. The mortality rate is 7-8% for diabetics. 1/3 of those who died in Italy were diabetic. Hyperglycaemia damaging white blood cells and all that.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Pondera
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Pondera »

There’s a sutta where the Buddha talks to the Jains. These Jains are practicing austerities to undue evil past kamma.

The Buddha asks them if they’re capable of knowing their own past kamma. They say, “no”. The Buddha asks them if, that is the case, can they turn evil past kamma into good kamma by practicing austerity.

The answer is of course, no.

So, even if you’re overweight because of past kamma it doesn’t do you any good to beat your self up about something which is essentially an unknown.

Think about it rationally. We get overweight by eating more carbs than we burn on a day to day basis. Overtime you can easily gain 10, 20 pounds.

Take a proactive approach to losing weight. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Limit your carbs. Get your protein.

Eat more meals, but limit their size. Eat often so that your body doesn’t think you’re starving it. But eat smaller portions.

That’s how I lost about 20 pounds over a few months.

I’ve since gained it back by back sliding into fast food and giving into cravings.

This isn’t about your past kamma. This is about if and how you can manage cravings for food. Ie. can you be satisfied with a moderate amount of food spaced out over the day.

Good luck my friend.

Big time edit: we gain weight by consuming more “calories” than we burn. Not “carbs”. I meant “calories”.

Carbs should be minimized. Meals should be small and frequent. That is the best way to lose weight, stay healthy, and stay on a diet long term.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Pondera wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:57 am
There’s a sutta where the Buddha talks to the Jains. These Jains are practicing austerities to undue evil past kamma.

The Buddha asks them if they’re capable of knowing their own past kamma. They say, “no”. The Buddha asks them if, that is the case, can they turn evil past kamma into good kamma by practicing austerity.

The answer is of course, no.

So, even if you’re overweight because of past kamma it doesn’t do you any good to beat your self up about something which is essentially an unknown.

Think about it rationally. We get overweight by eating more carbs than we burn on a day to day basis. Overtime you can easily gain 10, 20 pounds.

Take a proactive approach to losing weight. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Limit your carbs. Get your protein.

Eat more meals, but limit their size. Eat often so that your body doesn’t think you’re starving it. But eat smaller portions.

That’s how I lost about 20 pounds over a few months.

I’ve since gained it back by back sliding into fast food and giving into cravings.

This isn’t about your past kamma. This is about if and how you can manage cravings for food. Ie. can you be satisfied with a moderate amount of food spaced out over the day.

Good luck my friend.

Big time edit: we gain weight by consuming more “calories” than we burn. Not “carbs”. I meant “calories”.

Carbs should be minimized. Meals should be small and frequent. That is the best way to lose weight, stay healthy, and stay on a diet long term.
Thank you, although I’m not beating myself up over it :)

Metta
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

binocular
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Re: Kamma or not?

Post by binocular »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:31 pm
It has come at an awkward time though.
Bad things usually come at a bad time.
There just never seems to be a good time for bad things to happen ...

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:52 pm
My doctor and I agreed the diet route to manage and hopefully reverse it.
In that case, you are in great luck. In some countries, this would not be possible and the doctor would insist that you take medications with dangerous side-effects. (And if you refused, you'd be in trouble with the medical insurance company.)
See, you're lucky after all!

Also, you're further lucky that the diagnosis came at a time of a greater socio-economic crisis, because now it will be easier to change your eating habits because you're forced to do so by external factors.

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