We deserve what we get...

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VictoryInTruth
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We deserve what we get...

Postby VictoryInTruth » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:00 am

Hello to everyone... It's been a long while since I have posted and hope that you can answer a question for me. This has been bothering me for a long time and is the greatest obstacle towards my embracing the lifestyle of a Buddhist.

The obstacle concerns the bad things that happen to one in this life that are a result of previous bad kamma. In several books on Buddhism I have read it makes it seem as if whatever bad happens to you in this life you deserve. How can an innocent child that is raped or woman who is burned alive be held accountable for what was done in a past life? How can such horrible acts bring any kind of a lesson to the victim? Especially, if you are an infant who dies before the age of reason.

If someone can reasonably explain this I would appreciate it.

Thanks.

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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:04 am

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manas
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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby manas » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:32 am

VictoryInTruth wrote:Hello to everyone... It's been a long while since I have posted and hope that you can answer a question for me. This has been bothering me for a long time and is the greatest obstacle towards my embracing the lifestyle of a Buddhist.

The obstacle concerns the bad things that happen to one in this life that are a result of previous bad kamma. In several books on Buddhism I have read it makes it seem as if whatever bad happens to you in this life you deserve. How can an innocent child that is raped or woman who is burned alive be held accountable for what was done in a past life? How can such horrible acts bring any kind of a lesson to the victim? Especially, if you are an infant who dies before the age of reason.

If someone can reasonably explain this I would appreciate it.

Thanks.


Hi VictoryInTruth

firstly, this question applies not just to Buddhism, but also to other paths that believe in rebirth according to one's past deeds, ie the Law of Kamma. Buddhism is not the only one, just to be clear.

Others will give more detailed replies I think, but my grappling with this very issue over years has led me to a few ideas that help me to live with it. One is that you should get the notion of 'deserve' right out of your mind here, I don't think it applies. The Universe isn't vindictive like we people can sometimes be. I think the idea that we 'deserve' the pain & suffering that comes our way is a Judeo-Christian thing, the idea that we are 'born sinful' and need 'redeeming' by a Power external to ourselves (ie - God). It is more like cause and effect. Good actions have good results. Bad actions have bad results. That is a tad oversimplified, but where is the notion of 'deserve' in that? It's just an impersonal process of cause and effect.

Secondly: no one is innocent. That little child who got raped, did NOTHING in this current lifetime to warrant being treated in such a monstrous and inhumane way, I totally agree. And it can make me cry to think of the sufferings they endure. But do you know what they did in a previous life, or even many, many lifetimes ago? Maybe something just as terrible, or even worse? And just because that individual cannot remember having done those things, doesn't mean that they never happened. Think about a criminal who murders someone, then gets a strong blow to the head, and gets amnesia. They can no longer even remember who they are, let alone the crime they committed. But they still did it. It's the same with ourselves. Some awful things can happen, and we can ask "it's not fair. Why should this happen to me? I've never harmed anyone else like this! I'm a good-hearted person..." etc. Yes, in this life you are...but, do you remember all your previous lives?? In fact I've been through a bit of this myself. But the problem is our memory. We don't remember. But some persons are able to access the past-life memories (pretty rare nowadays) and they can then see how they have acted differently in various lives, sometimes quite well, sometimes like a rascal. That's Samsara: nothing is stable here.

Those are a few things that come to mind for me.

manas :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:33 am

VictoryInTruth wrote:Hello to everyone... It's been a long while since I have posted and hope that you can answer a question for me. This has been bothering me for a long time and is the greatest obstacle towards my embracing the lifestyle of a Buddhist.

The obstacle concerns the bad things that happen to one in this life that are a result of previous bad kamma. In several books on Buddhism I have read it makes it seem as if whatever bad happens to you in this life you deserve. How can an innocent child that is raped or woman who is burned alive be held accountable for what was done in a past life? How can such horrible acts bring any kind of a lesson to the victim? Especially, if you are an infant who dies before the age of reason.

If someone can reasonably explain this I would appreciate it.

Thanks.

not all things that happen to us is due to our Kamma, sometimes it is circumstance, illness, carelessness not all is the ripening of past kamma!

but when it is Kammavipakka it is what happened due to volitional acts, and that thread of energy would balance out somewhere along the line, it is known as the rounds of existence, and if there were nonatural balancing of action the path could not be walked, as it would be impossible to walk the middle way if there wasn't a middle.
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: We deserve what we get...

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:33 am

Hello ViT,

Not everything is the result (vipaka) of Kamma .

It isn’t a case of ‘deserving’ or ‘not deserving’, of being ‘lovable’ ‘cute’’, innocent’ or anything else. It isn’t the case that every single thing that happens to us is a result saved up from some past life action.

If you intentionally perform any action of body, speech or mind, then the results will occur. They may occur now or in a future life – depending on whether there is an opening for the results to occur.

Kamma- a Study Guide ... Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... html#kamma

Acintita Sutta – Unconjecturable
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The Buddha's Words on Kamma: Four Discourses of the Buddha from the Majjhima Nikaya by Ñanamoli Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el248.html

Only We Can Help Ourselves — Ven. Dhammavuddho.
http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks_g.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby pegembara » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:33 am

"Now, monks, knowing thus and seeing thus, would you run after the past, thinking, 'Were we in the past? Were we not in the past? What were we in the past? How were we in the past? Having been what, what were we in the past'?"

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you run after the future, thinking, 'Shall we be in the future? Shall we not be in the future? What shall we be in the future? How shall we be in the future? Having been what, what shall we be in the future'?"

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you be inwardly perplexed about the immediate present, thinking, 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound'?"[7]

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you say, 'The Teacher is our respected mentor. We speak thus out of respect for the Teacher'?"

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you say, 'The Contemplative says this. We speak thus in line with the Contemplative's words'?"

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you dedicate yourselves to another teacher?"

"No, lord."

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you return to the observances, grand ceremonies, & auspicious rites of common contemplatives & brahmans as having any essence?"

"No, lord."

"Is it the case that you speak simply in line with what you have known, seen, & understood for yourselves?"

"Yes, lord."

"Good, monks. You have been guided by me in this Dhamma which is to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the observant for themselves. For it has been said, 'This Dhamma is to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be by the observant for themselves,' and it was in reference to this that it was said.

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



"And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of becoming does not arise in him, and arisen fermentation of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to. Through his attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his not attending to ideas fit for attention, both unarisen fermentations arise in him, and arisen fermentations increase.

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:34 am

Why get upset at gravity? It is a mechanism of matter. Why be upset at kamma? It is a mechanism of the mind. It's not fair that a child falls of a building. It's not fair either that a child is molested. It's a law, that wasn't created by anyone.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: We deserve what we get...

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:44 am

What are the alternatives?

1. Its God's will. So God is wicked and unjust since he punishes an innocent child? Or, does he punish some because they did something evil in a previous life?

2. No cause or reason at all. This doesn't sit well at all with science — we may not know what the causes are but there always seems to be a cause. Scientific inquiry is all about finding out causes and the laws of physics.

I find it helps to reflect on the other end of the law of kamma. What happens to the rapist or child-molester after death? If, after suffering in hell for aeons, he or she is reborn in the human realm again, what kind of existence will be the result?

What about the case of Venerable Moggallāna, who was murdered by robbers? He had done nothing terrible in his final existence — unlike Angulimāla — but Angulimāla was not murdered.
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