karma question

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karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:41 am

I have some questions about karma. Its intriguing how Buddha never purported to know about heaven, gods, etc and yet talked of karma, past lives, and so on. Is this a contradiction?

And once we snuff out the flame and our mind becomes still, we are free from the cycle of rebirth. But doesn't this spell death? Wouldn't it be better to be reborn, albeit into suffering, but at least we would be alive. Nirvana seems to be an emptiness, a cessation of life.

I am obviously missing something.

Or is my concept of karma wrong: perhaps the release from karma can be interpreted as the release from impermanence in thought alone. We have only one life and nirvana is simply a higher realm of existence.

Thank you for your comments.
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Re: karma question

Postby Aloka » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:56 am

Hi,

You might find this talk about karma helpful. Its called "Who is pulling the strings" and is by Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati monastery. There's also a question and anwer session at the link, which you can listen to after the talk.

http://www.amaravati.org/teachings/audio_compilation/2083

With kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:29 pm

Aloka wrote:Hi,

You might find this talk about karma helpful. Its called "Who is pulling the strings" and is by Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati monastery. There's also a question and anwer session at the link, which you can listen to after the talk.

http://www.amaravati.org/teachings/audio_compilation/2083

With kind wishes,

Aloka


Thanks buddy:)
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Re: karma question

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:21 am

"Non-existence scares the children and brings peace to the wise"

Think of the implications of existing: you will exist in innumerable posibilities, good and bad, very good and very bad, very very good and very very bad

Also, you should not try to imagine non existence, nirvana. You will not exist separate from the whole world, you will be in everything and nowhere, something like that. This concept is imposible to describe in words or imagine, budha said that nirvana is like the smell of a rose, it is imposible to describe in words the smell of a rose.
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:15 am

dxm_dxm wrote:"Non-existence scares the children and brings peace to the wise"

Think of the implications of existing: you will exist in innumerable posibilities, good and bad, very good and very bad, very very good and very very bad

Also, you should not try to imagine non existence, nirvana. You will not exist separate from the whole world, you will be in everything and nowhere, something like that. This concept is imposible to describe in words or imagine, budha said that nirvana is like the smell of a rose, it is imposible to describe in words the smell of a rose.


Thank you for your reply, dxm. Very interesting. But I am not sure if nirvana is equivalent to non existence. I believe nirvana is cessation of many things, but not of existence itself.

Another thing I was wondering about was the concept of karma and good deeds. We must always try to do good deeds, but many good deeds lead to bad deeds do they not? I give a beggar money and he uses it to buy a gun and kill someone. Am I not complicit?

It seems to me that even a buddha would fall into this karmic sin. But how is that possible?
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Re: karma question

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:49 am

jakartaguytebet wrote:
Another thing I was wondering about was the concept of karma and good deeds. We must always try to do good deeds, but many good deeds lead to bad deeds do they not? I give a beggar money and he uses it to buy a gun and kill someone. Am I not complicit?

It seems to me that even a buddha would fall into this karmic sin. But how is that possible?


The Buddha said that kamma is intention.

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html


So therefore if you give a beggar money to buy food and then he buys a gun, that wasn't your intention, so you are not responsible for him killing someone.

Regarding the results of kamma, its also worth knowing that the Buddha said that the precise results of kamma are unconjecturable:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html


:anjali:
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Re: karma question

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:37 am

jakartaguytebet wrote:I have some questions about karma. Its intriguing how Buddha never purported to know about heaven, gods, etc and yet talked of karma, past lives, and so on. Is this a contradiction?

I don't know where you heard this. The Buddha was the teacher of gods and men, he regularly gave teachings to celestial beings, either when they visited him, or when he visited them.

I recommend some background reading to learn the basics so that your questions here will be more fruitful.
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:49 am

Aloka wrote:
jakartaguytebet wrote:
Another thing I was wondering about was the concept of karma and good deeds. We must always try to do good deeds, but many good deeds lead to bad deeds do they not? I give a beggar money and he uses it to buy a gun and kill someone. Am I not complicit?

It seems to me that even a buddha would fall into this karmic sin. But how is that possible?


The Buddha said that kamma is intention.

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html


So therefore if you give a beggar money to buy food and then he buys a gun, that wasn't your intention, so you are not responsible for him killing someone.

Regarding the results of kamma, its also worth knowing that the Buddha said that the precise results of kamma are unconjecturable:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html


:anjali:



Thank you, I see what you mean.

Karma is intention. It is a metaphysical 'event' and not a physical consequence.
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:55 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
jakartaguytebet wrote:I have some questions about karma. Its intriguing how Buddha never purported to know about heaven, gods, etc and yet talked of karma, past lives, and so on. Is this a contradiction?

I don't know where you heard this. The Buddha was the teacher of gods and men, he regularly gave teachings to celestial beings, either when they visited him, or when he visited them.

I recommend some background reading to learn the basics so that your questions here will be more fruitful.


It depends on one's school of buddhism my friend.

Metaphysical speculation of gods, other dimensions etc is unprovable and best to avoid.

'Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.'

Which is why the concept of karma is problematic once it is extended outside our lifetime. It has an element of supposition to it in this case.
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Re: karma question

Postby Kusala » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:17 am

jakartaguytebet wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
jakartaguytebet wrote:I have some questions about karma. Its intriguing how Buddha never purported to know about heaven, gods, etc and yet talked of karma, past lives, and so on. Is this a contradiction?

I don't know where you heard this. The Buddha was the teacher of gods and men, he regularly gave teachings to celestial beings, either when they visited him, or when he visited them.

I recommend some background reading to learn the basics so that your questions here will be more fruitful.


It depends on one's school of buddhism my friend.

Metaphysical speculation of gods, other dimensions etc is unprovable and best to avoid.

'Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.'

Which is why the concept of karma is problematic once it is extended outside our lifetime. It has an element of supposition to it in this case.


True, but one day "string theory" might be able to explain some of the amazing insights the Buddha had...
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:48 am

True, but one day "string theory" might be able to explain some of the amazing insights the Buddha had...[/quote]

Go on, you have my attention :D

Are you referring to other dimensions?
But the problem with string theory is that is not based on observation and cannot be tested. It may evolve into a religion.
But perhaps it can be proven mathematically; or if not proven shown to be viable.
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Re: karma question

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:48 pm

jakartaguytebet wrote:Metaphysical speculation of gods, other dimensions etc is unprovable and best to avoid.

That has nothing to do with your initial post, which boldly stated:
the Buddha never taught about gods

By what means did you arrive at that conclusion if not by metaphysical speculation? I asked where you heard it. Maybe your source was also speculating that the Buddha never taught about gods?

He obviously did, and any statement to the contrary will have to dismiss most of his teachings, and I don't mean just the Commentaries.
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Re: karma question

Postby jakartaguytebet » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:59 pm

Are you saying the buddha taught about gods? Or spoke about gods?
If so, you have taught me something new.
I thought he avoided such questions, as evidenced by the quote I cut and pastd for you.
Thx
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Re: karma question

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:25 pm

jakartaguytebet wrote:Are you saying the buddha taught about gods? Or spoke about gods?
If so, you have taught me something new.
I thought he avoided such questions, as evidenced by the quote I cut and pastd for you.


Could you give the source of your quote, please ?

Here is a reference about gods from MN 41

18. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the gods of the Four Kings!' it is possible that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he may do so. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.041.nymo.html



:anjali:
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Re: karma question

Postby anando » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:32 am

Hello,
i´m quite experienced in buddhist teaching. What is bothering me is, that there are no quotes of Pali-Kanon. Pali-Kanon is not the problem, but where
to fin it. i´m in posession of a translation of an ancient Pali-Canon from Colombo. This is a translation into german. On the left side there are the
page numbers of the original ancient Pali-Kanon. I personally do prefer Dighanikayo becaus Gotamo Buddho is telling more about the things he didn´t
speak before.How much karma one is accumulating is depending on the amount of good and bad deeds. The accounting is done after death.
If one has not enough good deeds he will have to do more life circles to proceed.
Buddhist Karma is in no way throwing you back but to stay or you proceed further.
There are 32 physical signs on our body that tell how far your Karma is advanced.
You will ge a great amont of positive Karma doing the Eightfold Path.

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Re: karma question

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:15 am

It's not difficult to find the Pāḷi Canon, but finding good translations of every sutta is not so easy.

Many translations can be found on Access to Insight, and a few of the more popular discourses — such as the Mangala Sutta — are translated and explained on my own web site.

The famous Maṅgala Sutta was taught to a god (deva), who approached the Buddha during the night and asked questions about the most auspicious signs or blessings that bring future happiness.
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Re: karma question

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:57 pm

Hello jakartaguytebet,

Here is how I understand karma.

Karma is action which is tinged by the ignorance of separateness of self in beings and things. The way we understand existence and non existence is directly informed by our ignorance and it is very hard to discern this. There are effects which karma brings and this is called vipaka or literally fruit. Karma and Vipaka can be understood as the way ignorance is perpetuated without a discernible end. To model this in your mind you must use some form of "self" view which means that however you think about existence that is never how it is.

With regard to the Buddha he did away with ignorance so that he had no need to model existence in his mind to understand it. He just knew and did his best to communicate the way in which we too can come to know. He also did a very good job of showing us how to live happily so that our happiness would support the long term welfare of one and many.

Karma is simple but that does not mean it is easy to understand.

Take Care

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Re: karma question

Postby HumbleThinker » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:50 pm

jakartaguytebet wrote:I have some questions about karma. Its intriguing how Buddha never purported to know about heaven, gods, etc and yet talked of karma, past lives, and so on. Is this a contradiction?

And once we snuff out the flame and our mind becomes still, we are free from the cycle of rebirth. But doesn't this spell death? Wouldn't it be better to be reborn, albeit into suffering, but at least we would be alive. Nirvana seems to be an emptiness, a cessation of life.

I am obviously missing something.

Or is my concept of karma wrong: perhaps the release from karma can be interpreted as the release from impermanence in thought alone. We have only one life and nirvana is simply a higher realm of existence.

Thank you for your comments.


The Buddha did speak of gods, but not in the sense of omnipotent eternal beings. These beings, which supposedly the Buddha had discussions with on more than a few occasions, are called devas, beings of long but finite life with often immense but finite power. He talked about heaven, but again not the eternal abode of god(s) where one's soul goes for eternal bliss if they are good. Heaven is simply another realm among many for beings of a specific karma who will, upon their inevitable death, be reborn in another realm. Buddha talked about past lives because he lived them and directly perceived them. The Buddha talks about karma because he had direct insight into the entire web of karma.

Nibanna, to the best of my understanding, is neither life nor death, neither existence nor not-existence. All labels of Nibbana are false, though we of course must utilize words and labels to discuss the concept. And while I understand your perception of Nibbana as it honestly reflects some of my apprehensions about Buddhism, Nibbana certainly is not death. Death is dukha, or what is commonly translated as suffering, and leads to rebirth. Nibbana is certainly not suffering, nor does it lead to rebirth. It is also not emptiness. While quite a high level of attainment, attaining the insight of emptiness, the seventh jhana, is not Nibbana. Emptiness itself is empty.

This is a Mahayana text, so I do not know how well this coincides with Theravada Buddhism, but Nagarjuna wrote that

Samsara does not have the slightest distinction from nirvana.
Nirvana does not have the slightest distinction from samsara.

Whatever is the end of nirvana, that is the end of samsara.
There is not even a very subtle slight distinction between the two.

IOW, one lives Nibbana after one attains it, then, upon death, will cease to be reborn. From what little I have gathered from my limited experience with Buddhism, the time that one lives in Nibbana, no matter how short, will overshadow any good that one could do in their next lives. Thus there are no regrets necessary for not being reborn again, not to mention that one no longer experiences dukha.
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
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