The obvious question about Kamma

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

The obvious question about Kamma

Postby alan » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:55 am

...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?
alan
 
Posts: 2442
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:05 am

Greetings Alan,

.... without a single reference to kamma.

:candle:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14525
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby befriend » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:27 am

im not sure if everything is karma or not, but weve all had past lives and have done evil things in these past lives. no one is innocent, in the context of buddhist cosmology.
befriend
 
Posts: 770
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby alan » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:49 am

But how to explain that to non-Buddhists friends, when they ask you "why" this happened?
alan
 
Posts: 2442
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby alan » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:42 am

alan
 
Posts: 2442
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Kusala » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:55 am

alan wrote:...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?


Well, I'd tell him or her that people die everyday.
Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
User avatar
Kusala
 
Posts: 381
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:02 am

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:04 am

It seems to me that the problem is that other religions claim to make life comprehensible, that there is some purpose to it (usually something to do with God). Hence such questions. The Buddha wasn't interested in explaining a purpose, or the specific details of life, only the general problem and what to do about it.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9631
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Ben » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:56 am

Hi Alan

Another interesting question to ponder is, 'how can an all-loving and all-powerful god let this happen"?
I understand that the doctrine of kamma can seem to provide cold comfort at times like this, especially as we grasp for some form of explanation or certainty. Having said that, not everything that happens is the result of kamma. In samsara, good stuff happens as does the awful nasty and evil s--t.

Rather than focus on attempting to answer a question that cannot be answered, it may be better to acknowledge that in this moment suffering exists, that this life is fickle and our only real refuge lies is in walking the path. And in walking the path, we are that little bit more able to act for the benefit of ourselves and others. I hope the time is right for political reform on gun control in the US. It just requires the kamma (intention) of enough people to make it happen.
kind regards,

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15796
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby DAWN » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:42 pm

befriend wrote:im not sure if everything is karma or not.


Kamma is mouvement.
Kamma fruit = Mouvement fruit.

Is kamma who rebirth not a identity.

Yes all is kamma, all is mouvement.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
User avatar
DAWN
 
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:56 pm

alan wrote:But how to explain that to non-Buddhists friends, when they ask you "why" this happened?


Mention chaos theory. ;)
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Dan74 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:40 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It seems to me that the problem is that other religions claim to make life comprehensible, that there is some purpose to it (usually something to do with God). Hence such questions. The Buddha wasn't interested in explaining a purpose, or the specific details of life, only the general problem and what to do about it.

:anjali:
Mike


:goodpost:

Many other good replies too.

To me, kamma is causal connection in the ever-changing flux of happenings. Of course tragic events are connected to many many other events. They are not isolated. What we all do have far-reaching impact.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2486
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:20 pm

alan wrote:...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?


It depends on how the life was lost... I think there are many different possible ways to answer this, or maybe even a few better ways to re-frame the question.

If the person was murdered by someone, for example, I would also try to think about why that someone killed... just to widen the perspective a bit.

If the person died of cancer, I would think about why there's cancer, and why would that cause the death. Or even think about why we're fixated on the cancer.

I think that to fixate on just one point (as if there's such a thing, in anicca), like a specific person, or a specific thing, would be to miss a lot of things.

Of course... I wouldn't say that in this specific way to someone who wasn't even familiar with it... we just need to learn how to discuss it without relying on the Dhamma.

I practice quite a bit with people who practice Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings... we have a "dharma sharing," and one of the guidelines for it is that we shouldn't speak theoretically about something... we're just supposed to share from our experiences, and also we're just supposed to listen to other person's share without comments. I think that this helps quite a lot with learning how to apply the dharma in a real way.

If the person brought up the kamma, you can always just listen to what he/she thinks about it, be a support, and then if we can, help him/her out with adjusting his/her own views of it towards something which is more beneficial.

We don't need to remain attached with our own ideas, which I think could be a cause for that kind of choking.

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 827
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Alobha » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:34 pm

alan wrote:...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?


It depends on the emotional state of the person asking and his/her background.
One would most likely not do well by arguing with khamma. It would most likely be misleading them into seeing khamma as a moralistic judgment system (which it isn't.).
Really depends on the person though.
User avatar
Alobha
 
Posts: 412
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:27 pm
Location: Germany

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby gavesako » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:42 pm

If you mention "kamma", then in this context the most obvious thing to say is: It was an act of cruelty (vihimsa) acting on the intention to harm others. To focus on the perpetrator of the act is more fruitful, and we can trace the impulse that led to his violent act to some thoughts and views which he held about the world and himself in it. No doubt, the kamma which he did is very heavy, and he has to be held responsible for it. Not that an All-Powerful God will judge him for it, it is more like this (a picture I saw, reproducing it below):

I saw that.
- Karma


Regarding those who were killed by this person's violent action, there might not be a simple answer as to "why" it happened to them. Consider this Sutta in which the Buddha describes why painful feelings (such as being shot at) arise for living beings:

"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 uneven[2] 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 brahmans & 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 brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ven. Thanissaro tries to interpret it in a wider sense which is interesting, and it related to his interpretations of the principle of kamma and vipaka using chaos theory.
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: 1326
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby cbonanno » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:16 am

alan wrote:...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?


No life is innocent, or guilty.
User avatar
cbonanno
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:21 pm
Location: Carrboro, NC, USA

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby manas » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:58 am

cbonanno wrote:
alan wrote:...Is how to explain the loss of innocent life.
Wondering how you would answer that question if presented by a friend who was not Buddhist.
Have to admit, I can't. Any ideas on this?


No life is innocent, or guilty.


Further on that note, one could say, life is a process - and that the arising and passing away of living beings is a part of that process. We can't fully explain everything about it, it's too vast in scope for our ordinary, limited minds to comprehend. But we can feel some sadness in relation to this, wish those little beings well as they journey on, and rest assured that the perpetrator hasn't gotten off the hook, cos if the suttas are to be believed, he's reappeared in hell by now (he also killed his mother - such madness - so there's no escaping it in this case, so I've heard.)
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
User avatar
manas
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby alan » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:44 am

Thank you for your attention. Since no one has answered the question, I'll just consider it a mystery.
alan
 
Posts: 2442
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:13 am

alan wrote:Thank you for your attention. Since no one has answered the question, I'll just consider it a mystery.


Actually, I thought there were some pretty good answers above. It was a very cruel act on the part of the perpetrator. There is no Divine-all-powerful Creator-God to stop this from happening (according to Buddhism and a few other religions), so there is no conflict with doctrine. There is suffering and there is a way out of suffering. This terrible act does not change that. The only conflict I see as others have noted is why an all-powerful being (if there was one) would not stop this or the holocaust or other atrocities. No such conflict with the Dhamma; still a terrible act, one done by the perpetrator, that is why it happened.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7693
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Sylvester » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:38 am

gavesako wrote:Regarding those who were killed by this person's violent action, there might not be a simple answer as to "why" it happened to them. Consider this Sutta in which the Buddha describes why painful feelings (such as being shot at) arise for living beings:

"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 uneven[2] 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 brahmans & 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 brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Ven. Thanissaro tries to interpret it in a wider sense which is interesting, and it related to his interpretations of the principle of kamma and vipaka using chaos theory.


Hi Bhante

We should note that this sutta uses a interesting contrast of terms. For eg, you have the following cases contrasted -

"feelings arise based on X" = X-samuṭṭhānāni ...vedayitāni uppajjanti

versus

"caused by what was done before" = pubbekatahetu

I suspect that the fact that 2 different Pali phrases were used must indicate a more sophisticated contrast was intended than merely looking to a listing of different causal factors. It would be unusual for a sutta to use 2 different causative words, eg hetu/cause and samuṭṭhāna/source if that sutta were to make a meaningful contrast between the 2 types of propositions. There would then be no common ground between the 2 proposition that enables a valid comparison.

Perhaps what is intended is to contrast the extent to which each of the listed factors works as a "cause". After all, the pubbekatahetu is qualified by sabbantaṃ, to suggest that the misperception here is that kamma is the sole determinant/cause.
Sylvester
 
Posts: 1434
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: The obvious question about Kamma

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:52 pm

I would have thought that the most obvious question about kamma is how an action can have results (vipaka) for the being that performed the action. (Other than in the most obvious sense that is accepted by all, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike). This would seem to be more fundamental than the issue over the suffering and death of innocents, in that the answer would show how it works.
User avatar
Sam Vara
 
Posts: 781
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: appicchato, Crazy cloud and 9 guests