cause of birth of new humans

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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acinteyyo
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by acinteyyo » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:44 pm

salty-J wrote:Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?
the mere material causes and conditions are a sufficent set for the arising of a mere material clump of matter, but as for the clump of matter to become in essence somebody kamma (action) is the crucial factor.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

Shonin
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:41 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
salty-J wrote:Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?
the mere material causes and conditions are a sufficent set for the arising of a mere material clump of matter, but as for the clump of matter to become in essence somebody kamma (action) is the crucial factor.
Hope I don't sound pedantic here, but the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody". If you are talking about the arising of mental processes then as stated above there seems to be no reason that the dominant conditions for this could be (what we experience as) physical processes.

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cooran
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by cooran » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:27 pm

Hello Shonin,
Shonin said: the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody".
Yes, I agree.

"A real, and in the ultimate sense true, understanding of Buddhist karma doctrine is possible only through a deep insight into the impersonality (s. anattā) and conditionality (s. paticcasamuppāda, paccaya) of all phenomena of existence. "Everywhere, in all the forms of existence ... such a one is beholding merely mental and physical phenomena kept going by their being bound up through causes and effects.

"No doer does he see behind the deeds, no recipient apart from the karma-fruit. And with full insight he clearly understands that the wise ones are using merely conventional terms when, with regard to the taking place of any action, they speak of a doer, or when they speak of a receiver of the karma-results at their arising. Therefore the ancient masters have said:

'No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits;
Empty phenomena roll on:
This view alone is right and true.

'And whilst the deeds and their results
Roll on, based on conditions all,
There no beginning can be seen,
Just as it is with seed and tree.' " (Vis.M. XIX)
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/g_m/karma.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
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Shonin
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:38 pm

Here's a little thought-experiment:

If (somehow) we entered a global age of enlightenment and people were ending the cycle of rebirth left, right and centre, so that the number of streams of kamma got smaller and smaller until there were only a handful left in the universe. What would happen if an egg and sperm met when there was no kamma available to meet it at that time? Would it be infertile? Surely all the physical factors are present? Or would it result in some sort of mindless automaton? Or what?

PeterB
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by PeterB » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:48 pm

Shonin wrote:Here's a little thought-experiment:

If (somehow) we entered a global age of enlightenment and people were ending the cycle of rebirth left, right and centre, so that the number of streams of kamma got smaller and smaller until there were only a handful left in the universe. What would happen if an egg and sperm met when there was no kamma available to meet it at that time? Would it be infertile? Surely all the physical factors are present? Or would it result in some sort of mindless automaton? Or what?
Your question certainly exposes a problem with a literalist view of kamma as the Ghost In The Machine.
The idea of any Ghost In The Machine runs counter to the teachings of the Buddha.

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cooran
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by cooran » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:22 pm

Hello PeterB,

It doesn't expose anything. Hypotheticals are "just thinking" i.e. Papanca "tendency to proliferation in the realm of concepts" or imagination.

with metta
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: cause of birth of new humans

Post by PeterB » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:34 pm

cooran wrote:Hello PeterB,

It doesn't expose anything. Hypotheticals are "just thinking" i.e. Papanca "tendency to proliferation in the realm of concepts" or imagination.

with metta
Chris
Which cuts a number of ways..unless one has first hand knowledge of " again becoming", its ALL hypothetical.
I am aware of a number of ways to interpret the Buddhas teaching on the issue by more learned people than me. Some of those interpretations contradict each other. So in the absence of first hand knowledge I have no idea whose interpretation to accept.
And I have seen no compelling argument on this board or anywhere else to favour any particular view.

I can however continue to practice Vipassana as I was taught...

:anjali:

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cooran
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by cooran » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:48 pm

Just so.

with metta
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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acinteyyo
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:58 am

Shonin wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
salty-J wrote:Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?
the mere material causes and conditions are a sufficent set for the arising of a mere material clump of matter, but as for the clump of matter to become in essence somebody kamma (action) is the crucial factor.
Hope I don't sound pedantic here, but the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody". If you are talking about the arising of mental processes then as stated above there seems to be no reason that the dominant conditions for this could be (what we experience as) physical processes.
cooran wrote:Hello Shonin,
Shonin wrote:the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody".
Yes, I agree.
Hi Shonin, cooran,

sorry, it seems that I should have been expressing myself clearer. With "in essence somebody" I did not mean that we really are in essence somebody. I meant the act of "I-making", "my-making" which leads to the wrong view that we are "in essence somebody". The clump of matter for example, depending on kamma, really believes to be "in essence somebody" (sakkaya-ditthi), believes to be a personality.
So for the clump of matter to become a being, which believes to be in essence somebody (sakkaya-ditthi, atta-vada), kamma is the crucial factor. Otherwise the clump of matter remains just as a clump of matter. The same is valid also for the rest of the five aggregates. For consciousness to become a being, which believes to be in essence somebody, kamma is the crucial factor, too. The puthujjana regards one, more or all of the five aggregates of grasping as self. This is what makes him believe "to be in essence somebody". That's a delusion but the delusion itself is real.
That's why kamma is essential for birth of a being. In simple words, no action of "I-making", no "I". No notion of "I", then no one is to be found.

I hope it is now clearer. If not, just ask again.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by PeterB » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:26 am

Absolutely clear I think Acinteyyo. You are saying that rather than a soul being the Ghost in The Machine as in for example Christianity, in your view kamma is the Ghost In The Machine.
I see no reason to accept that view. I think it begs more questions than it offers solutions.

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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by Shonin » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:33 am

acinteyyo wrote:sorry, it seems that I should have been expressing myself clearer. With "in essence somebody" I did not mean that we really are in essence somebody. I meant the act of "I-making", "my-making" which leads to the wrong view that we are "in essence somebody". The clump of matter for example, depending on kamma, really believes to be "in essence somebody" (sakkaya-ditthi), believes to be a personality.
So for the clump of matter to become a being, which believes to be in essence somebody (sakkaya-ditthi, atta-vada), kamma is the crucial factor. Otherwise the clump of matter remains just as a clump of matter. The same is valid also for the rest of the five aggregates. For consciousness to become a being, which believes to be in essence somebody, kamma is the crucial factor, too. The puthujjana regards one, more or all of the five aggregates of grasping as self. This is what makes him believe "to be in essence somebody". That's a delusion but the delusion itself is real.
That's why kamma is essential for birth of a being. In simple words, no action of "I-making", no "I". No notion of "I", then no one is to be found.
Thanks for clarifying yourself. And thanks for re-iterating the orthodox doctrine on this matter. I note that it does not constitute an argument that kamma must be necessary for 'I making', only that it is an assertion that kamma is indeed necessary.

This sort of explanation begs all sorts of questions for me, such as:
What happens if two of the required factors are met but not three? Do the other two just 'wait'?
How does the kamma navigate to the sperm and egg? It appears to operate in time. Does it move through space or is it instantaneous?
What stops multiple streams of kamma from arriving at the same embryo at the same time?
What if there isn't enough kamma at any given moment? Or too much?
How did the mechanism come into being? And so on.

So, I don't find it very satisfactory as an explanation. It all seems very speculative and frankly, far-fetched. I'm inclined to focus on what I can actually experience and verify or at least provisionally accept as coherent.

EDIT TO ADD: Also, 'a lump of matter' will always function as psychically inert in an argument that defines it that way or assumes that to be the case. Whether what we experience as 'matter' is genuinely absent of all qualities for mental or proto-mental processes to occur (and thus requiring some pre-existing, separate, mysterious entity such as a 'soul' or 'life force' or 'kamma stream' or 'primordial consciousness' to animate it) is another matter (no pun intended) altogether.

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acinteyyo
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:50 pm

PeterB wrote:Absolutely clear I think Acinteyyo. You are saying that rather than a soul being the Ghost in The Machine as in for example Christianity, in your view kamma is the Ghost In The Machine.
I see no reason to accept that view. I think it begs more questions than it offers solutions.
Sorry Peter but you misunderstood what I said. Kamma is no ghost in no machine and has nothing to do with it at all. kamma means action and all I'm trying to say is that the actual "I-making" is an action depending on clinging (upadana), more precisely the clinging to the belief in a self (atta-vada). So there is a physical base needed as well as the mental act of "I-making" for the arising of the view "to be in essence somebody", which is also called personality-view (sakkāya-ditthi), and the personality (sakkāya) is pañc'upādānakkhandhā. no ghost, no machine just namarupa.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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acinteyyo
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:56 pm

Shonin wrote:What happens if two of the required factors are met but not three? Do the other two just 'wait'?
How does the kamma navigate to the sperm and egg? It appears to operate in time. Does it move through space or is it instantaneous? What stops multiple streams of kamma from arriving at the same embryo at the same time?
What if there isn't enough kamma at any given moment? Or too much?
How did the mechanism come into being? And so on.
please keep in mind that kamma and its results (kamma-vipaka) are unthinkable (acinteyya). It is one of the four unthinkables and transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

Shonin
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by Shonin » Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:01 pm

acinteyyo wrote:please keep in mind that kamma and its results (kamma-vipaka) are unthinkable (acinteyya). It is one of the four unthinkables and transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder.
You can't have your cake and eat it. Many Buddhists make a lot of assertions about something that is supposedly unthinkable. All I'm doing is highlighting some problems with the views expressed.

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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Post by PeterB » Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:15 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
PeterB wrote:Absolutely clear I think Acinteyyo. You are saying that rather than a soul being the Ghost in The Machine as in for example Christianity, in your view kamma is the Ghost In The Machine.
I see no reason to accept that view. I think it begs more questions than it offers solutions.
Sorry Peter but you misunderstood what I said. Kamma is no ghost in no machine and has nothing to do with it at all. kamma means action and all I'm trying to say is that the actual "I-making" is an action depending on clinging (upadana), more precisely the clinging to the belief in a self (atta-vada). So there is a physical base needed as well as the mental act of "I-making" for the arising of the view "to be in essence somebody", which is also called personality-view (sakkāya-ditthi), and the personality (sakkāya) is pañc'upādānakkhandhā. no ghost, no machine just namarupa.
best wishes, acinteyyo
This replaces the "selfish gene "with upadana. Somehow clinging exists to beget itself. That becomes the whole purpose of human endevour..reduced to an endless chain of clinging. Sorry Acinteyyo as far as i am concerned it wont do. I can observe upadana..I need posit no origin other than its arising in the now.
:anjali:

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