Non-Buddhists and their kamma

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Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Stephen K » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:13 pm

My meditation was disrupted today. I couldn't stop thinking about my mother. She killed a chicken a few days ago. And another one today. We are raising chickens in our yard and she kills a few of them every now and again. I told her not to do it. I told her it was bad for both her and the chickens. But she is not a Buddhist. She doesn't believe in kamma and rebirth. She is not aware of the Buddhist precepts and the consequences of their breach.

Which is the point of this thread. Is the vipaka of a non-Buddhist, who is not aware of kamma, rebirth, and the precepts, different from that of a Buddhist? In other words, if a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist perform the same type of kamma, for example killing a chicken, would there be any difference in their vipaka that would be the result of that kamma?

My uncle, who is one of the wisest men I know, drinks alcohol from time to time. Another wise man I know (my former gym instructor) swats flies. In fact, I saw Barack Obama once swat a fly. Actually, if I weren't a Buddhist I'd probably still swat flies like I used to before I was a Buddhist.

But you can understand why. They are not Buddhists. If someone knows nothing of Dhamma, they are very likely to do things contrary to Dhamma.

The question is, would there be a difference in their kamma simply because of the fact that they do not understand the consequences of their actions? Would their kammic results be less serious, more, or the same, compared to the same of a Buddhist?
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:30 pm

Stephen K wrote:The question is, would there be a difference in their kamma simply because of the fact that they do not understand the consequences of their actions? Would their kammic results be less serious, more, or the same, compared to the same of a Buddhist?

Whether they label themselves as Buddhist or not, its the difference in view that matters. Wrong doing with wrong view has more serious consequences than wrong doing with right view.

At first sight, this seems counter-intuitive. People generally think that if you don't know what you're doing is wrong its not as bad if you do know, but do it anyway.

The rationale is that if you know that a frying-pan is hot, but pick it up anyway, you are less likely to be severely burned than if you do not know that it is hot.

Someone who, for example, thinks that killing chickens has no serious consequences will do it repeatedly. If told by others that what they are doing is unskilful or cruel, they may become defensive and make further unwholesome kamma by using abusive speech or at least entertaining thoughts of ill-will.

One who has the right view, on the other-hand, who does wrong, e.g. by swatting flies, will hesitate to do it. Afterwards, they are likely to feel remorse. If criticised for it, they are more likely to have good-will towards their well-meaning advisor, and may stop doing it in future. Even in the severe case of killing human beings, one who holds right view will be well aware of the consequences of such an action, and will try very hard to avoid any situation where he or she might be impelled to do that, e.g. joining the army or police firearm units.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:39 pm

That makes remarkably good sense
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Sam Vara » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:46 pm

Many thanks, Bhante. That is very clear.

Can you recall a Sutta that makes this point?
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:32 pm

I don't have time to do a proper search now, but the Apannaka Sutta gives some indication of the importance of right and wrong view:

The Blessed One then addressed the Brahmins as follows: “Then you should undertake and practise this incontrovertible teaching, it will be for your long term benefit and happiness.

“There are some recluses and Brahmins whose teaching and view is this: ‘There is no giving, offering, or sacrifice, no fruit of good and evil deeds, there is neither this world, nor another world, there is no mother nor father, no spontaneously arisen beings, and no recluses or Brahmins who, having practised correctly, realise the truth about this world and the other world by direct knowledge, and reveal this truth to others.’

“Then there are some recluses and Brahmins whose teaching and view is the direct opposite. Their doctrine and view is this: ‘There is giving, offering, and sacrifice, there is fruit of good and evil deeds, there is this world, and another world, there is mother and father, there are spontaneously arisen beings, and there are recluses and Brahmins who, having practised correctly, realise the truth about this world and the other world by direct knowledge, and reveal this truth to others.’

“What do you think, householders, are the doctrines of these recluses and Brahmins directly opposed?

“Indeed they are, Venerable sir.”

“Householders, it is to be expected that those recluses and Brahmins who hold the former view — that there is no fruit of good and evil deeds, and so forth — will avoid wholesome deeds and indulge in evil deeds because they do not see the danger and impurity of evil deeds, nor do they see the benefit and purity of good deeds.

“Since there is another world, one who holds the view that there is not holds a wrong view. Since there is another world, one who thinks that there is not has wrong thoughts. Since there is another world, one who says there is not uses wrong speech and is opposed to those Arahants who know there is another world. One who convinces another to accept this untrue Dhamma praises himself and disparages others, thus any former morality he had is abandoned and replaced with bad conduct. All of these various unwholesome things — wrong thought, wrong speech and so forth — have wrong view as their origin.”

“A wise man reflects thus: ‘If what these recluses and Brahmins say is true, and there is no other world, then on the dissolution of the body after death they are safe enough, but if they are wrong and there is another world, they will be reborn in the lower realms, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, or in hell. He has wrongly undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in a one-sided way that excludes the wholesome alternative.

“Householders, it is to be expected that those recluses and Brahmins who hold the latter view — that there is a fruit of good and evil deeds, and so forth — will avoid evil deeds and cultivate wholesome deeds because they see the danger and impurity of evil deeds, and see the benefit and purity of wholesome deeds.

“Since there is another world, one who holds the view that there is holds a right view. Since there is another world, one who thinks that there is has right thoughts. Since there is another world, one who says there is uses right speech and is not opposed to those Arahants who know there is another world. One who convinces another to accept this true Dhamma does not praise himself and disparage others, thus any former corrupt morality he had is abandoned and replaced with virtuous conduct. All of these various wholesome things — right thought, right speech and so forth — have right view as their origin.”

“A wise man reflects thus: ‘If what these recluses and Brahmins say is true, and there is another world, then on the dissolution of the body after death they will be reborn in a happy destination, or in heaven. Even if there is no other world, this good person is praised by the wise as virtuous and for holding the right view of moral responsibility. He has rightly undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in a two-sided way that excludes the unwholesome alternative.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Sam Vara » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:07 pm

Thank you Bhante - much appreciated.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby manas » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:29 pm

Stephen K wrote:My meditation was disrupted today. I couldn't stop thinking about my mother.


Hi Stephen

it is fitting that we care about, and actually try to help, those who we have a duty towards, such as dependents and parents. But you will be in a better position to help, if you take care of your mind. So although I know it's hard, you might consider something I often have to say to myself, if while sitting, worries about my children intrude: "These concerns do matter, and they will be attended to - but not right now. Right now is the time for training the mind. You can go back to worrying again after the sitting is over, if you must." (This often works for me, anyway.)

Another thing to remember is that, there will always be something or some-one to worry about, something that is still left undone. If it's not your dear mother, it will be something else. I suspect that 'still having one thing left to do' will continue on until we are dead. So do be kind to yourself, and see those disruptive thoughts as the hindrance they are - 'restlessness and remorse', to be cleansed out from the mind. Assure your heart that you will deal with the particular problem or worry later, and then get back to your meditation subject.

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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby SarathW » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:53 am

Sam Vara wrote:Many thanks, Bhante. That is very clear.

Can you recall a Sutta that makes this point?





This matter is discussed in Abhidhamma as well please read page 39 of:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:31 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Whether they label themselves as Buddhist or not, its the difference in view that matters. Wrong doing with wrong view has more serious consequences than wrong doing with right view.

At first sight, this seems counter-intuitive. People generally think that if you don't know what you're doing is wrong its not as bad if you do know, but do it anyway.

The rationale is that if you know that a frying-pan is hot, but pick it up anyway, you are less likely to be severely burned than if you do not know that it is hot.

Someone who, for example, thinks that killing chickens has no serious consequences will do it repeatedly. If told by others that what they are doing is unskilful or cruel, they may become defensive and make further unwholesome kamma by using abusive speech or at least entertaining thoughts of ill-will.

One who has the right view, on the other-hand, who does wrong, e.g. by swatting flies, will hesitate to do it. Afterwards, they are likely to feel remorse. If criticised for it, they are more likely to have good-will towards their well-meaning advisor, and may stop doing it in future. Even in the severe case of killing human beings, one who holds right view will be well aware of the consequences of such an action, and will try very hard to avoid any situation where he or she might be impelled to do that, e.g. joining the army or police firearm units.


Can we assume that an immature child who kills insects and torture animals out of mischief will receive more bad kamma than an adult who slaughters livestock for living and at the same time realizing it was wrong livelihood?
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:46 am

barcsimalsi wrote:Can we assume that an immature child who kills insects and torture animals out of mischief will receive more bad kamma than an adult who slaughters livestock for living and at the same time realizing it was wrong livelihood?

One would expect that an immature child who kills insects and tortures animals would be making more unwholesome kamma than a mature child who is aware that it is not a good thing to do. The mature child will soon stop doing it.

An adult who slaughters livestock for a living who knows it is unskilful will make less unwholesome kamma than an adult who thinks that it is a blameless way to earn a living.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Mr Man » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:19 am

Hi Bhikkhu Pesala
Are we not getting into "inmponderable" areas here. Causes are not always as they seem and how about the strength of volition, does that not have an impact on result?

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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:47 am

I am not getting into imponderables, but others may be. We have to compare like with like.

"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma... are imponderable.

That does not mean that we can therefore say nothing whatever about what is wholesome or unwholesome, light or heavy, etc.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby Dan74 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:06 am

Mr Man wrote:Hi Bhikkhu Pesala
Are we not getting into "inmponderable" areas here. Causes are not always as they seem and how about the strength of volition, does that not have an impact on result?

Anjali


I think that Mr Man is making a good point here.

The intention of one who does not realize that the action is bad is not the same as the intention of one who does. Doing evil knowingly and doing it unknowingly or less aware is surely more reprehensible. To come back to barci and the Venerable's example of small children. I have seen small children tearing wings off flies unaware that flies are living beings who most likely experience pain. This would surely not be as reprehensible as older children who have been taught about respecting all living beings doing the same?

I would expect that the ignorant toddler with proper upbringing is more likely grow up to be a compassionate child, than the cruel one because of the intention to inflict harm. In the former the intention was not bad or not as bad as in the latter, so it would more likely lead to wholesome mind states than in the case of a child knowingly causing pain.

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:59 pm

I think Ven. Pesala demonstrated pretty clearly that important element of 'volition' in the case of unwholesome action. His specific case was that if someone who is aware that it's not a good thing to do, and for some reason or some circumstance that s/he still has to do it, s/he'd do it with a sense of shame/regret instead of enjoyment/pleasure while doing that unwholesome action. This mind-state is important because s/he will try to stop doing it or at least make a conscious effort to improve the situation. In the case of those who take pleasure/enjoyment in doing unwholesome action whether knowingly or unknowingly, it'd be more difficult for them to stop. If one doesn't know, s/he'll keep doing it again and again, and their bad kamma regardless of how small, will keep accumulating more and more. So just like the 12 links of dependent origination has taught us, all the nasty stuff in life start with ignorance..
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:34 pm

Dan74 wrote:The intention of one who does not realize that the action is bad is not the same as the intention of one who does. Doing evil knowingly and doing it unknowingly or less aware is surely more reprehensible. To come back to barci and the Venerable's example of small children. I have seen small children tearing wings off flies unaware that flies are living beings who most likely experience pain. This would surely not be as reprehensible as older children who have been taught about respecting all living beings doing the same?

I think there's a huge difference between (wrongly) thinking an action is okay because you don't know what you're doing, and knowing what you're doing and still (wrongly) thinking it's okay. A child who harms a small creature because he or she doesn't understand what is going on accrues less negative kamma, I would think, than one who harms a small creature for fun, knowing full well the pain inflicted. However, one who harms with that knowledge but realizes such actions are unwholesome is still better than he or she who harms with that knowledge but thinks it's okay.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby manas » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:30 pm

(I had good intentions with this post, but have felt it was best to 'extinguish' it, on second thoughts.)
Last edited by manas on Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby SarathW » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:10 am

Sotapanna person is not fully eradicated attachment and aversion.
So he/she still may envoleve with unwholesome activitis but with KNOWLEDGE and WITHOUT PLEASURE (please someone correct me if I am wrong).
But he/she is assured Arahantship within seven lives.
This matter is discussed in:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=14256
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Re: Non-Buddhists and their kamma

Postby whynotme » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:14 pm

wow, bhikhhu Pesala very straight and clear, well said

Stephen K wrote:My meditation was disrupted today. I couldn't stop thinking about my mother. She killed a chicken a few days ago. And another one today. We are raising chickens in our yard and she kills a few of them every now and again. I told her not to do it. I told her it was bad for both her and the chickens. But she is not a Buddhist. She doesn't believe in kamma and rebirth. She is not aware of the Buddhist precepts and the consequences of their breach.

Which is the point of this thread. Is the vipaka of a non-Buddhist, who is not aware of kamma, rebirth, and the precepts, different from that of a Buddhist? In other words, if a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist perform the same type of kamma, for example killing a chicken, would there be any difference in their vipaka that would be the result of that kamma?

My uncle, who is one of the wisest men I know, drinks alcohol from time to time. Another wise man I know (my former gym instructor) swats flies. In fact, I saw Barack Obama once swat a fly. Actually, if I weren't a Buddhist I'd probably still swat flies like I used to before I was a Buddhist.

But you can understand why. They are not Buddhists. If someone knows nothing of Dhamma, they are very likely to do things contrary to Dhamma.

The question is, would there be a difference in their kamma simply because of the fact that they do not understand the consequences of their actions? Would their kammic results be less serious, more, or the same, compared to the same of a Buddhist?


The dangerous thing about being non Buddhist and doesn't believe in kamma is: normally it seems not very important, they (non buddhists) are maybe rich, wise, happy.. but life is long and unpredictable. If suddenly things don't go the right way then you would be surprised by how a man react to a harsh situation. Even for a Buddhist who believes in kamma, it is a very hard struggle, i.e going bankrupt, war, or greed arise.. Those situations are the main different deciding factors between believing or not. If you don't have faith, then even the wisest person will make very stubborn mistakes, they even don't fit to their daily wisdom, e.g murder, stealing,..

Sometime you see criminals with very good background but just one moment of evil thought.. being wise for the most of your life mean nothing when making one big mistake, you lose it all.
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