Dependent Origination and Kamma

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Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:30 am

I would like to know the relationship between Kamma and dependent origination. A person has told me Kamma is the driving force behind dependent origination, but I don't think so. I think it is obviously a result of dependent origination, but not the ultimate push behind it. I always thought ignorance is the push, but I would like to be sure. If anyone has suttas that explain it, I'd be grateful, and if any Bhantes can clarify or help me understand the relationship between the two, I would be really grateful too.
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:07 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I would like to know the relationship between Kamma and dependent origination. A person has told me Kamma is the driving force behind dependent origination, but I don't think so. I think it is obviously a result of dependent origination, but not the ultimate push behind it. I always thought ignorance is the push, but I would like to be sure. If anyone has suttas that explain it, I'd be grateful, and if any Bhantes can clarify or help me understand the relationship between the two, I would be really grateful too.


In my understanding Kamma is a subset of dependant origination in that dependant origination applies to everything whereas kamma applies to a single individual.

Also bear in mind that various teachings on kamma pre-existed the Buddha, wheras the teaching dependant origination was his very own and unique. Perhaps one of the best ways to explain to people, who are steeped in a culture that assumes kamma, how dependant origination works is to use kamma as an example.
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:18 am

Greetings Goofaholix,

Goofaholix wrote:In my understanding Kamma is a subset of dependant origination in that dependant origination applies to everything whereas kamma applies to a single individual.

What do you mean by this bolded section? You don't mean that things like rocks, comet and supernovae are the product of ignorance do you? And (switching to dependent cessation mode) that they cease with the cessation of ignorance?

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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:43 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I would like to know the relationship between Kamma and dependent origination. A person has told me Kamma is the driving force behind dependent origination, but I don't think so. I think it is obviously a result of dependent origination, but not the ultimate push behind it. I always thought ignorance is the push, but I would like to be sure. If anyone has suttas that explain it, I'd be grateful, and if any Bhantes can clarify or help me understand the relationship between the two, I would be really grateful too.


Taking the general form of dependent origination as "when this is, that is; when this arises, that arises; when this is not, that is not, when this ceases, that ceases", then kamma and vipaka are a specific example or type of dependent origination.

Such a general form of dependent origination is the basic Buddhist causal theory, and therefore there are various forms. In Theravada terms, there are five systems, and kamma - vipaka is one of those; along with those pertaining to the physical world, seed / biological world, mental world, and the Dhamma as perhaps a kind of transcendent form.

The system of 12 links of dependent origination is, of course, not the only form of dependent origination. It contains several of the basic forms, including the kammic, but also the mental and perhaps biological too.

However, in the course of Buddhist development, the position on dependent origination has been one of dispute. Some considered the phrase to refer to the actual (12) elements in the process; others considered it referred to the causal relationship between the elements. As such, some considered it conditioned, and others as unconditioned. It is perhaps very helpful to make a distinction, as some schools did, between dependent origination and that which is dependently originated. Usually the former is the causal relation, the latter the specific results which are also causes.

You therefore may need to clarify the understanding of both kamma (and vipaka) as well as dependent origination (and the dependently originated), before then going on to examine what the relationship between these two basic ideas are.
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:What do you mean by this bolded section? You don't mean that things like rocks, comet and supernovae are the product of ignorance do you? And (switching to dependent cessation mode) that they cease with the cessation of ignorance?
)


I think Paññāsikhara explained this well, as always. Here are a couple of excerpts from here http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarise.htm from Pra Payutto

The progression of causes and conditions is the reality which applies to all things, from the natural environment, which is an external, physical condition, to the events of human society, ethical principles, life events and the happiness and suffering which manifest in our own minds. These systems of causal relationship are part of the one natural truth. Our happiness within this natural system depends on having some knowledge of how it works and practicing correctly within it, through addressing problems on the personal, social, and environmental levels. Given that all things are interconnected, and all are affecting each other, success in dealing with the world lies in creating harmony within it.


The textual references dealing with the principle of Dependent Origination can be divided into two main categories. Firstly, those which describe the general principle, and secondly, those which specify constituent factors linked together in a chain. The former format is often used to precede the latter as a general outline. The latter, more frequently encountered, is mostly expressed on its own. This latter description may be regarded as the practical manifestation of the principle of Dependent Origination, showing as it does how the natural process follows the general principle.


I'm talking about the general principle wheras you're referring to the practical manifestation of constituent factors linked together in a chain, of course I could have misinterpreted Wizards post and he may be only referring to the latter.

This from Access to Insight also covers it http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e.html#ida
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"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Nibbida » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:45 am

To further clarify a bit,

Dependent_Origination_green_wheel.jpg
Dependent_Origination_green_wheel.jpg (51.03 KiB) Viewed 453 times


This is the "mental formations" (sankhara) link described by Payutto:
2. Sankhara = Volitional Impulses: bodily formations, or intentional actions; verbal formations, or intentional speech; mental formations, or thoughts[5]; and, according to the Abhidhamma: meritorious formations, or good kamma (puññabhisankhara), non-meritorious formations, or bad kamma (apuññabhisankhara), and fixed or unmoving formations, or special meritorious kamma (aneñjabhisankhara).



So the past causes of ignorance and mental formations (resulting from past kamma), set the stage for how we react to present experience, which in turn can turn into more craving and clinging, leading to sense of self based on that craving/clinging, which leads to more suffering, which reinforces more ignorance & creates more mental formations.
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby Will » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:17 pm

(1) When this is, that is.
(2) From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
(3) When this isn't, that isn't.
(4) From the stopping of this comes the stopping of that.
— A X.92


Seem to recall a passage where kamma & conditionality (idappaccayata) were considered the same?

This is not the sutta passage, but a Mr Nimanong writes what I have read - somewhere:

According to Buddhism, karma in its cosmic aspect is the natural law (Dhammata), the law of conditionality (idappaccayata) or of relativity (paccaya), which governs the whole universe. The law of karma in its moral aspect is concerned with the theory of rebirth (punabbhava), which is its corollary and proof. Rebirth is a result of karma (kamma-vipaka): Karma and vipaka being inevitable concomitants.
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Re: Dependent Origination and Kamma

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:53 pm

I think sankhara -the second step- can be defined in various ways. It could mean mental, verbal and physical intentions (cetana), in which case that step could be considered karma. (as cetana is karma, according to the Buddha). Avijja gives rise to karma (correct) and in its absence (as in arahanths) no karma is produced.

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