How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

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How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Dugu » Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:13 am

I'm trying to understand how Karma work the way it does. Why good karma produce good results.. and why bad karma produce bad results. Why does it operate in such a fashion? :shrug:
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:34 am

Greetings Dugu,

I think the common perceptions of kamma and what it is tend to be a little over inflated and lead people into thinking it's some kind of unproveable mystic force in which you believe or do not.

Kamma is a volition action, and volitional activity is a formation (sankhara) conditioned by ignorance. Thus, kamma is representative of samsaric existence or 'being'. Actions which are generally considered to constitute good kamma (wisdom, generosity, lovingkindess) are such because these actions inherently involve a degree of renunciation of self-interest and a reduction of craving and clinging. This is how they yield good vipaka (kammic result). Not because they somehow coerce and manipulate external events, but because of their very nature. On the other hand, greed, aversion and delusion work in the opposite direction and mire one further in samsaric suffering.

Until one is an arahant, there will always be varying degrees of ignorance, so we will continue to 'build houses' (i.e. sankhara) and identify with the five aggregates (in part or in whole) and will continue to exist in the samsaric round of becoming to that extent. So called "good kamma", through seeing the benefits that derive from lack of clinging, provides a good foundation not only for general mundane happiness, but also for the transcendental wisdom which ultimately transcends kamma (and thus, samsara) by the understanding and experience of cessation.

Nothing particularly mystical and incomprehensible there, is there?

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)


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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 do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:01 am

:goodpost: this question comes up many many times each day on Yahoo! Answers and I can never give an adequate answer. Would it be okay if I direct the questioners to this thread from now on?
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:00 pm

sadhu! :goodpost: retro !!!
I really appreciate such a well made answer regarding kamma.
A moment of piti arose by reading your reply.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby PeterB » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:40 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dugu,

I think the common perceptions of kamma and what it is tend to be a little over inflated and lead people into thinking it's some kind of unproveable mystic force in which you believe or do not.

Kamma is a volition action, and volitional activity is a formation (sankhara) conditioned by ignorance. Thus, kamma is representative of samsaric existence or 'being'. Actions which are generally considered to constitute good kamma (wisdom, generosity, lovingkindess) are such because these actions inherently involve a degree of renunciation of self-interest and a reduction of craving and clinging. This is how they yield good vipaka (kammic result). Not because they somehow coerce and manipulate external events, but because of their very nature. On the other hand, greed, aversion and delusion work in the opposite direction and mire one further in samsaric suffering.

Until one is an arahant, there will always be varying degrees of ignorance, so we will continue to 'build houses' (i.e. sankhara) and identify with the five aggregates (in part or in whole) and will continue to exist in the samsaric round of becoming to that extent. So called "good kamma", through seeing the benefits that derive from lack of clinging, provides a good foundation not only for general mundane happiness, but also for the transcendental wisdom which ultimately transcends kamma (and thus, samsara) by the understanding and experience of cessation.

Nothing particularly mystical and incomprehensible there, is there?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Sadhu !
A reply which makes the difference between the Buddhist view of Karma and Vipaka and the more simplistic Hindu view abundantly clear.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Dugu » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:14 am

"because of their very nature" :namaste: I agree
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:59 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dugu,

I think the common perceptions of kamma and what it is tend to be a little over inflated and lead people into thinking it's some kind of unproveable mystic force in which you believe or do not.

Kamma is a volition action, and volitional activity is a formation (sankhara) conditioned by ignorance. Thus, kamma is representative of samsaric existence or 'being'. Actions which are generally considered to constitute good kamma (wisdom, generosity, lovingkindess) are such because these actions inherently involve a degree of renunciation of self-interest and a reduction of craving and clinging. This is how they yield good vipaka (kammic result). Not because they somehow coerce and manipulate external events, but because of their very nature. On the other hand, greed, aversion and delusion work in the opposite direction and mire one further in samsaric suffering.

Until one is an arahant, there will always be varying degrees of ignorance, so we will continue to 'build houses' (i.e. sankhara) and identify with the five aggregates (in part or in whole) and will continue to exist in the samsaric round of becoming to that extent. So called "good kamma", through seeing the benefits that derive from lack of clinging, provides a good foundation not only for general mundane happiness, but also for the transcendental wisdom which ultimately transcends kamma (and thus, samsara) by the understanding and experience of cessation.

Nothing particularly mystical and incomprehensible there, is there?

Metta,
Retro. :)



This is the best explanation I have seen

:goodpost:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Waterearth » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:51 am

To me Karma are the causes and conditions that determine the arising and ceasing of phenomena.
When the mind only minds the mind,
reality stands alone and shines,
this is wisdom in action,
its expression is compassion...
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:47 am

Dugu wrote:Why good karma produce good results.. and why bad karma produce bad results.

If karma produced bad results, why would we call it good karma? If karma produced good results, why would we call it bad karma?

The main problem is that we cannot actually see the results of karma. If someone does evil deeds such as stealing, he may think that the result is very good, very enjoyable, as he quickly gets some money without working hard at all, but that is not the result of karma. The result of stealing is getting one's own property stolen, or being reborn in hell after death, or, at the very least, being born into a poor family in a future existence, when one will have to work very hard just to get the basic needs of life. Such results are obviously not good — they are not desired by anyone.

A bad person will abstain from making bad karma only out of fear of punishment by the law, a good person will abstain due to fear of blame by others, self-blame, or fear of karmic retribution. A wise person will abstain due to desire for mental and moral purity, which is a supportive conditon to gain realisation of the Dhamma. That is, he will abstain from stealing, and instead practice generosity because he sees the benefits that derive from non-attachment.

The sorrow (domanassa) that arises from remorse on doing evil, or the gladness (pīti) that arises from non-remorse on doing good, are not the results of karma either. They are conditioned by consciousness (citta).

Here he rejoices, hereafter he rejoices.
In both states the doer of good rejoices.
He rejoices, he exults
perceiving the purity of his own deeds. (Dhp v 16)

Here he laments, hereafter he laments.
In both states the evil-doer laments.
“I have done evil,” he laments.
He laments again, having gone to a woeful state. (Dhp v 17)

In general, the results of karma come in later existences (hereafter).
Only in a few exceptional cases does karma bear fruit in this very life. When a criminal gets caught and punished for his crimes, that is also not the result of karma, but a result of the actions of others.

In some countries, people are stoned to death for adultery; in other countries it is not a criminal offence at all — at most it will result in public humiliation, or divorce procedings, which may prove very costly, but that does not mean that it is without karmic consequences.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Dugu » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:11 am

Those are good points, B. Pesala. I guess what I really was trying to ask was not "why" good karma produce good fruits but more "how" does good karma produce good fruits, like under what type of mechanism does it operates to bear the appropriate fruits in the hereafter.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Clueless Git » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:26 pm

Dugu wrote:Those are good points, B. Pesala. I guess what I really was trying to ask was not "why" good karma produce good fruits but more "how" does good karma produce good fruits, like under what type of mechanism does it operates to bear the appropriate fruits in the hereafter.

'Lo Dugu :)

I'm not sure if what I have to say in answer to that is quite what you are fishing for here. More kinda concerns the 'mechanism' of how good karma is reaped from good action in the current lifetime without shedding any light on the 'hereafter' whatsoever.

Anyways, m'personal observation, based upon a fledgling understanding of group dynamics and 'one to many' mathematics, is along the lines of this:

Human 'actions' can be divided, loosely, into two main categories. There are actions which cultivate the old Three Musketeer "all for one and one for all" type bonding of group members and those that cultivate the infinitely more common "every man for himself!" and "I'm alright Jack, pull up the ladder!" mentality.

'Mathematicaly' speaking; Individuals subscribing to the first category of actions reap the benefits of having cultivated a 'many to one' relationship with others in their group. The prime benefit being that in times of trouble the many will rally to the aid of the one. Conversely individuals subscribing to the second category reap the bitter fruit of that, in times of personal difficulty, they will have to stand alone or even against the many. A culture not of 'many to one' but of 'one to many', as it were ..

From a purely biological hardwiring PoV; Part of the mechanism of Darwinian natural selection is that those hard-wired in such a way that attributes helpfull to survival are accompanied by a 'feel good' factor (usualy triggered by release of endorphins). Some of those survival freindly attributes, high sex drive f'rinstance, are very obvious and some, like attributes which cultivate the survival freindly 'many to one' group dynamics, are a bit more subtle.

Anyways ... M'personal observation is that all the attributes observed by the buddha as bringing about good karma belong in the survival freindly 'many to one' cultivating, feel good factor category. Similarly all those attributes that the buddha observed as bringing about bad karma belong in t'other "how to shoot oneself in the foot" category.

Personaly I'm somewhat of the impression that good karma is intrinsicaly linked to biologicaly hard wired survival attributes and the feel good factor they bring.

That sheds no light at all on how good karma in one lifetime may affect the next, of course.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:23 pm

Could you Clueless Git provide any kind of Buddhist basis for your biologically/ evolutionary based concepts of Kamma ? Or are they a product of your own musings ?
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Clueless Git » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:47 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Could you Clueless Git provide any kind of Buddhist basis for your biologically/ evolutionary based concepts of Kamma ? Or are they a product of your own musings ?

'Lo Sanghamitta :)

'Buddhist basics' could be loosely said to based upon realisations of things, by the buddha, that are true, which occured to him as a result of his own musings?

The buddha, in the same way that Jesus had no reference to NT Christian basics as he is the source of then, obviously had no reference to buddhist basics for his own musings.

I guess I was just trying to stab around in the dark, a bit, as to what observable evidences the buddha may himself have been musing upon when certain truths occured to him.

Another possibility is that I am suffering side effects from my current medication ...

:rolleye:
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:12 pm

Its generally accepted within most schools of Buddhism Clueless Git that the Buddha's understanding of kamma and vipaka and of the Dhamma in general arose from his Enlightenment, That at the moment of his Enlightenment he rediscovered the Dhamma that had been taught by all of the previous Buddhas. Describing what he discovered as musings is problematic in that he makes it plain that what he saw to be the case was not as a result of discursive thought, but rather the arising of deep insight into the nature of things beyond all discursive thought.

:anjali:
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:53 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dugu,

I think the common perceptions of kamma and what it is tend to be a little over inflated and lead people into thinking it's some kind of unproveable mystic force in which you believe or do not.

Kamma is a volition action, and volitional activity is a formation (sankhara) conditioned by ignorance. Thus, kamma is representative of samsaric existence or 'being'. Actions which are generally considered to constitute good kamma (wisdom, generosity, lovingkindess) are such because these actions inherently involve a degree of renunciation of self-interest and a reduction of craving and clinging. This is how they yield good vipaka (kammic result). Not because they somehow coerce and manipulate external events, but because of their very nature. On the other hand, greed, aversion and delusion work in the opposite direction and mire one further in samsaric suffering.

Until one is an arahant, there will always be varying degrees of ignorance, so we will continue to 'build houses' (i.e. sankhara) and identify with the five aggregates (in part or in whole) and will continue to exist in the samsaric round of becoming to that extent. So called "good kamma", through seeing the benefits that derive from lack of clinging, provides a good foundation not only for general mundane happiness, but also for the transcendental wisdom which ultimately transcends kamma (and thus, samsara) by the understanding and experience of cessation.

Nothing particularly mystical and incomprehensible there, is there?

Metta,
Retro. :)

This needs to be bumped. :anjali:
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:36 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dugu,

I think the common perceptions of kamma and what it is tend to be a little over inflated and lead people into thinking it's some kind of unproveable mystic force in which you believe or do not.

Kamma is a volition action, and volitional activity is a formation (sankhara) conditioned by ignorance. Thus, kamma is representative of samsaric existence or 'being'. Actions which are generally considered to constitute good kamma (wisdom, generosity, lovingkindess) are such because these actions inherently involve a degree of renunciation of self-interest and a reduction of craving and clinging. This is how they yield good vipaka (kammic result). Not because they somehow coerce and manipulate external events, but because of their very nature....

Nothing particularly mystical and incomprehensible there, is there?


This topic has been a stumbling block for me, and I hope to refrain from tripping over it again. :? But I did want to suggest, though, that one of the major areas of difficulty concerns the scope of kamma. Basically, the wider the scope, the more "mystical" kamma becomes. This is especially so when we seek kammic explanations for what are sometimes referred to (in a similar spirit?) as "acts of God".

Some accounts of kamma (probably found more in Mahayana, though not exclusively so) hold it accountable for practically every experience we have, including those involving natural or cosmic processes, or other phenomena over which we have no apparent control. Not only that, but kamma is held to be an inviolable law, one which "never misses, not even by a hair's breadth". That leaves us pondering how someone's volitional actions could have triggered a chain of causality which eventually led them, for instance, to perish in a typhoon or plane crash. We could say the catastrophe was an occasion for the kamma to ripen, but how did the plane (or typhoon) know? This is where the element of mystery starts to sneak in.

Retro, I think you discussed this at length on the "grey forum". Would you mind a recap?
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:53 pm

One should read several sources on Kamma to understand this very profound topic. Simplistic explanations such as one can provide in a forum like this cannot give the full picture.

What Kamma Is? by Sayādaw U Titthila is a good starting point.

Four Points to Bear in Mind from Mahāsi Sayādaw's Discourse on Dependent Origination should also be reflected on to avoid the extreme wrong views of eternalism and nihilsm, and between the extreme wrong views of moral impotency and rigid determinism.

Past kamma is the seed, but there are also supportive kamma, counter-active kamma, destructive kamma, which can effect the outcome. To get a healthy mango tree from a mango seed requires soil, sunlight, water, and protection from insects and animals. A chili seed won't give you a mango tree, no matter how carefully you nurture it.
One should read several sources on Kamma to understand this very profound topic. Simplistic explanations such as one can provide in a forum like this cannot give the full picture.

What Kamma Is? by Sayādaw U Titthila is a good starting point.

Four Points to Bear in Mind from Mahāsi Sayādaw's Discourse on Dependent Origination should also be reflected on to avoid the extreme wrong views of eternalism and nihilsm, and between the extreme wrong views of moral impotency and rigid determinism.

Past kamma is the seed, but there are also supportive kamma, counter-active kamma, destructive kamma, which can effect the outcome. To get a healthy mango tree from a mango seed requires soil, sunlight, water, and protection from insects and animals. A chili seed won't give you a mango tree, no matter how carefully you nurture it.

The mechanism of rebirth is that the final moment of consciousness (cuti citta) is the cause for the arising of relinking-consciousness (patisandhi). A dying person's last thoughts are therefore crucial in the matter of determining rebirth. They will see either a kamma they have done, a sign of that kamma, or a sign of their destiny. During one life we may perform billions or trillions of kammas, but only one can bear fruit in the next existence.

Next to heavy kamma, death-proximate kamma is most significant in causing rebirth. In the absence of any significant death-proximate kamma, habitual kamma will take precedence. Failing that, any other kamma from this life or from previous lives may give its results.
The mechanism of rebirth is that the final moment of consciousness (cuti citta) is the cause for the arising of relinking-consciousness (patisandhi). A dying person's last thoughts are therefore crucial in the matter of determining rebirth. They will see either a kamma they have done, a sign of that kamma, or a sign of their destiny. During one life we may perform billions or trillions of kammas, but only one can bear fruit in the next existence.

Next to heavy kamma, death-proximate kamma is most significant in causing rebirth. In the absence of any significant death-proximate kamma, habitual kamma will take precedence. Failing that, any other kamma from this life or from previous lives may give its results.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Clueless Git » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:04 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Its generally accepted within most schools of Buddhism Clueless Git that the Buddha's understanding of kamma and vipaka and of the Dhamma in general arose from his Enlightenment, That at the moment of his Enlightenment he rediscovered the Dhamma that had been taught by all of the previous Buddhas. Describing what he discovered as musings is problematic in that he makes it plain that what he saw to be the case was not as a result of discursive thought, but rather the arising of deep insight into the nature of things beyond all discursive thought.

:anjali:

I would not wish to get into an argument over that most estimable lady :)

Do you think it is mere coincidence though that the evolutionary/biological factors I mentioned happen to support what the buddha taught as a result of his own insight?

To be clear my personal interest is limited to the notion that non-buddhism based factors that support buddhist teachings are valuable as external verifications.
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby Dugu » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:51 am

Clueless Git, you gave a interesting take on Karma there. I like it. :)
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Re: How do you suppose Karma works the way it does?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:05 am

Greetings Lazy_eye,

Lazy_eye wrote:Retro, I think you discussed this at length on the "grey forum". Would you mind a recap?


Oh, you remember that... :tongue: The amount of times spent going in circles...

Further to Bhikkhu Pesala's recommendation on checking out multiple sources, I would recommend investigating the five niyamas. Check out...

The Manual of Cosmic Order - Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw
http://www.dhammaweb.net/html/view.php?id=5

Some accounts of kamma (probably found more in Mahayana, though not exclusively so) hold it accountable for practically every experience we have


Well in a way it is, but you need to understand what existence/experience consists of in a Dhammic sense (rather than a worldly sense) in order to grasp why it is so. It's not in the sense of coercion of other niyamas, required for typhoons, killer comets and such. Consider the following, as explained by Venerable Nanananda in his 8th Nibbana Sermon as he quotes from the Theragatha.

While going through a forest Venerable Adhimutta got caught
to a band of robbers, who were just getting ready to offer a human
sacrifice to the gods. So they got hold of this arahant as
their victim. But the latter showed no consternation. There was
no fear or terror in his face. The bandit chief asked him why
he is unmoved. Then the Venerable Adhimutta uttered a set of
verses in reply. Out of them, we may quote the following four
significant verses:

Natthi cetasikaṃ dukkhaṃ,
anapekkhassa gāmani,
atikkantā bhayā sabbe,
khīṇasaṃyojanassa ve.

"There is no mental pain
To one with no expectations, oh headman,
All fears have been transcended
By one whose fetters are extinct."

Na me hoti `ahosin'ti,
`bhavissan'ti na hoti me,
saṅkhārā vibhavissanti,
tattha kā paridevanā?

"It does not occur to me `I was',
Nor does it occur to me `I will be',
Mere preparations get destroyed,
What is there to lament?"

Suddhaṃ dhammasamuppādaṃ,
suddhaṃ saṅkhārasantatiṃ,
passantassa yathābhūtaṃ,
na bhayaṃ hoti gāmani.

"To one who sees as it is,
The arising of pure dhammas
And the sequence of pure preparations,
There is no fear, oh headman."

Tiṇakaṭṭhasamaṃ lokaṃ,
yadā paññāya passati,
mamattaṃ so asaṃvindaṃ,
`natthi me'ti na socati.

"When one sees with wisdom,
This world as comparable to grass and twigs,
Not finding anything worthwhile holding on as mine,
One does not grieve: `O! I have nothing!'"


Because the arahant has transcended becoming, there is no more samsaric existence, or in other words no kamma and therefore no fruit. Sankharas are dependent on ignorance, and when there is no ignorance, there are no sankharas.

Robbers didn't come to get the arahant because of his kamma (which would be the conventional worldly way of explanation in most discussions about kamma), but rather... because of the absence of kamma, becoming, existence etc. in the arahant there was no dukkha entailed on account of the event.

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


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