What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

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What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:44 pm

I know this has probably been asked a dozen times, but I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.

But I am aware this is a paradox, and so then who inherits the karma is there is no soul/atta?
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby bodom » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:11 pm

I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.


He doesn't.

One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:26 pm

If that is so, what do you recommend that clears this inconsistency between karma, rebirth, and anatta? :?: :thinking:
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:29 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:If that is so, what do you recommend that clears this inconsistency between karma, rebirth, and anatta? :?: :thinking:



Practice. As in meditation practice.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:32 pm

:goodpost:

The only way in fact. If we could figure this stuff out by logic and deduction we wouldnt need Buddhas. But we cant.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:20 pm

I always thought perhaps conditioned arising explains it, but is Karma a property or effect of conditioned arising rather than actually being a literal result of volitional actions? I mean volitional actions are already affected by conditional arising so that's why it came to me, but I wasn't sure and I wanted to see if anyone else could explain it in a clear way.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Kenshou » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:40 pm

I've always thought about it like this: The person I will be in a week (using "person" conventionally, keeping in mind anatta and all) is not the same as the person I am now, yet the actions I take now can likely have an impact "me" later. There is no constant essence of "me" either in the present, future, or inbetween, but since those two snapshots in time are results of the same conditioning process, the conditions set in place by an earlier one impact the other. So in short, I'd guess it's the same "process" that inherits kamma, kamma itself being part of the process. Then again I can't find a sutta to confirm this, just what makes sense to me.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:10 pm

Hi WITF,
Wizard in the Forest wrote:I always thought perhaps conditioned arising explains it, but is Karma a property or effect of conditioned arising rather than actually being a literal result of volitional actions? I mean volitional actions are already affected by conditional arising so that's why it came to me, but I wasn't sure and I wanted to see if anyone else could explain it in a clear way.

As has already been observed, it's going to be hard to get an "easy explanation". However, one of the classic Sutta references is:
Majjhima Nikaya 38
Maha-tanha-asankhaya Sutta
The Major Discourse on the Destruction of Craving
http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/M ... /mn-38.htm
Then the Blessed One addressed a certain bhikkhu: Come! Bhikkhu, address the bhikkhu Saati in my words, tell that the Teacher wants him That bhikkhu agreed and approached the bhikkhu Saati and said the Blessed One wants you. Bhikkhu Saati said yes friend and approached the Blessed One, worshipped and sat on a side. Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhu Saati: Saati, is it true, that such an evil view has arisen to you. ‘As I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else’.

Yes, venerable sir, as I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else. Saati, how is that consciousness? Venerable sir, this uttering and feeling one, that reaps the results of actions good and evil done here and there. Foolish man, to whom do you know me having preached this Teaching. Haven’t I told, in various ways that consciousness is dependently arisen. Without a cause, there is no arising of consciousness. Yet, you foolish man, because of your wrong grasp, blame me, destroy yourself, and accumulate much demerit and that will be for your undoing and unpleasantness for a long time.

Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, Bhikkhus, what do you think, shouldn’t this bhikkhu Saati, son of a fisherman be chastised from this dispensation of the Teaching. What is good, venerable sir, why shouldn’t we? When this was said, the bhikkhu Saati became silent, confused, with drooping body and face turned down, sat down unable to reply. Then the Blessed One knowing that bhikkhu Saati son of a fisherman has become silent, confused, was unable to reply. Said thus to him. Foolish man you will be pointed out with your evil view. Now I am going to question the bhikkhus on this. Then the Blessed One, addressed the bhikkhus: Bhikkhus, do you too know this Teaching, wrongly grasped by the bhikkhu Saati the son of a fisherman.

By that he blames me. Destroys himself, and accumulates much unpleasantness. No, venerable sir. In various ways we are told, that consciousness arises dependently. Without a cause there is no arising of consciousness. Bhikkhus, it is good, you know the Teaching preached by me. In various ways I have preached that consciousness arises dependently. Without a cause, there is no arising of consciousness. Yet, this bhikkhu Saati son of a fisherman, grasping this wrong view blames me and destroys himself, and accumulates much demerit. It will be for his undoing and unpleasantness for a long time.

:anjali:
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:34 pm

Hello Wizard,

Worth reading and contemplating:

Anatta (Non-self) by Ajahn Brahmavamso
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ANATTA.htm

Anatta (Non-self) and Kamma (Karma): The Best Kept Secret in the Universe Ajahn Jagaro
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha260.htm

No inner core - Anatta Sayadaw U Silananda
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha215.htm

Puggala Nirātman and Dhammā Anatta - A Dynamic Encounter With Life
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha326.htm

Anatta or soul-lessness
http://www.buddhanet.net/nutshell09.htm

with metta
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:53 pm

The Greater Discourse on the Destruction of Craving is another important source on this topic.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:56 pm

Thanks Venerable, that's a much better translation than the one I linked to above...

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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Jason » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:43 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I know this has probably been asked a dozen times, but I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.

But I am aware this is a paradox, and so then who inherits the karma is there is no soul/atta?


This is only a problem if one assumes that anatta = the non-existence of the conventional person.

One moment of consciousness conditions the arising of next, just as one action conditions the quality of feeling a moment of consciousness cognizes; it's simply a continuation of a process — nothing 'remains,' nothing 'transmigrates,' etc. — there are merely phenomena that condition other phenomena in the interdependent process we call life. No one sutta deals with this question, but this idea is found throughout the canon.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Skaffen » Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:55 am

Jason wrote:
Wizard in the Forest wrote:I know this has probably been asked a dozen times, but I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.

But I am aware this is a paradox, and so then who inherits the karma is there is no soul/atta?


This is only a problem if one assumes that anatta = the non-existence of the conventional person.

One moment of consciousness conditions the arising of next, just as one action conditions the quality of feeling a moment of consciousness cognizes; it's simply a continuation of a process — nothing 'remains,' nothing 'transmigrates,' etc. — there are merely phenomena that condition other phenomena in the interdependent process we call life. No one sutta deals with this question, but this idea is found throughout the canon.


If we all retain previous life 'memories' - Where are they? I know there are a few fanciful analogies and cultivated previous lives are something a few have experienced (rough percentage that's seen ufo's prob).

It's all about getting rid of your deterministic Ego so why would you want it to be retained?! Consciousness is determined by the vehicle it is in - brand new character everytime.
What kind of mechanism can translate thoughts (wireless I presume) into a body that is often very far away to prevent timing issues on the swap - there is no mention of a Karma regulating mechanism although if someone has such it would be a big surprise. (not casual references and stories told for effect/comfort/education) Unconscious consciousness is no good and it seems to be the only way it works.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Jason » Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:10 pm

Skaffen wrote:
Jason wrote:
Wizard in the Forest wrote:I know this has probably been asked a dozen times, but I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.

But I am aware this is a paradox, and so then who inherits the karma is there is no soul/atta?


This is only a problem if one assumes that anatta = the non-existence of the conventional person.

One moment of consciousness conditions the arising of next, just as one action conditions the quality of feeling a moment of consciousness cognizes; it's simply a continuation of a process — nothing 'remains,' nothing 'transmigrates,' etc. — there are merely phenomena that condition other phenomena in the interdependent process we call life. No one sutta deals with this question, but this idea is found throughout the canon.


If we all retain previous life 'memories' - Where are they? I know there are a few fanciful analogies and cultivated previous lives are something a few have experienced (rough percentage that's seen ufo's prob).

It's all about getting rid of your deterministic Ego so why would you want it to be retained?! Consciousness is determined by the vehicle it is in - brand new character everytime.
What kind of mechanism can translate thoughts (wireless I presume) into a body that is often very far away to prevent timing issues on the swap - there is no mention of a Karma regulating mechanism although if someone has such it would be a big surprise. (not casual references and stories told for effect/comfort/education) Unconscious consciousness is no good and it seems to be the only way it works.


Those are good some questions, and I don't really have any concrete answers to them.

It could be that memories are stored in the brain; and when the body dies, all memories are lost. Or, perhaps our memories are stored/carried on via some difficult to access medium, e.g., genetics, storehouse consciousness a la Yogacara, morphogeneic field, etc.

As for how such a transference of memory is possible (if indeed such a thing even exists), it may take place on the quantum level, kind of like 'spooky action at a distance' where two entangled particles communicate with each other instantaneously, even over great distances. This could also go to explain rebirth — which is viewed as an instantaneous process whereby the last consciousness of a being at the time of death immediately conditions the arising of a new consciousness — occurs.

This is all just speculation on my part, however, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:02 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I know this has probably been asked a dozen times, but I would like Sutta references where the Buddha clearly answers this question.

But I am aware this is a paradox, and so then who inherits the karma is there is no soul/atta?

The thought, "What inherits the karma?" is what inherits the karma, because that is all that exists in the present and thus all that may be reborn in the future.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Viscid » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:21 pm

Don't worry about it and just be good, damn it.

I'm going to throw in a rant here that I've been brewing for the past couple days just because:

Rebirth is likely oversimplified to a disgusting degree by everyone, [if it occurs.] I liken the rebirth of ourselves to the rebirth of stars. Our sun was born from the remnants of now-dead stars. Maybe not just a single dead star, maybe a whole bunch with different compositions that, after they went nova, formed the cosmic nursery from which our sun coalesced. (We know this because there are heavy elements in our sun which could've only come from the nucleosynthesis of bigger stars.) But if those stars didn't exist at the locations they did, didn't have the elemental composition they did, didn't have the size they did, didn't go nova at the time they did, our Sun may've accordingly had different properties. I imagine rebirth to be as equally complex; to say that our sun exists as it does due to the lifetime of another star would be accurate, but it produces a representation of linear causality in our minds which is a gross oversimplification.
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:34 pm

Hi Viscid,
Viscid wrote: I liken the rebirth of ourselves to the rebirth of stars. ...

Are there any statements in the Suttas to support that point of view?

:anjali:
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Viscid » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:57 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Viscid,
Viscid wrote: I liken the rebirth of ourselves to the rebirth of stars. ...

Are there any statements in the Suttas to support that point of view?

:anjali:
Mike


Nope. But I'd rather consider rebirth to be something which can be described in terms of realistic dynamic systems rather than some simplified religious tit for tat model. We can see how the ideas we have and the behaviour we exhibit is a composition of those that have come before us. I share a lot of the same tastes and mannerisms as my parents. I have an inquisitiveness and systematic, investigative nature which was derived from writings of those in the Age of Enlightenment. I dream of travel and discovery of the unknown because it was popularized by the Romanticists. I love to talk of myself because of the egostistical narcissism of the forerunning baby boomer generation.

How can you see these connections and say that who you are now was simply a result of an individual which preceeded you? We've coalesced, like our sun from the gaseous material in the stellar nursery, from the behaviour and ideas of those who have come before us. There is no immortal soul.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:37 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:If that is so, what do you recommend that clears this inconsistency between karma, rebirth, and anatta? :?: :thinking:


I can recommend these



Now we come to the most important matter. The Buddha said that, "I teach only one thing: dukkha
and the quenching of dukkha." That is what all the teachings are about, dukkha and the quenching of
dukkha. He didn't talk about other things. Whether or not there is rebirth is not the fundamental question,
because once one is born here and now, there is dukkha like this and it must be quenched like this. Even if
you are born again, dukkha is like this and must be quenched in the same way. Why bother talking about
birth or no birth? Talk only about how dukkha arises and how dukkha is quenched. Just this is already
enough. For this reason the Buddha taught anattā. Once anattā is fully realized, there is no dukkha. When
there is no attā, dukkha isn't born, anymore. Therefore, he taught the quenching of dukkha, that is, he
taught this matter of not-self. The teaching of anattā is essential for the ending of dukkha. Arguments and
discussions about whether there is rebirth or not area waste of time. Whether "it" will be born or not, there
is still this business of quenching dukkha like this. It's better to speak about this quenching of dukkha
instead. This quenching of dukkha is the fact that there is no attā, is understanding that everything is
anattā. (33)

We can conclude by saying that if you understand anattā correctly and truly, then you will discover
for yourself that there is no rebirth and no reincarnation. The matter is finished



http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ebirth.pdf


Kamma and Rebirth: Rebirth occurs every time one does a deed, and that rebirth occurs spontaneously at the moment of action. We need not wait for rebirth to come after death, as is generally understand in the worldly sense. When one thinks and acts, the mind is spontaneously changed through the power of desire and clinging, which lead immediately to becoming and birth in accordance with the law of Dependent Co-origination (paticca-samuppada). There is no need to wait for physical death in order for rebirth to occur. This truth should be realized as the true teaching of Buddhism, as a core principle of the original, pristine Buddhism that states there is no self (atta) to be reborn. How the concept of rebirth after death crept into Buddhism is difficult to explain, and we need not concern ourselves with it. Simply preventing rebirth within the stream of Dependent Co-origination is enough for us to be free. Stopping egoistic rebirth is truly in accordance with Buddhism, and such action will be the kind of kamma that can be taken as refuge. When a good deed is done, goodness spontaneously arises; when an evil deed is done, evilness spontaneously arises. There is no need to wait for any further results. If there will be any birth after death, that rebirth only occurs through the kamma one has done in this very life and the results of which have already occurred here. We need not worry about rebirth such that it obstructs our practice.


http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/arts/m ... kamma1.htm



I would recommend reading both links in full however instead of just the extracts I have posted

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Re: What inherits the Karma if there is Anatta?

Postby Viscid » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:02 pm

How the concept of rebirth after death crept into Buddhism is difficult to explain, and we need not concern ourselves with it.


Pshaw.

Buddhism teaches literal rebirth, clearly and definitely. To deny the existence of a birth conditioned by previous existences after the physical death of the body is to distance yourself from the fundamental assumptions of Buddhism. If you adopt this view, you are reinterpreting the suttas to conform with your own beliefs.

There is no reason to not just be inspired by Buddhism, while having your own views and using your own insight. You don't need to quell doubt in your beliefs by relying on religious authority, religious authority which may be accessible only by asserting that The Buddha didn't REALLY teach that which you wish him to have not taught.
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