Karma

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Karma

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:47 am

Greetings Mike,

I've got no problems at all with any of that. The dukkha that arises from unwholesome volitions is very real!

The point of differentiating between a Buddhist conception of "phenomena of existence" as internal, by contrast comparison to a more worldly take on the subject, is to demonstrate the absurdity of the comment quoted in the opening post...

Even the child brutalized by drugged adults deserves the horror. The mentally ill, the retarded, the homosexuals, and the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis deserved it for evil they must have done in the past. The slave beaten to within a breath of death deserved it, if not for what he did today, then for what he did in some previous lifetime. Likewise for the rape victim. She is just getting what she deserves.


The killers and rapists mentioned were acting on their own unwholesome volition and were not compelled to act as they did by the kamma or vipaka of their victims. Other sentient beings (and thus the operation of their kamma and vipaka) are internal only to themselves.

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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Re: Karma

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:31 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:The killers and rapists mentioned were acting on their own unwholesome volition and were not compelled to act as they did by the kamma or vipaka of their victims. Other sentient beings (and thus the operation of their kamma and vipaka) are internal only to themselves.

I agree that the killers were not "compelled by the kamma or vipaka of their victims". However, as I understand it, the painful feelings (vipaka) that the victims were feeling could be (at least in part) due to previous kamma (of the victims). And, if not by kammic causes/conditions, by other, non-kammic, causes/conditions.

As Ven Nyanatikoka says:
Of all those circumstances and conditions constituting the destiny of a being, none, according to the Buddha's Teaching, can come into existence without a previous cause and the presence of a number of necessary conditions.


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Re: Karma

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:03 am

Greetings Mike,

Yes, many conditions and causes... often quite complex in their relations.

It's a very complicated set of circumstances, involving certain subtleties that would have been incredibly difficult to get through to householders who in all likelihood were still focusing on the sila aspect of the three-fold training and were yet to catch any "glimpse of the egoless nature, or anattata, and of the conditionality, or idappaccayata, of all phenomena of existence", either experientially or theoretically.

Hence, suttas which were morality teachings pitched at householders are often rather simplified in their content... yet still pretty much remain true to the deeper teachings mentioned above (unlike Jataka Tales, Dhammapada commentary stories for example, which over-simplify and distort the Dhamma nearly as badly as the OP quotation did).

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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Re: Karma

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:31 pm

Not to muddy the waters, but a couple years ago I ran into this quote from Mahasi Sayadaw:

In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.


However, in the same essay (http://www.buddhanet.net/t_karma.htm) he goes on to present a rather complex intersection of kammic and non-kammic factors, so is it possible his use of "deserve" was a mistranslation? It hardly makes sense to say a farmer "deserved" a crop failure if it was due to Utu Niyama, although of course there could be aspects of the farmer's situation which he/she brought about.

I usually think of kamma as a general principle. The Skepdic folks are using loaded examples to try to discredit the general principle. But with just about any general statement, we can point to apparent exceptions, anomalies or problem cases. Since we are not Buddhas, we don't know all the factors and how they may have combined to produce a particular situation. The point is to apply the principle to our thoughts, speech and action, not to engage in retroactive "kammic diagnoses" as to why someone's life turns out the way it does, or why some horrific atrocity took place. Kammic law, within our limited understanding, can only be an approximation.

I doubt many reasonable people would say that our experience of the world is without any moral dimension. Secular humanists would say that human morality intersects with natural law to produce a result. Buddhists would say that kamma intersects with natural law to produce a result. (If we want to split hairs, we could get into an argument over whether kamma "intersects" with nature or "manifests" via nature). Humanists would say that some things can't be explained in moral terms; Buddhists would say that the intricacies of kamma are imponderable. Just how far is the gap between these positions, really?
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