Kamma and vipaka

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:42 pm

daverupa:

"This is false. If one intends to go to college, that choice has repercussions in more than the immediate now. One could even argue that the consequences in the immediate now were negligible in such a case, and that a concatenation of relevant intentions was required to actualize the eventual result(s), quite non-immediate. Examples such as this can be multiplied at will."

Sorry, I should have expressed myself better. I meant that intention is only ever known with certainty to be the sufficient condition for proximate changes in one's own mind and body. As soon as the change then affects something else, we cannot be sure that our intention had anything to do with it. This is the heart of the problem that I posed. If intentions have effects at a distance, then I want to know how the intention can be a feeling experienced by the person who had the intention. How does kamma give rise to vipaka? What sense can we make of the fact that it does so?

" The point was to convey an image of kamma-vipaka as a process such as one might observe when watching the color red shade into the color orange. The beginning red and ending orange would be discernible, but there would not be a point where one could say objectively "There is where it changed from one to the other!" It's nothing to do with ethics at all: it was simply a model."

Well, fair enough, but it is a model that does not illustrate the salient point I was making. Red might merge imperceptibly into orange, but intention does not merge imperceptibly into feeling; they remain different. And the moral status of the intention is one of the reasons that intention is different from feeling, which is exactly my point. How can an intention give rise to a feeling, when they are two demonstrably different things?
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:12 pm

Sam Vega wrote:If intentions have effects at a distance, then I want to know how the intention can be a feeling experienced by the person who had the intention.


Tread carefully here:

SN 12.46 wrote:
Then a certain brahman went to the Blessed One and... said to the Blessed One: "What now, Master Gotama: Is the one who acts the same one who experiences [the results of the act]?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is the same one who experiences,' is one extreme."

[The brahman:] "Then, Master Gotama, is the one who acts someone other than the one who experiences?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences,' is the second extreme. Avoiding both of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by means of the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition...


Sam Vega wrote:...but intention does not merge imperceptibly into feeling; they remain different. And the moral status of the intention is one of the reasons that intention is different from feeling, which is exactly my point. How can an intention give rise to a feeling, when they are two demonstrably different things?


I'll quote this again:

'After doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pleasure, he feels pleasure; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pain, he feels pain; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as neither-pain-nor-pleasure, he feels neither-pain-nor-pleasure'


Note there is not "intentional kamma" in isolation - the Buddha does not allow that intentional kamma exists as such. Instead, he is careful to say "intentional kamma to be felt as X". Your claim that intention and feeling are demonstrably different ignores this subtlety.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:03 pm

daverupa wrote:
MN 136 wrote:'After doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pleasure, he feels pleasure; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pain, he feels pain; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as neither-pain-nor-pleasure, he feels neither-pain-nor-pleasure'


It doesn't seem to me that intention functions across temporal space, according to the Dhamma. This is because the idea of time as a container within which things occur is a view solidly rooted in substance metaphysics, which the Buddha rejects. Instead, idapaccayata insists on a processual view, on which "kamma" and "vipaka" are distinguished as an explanatory aid but not reified as discreet atomistic entities. In other words, "kamma whose result is to be felt as X" is referring to the process of idapaccayata, in this case with a beginning called kamma and an ending to be felt accordingly. There is no action between intention and result, there is simply that process in toto.

Let's hope this doesn't run afoul of your criteria for sophistry...

:goodpost: All of it up till now

Thanks
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:17 pm

daverupa:

"Note there is not "intentional kamma" in isolation - the Buddha does not allow that intentional kamma exists as such. Instead, he is careful to say "intentional kamma to be felt as X". Your claim that intention and feeling are demonstrably different ignores this subtlety."

Well, in this Sutta he uses the term, but in others he does not. So it might be that the Buddha does allow that intentional kamma exists as such. And even this formulation ('Y to be felt as X') does not mean that either or both of the terms do not exist as such. It is merely a predication.

But in any case, if we agree that the Buddha denies that it is possible or valid to separate intention from feeling, then we are back to taking this issue on faith. I experience intention and feeling as different things. Sometimes I intend, and sometimes I feel. I experience connections between these states on some occasions, but not all, and it is self-evidently true to me that they are different mental states. This might be the result of my stupidity, a mind that is not subtle enough to see where its error lies in construing mental processes like this. But it is a very common error in our culture, and there might be some way of explaining where my error is. A person might understand that the Buddha said "intentional kamma to be felt as X", but it seems reasonable that a person who understands it (i.e. the subtle but indissoluble link between intention and feeling) should be able to paraphrase it and show where it is instantiated in a way that it can be understood by another. Otherwise they will have to rely on faith: the Buddha said it, but I can't get it yet.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sylvester » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:33 am

daverupa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:But I think the Buddha was a practical "realist", ie to the extent necessary for us to accept that the external world is "out there".


I don't think the Buddha intended that we accept an external world out there, I think he was practical insofar as he accepted it as the naturally-occurring human perception of things (avijja, anyone?) and was at great pains to distinguish the Dhamma in contradistinction to those natural assumptions. This is why paticcanirodha is described as "against the grain", and as hard to see.


I guess this is where we have to agree to disagree. I always found it striking that the vipallasa-s (AN 4.49) are only fourfold with respect to sanna/perception. They are described only in terms of permanance, pleasant, self and attractive, but not in terms of manufacturing the external ayatanas as a basis for contact.

It may help to consider the "three phases of matter" in the Dhamma, as it were: arising is manifest, ceasing is manifest, change while standing is manifest. Here's the Pali for us:

Rūpassa [Vedanāya; Saññāya; Sankhārānam; Viññānassa] kho āvuso uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, thitassa aññatthattam paññāyati.


There is no change of one thing into another thing, there is simply conditionality. The fact that the order is not "arising - change-while-standing - ceasing" is logically significant, despite the fact that this order would seem to make more sense. If it were "arising-changing-ceasing", it would make sense as a characteristic of a thing-in-time that arises-changes-ceases.

Rather, there is arising OR ceasing OR change-while-standing - i.e. a process 'beginning', a process 'ending', or a process '-ing'. If you like, the nature of ones experience is such that the process is not perceived as a whole, but it is perceived piece-meal - which is to say, "over time". However, it is illegitimate to infer ontological entities on that basis.


I wholeheartedly agree!


MN 136 wrote:'After doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pleasure, he feels pleasure; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as pain, he feels pain; after doing an intentional kamma by way of body, speech and mind (whose result is) to be felt as neither-pain-nor-pleasure, he feels neither-pain-nor-pleasure'


It's that "to be felt as" component which is bracketing kamma-vipaka together as a process in toto, rather than as two discreet events. Of note here is that suffering is not a required component - after doing kamma, there is concomitant vipaka, but dukkha is not a requisite component of that vipaka.


I understand your approach, even if I don't use such a model. After having wasted 2 decades trying to find that "agent" for kamma to manifest as vipaka, I eventually abandoned that search and have instead taken the 2nd nidana on faith alone. While the "process" model certainly abrogates the need for a substance ontology to describe an "agent" and its "patient", the question could be raised - But what mediates the process? I think that would be the crux of Sam Vega's query.

The difficulty I faced with the process model was the fact that none of the participants in the process, ie none of the constituents of Namarupa, could "perdure" long enough to account for vipaka (as the terminal point of a process) being experienced into the future. Unless an allowance were made for either -

1. a poly-citta model where the process is never interrupted by the cessation of a citta before the next citta arose; or
2. alaya vijnana,

the process model still does not explain how it works.

Thankfully, I've gotten past the urge to know "how"...
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:32 am

Sylvester wrote:The difficulty I faced with the process model was the fact that none of the participants in the process, ie none of the constituents of Namarupa, could "perdure" long enough to account for vipaka (as the terminal point of a process) being experienced into the future. Unless an allowance were made for either -

1. a poly-citta model where the process is never interrupted by the cessation of a citta before the next citta arose; or
2. alaya vijnana,

the process model still does not explain how it works.


This idea "cessation of a citta before the next citta" strikes me as interesting, in that I don't see the implied ontology here as being part of the Suttic worldview. Therefore, I don't see it as a problem needing to be overcome, but instead as a later imputation (momentariness :tantrum: ). Why each citta needs to be construed as sequential and singular in this way puzzles me; why not a notion of any instantiated citta as having variable degrees of "force" or "impact" with respect to moral valence? Perhaps sankharakhanda is able to sustain multiple intentional trajectories (via a plurality of underlying tendencies, for example)?

SN 22.79 wrote:"And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.' What do they fabricate as a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form as a fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling as a fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood... For the sake of fabrication-hood... For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate consciousness as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things, they are called fabrications.


I would want to have another translation, of course, if this has any traction. If so, trying to account for this might be where the imponderable-ness sets in, per the Anguttara.

As to alaya-vijnana: get thee behind me, Satan! :tongue:

Sylvester wrote:While the "process" model certainly abrogates the need for a substance ontology to describe an "agent" and its "patient", the question could be raised - But what mediates the process? I think that would be the crux of Sam Vega's query.


Indeed, generating an answer seems to converge on the necessity of seeing for oneself - I'm very sorry, Sam Vega, but I'm coming up against atakkāvacara on this. It may simply be that we're at the limits of my explanatory ability.

Sam Vega wrote:Otherwise they will have to rely on faith: the Buddha said it, but I can't get it yet.


Well, since we are invited to come and see such things for ourselves, I am altogether willing to allow this so long as one makes the attempt to come and see via bhavana, not vitakka-vicara exclusively.

On that note, we might try a new tack.

Does "how", in this context, argue for or against whether one takes up (a certain) Dhamma practice? In other words, is this an attempt to ground Buddhist ethics in an objective, knock-down argument prior to a practical engagement?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby whynotme » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:13 pm

My thoughts:

As I read the suttas, the Buddha taught very little on fixing this life like modern day concept we could change our life. Instead, his teachings made me think that most of these lives are the result of our past lives, we nearly can't change them and his teaching is all about next lives. Even a monk ask him why someone succeeds and other fails, he said it is because of their merits in their past lives.

I believe the mind is very powerful as the ability of the Buddha and his noble disciples. Once we create bad action, the mind makes us pay for that like when we did bad actions, we could have bad dreams. The world in the dream is the creation of the mind, and also the real world is the creation of the mind

Just my opinions
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby kirk5a » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:04 pm

Is the psychological concept of conditioning relevant here? Doesn't that explain how present actions are influenced by what happened in the past? Or the looser notion of "character development" ? There is the significant influence of memory, as well. That's my working principle on understanding the following, anyway. Something along the lines of the mind carrying it's actions forward, embedded within, as they shape it's very.. "character."

"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... kamma.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:57 pm

Sylvester:

"While the "process" model certainly abrogates the need for a substance ontology to describe an "agent" and its "patient", the question could be raised - But what mediates the process? I think that would be the crux of Sam Vega's query. "

Yes, you have understood. I'm glad that you have got past the urge to know the "how", but thank you for your attention to this - you have presented me with a lot to think about.

daverupa:

"Indeed, generating an answer seems to converge on the necessity of seeing for oneself - I'm very sorry, Sam Vega, but I'm coming up against atakkāvacara on this. It may simply be that we're at the limits of my explanatory ability."

No need to apologise, daverupa, your explanatory ability is amazing, and you gave this one a good run for its money. Again, I thank you for your contributions. I have sometimes needed to google the terms you used, but I guess that's one way that I can learn!

I need to make a point about whether my question is an attempt to find a "knock down" argument for ethics as a precondition for practice. In my case, it certainly isn't. I know that the practice "works", and that my life and the lives of others seem to somehow improve as a result of good intentions. I was trying to get some insight into how or why this happens. A bit like trying to understand physics because I am grateful for gravity! As I have said all along, I would be OK taking this on faith.

I will keep returning to the thread to see if anything else crops up, but again thanks for your help.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby chownah » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:16 am

Sam Vega,
In the original post you wrote:
"My specific question is about the mechanism that brings this about. I would like to know people's thoughts on how this occurs."

I suggest that there is no "mechanism that brings this about."....or at least there is no mechanism that we can rationally understand that does this......the Budda seems to teach a sort of mechanics for some things but I'm pretty sure that this is just conventional speech and it is best to remember that all dhammas are empty.......didn't the Buddha teach that the exact workings of kamma were not knowable?
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby ground » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:34 am

Sam Vega wrote:... My specific question is about the mechanism that brings this about. I would like to know people's thoughts on how this occurs. I don't think it is a stupid question, as normally we think of intentions as bringing about an immediate mental change (as when I intend to think about an elephant, or recollect things that make me happy); or bringing about an immediate physical change (as when I intend to raise my arm, etc.). The rest of the universe seems immune and indifferent to my intentions. I cannot cause a change in the weather by means of an unmediated intention. Nor can I alter your thoughts by merely intending to.
...

If the answer is that this must be taken on faith, I am happy with this. I would in fact prefer it to sophistry intended to demonstrate that someone knows more than me. All vague ideas and admissions of bafflement are welcome, as they would reassure me!


Actually I don't care about a mechnism but I am content with being able to observe the recurring effects of actions and mental conditionings (thinking about, having intentions, i.e. creating habits) in what is called "this present life".
It is all about experience conditioning itself through grasping itself.

Kind regards
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:18 am

chownah wrote:Sam Vega,
In the original post you wrote:
"My specific question is about the mechanism that brings this about. I would like to know people's thoughts on how this occurs."

I suggest that there is no "mechanism that brings this about."....or at least there is no mechanism that we can rationally understand that does this......the Budda seems to teach a sort of mechanics for some things but I'm pretty sure that this is just conventional speech and it is best to remember that all dhammas are empty.......didn't the Buddha teach that the exact workings of kamma were not knowable?
chownah


It might be that there is no such mechanism, but I believe the Buddha said that things arise due to causes. The workings of kamma seem to require some kind of mediating cause which I don't understand. It might be, of course, that I/we can never understand it, but this is an odd statement as we can never know unless we try. Certainly I am prepared to take it on faith. I think that the Buddha's point about kamma being unknowable was relating to the specific outcomes of kamma, not a clearer understanding of the principle.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:26 am

TMingyur wrote:
Sam Vega wrote:... My specific question is about the mechanism that brings this about. I would like to know people's thoughts on how this occurs. I don't think it is a stupid question, as normally we think of intentions as bringing about an immediate mental change (as when I intend to think about an elephant, or recollect things that make me happy); or bringing about an immediate physical change (as when I intend to raise my arm, etc.). The rest of the universe seems immune and indifferent to my intentions. I cannot cause a change in the weather by means of an unmediated intention. Nor can I alter your thoughts by merely intending to.
...

If the answer is that this must be taken on faith, I am happy with this. I would in fact prefer it to sophistry intended to demonstrate that someone knows more than me. All vague ideas and admissions of bafflement are welcome, as they would reassure me!


Actually I don't care about a mechnism but I am content with being able to observe the recurring effects of actions and mental conditionings (thinking about, having intentions, i.e. creating habits) in what is called "this present life".
It is all about experience conditioning itself through grasping itself.

Kind regards


Well, it's good that you care enough about my caring in order to post! It may be all about experience conditioning itself through grasping itself, but this formulation might not mean as much to other people as it does to you.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby ground » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:40 am

Sam Vega wrote:Well, it's good that you care enough about my caring in order to post!

I understood that you requested responses, didn't you?

Sam Vega wrote:It may be all about experience conditioning itself through grasping itself, but this formulation might not mean as much to other people as it does to you.

Of course. Everybody has to walk with her/his own shoes. I just showed one of my pairs.

Kind regards
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:02 am

TMingyur wrote:
Sam Vega wrote:Well, it's good that you care enough about my caring in order to post!

I understood that you requested responses, didn't you?

Yes, I did! As I said, it is good of you and all the others to care enough to take time out to reply.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby chownah » Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:12 pm

Sam Vega,
From your posts I think that you might find the Wings to Awakening section on Kamma interesting....have you see it already?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part1-b

I usually just think of kamma as being intention (since this is how the Buddha defined it most clearly) and intentions arise in concert with the indulging in a doctrine of self so if you can get a grip on that imaginary self then the issue of kamma should be under control also....at least that is my usual approach to my practice....that is to focus on the doctrine of self which is present when intentions arise and then to dispel the doctrine of self....more or less........so....anyway......I don't usually concern myself with the mechanisms of kamma if there are any that are comprehendable and frankly its kind of hard for me to exactly understand what kind of thing you might see as a mechanism but it seems like Thanisarro Bhikkhu's writings sort of approach kamma from a mechanistic perspective so let me know what you think.
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby gavesako » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:22 pm

Tit for tat

Meaning: A blow or some other retaliation in return for an injury from another.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/tit-for-tat.html


"Bhikkhus, for anyone who says, 'In whatever way a person makes kamma, that is how it is experienced,' there is no living of the holy life, there is no opportunity for the right ending of suffering. But for anyone who says, 'When a person makes kamma to be felt in such & such a way, that is how its result (vipaka) is experienced,' there is the living of the holy life, there is the opportunity for the right ending of stress."

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


Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes:

.. Another school, the Jains, accepted the Vedic premise that one's actions shaped one's experience of the cosmos, but they differed from the Vedas in the way they conceived of action. All action, according to them, was a form of violence. The more violent the act, the more it produced effluents, conceived as sticky substances that bound the soul to the round of rebirth. Thus they rejected the Vedic assertion that ritual sacrifice produced good kamma, for the violence involved in killing the sacrificial animals was actually a form of very sticky bad kamma. In their eyes, the only way to true happiness was to try to escape the round of kamma entirely. This was to be done by violence against themselves: various forms of self-torture that were supposed to burn away the effluents (asava), the "heat" (tapa) of pain being a sign that the effluents were burning. At the same time, they tried to create as little new kamma as possible. This practice would culminate in total abstinence from physical action, resulting in suicide by starvation, the theory being that if old kamma were completely burned away, and no new kamma created, there would be no more effluents to bind the soul to the cosmos. Thus the soul would be released.

Despite the differences between the Vedic and Jain views of action, they shared some important similarities: Both believed that the physical performance of an action, rather than the mental attitude behind it, determined its kammic result. And, both saw kamma as acting under deterministic, linear laws. Kamma performed in the present would not bear fruit until the future, and the relationship between a particular action and its result was predictable and fixed.

These divergent viewpoints on the nature of action formed the backdrop for the Bodhisatta's quest for ultimate happiness. On the one side stood the Ajivakas and Lokayatans, who insisted for various reasons that human action was ineffective: either non-existent, chaotic, or totally pre-determined. On the other side stood the Vedic and Jain thinkers, who taught that physical action was effective, but that it was subject to deterministic and linear laws, and could not lead to true happiness beyond the round of rebirth. The Buddha's position on kamma broke from both sides of the issue, largely because he approached the question from a radically new direction.

... To begin with, every act has repercussions in the present moment together with reverberations extending into the future. Depending on the intensity of the act, these reverberations can last for a very short or a very long time. Thus every event takes place in a context determined by the combined effects of past events coming from a wide range in time, together with the effects of present acts. These effects can intensify one another, can coexist with little interaction, or can cancel one another out. Thus, even though it is possible to predict that a certain type of act will tend to give a certain type of result — for example, acting on anger will lead to pain — there is no way to predict when or where that result will make itself felt.

The complexity of the system is further enhanced by the fact that both causal principles meet at the mind. Through its views and intentions, the mind keeps both principles active. Through its sensory powers, it is affected by the results of the causes it has set in motion. This allows for the causal principles to feed back into themselves, as the mind reacts to the results of its own actions. These reactions can form positive feedback loops, intensifying the original input and its results, much like the howl in a speaker placed next to the microphone feeding into it. They can also create negative feedback loops, counteracting the original input, in the same way that a thermostat turns off a heater when the temperature in a room is too high, and turns it on again when it gets too low. Because the results of actions can be immediate, and the mind can react to them immediately, these feedback loops can sometimes quickly spin out of control; at other times, they may provide skillful checks on one's behavior. For example, a man may act out of anger, which gives him an immediate sense of dis-ease to which he may react with further anger, thus creating a snowballing effect. On the other hand, he may come to understand that the anger is causing his dis-ease, and so immediately attempt to stop it. However, there can also be times when the results of his past actions may obscure his present dis-ease, so that he doesn't immediately react to it at all. This means that, although there are general patterns relating habitual acts to their results, there is no set one-for-one, tit-for-tat, relationship between a particular action and its results. Instead, the results are determined by the entire context of the act, shaped by the actions that preceded or followed it, and by one's state of mind at the time of acting or experiencing the result.

In this way, the combination of two causal principles — influences from the past interacting with those in the immediate present — accounts for the complexity of causal relationships on the level of immediate experience. However, the combination of the two principles also opens the possibility for finding a systematic way to break the causal web. If causes and effects were entirely linear, the cosmos would be totally deterministic, and nothing could be done to escape from the machinations of the causal process. If they were entirely synchronic, there would be no relationship from one moment to the next, and all events would be arbitrary. The web could break down totally or reform spontaneously for no reason at all. However, with the two modes working together, one can learn from causal patterns observed from the past and apply one's insights to disentangling the same causal patterns acting in the present. If one's insights are true, one can then gain freedom from those patterns. This allows for escape from the cycle of kamma altogether by developing kamma at a heightened level of skill by pursuing the noble eightfold path.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e.html#act


See http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 3-piya.pdf
and http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 6-piya.pdf
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby gavesako » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:32 pm

In the course of his Awakening, the Buddha discovered that the experience of the present moment consists of three factors: results from past actions, present actions, and the results of present actions. This means that kamma acts in feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; while present actions shape not only the present but also the future. This constant opening for present input into the causal processes shaping one's life makes free will possible. ... However, the fact that the experience of space and time requires not only the results of past actions but also the input of present actions means that it is possible to unravel the experience of space and time by bringing the mind to a point of equilibrium where it contributes no intentions or actions to the present moment. The intentions that converge at this equilibrium are thus a fourth type of intention — transcendent skillful intentions — which lead to release from the results of mundane intentions, and ultimately to the ending of all action. * (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... index.html)

For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. This constant opening for present input into the causal process makes free will possible. This freedom is symbolized in the imagery the Buddhists used to explain the process: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction. * (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... karma.html)

Although the precise working out of the kammic process is somewhat unpredictable, it is not chaotic. The relationship between kammic causes and their effects is entirely regular: when an action is of the sort that it will be felt in such and such a way, that is how its result will be experienced (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... passage-13). Skillful intentions lead to favorable results, unskillful ones to unfavorable results. Thus, when one participates in the kammic process, one is at the mercy of a pattern that one's actions put into motion, but that is not entirely under one's present control. Despite the power of the mind, one cannot reshape the basic laws of cosmic causality at whim. These laws include the physical laws, within which one's kamma must ripen and work itself out. ... The point here is that old kamma does not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead finds its expression within them.

However, the fact that the kammic process relies on input from the present moment means that it is not totally deterministic. Input from the past may place restrictions on what can be done and known in any particular moment, but the allowance for new input from the present provides some room for free will. This allowance also opens the possibility for escape from the cycle of kamma altogether by means of the fourth type of kamma: the development of heightened skillfulness (kusala) through the pursuit of the seven factors for Awakening and the noble eightfold path — and, by extension, all of the Wings to Awakening [§§16-17] (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... passage-16).

The non-linearity of this/that conditionality (idappaccayata) explains why heightened skillfulness, when focused on the present moment, can succeed in leading to the end of the kamma that has formed the experience of the entire cosmos. All non-linear processes exhibit what is called scale invariance, which means that the behavior of the process on any one scale is similar to its behavior on smaller or larger scales. To understand, say, the large-scale pattern of a particular non-linear process, one need only focus on its behavior on a smaller scale that is easier to observe, and one will see the same pattern at work. In the case of kamma, one need only focus on the process of kamma in the immediate present, in the course of developing heightened skillfulness, and the large-scale issues over the expanses of space and time will become clear as one gains release from them. * (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... part1.html)

Over the years many schools of meditation have taught that mental fabrications simply get in the way of a goal that's uncaused and unfabricated. Only by doing nothing at all and thus not fabricating anything in the mind, they say, will the unfabricated (nibbana) shine forth. This view is based on a very simplistic understanding of fabricated reality, seeing causality as linear and totally predictable: X causes Y which causes Z and so on, with no effects turning around to condition their causes, and no possible way of using causality to escape from the causal network. However, one of the many things the Buddha discovered in the course of his awakening was that causality is not linear. The experience of the present is shaped both by actions in the present and by actions in the past. Actions in the present shape both the present and the future. The results of past and present actions continually interact. Thus there is always room for new input into the system, which gives scope for free will. There is also room for the many feedback loops that make experience so thoroughly complex, and that are so intriguingly described in chaos theory. Reality doesn't resemble a simple line or circle. It's more like the bizarre trajectories of a strange attractor or a Mandelbrot set.

(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... nance.html)


For more, see:
Samsara Divided by Zero by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... nance.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-similarity
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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gavesako
 
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Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby gavesako » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:33 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.


... This formula is non-linear, an interplay of linear and synchronic principles. The linear principle — taking (2) and (4) as a pair — connects events over time; the synchronic principle — (1) and (3) — connects objects and events in the present moment. The two principles intersect, so that any given event is influenced by two sets of conditions, those acting from the past and those acting from the present. Because this is the pattern underlying dependent co-arising, it is a mistake to view dependent co-arising simply as a chain of causes strung out over time. Events in any one category of the list are affected not only by past events in the categories that act as their conditions, but also by the on-going, interacting presence of whole streams of events in those categories. All categories can be present at once, and even though two particular conditions may be separated by several steps in the list, they can be immediately present to each other. Thus they can create the possibility for unexpected feedback loops in the causal process. Feeling, for instance, keeps reappearing at several stages in the process, and ignorance can contribute to any causal link at any time. The importance of these points will become clear when we examine how to disengage the causal network so as to realize the third noble truth.

Because new input into the causal stream is possible at every moment, the actual working out of this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising can be remarkably fluid and complex. This point is borne out by the imagery used in the Canon to illustrate these teachings. Although some non-canonical texts depict dependent co-arising as a circle or a wheel of causes — implying something of a mechanical, deterministic process — the Canon never uses that image at all. Instead it likens dependent co-arising to water flowing over land: lakes overflow, filling rivers, which in turn fill the sea [§238]; while the tides of the sea rise, swelling the rivers, which in turn swell the lakes [SN 12:69]. This imagery captures something of the flow of give and take among the factors of the process. A more modern pattern that might be used to illustrate dependent co-arising is the "strange attractor": an intricate, interwoven pattern that chaos theory uses to describe complex, fluid systems containing at least three feedback loops. As we will see below, the number of feedback loops in dependent co-arising is far more than three.

The fluid complexity of dependent co-arising means that it is inherently unstable, and thus stressful and not-self. Although some non-Theravadin Buddhist texts insist that happiness can be found by abandoning one's smaller, separate identity and embracing the interconnected identity of all interdependent things, this teaching cannot be found in the Pali Canon. The instability of conditioned processes means that they can never provide a dependable basis for happiness. The only true basis for happiness is the Unfabricated.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #part3-h-3
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
User avatar
gavesako
 
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Kamma and vipaka

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:11 pm

chownah:

Many thanks - I have read it, and will check it out again.
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