Bohemian Seeker wrote:
I am new to this forum and investigating Buddhism, please be patient with my funny questions
A question about kamma (karma).
Is everything that happens to us due to our kamma ? Does this mean that we deserve all our bad luck and suffering, as the kamma is a result of our previous thoughts, words and deeds, in this life and in previous ones ?
For example, if I get stabbed with a knife by a robber taking my wallet, did I deserve it ? Or does coincidence play a role, i.e are some things that happen to us just bad luck and coincidence and not relate to my past deeds ?
I look forward to your answers,
Best wishes to all
Dear Bohemian Seeker,
Abhidhamma's answer is somewhat different. Here's an extract from "A Manual of Abhidhammattha Sangaha" translated by Narada Maha Thera (Chapter V, page 255-6):
Kamma, Sanskrit Karma, lit., means action or doing. Strictly speaking, Kamma means all moral and immoral volition (cetana). It covers all that is included in the phrase- "thought, word and deed." It is the law of moral causation. In other words, it is action and reaction in the ethical realm, or "action influence" as Westerners say. It is not fate or predestination. It is one's own doing reacting on oneself.
Every volitional action, except that of a Buddha or of an Arahant, is called Kamma. The Buddhas and Arahants do not accumulate fresh Kamma as they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Kamma.
Kamma is action and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction. It is the cause and effect. Like a seed is Kamma. Vipaka (effect) is like the fruit arising from the tree. As we sow, we reap somewhere and sometime in this life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past.
Kamma is the law in itself, and it operates in its own field without the intervention of an external, independent ruling agency.
Inherent in Kamma is the potentiality of producing its due effect. The cause produces the effect; the effect explains the cause. The seed produces the effect; the fruit explains th3e seed; such is their relationship. Even so are Kamma and its effect; 'the effect already blooms in the cause."
In Buddhism, there are no such things as luck, fortunate, coincidence, chance, because the law of causality applies to our lives.
If you were to confront a robber with a knife, you should try to dissuade him not to harm you by e.g. giving him the money in your wallet, pushing him away and run, shout for help etc. After having attempted to the best of your ability to avoid being harmed, and you still got stabbed, yes, this is your Vipaka, the consequence of your past Kamma ripening.
Feeling the suffering and pain after having been stabbed, what would be your thoughts: anger, revengeful, punch him, steal his knife and stab him back? These feelings are exactly what Buddhists should try to avoid. Understanding, that what happened was your Vipaka is the only way to rationalise the event and prevent you from acting upon your retaliatory thoughts, which would be new unwholesome Kammas awaiting ripening in future.
Here is the story of Maha-Moggallana, the Buddha's left-hand disciple and his final Vipaka from http://www.accesstoinsight.org
At that time, Maha-Moggallana lived alone in a forest hut at Kalasila. After his encounter with Mara he knew that the end of his days was near. Having enjoyed the bliss of liberation, he now felt the body to be just an obstruction and burden. Hence he had no desire to make use of his faculties and keep the body alive for the rest of the aeon. Yet, when he saw the brigands approaching, he just absented himself by using his supernormal powers. The gangsters arrived at an empty hut, and though they searched everywhere, could not find him. They left disappointed, but returned on the following day. On six consecutive days Moggallana escaped from them in the same way. His motivation was not the protection of his own body, but saving the brigands from the fearsome karmic consequences of such a murderous deed, necessarily leading to rebirth in the hells. He wanted to spare them such a fate by giving them time to reconsider and abstain from their crime. But their greed for the promised money was so great that they persisted and returned even on the seventh day. Then their persistence was "rewarded," for on that seventh day Moggallana suddenly lost the magic control over his body. A heinous deed committed in days long past (by causing the death of his own parents) had not yet been expiated, and the ripening of that old Kamma confronted him now, just as others are suddenly confronted by a grave illness. Moggallana realized that he was now unable to escape. The brigands entered, knocked him down, smashed all his limbs and left him lying in his blood. Being keen on quickly getting their reward and also somewhat ill as ease about their dastardly deed, the brigands left at once, without a further look.
But Moggallana's great physical and mental strength was such that his vital energies had not yet succumbed. He regained consciousness and was able to drag himself to the Buddha. There, in the Master's presence, at the holiest place of the world, at the source of the deepest peace, Moggallana breathed his last (Jat. 522E). The inner peace in which he dwelt since he attained to sainthood, never left him. It did not leave him even in the last seven days of his life, which had been so turbulent. But even the threat of doom was only external. This is the way of those who are finally "healed" and holy and are in control of the mind. Whatever Kamma of the past had been able to produce a result in his present life, nevertheless, it could affect only his body, but no longer "him," because "he" no longer identified himself with anything existing only impermanently. This last episode of Moggallana's life, however, showed that the law of moral causality (Kamma) has even greater power than the supernormal feats of this master of magic.