Kamma_2 Questions

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Re: Kamma_2 Questions

Post by Chloe9 » Sat May 01, 2010 10:18 pm

Nosta wrote:1- Kamma law is a hard one to get. There are some situations in real life that makes me a lot of confusion, so let me see if i can explain it, so you can understand my doubts and help me.
I was confused about "Karma" at one point. Then one of my grampas who is a Bhikkhu got tired of me asking about karma and he said that "Buddhists aren't Hindu and it isn't Vedic or Vendantic" and that I should take that statement and try to understand what that means on my own first.

Karma in the Vedas and Upanishads is something abstract and "mystical." Karma in Brahmanism/"Hinduism" is like a little black cloud that follows you everywhere and curses your life and future existence. Then in the Vedas it is said that worship of certain gods and puja to these gods absolves or dissolves one's bad karma. So in this regard Vedic-Upanishadic Karma may be very different from how "karma" is apprehended and understood by Shramana and its offspring: Buddhism and Jainism.

Kamma in Buddhism is not really abstract or mystical. Buddha was a very rational or logical person. In the Tipatakas he actually spends a lot of time countering Vedic and Brahmanistic beliefs, practices, and concepts with a more rational approach to things. So when Brahmanism taught that nirvana/moksha and peace in life was dependent on sacrificial Himsa [the sacrifice of animals to gods], the Buddha states that the gods are abstract ideas and that Himsa - which causes suffering - can't possibly end suffering [thus A-himsa].

It's almost like the Buddha in 500BC was a thorn in the side of the Brahmins and their religion, as Jesus must have been a pain in the butt to the Pharisees. So being a person who is more rationally inclined, I doubt the Buddha saw Karma in the mystical way the Vedas and Brahmanism teaches it.

The way Hinduism teaches karma essentially is that "bad" acts generates bad karma and good acts generates good karma. Bad and good karma build up and you are either rewarded for good karma or punished for bad karma. Sometimes in the Vedic line of thought bad karma makes you into an animal in a future life, and if you have a lot of good karma, you are reborn a high caste person.

This view of karma amounts to sectarian coercion and enticement. In the same way that Islam uses 72 naked virgins and Christianity uses eternal life in heaven and forgiveness of sins as a means of coercing and enticing people to be adherents. There is nothing really "spiritual" or enlightening about you/I being enticed by reward and punishment. You learn nothing from it. You don't grow from it, because your mind remains attached to or fixated on "something" outside of yourself for what is fundamentally your own responsibility.

Kamma - as I was eventually taught to see it - cannot be apprehended alone, by itself. It must be grasped together - connected - to the 4 noble truths, the 8 fold path, and the teachings of co-dependent origination; because all three concepts is fundamentally based on the concept of CAUSALITY: Cause and Fruit.

Dukkha is the fruit; what Causes it, or from what does it arise? From Tanha. There is nothing mystical about it.

Right Intention/Emotion is the Fruit. From where did it originate? What causes Right Intention? Right Perception/View does.

Right Speech is the Fruit. What Causes or influences, or inspires one's speech? Your Intention/Emotions.

Right Action is the Fruit. What is the Cause of our Actions? Our emotions/intention, and what we say to ourselves, and the belief in what has been said is the Cause.

Right Livelihood is the Fruit. What is the Cause? What Causes our experience in Life to arise as in Dukkha, Sukkha, poverty, prosperity, contentment, and restlessness etc? Our Action. There is nothing mystical about Causality: "kamma."

The primal foundation of kamma is Ethos of Mind. One's mental habit/ethos influences one's perception of the world. That perception of the world gives birth to how we think. How we think gives rise to or influences our emotions/intention. Our emotions governs our actions. Our actions gives birth to what we will experience in life. The mechanics of kamma is found explained in the four noble truths, the eight fold path, and the Insight of co-dependent origination.

An example of Cause and Fruit [kamma and vipaka] in non-mystical terms is this:

The kamma of Materialism: We perceive the world as being dead. Nature and ecosystems are things to be conquered and controlled. That perception gives rise to emotion/intent. The emotion that it is fine to conquer and control and use nature, and the intent to do so. That emotion influences our actions: forests are deforested, animals over exploited, by individual people and by corporations. These acts committed bares Fruit. Which are? Mass extinction of animals; disruption of the intricate symbiosis of ecosystems; and the destruction of the rain forest in Africa and Brazil - which in turn will bare further fruit in the future. All of this devastation literally is the kammic - Causal - Fruit of a wrong way of perceiving the world. That's kamma. It's not abstract or mystical. Change your Mind and you literally change the kammic outcome.

Change your attachment to Tanha and Lobha, and you alter the fruit of such: Dukkha is reduced in life. That's kamma: Cause and Fruit. It's the science and the understanding of Cause and Result. Or Cause and Symptom. If you Master the Cause, you can Master the Result, such that if you are experiencing problems in life, you know look for the Cause of such difficulty and change the Mind's fixation/attachment to such Cause and you end up manifesting different Results.

In the real world a "Causal System" is real. In mechanics a Causal System is a machine which gives you something when you put something into it. A vending machine that dispenses soda and snacks is a Causal machine. You put in money, and you get an output: stuff/fruit/result according to the input. It isn’t abstract or mystical. It’s logical and predictable. You plant an apple seed, and you can always expect it to eventually bare apples. That’s Cause and Fruit.

Our inner Ethos [Ancient Greece’s equivalent to Dharma], Ethos of Mind, is the primal source of kamma: of our weltanschauung, our perception and interpretation of the world, our standards and ethics, our emotions and intentions, our actions and culture or way of life, which all manifests as Causal Experience in some way.

So if one does have the primal Ethos of Mind to commit murder, that act generates a Causal “chain reaction” which ripples out to affect your life, and the lives of people associated with you and the victim. That’s Cause and Fruit.

In the victim’s death – even if the victim was evil or a criminal – he was still loved by his family and his death which you caused has created Dukkha in their lives. That’s the Causal Result of your actions.

That act of murder second chain reaction is you going to prison. This causes Dukkha [suffering] in your own life. If you were married with children, your act of murdering someone has also created Dukkha in your wife and children, whose welfare is now inn jeopardy. So from a single ignorant act of Murder, that kamma bares real concrete results in the lives of dozens of people. That ripple continues in and through the lives of those affected.

For example in the lives of your children whose father is in prison for life for murder. This hypothetical act affects them psychologically and emotionally. Will they get a step father? Will they be able to function normally among their peers. Will the thought of their father being in prison consume them mentally so that they have a hard time in school? What will happen if they don’t do good in school. What kind of a future with these kids have and experience, because of that single ignorant act you committed? That’s Cause and Fruit. It’s not mystical.

Kamma in otherwards states that once you have committed an action, that action doesn’t stop or end with you. It moves out like ripples in a pond and the “causal chain reaction” will eventually return back to affect you in the future. In the same way as ripples in a pond will radiate out, bounce of the edge of the pond and be reflected back to the source of the ripple eventually.

For example, the kamma and Fruit of world war one: England and their allies wins. The Ottoman Empire is broken up and shared with the winners. That is the first Cause: the kamma, which sets into motion a Causal chain reaction. After the war European powers exploit, dehumanize, and meddle in the lives and existence of the Muslims in the area. That kamma and chain reaction transcends time. Now we have the 100 year headache [Israel vs Palestine] and Islamic radicals terrorizing the West. That is the Fruit. One of many causal fruits of an ancient primary kammic source. It’s not mystical. It is logical and predictable.

When you understand the logic and predictability of kamma, you are better able to take full responsibility for your own actions, and you are able to generate productive and positive fruit in life. When you make kamma abstract and mystical and blame anyting and everything except your own self, then it’s hard for you to except responsibility for your actions and the causal consequences of such actions.

Kamma transcending a life time is also not mystical. Action comes from our emotions. Our emotions comes from our thoughts. How we think is dependent on how we perceive and interpret reality or the world. How we see, view, perceive, and interpret the world is an Ethos of Mind.

Although the body expires, the Mind-stream continues to flow. If so, then that same Ethos contaminates the Mind-stream. Like if we have spilt an oil spill up stream. That oil will flow down stream and will contaminate everything along the way down stream.

The best way to explain in human terms how Ethos of Mind carries over is by considering relationships.

We’ve all had boyfriends, and girlfriends or spouses. Many of us begin having relationships at an early age. We break up and make new relationships. Many of us end up in negative relationships over and over again. Such relationships causes Dukkha in us over and over again.

It’s not until much later, after much reflection/meditation on why our relationships suck and why we end up with crappy boyfriends and are always unhappy or even abused over and over, that we realize that even though the people we are involved with are different humans, that we essentially find ourselves in relationships with the same “type” of person. Why?

Because of our own initial “unconscious” attraction to such types of people. What is the source for that initial attraction? Our own character flaws and inner Ethos/Habit/Way/Nature.

It’s that character flaw, and inner Ethos, and the ignorance that such flaws exist and effects our lives that causes us to manifest the same abusive and dukkha-full relationships, one after another. Not until we have Awakened to our flaws in our Ethos, are we able to manifest and experience a genuinely new and healthy relationship.

Kamma in respects to the stream of future lives and the fruits of our “past” kamma just like the bad relationship scenario. It is our ignorance or inability to look within ourselves or the rejection of responsibility of action and undesired to change our own selves that duplicates suffering in one life after the next. Because your Chitta-Samtana is contaminated with an Ethos or “glitch” that is the cause of such suffering.

Murdering a person in this life, in Buddhism does not mean some spooky god or mysterious cosmic force is going to have you killed in the next life. This is more like Karma of Hinduism. In Buddhism, the murder is a visible symptom of a Cause. The cause is an Ethos of Mind or character flaw from inside your own psyche/chitta. Getting rid of the symptom does not get rid of the cause. So if the murder causes suffering in your life and in the lives of many people associated with you and the victim; in Buddhism’s rationalistic kamma, the original cause of the symptom of murder will contaminate each “new life” down stream and will manifest self destructive symptoms and dukkha in your life and other people lives over and over again, until you wise up on your own.
“Do not believe in anything because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observing and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.” – Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya, Vol1, 188-193)

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Re: Kamma_2 Questions

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 01, 2010 10:38 pm

Greetings Chloe,
Chloe9 wrote:I was confused about "Karma" at one point. Then one of my grampas who is a Bhikkhu got tired of me asking about karma and he said that "Buddhists aren't Hindu and it isn't Vedic or Vendantic" and that I should take that statement and try to understand what that means on my own first.
Brilliant - that is wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing.


Retro. :)
"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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Re: Kamma_2 Questions

Post by ground » Sun May 02, 2010 5:02 am

Nosta wrote:What do you have to say about this?
Such a product like "kamma" cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted and it isn't tangible. If putting scripture aside it cannot be validly inferred and therefore "kamma" is actually a metaphysical phenomenon and one may ask what may be the benefit of investigating metaphysical phenomena? On what basis may such metaphysical phenomena be investigated? Only on the basis of scripture. What may be the benefit of such an investigation? The only benefit may be to assess whether a system of (religious) thought is consistent or not AND/OR to provide a basis for one's own decision to either "believe in" or "doubt" or "reject" the existence of such a metaphysical phenomenon or the reliability of the system of thought as a whole.
However in case of system of thought that claims to be grounded on experience such an investigational approach does not appear to be appropriate because although it is a system of thought in the first place the thoughts/concepts therein have to be assessed in the context of the experience entailed by the "practice" of the thoughts advocated by the system.
How does one practice the thought of "kamma and its effects"? One practices it through refraining from negative actions and negative motivations. The experiences arising from such conduct then may be compared to those one has had at a time when one did not refrain from negative actions and negative motivations.

Putting "kamma" aside the more direct and straightforward approach of investigation may be: How do I experience the "reverberation" of my actions and motivations?

Kind regards

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Re: Kamma_2 Questions

Post by Khemadhammo Bhikkhu » Wed May 05, 2010 3:21 pm

Bubbabuddhist wrote: Even though the manifesting condions can be infinite, the underlying vipaka is the same. I think this is why kamma-vipaka is imponderable: who could possibly comprehend all the endless possible permutations of causes and conditions even a single intentional act is both parent and heir to? Except, of course, a Tathaghata?

Yes, exactly. For 'wordlings' like you an me, we can try to make a rough understanding of the law of kamma by for example studying about the 12 aspects of kamma mentioned in the Tipiṭaka. But the particular vipāka of a kamma is still an issue that is impossible to analyze with the normal analytical thinking mind. It can be understood by anyone who attains true knowledge (vijjā) though, but this requires a lot of meditation practise...


Khemadhammo Bhikkhu.
He stopped and called out to the Blessed One: "Stop, recluse! Stop, recluse!"
"I have stopped, Angulimāla, you stop too."
(M ii.100)

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