Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:19 am

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




Hee, hee. Do I see a fan of David Hume here?

I agree about the inferential knowledge. If it were a priori knowledge, that would have meant that the Buddha would have had to see ALL of his past lives. Not at all likely, if "a beginning cannot be conceived".

I wonder about 5heaps' suggestion -

the past of the mind is seen directly.


Not vide phassa with svabhava past dharmas, I hope?
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:09 am

Sylvester wrote:Not vide phassa with svabhava past dharmas, I hope?


I had to go research wtf you're talking about here:
...the Sarvastivadins say that the momentary dharmas have an inherently existing essence (svabhava) that persists through all three times, past, present and future. Dharmas thus have a permanence of a sort (see Abhidharmakosa 5, 25 ff.). This might seem a peculiar reversal of the ordinary Buddhist emphasis on transitoriness, but it seems that the Sarvastivadins say that past and future dharmas cannot be absolutely non-existence in so far as they can continue to be objects of consciousness, through memory or expectation. (see Williams, 2000, p. 114). When a dharma is remembered or anticipated, according to the Sarvastivadins, it is the ever-existing svabhava of the dharma which is brought to mind. In addition, the Sarvastivadins thought that it was necessary to assert that past dharmas continue to exist in order to explain causal and karmic continuity. That is, how can a momentary dharma from a past life, for instance, exert an influence on the present consciousness if it does not somehow still exist? The Sarvastivadins say that it is the svabhava of the otherwise momentary dharma which continues and has this karmic influence. Sautrantikas, by contrast, reject the continuing existence of past dharmas, arguing that the momentary wholesome or unwholesome past mental evens have karmic result by modifying or 'perfuming' the subsequent causally connected series of momentary mental events. The image used is of a seed planted in the mental continuum which later comes to fruition as a karmic effect. The unwholesome or wholesome dharma does not last for more than a moment, but it deposits a trace which is reproduced in all subsequent mental dharmas of the continuum until it comes to maturation as a karmic effect.
(From Buddhism, Knowledge and Liberation by David Burton, page 90.)

I'm going to side with the Sarvastivadins here. To me, it seems that the past "dharmas" must have a continuance if they are to be recalled in the present. We know now that memory is encoded and retrieved in some complicated fashion within our brains, however the experiences belonging to past existences are not. They therefore must have a continuous existence 'out there' if they are able to be retrieved and recollected.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:39 am

I hope the universe has enough disk space to store all those past dharmas for recall in future...
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:42 am

Sylvester wrote:I hope the universe has enough disk space to store all those past dharmas for recall in future...


The universe performs regular backups.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:44 am

Drats! Does that mean material from E-Sangha can still be retrieved as svabhava past dharmas?

Maybe I should invoke some Yogacara yiddams to extinguish that alaya once and for all.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:48 am

Sylvester wrote:Maybe I should invoke some Yogacara yiddams to extinguish that alaya once and for all.

:roll:
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:48 am

If a video camera picks up a visual image [ends] and it is transformed into electricity [ends] which in turn is transformed into a radio wave [ends], picked up by an antenna [ends], reverted into an electrical signal [ends]and shown on tv as visual image [ends], can we say that the original visual image is permanent? Clearly it is not. What we experience is simply information being transmitted through different forms of energy. If you throw a metal ball into wet cement a hemispherical imprint will form. This does not mean that the ball continued in the cement.

Similarly the arising of the eye and the visual object [ends] gives rise to eye consciousness [ends], which in turn give rise to contact/phassa [ends], inturn to feelings/vedana [end], sanna-indentification [ends], sankhara/mental fabrications [end] and so on. This does not mean there is a being there doing it. It is simply causally arisen -because without the original cause the next cause, which can only arise if there is the first cause (specific conditionality- idapaccayata), cannot arise.

specific cause gives rise to specific effect
without that specific cause, that specific effect doesn't arise

There is an interesting concept of 'sunyatabhumi'- the total domain of emptiness as understood by a Buddha:
'there is no seer' (no self)
'there is nothing to be seen' (nothing self existent)
'there is nothing worth seeing' (everything is dukkha and/or asubha)
'there is nothing that is conceived of, that is not seen' (imagining things which are not there happens out of avijja and tanha)

I really like the last one.

with metta

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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:04 pm

I'm going to side with the Sarvastivadins here. To me, it seems that the past "dharmas" must have a continuance if they are to be recalled in the present. We know now that memory is encoded and retrieved in some complicated fashion within our brains, however the experiences belonging to past existences are not. They therefore must have a continuous existence 'out there' if they are able to be retrieved and recollected.


The experiences of past existences that occurred in this life ARE the memories encoded in our brains. We have no reliable data on how or even if the experiences of previous lives are recalled. Therefore, your conclusion is entirely unsafe.

Also this seems to raise other philosophical problems such as:
If the past continues to exist now, where does it exist and in what sense can it be said to exist?
Everything that exists is subject to impermanence. What if someone changed it?
If it's unchangeable then this violates impermanence.
If the past exists now, it isn't the past anymore, it's the present.

The Mahayana philosopher Nagarjuna decimated this sort of essentialist thinking.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:24 pm

Shonin wrote:The experiences of past existences that occurred in this life ARE the memories encoded in our brains.

Right, of this life, but not previous lives. We can safely imagine there is a physical mechanism for the storage and retrieval of our current-life memories. We cannot imagine, however, a physical mechanism which can retrieve memories of past lives, as our biological brains has had no physical contact with the conditions to which those memories were formed.

Shonin wrote: We have no reliable data on how or even if the experiences of previous lives are recalled. Therefore, your conclusion is entirely unsafe.

I'm making a leap of faith here with regard to the validity of claims regarding past life recollection, so yes, my conclusion is unsafe.

Shonin wrote:Also this seems to raise other philosophical problems such as:
If the past continues to exist now, where does it exist and in what sense can it be said to exist?
Everything that exists is subject to impermanence. What if someone changed it?
If it's unchangeable then this violates impermanence.
If the past exists now, it isn't the past anymore, it's the present.

The Mahayana philosopher Nagarjuna decimated this sort of essentialist thinking.


'Where does the past exist?'
I think that is as silly a question as asking 'where does our universe exist?' An event exists relative to events past and future to it.

'Everything is impermanent.'
I can't help but believe that the 'permanence' of the past is dependent on the continuance of samsara. End the cycle of rebirth and end the past and future.

'If the past exists now it's the present.'
No argument here. The past may 'exist' insofar as it can be recalled.

I'm not adamant on these points, it's just me thinking through the problems myself.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:43 pm

In the end, it looks like I'm going to have to thoroughly read Nagarjuna to have a sharper understanding of these philosophical arguments within Buddhism.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:11 am

Viscid wrote:
Shonin wrote:The experiences of past existences that occurred in this life ARE the memories encoded in our brains.

Right, of this life, but not previous lives. We can safely imagine there is a physical mechanism for the storage and retrieval of our current-life memories. We cannot imagine, however, a physical mechanism which can retrieve memories of past lives, as our biological brains has had no physical contact with the conditions to which those memories were formed.


If you have to invent invisible entities to account for holes in your hypothesis then you know you're on shaky ground.

Viscid wrote:
Shonin wrote: We have no reliable data on how or even if the experiences of previous lives are recalled. Therefore, your conclusion is entirely unsafe.

I'm making a leap of faith here with regard to the validity of claims regarding past life recollection, so yes, my conclusion is unsafe.

:smile:



Viscid wrote:'Where does the past exist?'
I think that is as silly a question as asking 'where does our universe exist?' An event exists relative to events past and future to it.


It's not the same. The universe is the set of all 'wheres' thus 'where does the universe' exist makes no sense, just as 'when does time exist' makes no sense'. However you are making the assertion that somehow 'the past exists now'. What does it mean to say something exists now? It means it has a location (even a distributed one) and it means that it is part of the everychanging reality that is the universe, thus it is impermanent...

Viscid wrote:'Everything is impermanent.'
I can't help but believe that the 'permanence' of the past is dependent on the continuance of samsara. End the cycle of rebirth and end the past and future.


I can't help but believe you are clutching at metaphysical straws :) You didn't answer the point. Everything that exists is impermanent. If the pas continues to exist now it is subject to impermanence.

Viscid wrote:'If the past exists now it's the present.'
No argument here. The past may 'exist' insofar as it can be recalled.

The point is that this means it isn't the past, thus 'the past exists presently' is false. Recollections existing now are not the past being recalled. They are memories being recalled, which we interpret as the past.

Viscid wrote:I'm not adamant on these points, it's just me thinking through the problems myself.

I understand.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:11 pm

Viscid wrote:We do not directly perceive this force [.......] We just imagine it.
i already agreed to that. however, just as inference exists and can be known, when the mind is tamed the mind can perceive its objects directly.

In the end, it looks like I'm going to have to thoroughly read Nagarjuna to have a sharper understanding of these philosophical arguments within Buddhism.

this is a matter of valid cognition (pramana), which means studying Sautrantika+Dharmakirti

Sylvester wrote:svabhava past dharmas
depends what selfnature we're talking about

Shonin wrote:The experiences of past existences that occurred in this life ARE the memories encoded in our brains.
:zzz:
intellectuals discounting the function of mental experience
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."
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:18 am

5heaps wrote:
Viscid wrote:We do not directly perceive this force [.......] We just imagine it.
i already agreed to that. however, just as inference exists and can be known, when the mind is tamed the mind can perceive its objects directly.


I don't quite follow what you're saying here. Inference is not something external that can be known or perceived directly. Inference is an intellectual process that is carried out when we cannot perceive directly. It is an assumption (perhaps a reasonable one) or a hypothesis about that which is unseen and based on that which we did see and/or previous experience and/or logical necessity as we see it.

5heaps wrote:
Shonin wrote:The experiences of past existences that occurred in this life ARE the memories encoded in our brains.
:zzz:
intellectuals discounting the function of mental experience


Are you claiming that memories are not encoded in our brains?

[Typos edited]
Last edited by Shonin on Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:26 am

Shonin wrote:Are you claiming that memories are not encoded in our brains?
I thought they were stored in the Akashic Records.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Shonin » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:33 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Shonin wrote:Are you claiming that memories are not encoded in our brains?
I thought they were stored in the Akashic Records.

:jumping:
Well it's certain that something is stored there
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:13 pm

Madame Blavatsky's royalties perhaps.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby 5heaps » Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:56 pm

Shonin wrote:Inference is not something external that can be known or perceived directly.
i didnt imply they were external. most of your experience is of internal objects. most of the things you call external objects has been proven to be internal. you experience your emotions directly, but also conceptually

the point is that just as inference exists, so does your nonconceptuality. what you said about billiard balls is correct but it is not pervasive to all instances of mind. this is something exciting. if its true, youve suddenly dismissed centuries worth of philosophical, mathematical, etc theory. its only fitting that one should do so on the quest to realizing the four noble truths.

Are you claiming that memories are not encoded in our brains?
theyre mainly mental aspects (Tib: rnam-pa, Skt: akara). the physical changes which go on are only something of excitement to people with no introspection and no real understanding and observation of memories -- they may even say observations of memories are hallucinations, just to escape their scientific responsibilities.
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."
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:00 pm

Shonin wrote:If you have to invent invisible entities to account for holes in your hypothesis then you know you're on shaky ground.


I was not inventing anything, btw. I haven't any idea, if past-life recollection is assumed to be true, how one would be able to recollect past-life memories.

I'm sure if we just attribute the ability to Quantum Physics people would believe it, though.
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Sobeh » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:12 pm

Nibbedhika Sutta AN 6.63 wrote:"'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play should be known. The diversity in kamma should be known. The result of kamma should be known. The cessation of kamma should be known. The path of practice for the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said?

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.

"And what is the cause by which kamma comes into play? Contact is the cause by which kamma comes into play.

"And what is the diversity in kamma? There is kamma to be experienced in hell, kamma to be experienced in the realm of common animals, kamma to be experienced in the realm of the hungry shades, kamma to be experienced in the human world, kamma to be experienced in the world of the devas. This is called the diversity in kamma.

"And what is the result of kamma? The result of kamma is of three sorts, I tell you: that which arises right here & now, that which arises later, and that which arises following that. This is called the result of kamma.

"And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.

"Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns kamma in this way, the cause by which kamma comes into play in this way, the diversity of kamma in this way, the result of kamma in this way, the cessation of kamma in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of kamma.

"'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play... The diversity in kamma... The result of kamma... The cessation of kamma... The path of practice for the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said, and in reference to this was it said.


Maybe the OP can highlight the sections which are causing difficulty?
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Re: Are the laws of Kamma Revealed or Deduced?

Postby Viscid » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:02 pm

Sobeh wrote:Maybe the OP can highlight the sections which are causing difficulty?


I have no issue with that sutta. I interpret it as "action arises from intent, and one's current intent is a result of past intentional actions and contact." Fine, simple; behaviour in a nutshell. (As far as I know.)

It does not state that Kamma from one lifetime, following death, arises in another. (Right?)
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