Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:31 pm

I was pondering just how The Buddha would have come to certain realizations about the nature of Kamma and how it behaves. Do the texts explain this, or is it simply implied that the Buddha had the law of kamma 'revealed' to him through meditative absorption?

It occurs to me that had the Buddha knowledge of past lives, as it is stated in some text somewhere, that he would be able to deduce the behaviour of Kamma. He would see how he lived one life, how he died, and what was the resultant life he was reborn into. This would mean however, that no one can be assured of the law of kamma unless they too have certain knowledge of a chain of previous existences.
Last edited by Viscid on Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Was Kamma 'Revealed?'

Postby Viscid » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:46 pm

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — he sees beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma. Just as if there were a tall building in the central square [of a town], and a man with good eyesight standing on top of it were to see people entering a house, leaving it, walking along the street, and sitting in the central square. The thought would occur to him, 'These people are entering a house, leaving it, walking along the streets, and sitting in the central square.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma..."


This, from the Sammanaphala Sutta, comes directly after the description of the ability to see past existences, but doesn't really indicate that the ability to understand another's Kamma is a result of one's ability to see past existences. Here, I get the impression that the individual is acknowledging that some people are superior and some are inferior, and simply having it revealed it to them that it is a result of kamma through the Divine Eye.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Satori » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:05 am

The Buddha said that he realized the four types of karma by direct knowledge? But I was not sure what he meant by direct knowledge.
Satori
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:30 am

Viscid wrote:It occurs to me that had the Buddha knowledge of past lives, as it is stated in some text somewhere, that he would be able to deduce the behaviour of Kamma. He would see how he lived one life, how he died, and what was the resultant life he was reborn into. This would mean however, that no one can be assured of the law of kamma unless they too have certain knowledge of a chain of previous existences.


Even in the case of someone who recalls past lives, there would have to be an inferential step there. If I observe Event A, then Event B, then Event C, then Event D, then Event E I could not know directly that A led to or caused C and D or that B led to E. I would have to infer that this was the cause of their occurrence - this is a narrative I would have to insert.

Noticing a correlation between events does not necessarily imply there is causation.

(And of course that is not taking into account the question of whether those recollections were real events from another life)
Shonin
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:01 pm

Shonin wrote:Even in the case of someone who recalls past lives, there would have to be an inferential step there. If I observe Event A, then Event B, then Event C, then Event D, then Event E I could not know directly that A led to or caused C and D or that B led to E. I would have to infer that this was the cause of their occurrence - this is a narrative I would have to insert.

its not true that it is an inserted narrative. it it direct perception, just as observing the previous 5 minutes of mind as it moved from place to place can be observed directly. nonmeditators cannot even do that though since they automatically conceptualize direct experience thus distorting it to various degrees.

materialism is essentially a conceptual distortion based on not being able to ascertain the characteristics of mind
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:30 pm

5heaps wrote:its not true that it is an inserted narrative. it it direct perception, just as observing the previous 5 minutes of mind as it moved from place to place can be observed directly.


Yes we can pay attention to our experiences over 5 minutes of course, however the OP is about the observation of the laws of kamma that may explain or lie behind that series of events. We observe a series of events - whether over 5 minutes or multiple lifetimes - but we can't directly see that one event causes another. From repeated observations we may see a pattern, a correlation, between one type of event and another, however to claim that this is due to them causing one another is an act of inductive logic, not direct observation.
Shonin
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:50 pm

Shonin wrote:We observe a series of events - but we can't directly see that one event causes another.
yes, because our observation over 5 min is not valid direct perception.

in the direct perception of mind over 5 min, the arising and ceasing of mind is observed, the nature of mind is observed, etc. observing previous lifetimes is a matter of a mind sophisticated enough to be able to extend back further and further. there is no inference about it, inference is a very coarse mind.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:03 pm

5heaps wrote:
Shonin wrote:We observe a series of events - but we can't directly see that one event causes another.
yes, because our observation over 5 min is not valid direct perception.

in the direct perception of mind over 5 min, the arising and ceasing of mind is observed, the nature of mind is observed, etc. observing previous lifetimes is a matter of a mind sophisticated enough to be able to extend back further and further. there is no inference about it, inference is a very coarse mind.


I think you're missing my point. No matter how far back the mind can extend, all you will observe are experiences/events. The causal relationships between these cannot be observed directly no matter how far back you go. The causal relationship is always a hypothesis, an inference.
Shonin
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:22 pm

Shonin wrote:I think you're missing my point. No matter how far back the mind can extend, all you will observe are experiences/events.
its not true that all you observe are events. only the most coarsest conceptuality classifies things as mere isolated events. apart from those, most minds in addition to events also experience various characteristics about those events.

when the mind is made sublime and free of all conceptuality (inference by contract seems coarse, offensive, and completely ineffective) the past of the mind is seen directly. these are directly perceived characteristics not isolated conceptual categories.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:07 pm

5heaps wrote:
Shonin wrote:I think you're missing my point. No matter how far back the mind can extend, all you will observe are experiences/events.
its not true that all you observe are events. only the most coarsest conceptuality classifies things as mere isolated events. apart from those, most minds in addition to events also experience various characteristics about those events.


I'm not sure what you mean by "experience various characteristics about those events". How would you directly experience a causal relationship - even between something as simple and obvious as a billiard ball hitting another billiard ball and then the second ball moving? And no matter how 'subtle' or free from conceptualisation was? We perceive certain phenomena and then we interpret them. And in the case of the billiard balls it seems obvious and direct. But, the second ball could have been moved by a hidden magnet or thread or something you have never imagined. Or both movements may have been produced by a separate, unseen cause. This is how magicians are able to perform illusions - because we have only perceptions not direct access to some kind of objective truth. So, how would direct perception of causality be possible? What would it be like? We don't directly perceive characteristics or causal relationships we infer or impute them.
Shonin
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:09 pm

Viscid wrote:I was pondering just how The Buddha would have come to certain realizations about the nature of Kamma and how it behaves. Do the texts explain this, or is it simply implied that the Buddha had the law of kamma 'revealed' to him through meditative absorption?

It occurs to me that had the Buddha knowledge of past lives, as it is stated in some text somewhere, that he would be able to deduce the behaviour of Kamma. He would see how he lived one life, how he died, and what was the resultant life he was reborn into. This would mean however, that no one can be assured of the law of kamma unless they too have certain knowledge of a chain of previous existences.

I'd think they are "transcendental," meaning that they exist, and can be revealed or deduced, but they always apply, regardless of how we think about them.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:10 am

Shonin wrote:Yes we can pay attention to our experiences over 5 minutes of course, however the OP is about the observation of the laws of kamma that may explain or lie behind that series of events. We observe a series of events - whether over 5 minutes or multiple lifetimes - but we can't directly see that one event causes another. From repeated observations we may see a pattern, a correlation, between one type of event and another, however to claim that this is due to them causing one another is an act of inductive logic, not direct observation.


Okay, sure, would Induction be sufficient to define the Laws of Karma? The Buddha supposedly had access to eons of past lives, surely a pattern would become readily apparent when observing common types of behaviour in these lifetimes and their resultant rebirths.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:17 am

Greetings Viscid,

I think he realised that becoming was an action (kamma), and you can become something good, or become something bad. The qualitative nature of the becoming conditions the resultant experience.

I guess that makes it deduced.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14650
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:31 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
User avatar
Hanzze
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Individual » Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Viscid,

I think he realised that becoming was an action (kamma), and you can become something good, or become something bad. The qualitative nature of the becoming conditions the resultant experience.

I guess that makes it deduced.

Metta,
Retro. :)

But since you learned this from the Buddha, that makes it revealed.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:16 am

Individual wrote:But since you learned this from the Buddha, that makes it revealed.


Reading something in a book or hearing it in a talk is not what is usually meant by 'revealed' nor how it is defined in the OP: "...or is it simply implied that the Buddha had the law of kamma 'revealed' to him through meditative absorption?"
Shonin
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:22 pm

Shonin wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "experience various characteristics about those events".

although we certainly can and certainly do conceptualize about the difference between for example stone and wood, there are pre-conceptual experiences also. these are seen directly, without the aid of logical signs, categories, thoughts, ideas.

Or both movements may have been produced by a separate, unseen cause. This is how magicians are able to perform illusions - because we have only perceptions not direct access to some kind of objective truth. So, how would direct perception of causality be possible? What would it be like? We don't directly perceive characteristics or causal relationships we infer or impute them.
the so-called magical tricks are instances of direct cognition not taking place. if direct cognition took place, there would be no need for inference. therefore this example is one where the sense organs and sense consciousness were by definition not in a state where direct cognition was possible, and what was being watched is as you say, an imputed logical sign (sometimes less correct, sometimes more correct). does this necessarily mean there are no instances of direct cognition at all? no direct cognition of billiard balls touching ever?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:41 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
User avatar
Hanzze
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:04 pm

5heaps wrote:no direct cognition of billiard balls touching ever?


We see the billiard ball moving towards the other billiard ball. We see them touch, hear a 'clack!', we see one of them halt and the other take off.

We make the inference that there was some sort of 'force' which went from one ball to the other in order to make it move, that cause and effect took place. We do not directly perceive this force, however, as there is nothing to perceive. We just imagine it.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby nowheat » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:11 am

Viscid wrote:I was pondering just how The Buddha would have come to certain realizations about the nature of Kamma and how it behaves. Do the texts explain this, or is it simply implied that the Buddha had the law of kamma 'revealed' to him through meditative absorption?

It occurs to me that had the Buddha knowledge of past lives, as it is stated in some text somewhere, that he would be able to deduce the behaviour of Kamma. He would see how he lived one life, how he died, and what was the resultant life he was reborn into. This would mean however, that no one can be assured of the law of kamma unless they too have certain knowledge of a chain of previous existences.


Thanissaro Bhikkhu offers some interesting insights into kamma and how the Buddha came to see it in the introduction to his "Wings To Awakening" which you can find here: http://www.archive.org/details/wingstoa ... 00thanarch

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Anagarika, Bhikkhu Pesala, cooran, Lazy_eye, martinfrank, Sam Vara and 11 guests