A proof of the inviolability of karma

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A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby alexryan » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:29 pm

Sangha,

It has long been my belief that enduring happiness can best be achieved by living a life in pursuit of noble dream.
The life purpose that I set myself many years ago is somewhat grandiose …
To bring an end to the age of barbarism on earth.

At one time people believed that the earth was flat.
This misguided belief constrained their behavior and prevented them from sailing to discover the new world.
Disproving this single belief changed the world.

In a similar fashion, it is my belief that underlying all of the barbarism in our world today is a single misguided belief. Namely, the belief that we can achieve happiness for ourselves by bringing unhappiness to others.

To that end I have struggled for many years to scientifically prove the inviolability of karma.
Recently I believe that I may have actually succeeded.
The proof that I have written is rooted in the hard science of neuro-science.

I am in need of assistance.
I need help from others to either validate or invalidate the proof.
Any assistance that would help to move me towards my goal would be very much appreciated.

With Metta,
Alex

Here is a link to the article:

A proof of the inviolability of karma: http://bit.ly/aadYZC

Here is a summary of the proof:

Karma is the punishment/reward system that we unconsciously use on ourselves to persuade ourselves to follow the golden rule.

Karma is inviolable because the very biology of our brain is designed to ensure that the happiness/unhappiness that we experience varies in direct proportion to our harmony/disharmony with our conscience.

The delusion that happiness can be achieved for ourselves by bringing unhappiness to others is the root cause of our unhappiness. This belief gives birth to disharmony within which, in turn, gives birth to barbarism without. To the extent to which we change such beliefs we will bring greater peace and happiness to both ourselves and our world.
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Sobeh » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:15 pm

From the article:

"Do you believe that “what goes around comes around”?
Do you believe that “good things come to good people”?
Do you believe that “people get what’s coming to them”?
Then you believe in karma."

Yeah so, that's not 'kamma' in Theravadan Buddhism. Via Nanavira Thera, verses 651, 652, and 653, of the Suttanipāta are as follows:

651
Kassako kammanā hoti, sippiko hoti kammanā,
vānijo kammanā hoti, pessiko hoti kammanā.

652
Coro pi kammanā hoti, yodhājīvo pi kammanā,
yājako kammanā hoti, rājā pi hoti kammanā.

653
Evam etam yathābhūtam kammam passanti panditā
paticcasamuppādadasā kammavipākakovidā.
---
651
By action is one a farmer, by action a craftsman,
By action is one a merchant, by action a servant,

652
By action is one a thief, by action a soldier,
By action is one a priest, by action a king.

653
In this way the wise see action as it really is,
Seeing dependent arising, understanding result of action.


In Buddhism, kamma is simply action. The 'proof' doesn't proceed from this definition, so it's inapplicable.
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:12 pm

Sobeh said: In Buddhism, kamma is simply action.


Kamma isn't simply action .... the Buddha taught that it is Intentional Action.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Kamma/kamma.html

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: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:16 pm

cooran wrote:
Sobeh said: In Buddhism, kamma is simply action.


Kamma isn't simply action .... the Buddha taught that it is Intentional Action.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Kamma/kamma.html

with metta
Chris
Absolutely. That is a vital distinction to understand and make.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Anicca » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:02 am

Howdy Alex!
alexryan wrote:Sangha,
It has long been my belief that enduring happiness can best be achieved by living a life in pursuit of noble dream.

How about living a life to experience a noble Reality?

alexryan wrote:The life purpose that I set myself many years ago is somewhat grandiose …
To bring an end to the age of barbarism on earth.

Oh! You want the *other* Buddhists at the DharmaWheel! <sorry - couldn't resist...>

alexryan wrote:... In a similar fashion, it is my belief that underlying all of the barbarism in our world today is a single misguided belief.

I think around here, most have invested in the wisdom of Buddha's teaching which singles out ignorance as the 'single' culprit that has many manisfestations.

alexryan wrote:The proof that I have written is rooted in the hard science of neuro-science.

Science might be viewed as the "petroleum oil" that doesn't mix well with the "water" of the Dhamma...

alexryan wrote:I am in need of assistance.
I need help from others to either validate or invalidate the proof.
Any assistance that would help to move me towards my goal would be very much appreciated.

I believe that kamma is so complex that it can not be objectively proven - only subjectively known through personal experience - science doesn't like subjective proof, does it?

I've skimmed through the June 10th blog - great stuff! - i wish you the best.

metta

p.s.
tiltbillings wrote:
cooran wrote:
Sobeh said: In Buddhism, kamma is simply action.


Kamma isn't simply action .... the Buddha taught that it is Intentional Action.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Kamma/kamma.html

with metta
Chris
Absolutely. That is a vital distinction to understand and make.

a quote from Alex's blog:
Karma is not about the deed.
Karma is about the “intention” behind the deed.
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:10 am

Anicca wrote:a quote from Alex's blog:
Karma is not about the deed.
Karma is about the “intention” behind the deed.
That's good; however, we were responding to Sobeh's misstatement.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:19 am

Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:That's good; however, we were responding to Sobeh's misstatement.

I think you'll find that Sobeh probably meant exact what Tilt and Cooran are saying... and that it was just a clumsy choice of words.

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)
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:That's good; however, we were responding to Sobeh's misstatement.

I think you'll find that Sobeh probably meant exact what Tilt and Cooran are saying... and that it was just a clumsy choice of words.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Must have been the result of Sobeh's reading the Wallace interview.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:That's good; however, we were responding to Sobeh's misstatement.

I think you'll find that Sobeh probably meant exact what Tilt and Cooran are saying... and that it was just a clumsy choice of words.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Must have been the result of Sobeh's reading the Wallace interview.

hey, maybe that;s how some teachers teach it :tongue:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:17 am

jcsuperstar wrote:hey, maybe that;s how some teachers teach it

At least it is not many and I want to know who they are.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Laurens » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:49 am

All I will say is you make a lot of assertions without any attempts to substantiate your claims and this is something that you cannot do if you are attempting to prove something, assuming that its actually possible to prove anything.

For example you make the following claim:

"Empathy almost certainly evolved as a means to judge the true intentions of potential predators in the vicinity of the tribe."

On what basis is that claim made? I think that empathy doesn't really have any purpose in an evolutionary sense - at least not in the way that you seem to posit, and I feel that your definition of empathy is a little off. Empathy is a product of something that makes us unique as a species - our imagination. Our ability to think outside the context of what is happening at the moment. Our earlier ancestors would not comprehend a joke in which one has to imagine a talking animal for example, simply because their brains cannot conceive of an animal that could talk - our ability to imagine is something that developed quite late. As humans we have the unique gift of imagination, which means we can imagine what it is like to be in someone else's position, and imagine what it must be like for them to experience certain things etc. Without imagination we would not be able to grasp the concept of putting ourselves in someone else's shoes.

However you seem to think that empathy has some role to play in the defence against predators and I would state otherwise. Our main defence against predators comes mainly from our ability to analyse and piece together our surroundings - which is something we developed far earlier than we developed imagination. From a footprint in the dust for example, we can ascertain that a lion has been here, it went in such-and-such a direction. From a big animal growling at you and coming towards you, you can ascertain a threat. I fail to see where empathy comes in to it on this level. To an extent all animals are aware of predators, to varying degrees of success and they all have the ability to ascertain a threat - without having the ability to empathise.

Empathy comes long after our ancestors developed the awareness of threats. Morality is clearly a product of evolution, the driving force of it being the advantages that working together and caring for others can have in terms of the survival of a species. However I think that empathy is the product of imagination - our ability to entertain concepts of 'what if....?'

I really do not see the effect that it has on our survival as a species, and if you have good reasons for believing that it has served that purpose in that way then you need to substantiate your claim. However I think it is evident that our awareness of threats comes from somewhere completely different to empathy.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby alexryan » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:19 am

Thanks very much to everyone for the great responses.

Laurens,
You make a good point. There *are* unsubstantiated claims.
Honestly I was trying to strike a balance between being thorough and not writing a book. ;)
I wish I had been able to keep it shorter.
In regards to your specific issue about origins of empathy, I would point out a couple things.

1: Natural selection doesn't work by accident. Every trait that we have is there for a reason. I believe that the ability to correctly ascertain the true intentions of a predator is a pretty good reason. It seems quite logical to me that people who have this trait would have a better chance of surviving in a predatory environment. The reason that I didn't go into more detail to prove that point is that I really didn't think anyone would question it.

2: The excellent book "The Buddha's brain" gives a very nice explanation of how empathy works in the brain. At it's most primitive level the brain enables us to "mirror" the actions of others. This ability to connect with others and mirror their behavior is facilitated by "mirror neurons". We do this instinctively in an attempt to ascertain their emotions and thoughts because our survival once depended on accurately assessing the intentions of others.
Last edited by alexryan on Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby alexryan » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:30 am

Annica,

Howdy! Thank you very much for your very thoughtful comments.

Re: "I believe that kamma is so complex that it can not be objectively proven - only subjectively known through personal experience - science doesn't like subjective proof, does it?"

This is exactly the *challenge* that drove me to want to prove it. ;)
This may have been true in the Buddha's time, but I truly believe that neuro-science has advanced to the stage where this is no longer the case.

I have a belief about complexity ...
We believe a thing to be complex until we understand it - at which point it ceases to be complex. :)

Personally I have faith in the power of the human mind to solve almost any problem. :) :)

With Metta,
Alex
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby alexryan » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:44 am

tiltbillings,

You make a great point about karma not being about "action" but rather "intentional action".

For most of my life I believed that it was okay to have negative thoughts as long as I did not act on them.

But a Buddhist teacher recently helped me to come to the belief that that I might not even be conscious of these "intentional actions".

For example, we may negatively judge someone in our mind and subconsciously communicate our judgment about them with our body language and not even be aware of it.

Most communication is non-verbal.

By simply holding negative thoughts in our mind we can inadvertently hurt other people.

I believe it to be the case that the intentions we hold in our minds have may ripple effects of this sort of which we are not even aware.

For this reason, I tend to say that karma is about "intention".
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Anicca » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:49 am

Howdy Laurens!
Laurens wrote:Empathy is a product of something that makes us unique as a species - our imagination.

Is it possible that other species might have empathy? What makes me think you do not keep pets? The actions of dolphins are mighty suspect.

Recent neurolgical studies show that by observing actions in others - the precise neurons 'fire' in the observer same as the observed - called "mirror firing" or something like that. Emotions perhaps produce a harmonic resonance that do the same?

alexryan wrote:Re: "I believe that kamma is so complex that it can not be objectively proven - only subjectively known through personal experience - science doesn't like subjective proof, does it?"

This is exactly the *challenge* that drove me to want to prove it. ;)
This may have been true in the Buddha's time, but I truly believe that neuro-science has advanced to the stage where this is no longer the case.

Alex, i doubt if the advances can show the interaction of multiple past life kammas ripening and blending with the present life kamma. When a monk said essentially what you are saying to the Buddha - the Buddha said in no uncertain terms that kamma was not simple. Science will not change that IMO ... although a little abhiñña might help!

Theravada is more about saving one mind at a time - and it is kamma that teaches that only you can save your mind - no one else can do it for you. Buddha could not save the world from "the age of barbarism" - i doubt if "the science of karma" could either... sorry to rain on your parade - but until i fix all my faults - i've got more than enough to fill my plate without taking on the faults of the whole world.

metta
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:06 am

Anicca wrote:
Recent neurolgical studies show that by observing actions in others - the precise neurons 'fire' in the observer same as the observed - called "mirror firing" or something like that. Emotions perhaps produce a harmonic resonance that do the same?


mirror neurons.
they're quite interesting, they had a piece on them on npr a couple months back, and oddly enough at work some people from the school district came out around the same time to give us some lectures about bullying, spotting it, dealing with it, preventing it, and they too mentioned mirror neurons.

these IMO could actually explain a bit of "mind reading" or at least "knowing the minds of others" since our own minds can be effected by the minds of others, then in theory at least if we were to become intimate with our own minds via meditation we should be able to spot this thus knowing the other's mind as well.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:30 am

alexryan wrote:Natural selection doesn't work by accident. Every trait that we have is there for a reason.
Except natural selection does work by accident (or rather, the changes that occur are completely unplanned and random, and if those changes cause the organism to be more successful at breeding and surviving the organism is able to pass the change on to the next generation at a slightly increased rate compared to those organisms without the same change). Any talk of traits being there 'for a reason' are clumsy, the reason is always the same: the ability to pass genes on to the next generation. Talk of reason and purpose may be more appropriate in a forum where people believe in a being dictating purpose and reason, rather than a forum where people believe in impersonal laws like gravity, natural selection and kamma. :)
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby nathan » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:30 am

If karma/kamma were inviolable there could be no escape from it. As there is an escape from it, nibbana, it cannot therefore be considered inviolable.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Laurens » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:10 am

Anicca wrote:Howdy Laurens!
Laurens wrote:Empathy is a product of something that makes us unique as a species - our imagination.

Is it possible that other species might have empathy? What makes me think you do not keep pets? The actions of dolphins are mighty suspect.

Recent neurolgical studies show that by observing actions in others - the precise neurons 'fire' in the observer same as the observed - called "mirror firing" or something like that. Emotions perhaps produce a harmonic resonance that do the same?


Because it is impossible for other animals to think of being in another's position. Our concept of empathy requires imagination in that sense at least - the very fact that we can conceive of such an abstract concept is because of our imagination. Maybe animals do mirror each other in that way, but in what sense can we apply our abstract concept of empathy to that?

As I understand it empathy is not just a neurological mirroring, its a concept that we have developed that engages certain ways of thinking - ways of thinking that animals are not capable of. Perhaps the concept of empathy was built around examining this neurological mirroring, but I fail to see how empathy could be found in the animal kingdom because empathy is an abstract concept.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: A proof of the inviolability of karma

Postby Laurens » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:26 pm

Also I think that the statement 'Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people' is a naive thing to say. I think we all desire that kind of balance and there is a psychological need to believe in that statement, but it doesn't apply in reality. Think of perfectly kind souls who spend their lives in trapped abusive relationships or the smartest, nicest kid who gets abused and scarred for life... That's just one example of many that illustrates the fact that this is not always true. The law of cause and effect is a tangible reality, but it has no concept of good and bad, and who deserves what.

I think its an oversimplification to say good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. It would be more accurate to say, if you put out good and do good to others, you are more likely to receive good in return from them, however simply being good is not a protection against suffering because other factors can be involved and it should not be said that doing good is alone enough to ensure a good life.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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