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2 years ago  ::  May 17, 2012 - 9:34AM #1
allen-uk
Posts: 25
Hello.
I should imagine that Karma has been discussed before, but I would welcome your thoughts on the subject, as it is proving a major stumbling-block to my acceptance of the Buddhist philosophy.

Is it true that the fruits of Karma, and rebirth, are inseparable? That if you accept Karma, and the fruits of Karma, as facts, then you MUST accept rebirth, too?

Because without rebirth(s), a person who has built up a great store of negative karma in their life can often escape the fruits of that karma. Many cruel people have died contented, and rich, and the only way in which the fruits of their negative karma will eventually 'catch up' with them is in some future existence.

Once you have accepted this karma/rebirth link, then other problems arise, such as in what form karma can be transmitted, in a soul-free universe, but first, I would appreciate your guidance on karma, and its fruits.

Explain to me how I have misunderstood the process. And a plea: in simple English.


Thanks.

Allen.
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2 years ago  ::  May 17, 2012 - 2:39PM #2
Bob0
Posts: 484

That is a great question. I'm sure it will bring several differing responses. I will provide my response in a couple days after meditation and reflection.


Bob

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2 years ago  ::  May 18, 2012 - 7:17AM #3
Bhakta_glenn
Posts: 801

May 17, 2012 -- 9:34AM, allen-uk wrote:

Hello.
I should imagine that Karma has been discussed before, but I would welcome your thoughts on the subject, as it is proving a major stumbling-block to my acceptance of the Buddhist philosophy.

Is it true that the fruits of Karma, and rebirth, are inseparable? That if you accept Karma, and the fruits of Karma, as facts, then you MUST accept rebirth, too?

Because without rebirth(s), a person who has built up a great store of negative karma in their life can often escape the fruits of that karma. Many cruel people have died contented, and rich, and the only way in which the fruits of their negative karma will eventually 'catch up' with them is in some future existence.

Once you have accepted this karma/rebirth link, then other problems arise, such as in what form karma can be transmitted, in a soul-free universe, but first, I would appreciate your guidance on karma, and its fruits.

Explain to me how I have misunderstood the process. And a plea: in simple English.


Thanks.

Allen.




Allen-UK


Theravada Buddhism


As you are living in the UK, you may find Satipanya to be of use to you in your development of Buddhist Understanding. I have attended Retreats that were led by Bhante Bodhidhamma and have found them to be very helpful.



www.satipanya.org.uk/


Bhante Bodhidhamma

The Spiritual Director of the Satipanya Buddhist Trust is Bhante Bodhidhamma, an English monk for 20 years.


Q & A Rebirth Identification Emotions etc


The Kamma of Liberation



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2 years ago  ::  May 18, 2012 - 9:35AM #4
Kwinters
Posts: 21,812

May 17, 2012 -- 9:34AM, allen-uk wrote:

Hello.
I should imagine that Karma has been discussed before, but I would welcome your thoughts on the subject, as it is proving a major stumbling-block to my acceptance of the Buddhist philosophy.

Is it true that the fruits of Karma, and rebirth, are inseparable? That if you accept Karma, and the fruits of Karma, as facts, then you MUST accept rebirth, too?

Because without rebirth(s), a person who has built up a great store of negative karma in their life can often escape the fruits of that karma. Many cruel people have died contented, and rich, and the only way in which the fruits of their negative karma will eventually 'catch up' with them is in some future existence.

Once you have accepted this karma/rebirth link, then other problems arise, such as in what form karma can be transmitted, in a soul-free universe, but first, I would appreciate your guidance on karma, and its fruits.

Explain to me how I have misunderstood the process. And a plea: in simple English.


Thanks.

Allen.




In my view, since I do not accept the concept of rebirth, is that karma is the cause and effect of emotions and actions on the quality of your mind in that moment and the after effects.


If I say something terrible to another person out of anger my experience is one of self-clinging, self-cherishing and disregard for the feelings of others. These are emotionally poisonous feelings.  I feel terrible in the moment and afterwards. 


If I don't recognise these emotions as poisonous I experience suffering and do not clearly identify the causes and the effects: the karma of my actions.  I am also likely to repeat them again and experience their suffering effects because of my ignorance.


On the other hand, practicing patience and kindness reduce my suffering and the suffering of others.


So in my view, one does not have to wait lifetimes for the effects of karma.  They are manifest in this lifetime and in our quality of life.


PS Don't mistake material wealth for enjoyment or happiness.  Just listen to the words and views of Donald Trump.  Does he sound like a person who ever experiences even a moment of inner peace?

Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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2 years ago  ::  May 18, 2012 - 2:16PM #5
Bob0
Posts: 484
Is it true that the fruits of Karma, and rebirth, are inseparable? That if you accept Karma, and the fruits of Karma, as facts, then you MUST accept rebirth, too?

 

Your question is an excellent question. I will try to give you a Buddhist answer to a question that has several differing but valid Buddhist answers. AN IV Ancintita Sutta tells us that trying to know the precise results of karma would bring about madness and vexation. In other words knowing the precise working and results of karma can't be known. Trying to figure it out will simply frustrate you or eventually drive you crazy.

 

Now, before we get into the fruits of rebirth and karma being entwined, lets just talk simply about rebirth. Rebirth as you are referring to it seems to be some sort of karmic generated transmigration of the soul, or mind or awareness or experience. I have heard all claimed but have no knowledge of any of this. I have heard here on belief net people make claims of knowing past lives. I can't comment on whether they are genuine or fraud.


When the Buddha was asked if there was life after death or a soul that lives beyond the break up of the body (and he was asked many times) he refused to answer. His reasoning was that a search of this or a desire of this or even knowledge of this didn't lead to the goal of awakening. In fact I would offer that such pursuit blocks awakening.


So are the Tibetans who believe in reincarnation wrong. I don't know. Are they right? I don't know. Are the Theravada who believe in being reborn in higher or lower planes as a result of karmic payback for good and bad deeds performed right? I don't know. Are they wrong. I don't know. Ask the dead. Possibly they know.


This is what I know of rebirth.


Things have no permanent identity. Emptiness. People being things not ideas, have no permanent identity. You are not the same person that you were yesterday. This seems obvious. Yesterday’s sensory inputs altered you. Yesterday’s cellular changes altered you. You are not the unchanging person you may think

you are. Rebirth is constantly taking place. You are not a separate constant entity in the world but related to the universe in time and space. What does that mean?


Part of you is your contact with me. If we had never met, talked you wouldn't be the person you are at this moment. I wouldn't be the same at this moment without your presence in my life. Therefore I am part of you and you are part of me. The computer that you use has altered your life. It is a part of you. Your house is part of you. All this is part of you. And as your computer, house etc change they alter you as you alter them. You are interrelated to the universe.


Not only are you related to the universe in space but also time. You wouldn't be the same person you were if my Dad hadn't lived his life. Not only was he the direct result of me but he helped shape me. My Dad is part of me. If I am part of you, my Dad is also part of you. Now expand this understanding to life, millions of people are part of you, millions multiplied are part of the millions so that basically all are interrelated in what we call self. There is no separate self but a changing accumulation of otherness housed in a body. This is what The Buddha referred to as stream. We are not separate but constantly changing in our trip through time, what we call life. Our unique trajectory a constant state of rebirth.


We have no permanent, separate identity.  Now comes the interesting twist.


You are not a separate identity, always entwined with the otherness around you BUT, the otherworld entwined stream of you is unique. With all the billions of variables that combine in separate times and places to make up the "stream of being" that is referred to as "you" your stream of being has to be unique. So to explain the unexplainable you are a unique look at a vast sea of being. This sea is made up of all of us unique beings, constantly moving, interrelating, and changing as the universe is constantly moving, interrelating, and changing. Do I believe in rebirth? Yes. Do I believe in rebirth as a punishment reward for actions taken in this lifetime or past lifetimes. I see no evidence of such ideas.


In the movie “Little Buddha” the old Tibetan Monk illustrates his take on reincarnation. He fills a cup with tea. He points out that they believe that there are two parts of being; the body and the


mind. The body is the vessel and the mind is contained inside the vessel. Then he breaks the cup on the edge of the table, tea spilling on the table and floor. The cup is broken into pieces and the Monk states the cup is no longer a cup. But what is the tea, he asks? The answer came correctly; it is still tea. The body breaks but the mind is still mind. His take is that it is reincarnated in another body. My take is slightly different. Parts of the mind are copied, slightly different due to separate experience to others through awareness. This is how ideas, knowledge, superstitions, etc., are passed through the human stream of life. The vessel may be broken, but the stream continues.


So just what are we talking about when we talk about karma?


I think karma is natural law. Karma to me is simply a reaction of all living beings to others actions. Their actions are interdependent on all actions that have preceded them. I think all persons, in fact all animals, are subject to the law of karma just as they are subject to the law of gravity. Human perception of behaviors may be different from other animals but the principle works. A lot of Buddhists seem to think there is a divine balancing of good and evil which they refer to as Karma. I would guess those are the people who believe in heaven or reincarnation. To me this is wishful whimsies similar to Christianity, simply repackaged.




I don't think karma has anything to do with afterlife, reincarnation etc. Some people believe that building a huge positive karma reservoir will lead you to a higher spiritual state in a next life. I think karma is more immediate and related to the non-abiding self. We are interrelated to all other living things.


Several years ago there was a study of airline flight attendants. It was found that those that smiled were thought to be more efficient and competent than those that did not smile. Simply put; I'm nice to you; you'll probably be nice to me. People are more likely to like and be nice to someone they perceive to be nice. Vice versa, if I'm not nice to you it’s likely you won't be nice to me. If I'm perceived as not nice, people will tend not to be nice to me. Good generates good, bad generates bad is the generalization. The friendly smile is the kick starter to good karma.


The twist here is perception. Good and bad are simply stops on the sliding scale of duality, products of the leaning mind. What I think is a good deed might not be perceived as a good deed by another. While I think I am generating good or good karma another might perceive me as doing bad, thus generating bad karma. I think it is possible to generate good and bad karma with the same act depending on perception. Of course we need to realize that good and bad karma are simply differing perceptions of the reaction to an act.


Generally compassionate people have good fortune—people lacking compassion, bad fortune.


So are the fruits of karma and rebirth inseparable. I know of no evidence proving or disproving this. What I hope I offered you is a middle way answer based on what I know, not on what I don't know. So what do we do now? It seems to me the goal of Buddhism is to work on the elimination of our suffering. It was said that if we are completely successful awakening will arise in us. As for being reborn in another place based on our actions or not the Buddha had an interesting take on this in the Kalama Sutta.


"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now:



"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.



"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.



"'If evil is done through acting, still I have willed no evil for anyone. Having done no evil action, from where will suffering touch me?' This is the third assurance he acquires.



"'But if no evil is done through acting, then I can assume myself pure in both respects.' This is the fourth assurance he acquires.



"One who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires these four assurances in the here-&-now."



What do you think?



Wishing you small tranquil days,



Bob


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2 years ago  ::  May 18, 2012 - 2:38PM #6
Bob0
Posts: 484

When that airplane crashed in Buffalo a while ago, it went straight down into 1 house only. The father was killed, but the wife and daughter escaped death. The 48 people on board died instantly. Now how in hell does that happen? You are sitting there watching the news and a plane with people lands on you! The 2 adjoining houses did not even burn down. Six or seven volunteer fire depts. arrived immediately. It made me understand fully anything can happen to anyone, anytime. Here is a fictionalized account of the cause of the accident.



It's their karma. No one knows all the reasons that brought them to live in that specific house. The interdependence of all past actions is too great to track, even with the most wonderful computer. No one knows all the reasons that led to the plane to crash.


It could be that the mechanics wife went, unplanned to the store to buy spaghetti for their little boy and met a handsome man whom she fell in love with. She left the mechanic who then, in the absence of his wife, out of loneliness, takes up playing softball day and night. On this particular night the umpire made what the mechanic thought was a bad call on a third strike, making the mechanic a strikeout victim. He was brooding on this when the boss unexpectedly switched him to the plane that crashed when old Schmedly called in sick. Schmedly actually was taking his new girlfriend, that he just met that day while looking for a new TV, his old one quit running, to the ballet. She wouldn't normally want to go but this was the only performance that Moshi Popovenich, famed Russian ballet dancer, would be performing in the US this year. Schmedly wanted to impress her because she was a red head and he was only attracted to red heads. So while the mechanic was moping over his strike out and unscheduled assignment of inspecting Schmedley's airplane he failed to notice the defective widget made by the Snodgrass Widget company. Snodgrass was trying to cut corners due to the recession and produced an occasional defective widget. So the mechanic, in his funk, missed the defective widget. As the plane was flying along the widget busted lose sending the plane into a flat spiral. The pilot, who normally would have taken corrective actions when going into a flat spiral, was thinking about his gay lover who left him for a black man. He was bemoaning that the black man must have greater appeal when the flat spin occurred. He was slow to react and instead of quickly pulling on the stick and landing safely in the river he lost control and the plane crashed.


Just as the plane was falling through the air the husband, watching a crucial play on the TV football game asked his wife to let the dog out. The dog had been barking, his signal that he had to go to relieve himself. At the same time the daughter, was slipping away to the back bedroom window where she took delight in flashing the neighbor boy who was silently sitting in the bushes waiting for the nightly peep show. So the woman got up and went to the back door just missing the plane crashing through the roof, killing the man in his barkalounger.



Who can say what the cause was that killed the man? All actions are conditioned. Buddhism 101. Trying to figure all the ramifications of karma will prove vexing. People attempt to assign good and bad, dualism, to karma. It is simply the fabrications of a leaning mind to assign good and bad to karma. The wise man sees the seeds of action as karma and understands that knowing all the infinite actions that produced the conditioned results is impossible. So he breathes in and breathes out, calmly.


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2 years ago  ::  May 19, 2012 - 4:56AM #7
allen-uk
Posts: 25

Thanks for all the thoughts, which I shall read, and read again.



One initial thought that does strike me, though, is that I am going to change the word Karma (in my mind, at least).


Actions, and deeds = karma


Consequences of actions, and deeds = fruits of karma


I find the word used far too loosely both by Buddhists and non-Buddhists, who use it when they mean 'fate', or 'luck'. Sometimes it might just be luck, I suppose.



Allen

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2 years ago  ::  May 19, 2012 - 7:29AM #8
Bhakta_glenn
Posts: 801

May 19, 2012 -- 4:56AM, allen-uk wrote:


Thanks for all the thoughts, which I shall read, and read again.



One initial thought that does strike me, though, is that I am going to change the word Karma (in my mind, at least).


Actions, and deeds = karma


Consequences of actions, and deeds = fruits of karma


I find the word used far too loosely both by Buddhists and non-Buddhists, who use it when they mean 'fate', or 'luck'. Sometimes it might just be luck, I suppose.


Allen




Allen-Uk


Theravada Buddhism


Whilst fate and fortune may not be accurate with regard to Buddhism, there is a sense that Kamma makes a person the Architect of his own Destiny.


For Mediation in Daily Life, my Teacher gave me a simple mnemonic:


"Echo".


She wore a brooch with this word displayed.


This was her way of telling me to 'think before I act', because all actions arise from volitions, which may be wholesome or unwholesome.


Rebirth


Anatta is the Doctrine of Impersonality, which advises students that there are no such things as a Self or an Eternal, Deathless Soul.


Anicca is the Doctrine of Impermanance:


All things are Impermananent, nothing lasts forever, and that includes life and death.


Thus, not only do we not live forever, we do not die forever, either.


Given that there is no soul and we cannot die forever, Rebirth seems like a reasonable concept.


We know what happens to everyone who has been born. They are living and they will all die.


But what happens after death? If a person may not die forever, what happens to him or her?


Presumably, they cannot dwell forever in the twilight zone.



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2 years ago  ::  May 19, 2012 - 1:54PM #9
Bob0
Posts: 484
Allen:


Actually you have it backward. Karma is the fruit of actions and deeds. Many will tell you that you have it right, that intent is karma. Intent is simply the driver of action which creates karma. Now intent may also be karma of another action but now we are interdependently chasing the origin of original karma and there isn't a big enough computer to track back all action/reaction since beginningless time.


Of course in reality, how do we separate actions and reactions. Because of interdependence it is all part of the stream of life. Can one separate individual drops of water from a river? It all flows along. The "thing" we refer to as self may be a drop of water but it's identity comes from being part of the constantly changing stream, remembering that one can't step into the same stream twice and further knowing that no one self could remain the same to step in that ever changing stream. The stream changes as do we. To see reality otherwise is to try an isolate reality in frozen time snapshots. The snapshot is already history and the stream has moved on.


Bob
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2 years ago  ::  May 19, 2012 - 2:07PM #10
Bob0
Posts: 484
I've posted this teaching of Suzuki Roshi many times here on B-net but it is a most profound two word teaching. It comes from To Shine One Corner of the World.

 

"Suzuki Roshi, I've been listening to your lectures for years," a student said during the question and answer time following a lecture, "but I just don't understand. Could you just please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?"

 

Everyone laughed. Suzuki laughed.


"Everything changes," he said. Then he asked for another question.


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