Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

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Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:24 pm

I came across this statement on another forum:

"[The Buddha is} omnisciently aware of the karmic impulses (constructive, destructive, or mixed) and the non-karmic untainted impulses that anything is the ripened result of. He is aware of the karmic causes of everything that happens to everyone, even of a simple headache."

This is from a Tibetan Buddhist source. Would Theravada agree? Isn't the range of the Buddha's knowledge one of the four imponderables; hence, the statement above is "conjecture leading to madness and vexation"?

The Buddha does discuss the ten powers of the Tathagata in MN 12, but I see nothing there implying omniscience with regard to, say, an ordinary Joe's headache on a Tuesday morning. Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?

LE
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby clw_uk » Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:41 pm

Greetings


"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas1 is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"The jhana-range of a person in jhana...2

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

"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


It seems its something that cant be thought about, the person who said the original statement in your post was probably just having a general guess


Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?


No, its a wrong view to think the cause of all pain is the result of actions in the past. Some things just occur naturaly (i.e. aches and pains)

The Buddha:] "There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile.1 You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any priests & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those priests & contemplatives are wrong."

"There are cases where some feelings arise based on phlegm... based on internal winds... based on a combination of bodily humors... from the change of the seasons... from uneven2 care of the body... from harsh treatment... from the result of kamma. You yourself should know how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. So any priests & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those priests & contemplatives are wrong."

When this was said, Moliyasivaka the wanderer said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to point out the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life."

Bile, phlegm, wind, a combination,
Season, uneven, harsh treatment,
and through the result of kamma as the eighth


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html





Metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:51 pm

Hi LE
Dhammanando & myself had a conversation a while ago on this topic, I can't remember which thread it was off the top of my head but I will try to find a link, maybe Dhammanando knows which one if I can't find it.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:12 pm

This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:20 pm

Hi Lazy_eye,
Lazy_eye wrote:...Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?

As you can see the issues you raise (omniscience and kamma) have very different answers in Theravada and Mahayana, and there are variations amongst different Mahayana schools. Mixing the literature can be extremely confusing...

Metta
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby sukhamanveti » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:56 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?

LE


According to the Sivaka Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya (it is the 21st discourse in the Vedanasamyutta or "Sensation Group"), not all sensations are a result of kamma. Some are the result of "careless behavior," some are the result of "climate," some are caused by "assault" (people's actions are not caused by fate from the POV of the Pali Canon), etc. The Buddha says "this is wrong" of those who say "Whatever a person experiences... all that is caused by what was done in the past."

If you own Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, this discourse is found on pages 1278-1279. If you own a paperback copy of Buddhadhamma by Phra Prayudh Payutto, an excerpt from this discourse regarding kamma and sensations may be found on page 115.

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:54 pm

sukhamanveti wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote: Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?

LE


According to the Sivaka Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya (it is the 21st discourse in the Vedanasamyutta or "Sensation Group"), not all sensations are a result of kamma. Some are the result of "careless behavior," some are the result of "climate," some are caused by "assault" (people's actions are not caused by fate from the POV of the Pali Canon), etc. The Buddha says "this is wrong" of those who say "Whatever a person experiences... all that is caused by what was done in the past."

Ed


Sounds reasonable to me. But what do you make of Thanissario Bhikkhu's claim that this passage simply shows how kamma operates through other causal factors in the universe?

Thanissario wrote:Some people have interpreted this sutta as stating that there are many experiences that cannot be explained by the principle of kamma. A casual glance of the alternative factors here — drawn from the various causes for pain that were recognized in the medical treatises of his time — would seem to support this conclusion. However, if we compare this list with his definition of old kamma in SN 25.145, we see that many of the alternative causes are actually the result of past actions. Those that aren't are the result of new kamma. For instance, MN 101 counts asceticism — which produces pain in the immediate present — under the factor harsh treatment. The point here is that old and new kamma do not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead find their expression within those factors. A second point is that some of the influences of past kamma can be mitigated in the present — a disease caused by bile, for instance, can be cured by medicine that brings the bile back to normal. Similarly with the mind: suffering caused by physical pain can be ended by understanding and abandoning the attachment that led to that suffering. In this way, the Buddha's teaching on kamma avoids determinism and opens the way for a path of practice focused on eliminating the causes of suffering in the here and now.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.021.than.html
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:26 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
sukhamanveti wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote: Are all headaches attributable to kamma, anyway?

LE


According to the Sivaka Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya (it is the 21st discourse in the Vedanasamyutta or "Sensation Group"), not all sensations are a result of kamma. Some are the result of "careless behavior," some are the result of "climate," some are caused by "assault" (people's actions are not caused by fate from the POV of the Pali Canon), etc. The Buddha says "this is wrong" of those who say "Whatever a person experiences... all that is caused by what was done in the past."

Ed


Sounds reasonable to me. But what do you make of Thanissario Bhikkhu's claim that this passage simply shows how kamma operates through other causal factors in the universe?

Thanissario wrote:Some people have interpreted this sutta as stating that there are many experiences that cannot be explained by the principle of kamma. A casual glance of the alternative factors here — drawn from the various causes for pain that were recognized in the medical treatises of his time — would seem to support this conclusion. However, if we compare this list with his definition of old kamma in SN 25.145, we see that many of the alternative causes are actually the result of past actions. Those that aren't are the result of new kamma. For instance, MN 101 counts asceticism — which produces pain in the immediate present — under the factor harsh treatment. The point here is that old and new kamma do not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead find their expression within those factors. A second point is that some of the influences of past kamma can be mitigated in the present — a disease caused by bile, for instance, can be cured by medicine that brings the bile back to normal. Similarly with the mind: suffering caused by physical pain can be ended by understanding and abandoning the attachment that led to that suffering. In this way, the Buddha's teaching on kamma avoids determinism and opens the way for a path of practice focused on eliminating the causes of suffering in the here and now.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.021.than.html


This is what I get for not taking the time to check the endnotes. :smile:

Thanissaro Bhikkhu (and thus the Tibetans) may be right. Yet Bhikkhu Bodhi's subtler yet similar interpretation (at endnote 252) also seems to take these passages into account, while implying another possibility: "It should be noted that the Buddha's appeal to personal experience and common sense as the two criteria for rejecting the view that all feeling is caused by past kamma implies that the view against which he is arguing is the claim that past kamma is the sole and sufficient cause of all present feeling. However, the Buddha's line of argument also implies that he is not denying that kamma may induce the illnesses, etc., that serve as the immediate causes of the painful feelings... Thus kamma can still be an indirect cause for painful feeling directly induced by the first seven causes. It is the sufficient cause only in the eighth case, though even then it must operate in conjunction with various other conditions..."

For Bhikkhu Bodhi, as I understand him, kamma is sometimes ("kamma may induce," "can still be an indirect cause") the indirect cause of sensation behind the first seven causes and (it is implied) sometimes not. If I understand him correctly, then it can still be the case that kamma is not always the cause, whether directly or indirectly. I guess the real question now is this: Is kamma portrayed as always the cause of the seven causes in the suttas? I don't know. This is a great subject for research.

Ed

EDIT: I changed "footnotes" to "endnotes" and "footnote" to "endnote."
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:04 pm

sukhamanveti wrote:
For Bhikkhu Bodhi, as I understand him, kamma is sometimes ("kamma may induce," "can still be an indirect cause") the indirect cause of sensation behind the first seven causes and (it is implied) sometimes not. If I understand him correctly, then it can still be the case that kamma is not always the cause, whether directly or indirectly. I guess the real question now is this: Is kamma portrayed as always the cause of the seven causes in the suttas? I don't know. This is a great subject for research.


Indeed, it is! :) I get the impression that Bhikkhu Bodhi is trying to navigate the route between overdeterminism and too little determinism. With too little determinism, kamma loses its significance as a teaching. With too much, we end up with a sort of kammic Rube Goldberg machine, postulating an elaborate chain of causes for something that can be explained more simply. Sometimes rain is just rain.

Thanks for the interesting discussion!

Metta,
LE
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