Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

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Fede
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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by Fede » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:49 am

You're quite right as usual Chris, thanks.... I was limiting my thinking, which obviously also narrows the view. Thanks for pointing that out....
Oh my dreadful ignorance.... I thought all Kamma (save unintentional acts) came to fruition....?
Is this what you mean?

I conjoin my good wishes to Ben's for you, by the way.
I have nooooo idea what you're 'suffering' or going through, but I wish you well.
No need or request to share.
Just good wishes, full stop.

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by cooran » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:52 pm

Hello Fede,

Thanks for the good wishes, things are improving rapidly. :smile:

Regarding 'not all kamma coming to fruition' ~ as we are creating good and bad kamma in every minute by our thoughts, emotions, actions ~ we'd be trapped in Sa.msara forever if we had to experience the fruits (results) of it all.

This excerpt from the teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi explains:

"Kamma is like a seed
First of all, not all Kamma has to ripen as a matter of necessity. Although it has the tendency to ripen, it does not ripen inevitably. Kamma is like a seed. Seeds ripen only if they meet the right conditions. But if they do not meet the right conditions they remain as seeds; if they are destroyed they can never ripen at all. Similarly, it can be said of kamma that kamma pushes for an opportunity to mature. It has a tendency to mature. If kamma finds the opportunity then it will bring its results. If it does not meet the right conditions it won't ripen. One kamma can even be destroyed by another kamma. So it is important to understand that our present way of life, our attitudes and conduct, can influence the way our past kammas mature. Some past kammas are so powerful that they have to come to fruition. We cannot escape them no matter what we do. But the greatest number of our past kammas are conditioned by the way we live now. If we live heedlessly, unwisely, we will give our past bad kammas the opportunity to ripen and this will either hinder the good kammas from producing their effects or else cancel out their good effects.
On the other hand, if we live wisely now, we will give our good kammas the opportunity to mature and bar out our bad kammas or weaken them, destroy them or prevent them from coming to fruition.

[.............................]

We Are Not Hopeless Prisoners Of Our Past
The twin teachings on kamma and rebirth have several important implications for understanding our own lives.
First they enable us to understand that we are fully responsible for what we are. We can't blame our troubles on our environment, on our heredity, on fate or on our upbringing. All these factors have made us what we are, but the reason we have met these circumstances is because of our past kamma. This might seem to be at first a pessimistic doctrine. It seems to imply that we are the prisoners of our past kammas, that we have to submit to their effects. This is a distortion.
It is true that very often we have to reap the results of our past kamma. But the important point to understand is that kamma is volitional action, and volitional action always takes place in the present, only in the present. This means at present it is possible for us to change the entire direction of our life.
If we closely examine our lives we'll see that our experience is of two types: first, experience that comes to us passively, which we receive independently of our choice; and second, experience which we create for ourselves through our choices and attitudes. The passive side of experience is largely the effect of past kamma.We generally have to face this and learn to accept it. But within those limitations there is a space, the tremendous space of the present moment, in which we can reconstruct our world with our own minds.
If we let ourselves be dominated by selfishness, hatred, ambition and dullness, then, even if we are wealthy and powerful, we'll still be living in misery and suffering and keep planting seeds for rebirth in the world of suffering. On the other hand, even if we are poor and in sad circumstances, with much pain and misfortune, if we observe pure conduct, develop a mind of generosity, kindness and understanding, then we can transform our world, we can build a world of love and peace."
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha057.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by DarkDream » Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:18 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: The difficult question, though, is whether this "mistaken" view of kamma actually stems from the Buddha's teaching. Isn't it simply an extension of MN 135 (we're ugly because we were bad, etc.)? If not, why?

I respect your wish not to comment on the Venerable's opinion. What I'm interested in knowing is how representative his opinion is.
Lazy eye, I think the MN 135 has been misinterpreted over the centuries. Please see this article on it here, http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vo ... ntext.html and my blog post here http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/20 ... sutta.html. The point is that the teaching has been taken out of context and the Buddha, I believe at least, was not saying that actions will lead to a certain post-mortem existence.

--DarkDream

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by DarkDream » Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:00 am

This view of kamma is not at all surprising. The idea of kamma does by necessity lead to a view like this even though there is evidence in the suttas that is against this.

The point is that kamma and rebirth from a purely conceptual point of view is by necessity deterministic. The classical view of kamma and rebirth to work this "reward" or "punishment" must necessarily happen in the next world (heaven and hell) or on earth (bad form for a being or good form). If the reward or punishment were to happen in this world then there would no longer need to be reward or punishment in heaven or hell or a next life and thus karmic determined rebirth falls apart. Karama is always taught that it is inescapable -- no one can avoid its effects.

The point is that it must be deterministic to work. But there are difficulties in this, for example, is getting old due to our past kamma or is just the law of the universe? If everything is deterministic, would one work towards enlightenment? Due to these difficulties, the suttas do provide exceptions to these problems.

Yet how does one pick and choose which things are caused by kamma and what is not? For example, if one believes they are born rich, or has a long life due to past kamma, how can one deny a child being raped is *not* due to past kamma? Where does one draw the line?

For the Tibetan Buddhists for example, everything is caused by kamma. Some Tibetan lama's say that the situation in Tibet is due due the past actions of the Tibetan people. See this blog on this: http://www.thinkbuddha.org/article/341/ ... he-actress

As I pointed out in my blog http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/20 ... sutta.html the cosmological view of kamma can lead to the following:

(1) Blame the attitude victim. It is the victim's fault and not the actual perpetrator.
(2) The perpetrator is not to be blamed as that person is just carrying out the cosmic kammic retribution.
(3) There is no need to stop any attrocities as the ultimate cosmic karmic balance will work itself out.

To me this is an absolutely horrific belief system. To blame a child for being enslaved is atrocious. I do not believe any civilized society or institution can have such beliefs, yet karma and rebirth, as this example shows, can lead to it.

What maybe many of the people on the board want to omit is that these type of beliefs or more prevelant than would like to be admitted. This is the dark side or underbelly of Buddhism that, in my opinion, must be eradicated. The best way I can think is to simply jetision the whole archaic, naive belief system or post-mortem rebirth.

--DarkDream

This to me is the greatest reason to get rid of the post-mortem view of karma and rebirth. Any such

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:15 am

The idea of kamma does by necessity lead to a view like this even though there is evidence in the suttas that is against this. . . . The point is that it must be deterministic to work.
By necessity? How come I do not hold to such an inaccurate view of kamma? How come many others here do not hold to such a view? How come many, many others elsewhere do not hold to such a view? How come the Buddha did not teach such a view? If "by necessity", how come?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by DarkDream » Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:
The idea of kamma does by necessity lead to a view like this even though there is evidence in the suttas that is against this. . . . The point is that it must be deterministic to work.
By necessity? How come I do not hold to such an inaccurate view of kamma? How come many others here do not hold to such a view? How come many, many others elsewhere do not hold to such a view? How come the Buddha did not teach such a view? If "by necessity", how come?
I guess I did not really explain myself very well. What I was trying to say is that the karma/rebirth conceptual model does have a tendency towards determinism. I did point out that the early Buddhists did recognize it and created various suttas to conteract the implications of the model.

The ideas I presented is in Obeyesekere's book, Imagining Karma. The particular section of the book that explains a lot better what I am trying to convey is found here: http://books.google.com/books?id=GeJumJ ... #PPA131,M1

The particular sentance that sums up my statement is:
There is no way that one can affirm karma yet deny determinism in its operation.
Please read the couple of prior pages to the link I gave and a few afterwards.

--DarkDream

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:25 am

DD:
What I was trying to say is that the karma/rebirth conceptual model does have a tendency towards determinism. I did point out that the early Buddhists did recognize it and created various suttas to conteract the implications of the model.
Early Buddhists created various suttas? Your proof?
There is no way that one can affirm karma yet deny determinism in its operation.


Says that guy? Not teribly convincing. Kamma is not a matter of "as you sow, so shall you reap." It is a matter, however, of "what you reap accords with what you sow."
"If any one says that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case there is no religious life nor opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow. But if any one says that what a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case there is a religious life and an opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow." AN I 249.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:48 am

Hi DD,
DarkDream wrote: I guess I did not really explain myself very well. What I was trying to say is that the karma/rebirth conceptual model does have a tendency towards determinism.
Why do you consider deterministic processes to be a problem? For some logical reason, or because you don't like the idea?

It seems to me that much of Buddhist practise has to do with recognising that there IS a high degree of determinism. After all, the second noble truth basically says that wanting things to be different to what they are is the cause of dukkha.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:56 am

If by determinism, there is no choice, the Buddha did not teach that. If by free will, one's choice is free of any conditioning, the Buddha did not teach that.

"This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond."
SN I, 38.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:42 am

Other Aspects of Dependent Origination
The fourth aspect of Dependent Origination is the one-to-one correspondence between cause and effect (evaṃ dhammatā). Every cause leads only to the relevant effect; it has nothing to do with any irrelevant effects. In other words, every cause is the sufficient and necessary condition for the corresponding effect. This leaves no room for chance or moral impotency (akiriya-diṭṭhi). However, as the Visuddhimagga says, for those who misunderstand it, it provides the basis for rigid determinism (niyatavāda). Meditators clearly see the relationship of each effect to its cause, so they have no doubt about their one-to-one correspondence and the truth of moral responsibility.
One of many interesting stories from the texts that illustrates the effects of kamma is that in the Vinaya regarding the Third Pārājika of killing human beings.

After the Buddha had preached about the loathsomeness of the body, many monks committed suicide, and a recluse called Migalandika murdered many bhikkhus at their request. This story also raises several interesting points for discussion about the Buddha's Omniscience and Boundless Compassion. If the Buddha knew what would happen to these sixty monks after preaching about asubha kammaṭṭhāna, why did he not preach metta or ānāpānasati, and why did he go into retreat for two weeks while this was happening, leaving strict instructions with Venerable Ānanda that he was not to be disturbed.

It seems that these sixty monks had some past kamma waiting to give its fruit — and they were destined to die violent deaths without any possibility of avoiding that fate, so the Buddha gave them the most suitable meditation object to prepare them for a violent death — asubha kammaṭṭhāna.
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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by cooran » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:30 am

Hello Venerable Pesala,

Could it be that he wasn't aware of it? I have been taught that Omniscience doesn't mean knowing everything, always, and at all times.

Omniscience is 1 : having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight 2 : possessed of universal or complete knowledge. Omniscience doesn't mean having psychic powers ~ many beings attain those. The Buddha explains below just what omniscience means in the context of a Sammasambuddha.

The omniscience of the Buddha is covered in the suttas ~
Majjhima Nikaya 71 Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta 'To Vacchagotta on the
Threefold True Knowledge'

"Venerable sir, I have heard this: "The recluse Gotama claims to be
omniscient and all-seeing, to have complete knowledge and vision
thus: "Whether I am walking or standing or sleeping or awake,
knowledge and vision are continuously and uninterruptedly present to
me." Venerable sir, do those who speak thus say what has been said
by the Blessed One, and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to
fact? Do they explain in accordance with the Dhamma in such a way
that nothing which provides a ground for censure can be legitimately
deduced from their assertion?"

"Vaccha, those who say thus do not say what has been said by me, but
misrepresent me with what is untrue and contrary to fact."

note 714 says: MA explains that even though part of the statement is
valid, the Buddha rejects the entire statement because of the portion
that is invalid. The part of the statement that is valid is the
assertion that the Buddha is omniscient and all-seeing; the part that
is excessive is the assertion that knowledge and vision are
continuously present to him.
According to the Theravada tradition
the Buddha is omniscient in the sense that all knowable things are
potentially accessible to him. He cannot, however, know everything
simultaneously and must advert to whatever he wishes to know.


At MN 90.8 the Buddha says that it is possible to know and see all, though
not simultaneously, and at AN 4.24/ii.24 he claims to know all that
can be seen, heard, sensed, and cognised, which is understood by the
Theravada tradition as an assertion of omniscience in the qualified
sense. See too in this connection Miln 102-7.
--------------------------
Majjhima Nikaya 90 Kannakatthala Sutta 'At Kannakatthala'

5. "Then King Pasenadi of Kosala said to the Blessed One: 'Venerable
sir, I have heard this: 'The recluse Gotama says "There is no recluse
or brahmin who is omniscient and all-seeing, who can claim to have
complete knowledge and vision; that is not possible." 'Venerable
sir, do those who speak thus say what has been said by the Blessed
One, and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? Do they
explain in accordance with the Dhamma in such a way that nothing that
provides a ground for censure can be legitimately deduced from their
assertions?"

"Great King, those who speak thus do not say what has been said by
me, but misrepresent me with what is untrue and contrary to
fact." <<<<<snip>>>>>>

"I recall having actually made the utterance in this way, great
king. 'There is no recluse or brahmin who knows all, who sees all,
simultaneously; that is not possible'.

note 846 says: MA: There is no one who can know and see all - past,
present and future - with one act of mental adverting, with one act of
consciousness; thus this problem is discussed in terms of a single
act of consciousness (ekacitta). On the question of the kind of
omniscience the Theravada tradition attributes to the Buddha, see n.
714 above.

A few old threads (at E-sangha) discussing the subject -
In the thread "Does an Arhat know everything?"
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... t&p=563511
The Arahant
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=21424

metta and respect
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by Mexicali » Sun May 03, 2009 6:08 pm

Nibbida, thanks :goodpost:
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by christopher::: » Mon May 04, 2009 4:06 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Some critics have blamed kamma teachings for fostering backwards and superstitious attitudes:
I vividly recall a conversation I had with a senior Thai monk when I attended the 2001 conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Bangkok. I asked the Venerable, “Why doesn’t the Thai Sangha speak out against the rampant sexual slavery imposed on children in Bangkok and other Thai cities?” He immediately replied, "Oh, you must understand that these girls must have done something evil in their past lives, perhaps committing adultery. That is why they became prostitutes in this life. Of course, there is hope for them in their future lives.”

...This raises the critically important question of how Buddhism can hope to play a constructive, let alone compassionate, role in contemporary society if it cannot confront and overcome this understanding of karma? (Ven. Daizen Brian Victoria, "The Reactionary Use of Karma in Twentieth Century Japan")
My questions:

Is the senior monk's interpretation of kamma mistaken, or is this what Buddhism actually teaches (based on MN 135, etc)? In your personal opinion, is it a valid explanation for child prostitution in Thailand?

Does his statement reflect the prevailing attitude among Buddhists in Thailand or other traditionally Buddhist countries?
Chris wrote:
This excerpt from the teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi explains:

We Are Not Hopeless Prisoners Of Our Past
The twin teachings on kamma and rebirth have several important implications for understanding our own lives.
First they enable us to understand that we are fully responsible for what we are. We can't blame our troubles on our environment, on our heredity, on fate or on our upbringing. All these factors have made us what we are, but the reason we have met these circumstances is because of our past kamma. This might seem to be at first a pessimistic doctrine. It seems to imply that we are the prisoners of our past kammas, that we have to submit to their effects. This is a distortion.
It is true that very often we have to reap the results of our past kamma. But the important point to understand is that kamma is volitional action, and volitional action always takes place in the present, only in the present. This means at present it is possible for us to change the entire direction of our life.
If we closely examine our lives we'll see that our experience is of two types: first, experience that comes to us passively, which we receive independently of our choice; and second, experience which we create for ourselves through our choices and attitudes. The passive side of experience is largely the effect of past kamma.We generally have to face this and learn to accept it. But within those limitations there is a space, the tremendous space of the present moment, in which we can reconstruct our world with our own minds.
If we let ourselves be dominated by selfishness, hatred, ambition and dullness, then, even if we are wealthy and powerful, we'll still be living in misery and suffering and keep planting seeds for rebirth in the world of suffering. On the other hand, even if we are poor and in sad circumstances, with much pain and misfortune, if we observe pure conduct, develop a mind of generosity, kindness and understanding, then we can transform our world, we can build a world of love and peace."
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha057.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
There is a logical inconsistancy in this view which i've yet to make sense of... The idea that an individual's present circumstances are due to their actions in a past life doesn't compute (in my head) when paired with the Buddha's teachings of no-self, anatta. It does make sense if one takes a Hindu view, and believes that there is a core Awareness, spirit or Soul that moves thru time.

But if there is no core Awareness moving thru time, life to life, then the karma created by Zin Yang in 1862 when he killed 3 young children should not "belong" to anyone today, in the sense that it's one person's "responsibility" to deal with Zin Yang's karma. How can karma created by someone in the past "belong" to someone in the present, if there is no continuous spiritual self? It may have been passed to you, but it doesn't "belong" to you...

Seems to me (and this is just my view) that if Zin Yang made mistakes in 1862 its not very different from George Bush making mistakes in 2003, when he and others decided to invade Iraq. The suffering of thousands of people who died or lost family members in Iraq suffered because of Bush's ignorance. If you have difficulties now because of the karma of someone in 1862, its not "your karma" anymore then George Bush's ignorance is "your" karma.

It makes sense with Hindu metaphysics, and it would make sense (to me) if there is really only ONE of us here, cause then anything anyone does is something "we" are doing. It makes sense if everything terrible that happens is something we are all responsible for, that we all must help as best as we can, cause karma doesn't "belong" to anybody, its just happening cause of situations set into motion by "our" collective ignorance, and we do our best to assist...

Again, I may be alone with this, but there is a logical inconsistancy in mainstream ideas of karma and rebirth that has yet to make sense, for me.
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Lazy_eye,
Lazy_eye wrote:Is the senior monk's interpretation of kamma mistaken, or is this what Buddhism actually teaches (based on MN 135, etc)? In your personal opinion, is it a valid explanation for child prostitution in Thailand?
As far as I can tell, the kind of explanation the monk provides is not supported by the suttas or the Abhidhamma, but is completely in accord with the stories provided in the Jatakas and the Dhammapada Stories.

The question then becomes, do you believe the Jatakas and the Dhammapada Stories are historical truths representative of the Dhamma (incl. kamma), or do you believe that they are traditional moralistic stories designed not to provide an accurate representation of kamma but to encourage people to act morally, and to help them remember and apply Dhammapada and Sutta teachings in their daily lives.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Ahhhh, okay now, THAT makes sense.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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mikenz66
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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 04, 2009 5:01 am

christopher::: wrote: There is a logical inconsistancy in this view which i've yet to make sense of... The idea that an individual's present circumstances are due to their actions in a past life doesn't compute (in my head) when paired with the Buddha's teachings of no-self, anatta.
Though it is not-self, there is still a continuous causality. According to the Abhidhamma Cittas (''mind moments") arise in sequence, conditioned by past cittas (the "mind stream").

Anatta doesn't mean that what the body your mind steam is associated with gets mixed up with mine when we get together for coffee.

Similarly, the citta that arises at the time of death conditions the birth citta in another life (according to the Theravada Abhidhamma, but not some of the rivals...).

Mike

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Re: Kamma and child prostitution -- blaming the victim?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 04, 2009 5:07 am

If I can make an observation about this whole thing, that has probably been made before:

There is a feeling I sometimes get in these conversations that "it would be unfair if X was due to past kamma". It seems to me that is a confused view. As I read it, it is not possible for us to tell what is or isn't caused by past kamma, so to speculate that person "Y is in this situation because of Z" is silly. However, if one accepts the concept of kamma then clearly some bad stuff is due to past kamma. It's not "unfair", it's how the universe works.

Also, it seems to me that the point of the teaching is to point out that the bad things happening to us (or others) may be due to past kamma, so it might be prudent to avoid bad kamma in the future.

Mike

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