How can kamma span lifetimes...

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How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:54 am

...without some guiding force behind it? How could an action in one life lead to its ripening and revealing the consequences in a later life without some "cosmic kamma balance book" keeping track of it all? :coffee:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:57 am

Greetings AdvaitaJ,

I think the best way to start investigating this is to see how kamma functions in this life time. It is only in the here-and-now that you can observe this phenomenon for yourself.

Once you can see that, it's only a matter of inference to see how it spans lifetimes.

I'm not sure if that's the answer you were looking for, but I think it's best to crawl before you walk and walk before you run and so on.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby Individual » Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:17 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:...without some guiding force behind it? How could an action in one life lead to its ripening and revealing the consequences in a later life without some "cosmic kamma balance book" keeping track of it all? :coffee:

Regards: AdvaitaJ

The English term "life"-times might obscure the meaning. I think a deeper analysis of the Abhidhamma's understanding of time and life might yield clarity.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby RAIN » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:24 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:...without some guiding force behind it? How could an action in one life lead to its ripening and revealing the consequences in a later life without some "cosmic kamma balance book" keeping track of it all? :coffee:

Regards: AdvaitaJ


why "balance need some guiding force behind it?"
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:20 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:...without some guiding force behind it? How could an action in one life lead to its ripening and revealing the consequences in a later life without some "cosmic kamma balance book" keeping track of it all? :coffee:

Or perhaps a better question might be how could some guiding personal force keep track of all that? Billions of people on this planet alone and perhaps an infinite amount if we include the possibility of other worlds with life; how could a personal-being-deity keep track of all that information, who's good, who's bad, etc.?

A more logical explanation, in my opinion would be some natural law, like gravity, evolution, anicca, etc. No one "forces" the seasons to come and go each year, it is just part of nature, a natural law, just as no one "pushes" things to the surface to make gravity work.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby mudra » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:06 am

If you are looking for some kind of guiding principle "out there" that guides kamma, tracking it etc - good luck.

But what we can observe is that one moment of mind leads to another, is instrumental in its quality etc. There is some kind of transfer of tendencies and so forth. One can observe this in our own educatio etc.

This lack of "something out there" actually make it possible for us to change, as we slowly steer our continuum according to the eightfold instruction of the Buddha to attain freedom etc.

Meanwhile the transfer continues. We have evidence of it in this life: unless some major trauma happens, we can observe that when we wake up after a deep sleep
we retain memory of the day before. Perhaps not perfect, but nonetheless something gets 'carried over'.

And we do observe that kleshas and other states of mind can trigger actions, and also trigger results. Why would it not be possible for this to be transferred along with other things like memory?

A mind continuum reattaches itself to another life form - "rebirth". of course we know it's not the same mind. The fact that we think of it as 'my very same self' is reborn is just our limited POV. As is the way we think of karma as a static accounting system.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:33 am

AdvaitaJ,

How is it that dropped items always fall down and not up? How do all these inanimate objects know which way to go? There must be some sort of cosmic map keeping track of which way is down.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby clw_uk » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:15 pm

I suppose you can look at it as a law of the universe, accept that its unknown and beyond science since its not something that can be measured or has mathematics for it, the only way we are taught you can come to an understanding of it is through your own meditation and experience



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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:50 pm

Greetings All,

Wow, this thread woke up! In retrospect, I suppose "guiding force" does convey a certain predisposition I did not intend. I think of kamma (please remember I'm still in my rookie season) as an action-reaction sort of thing. With regards to the natural-law examples given, especially gravity, gravity is the byproduct of mass. They're directly proportional and immediate in effect. There is no lag from the existence of mass and the instantiation of gravity.

Going back to Individual's post, if you disregard the common view of a "lifetime", then things do become much more explicable. I guess I'm retaining the view that the end-of-life is the remainderless cessation of everything. If you take the position that "you" continue across lifetimes, then it's just a matter of waiting for your actions to ricochet around and get back to you, in whatever form they may take.

I am reminded of the "butterfly effect".
The butterfly effect is a term related to meteorology (the study of weather phenomena) and to chaos theory (a branch of mathematical and physical theory). A meteorologist named Edward Lorenz is credited with having given the concept its name. Basically the butterfly effect is the observation that an event as seemingly insignificant as the flapping of a butterfly's wings might create a minuscule disturbance that, in the chaotic motion of the atmosphere, may eventually become sufficiently amplified to change the large-scale atmospheric motion, possibly even leading to a huge storm in a distant place. The immense number of tiny variables is one reason why long-term weather is so difficult to forecast. The term "butterfly effect" is sometimes applied to areas outside meteorology, making reference to the fact that small, almost imperceptible things can have large and momentous consequences.


Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby gavesako » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:44 pm

See this interesting article about cosmological vs psychological aspect of kamma and Buddhist cosmology:


Cosmology and meditation: from the Agganna-Sutta to the Mahayana
Rupert Gethin
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/rupert.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby Rui Sousa » Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:07 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:Wow, this thread woke up! In retrospect, I suppose "guiding force" does convey a certain predisposition I did not intend. I think of kamma (please remember I'm still in my rookie season) as an action-reaction sort of thing. With regards to the natural-law examples given, especially gravity, gravity is the byproduct of mass. They're directly proportional and immediate in effect. There is no lag from the existence of mass and the instantiation of gravity.


Greetings AdvaitaJ,

Maybe this will help:

If you throw a rock into the air, straight up, it will, after some time, hit you in the head in a painful way. Kamma in this life time.

If you throw it really high, and get distracted, you won't remember you threw it when you get hit on the head. Kamma through several existences.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:13 pm

And if you throw it really hard, it will go into orbit. But it's still a rock.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby mudra » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:11 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:...without some guiding force behind it? How could an action in one life lead to its ripening and revealing the consequences in a later life without some "cosmic kamma balance book" keeping track of it all? :coffee:

Regards: AdvaitaJ


One of the problems with our perception/conception of all this is seeing these different lives as standing on their own, rather than as links in a continuum. I am not talking about intellectual understanding, obviously most of us have that. I am talking about a deeper awareness of this.

Even intellectually we tend to have these strange ideas like "I" am now being "reincarnated" as this person, as if there was some eternal traveler moving along into different lifetimes wearing a different body but carrying a bank balance sheet of all their deeds etc.
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Re: How can kamma span lifetimes...

Postby lonewolf » Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:48 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:Greetings All,

Wow, this thread woke up! In retrospect, I suppose "guiding force" does convey a certain predisposition I did not intend. I think of kamma (please remember I'm still in my rookie season) as an action-reaction sort of thing. With regards to the natural-law examples given, especially gravity, gravity is the byproduct of mass. They're directly proportional and immediate in effect. There is no lag from the existence of mass and the instantiation of gravity.

Going back to Individual's post, if you disregard the common view of a "lifetime", then things do become much more explicable. I guess I'm retaining the view that the end-of-life is the remainderless cessation of everything. If you take the position that "you" continue across lifetimes, then it's just a matter of waiting for your actions to ricochet around and get back to you, in whatever form they may take.

I am reminded of the "butterfly effect".
The butterfly effect is a term related to meteorology (the study of weather phenomena) and to chaos theory (a branch of mathematical and physical theory). A meteorologist named Edward Lorenz is credited with having given the concept its name. Basically the butterfly effect is the observation that an event as seemingly insignificant as the flapping of a butterfly's wings might create a minuscule disturbance that, in the chaotic motion of the atmosphere, may eventually become sufficiently amplified to change the large-scale atmospheric motion, possibly even leading to a huge storm in a distant place. The immense number of tiny variables is one reason why long-term weather is so difficult to forecast. The term "butterfly effect" is sometimes applied to areas outside meteorology, making reference to the fact that small, almost imperceptible things can have large and momentous consequences.


Regards: AdvaitaJ


The "butterfly effect" theory is a bit ambiguous in refference to kamma, not that it was the intent, it just grabed my curiosity. On one hand a little thing like a turn in direction one is going spiritually can result in liberation at some point in the future, so in that sense kamma will work in the similar sense as the "butterfly effect" does. On the other hand my understanding is that as far as the law of cause and effect in the spiritual realm is concerned, the effect of an action is proportional to the cause, so here the "butterfly effect" theory does not apply, as magnitude of an effect can not be much different than the cause.

There are other ways to look at this, I'm sure. I may be wrong on this, but this is how I understand it.
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