Tell me about karma

C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
I wonder whether insight meditation provides any understanding of karma (what it is, how it works), and whether the layman's definition has any merit.

Horrific things happen to people every day. Right now, someone somewhere in the World is being tortured or mutilated, maybe for political or military reasons, maybe for pleasure.... When I watch the evening news it makes me hate God (which I'll define here as the intelligent creative force of Nature). Why create such a World where people should suffer so greatly at the hands of others? If I was designing the 'Game of Life', I'd at least give the participants a chance to understand what's going on, and give them an escape route.

Why do some children get born into situations where there is no possibility but for them to endure extreme pain and suffering at the hands of others... or as a victim of Nature itself (natural disasters)? Have they committed some hideous crime in a past life? What on Earth is going on?

Please don't answer with "CCC, observe the aversion in your mind" because that's not helpful.
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Stuff I've found out, sometimes while meditating, sometimes while thinking or reading or discussing:

  • One thing leads to another.
  • Some things lead to nice, desirable, "good" things.
  • Other things lead to horrible, undesirable, "bad" things.
  • it's often hard to tell what leads to what beforehand.
  • Intention is one of the things leading to other things. Intention is the only thing I can directly manipulate - everything else, I can only manipulate via intending it first. (this is the Buddha's definition of kamma)
  • If I want to increase the number of good things around me, my intention of bringing this about must come first. (this ties into sila/virtue/conduct - straight from MCTB chapter on morals)
  • My intentions lead to things that do not affect me alone more often than not
  • More often than not, other people's intentions lead to things that affect me

Regarding God, what you're alluding to is the "problem of pain", the Theodicy. Having no gods of my own, Theodicy is not an issue in my view of the grand scheme of things, but I can see how it is a source of suffering for those who do have gods.

My advice to those who have one or more gods whose acts are incomprehensible is: really, really get to know your god so intimately that you realize their every action. If your god is the creator and maintainer of the universe, then they manifest in everything - a used condom; a beautiful flower, a torturer's toolkit, the gaze of your lover's eyes, the view from your eyes, the last gasp of a baby dying from pneumonia, your neighbor's SUV, the smeared corpse of a hedgehog run over by that SUV, your fingernails, and so on. Everything that happens is your god doing something, and since they are your god, you'll want to pay very close attention lest you miss a divine gesture. Remember, you are watching your god: anything at all that happens is of divine significance.

If you do this, I promise you, eventually the paradox of Theodicy will lose it's power to torture you. I can promise this because by doing this kind of practice this class of paradox (which would include Theodicy) has lost it's power to captivate me, and I am highly convinced, by the example of other people I know of, that it will generally work this way.

Cheers,
Florian
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for that Florian. Sounds like reasonable advice. It matches with what I've read before about the way Life - including its evils and suffering - can only be properly understood through higher levels of consciousness (wisdom). But what about the African child who is starving to death? How could that advice be given to him? He's 5 years old and hasn't eaten in a week. No one in the vicinity has any food, so it's not as if anyone's actions or good intentions could save him. Is this "retribution karma", is it just "too friggin bad!", chance or what?

It's very hard for me to conceptualise that I'm not here for some reason, that my existence has some sort of purpose....so I guess that's where a God would come in for me. A God that put me here for some reason and purpose, even if i don't know what that is. If on the other hand I'm just a result of chance biology, then that's sort of "not good enough". Chance biology is not a good enough reason for existence, in my view. However I have to admit this could be how Life works.

Bruno, the same thing - "a universe with people and stuff" but devoid of meaning and purpose, isn't satisfactory. The child starving to death has no way or hope of realising anything through meditation. He just gets born, suffers a few years of horrible pain, then dies.

Sorry this post is very negative a woeful in tone. Any practical answers appreciated!
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
C C C:
Thanks for that Florian. Sounds like reasonable advice. It matches with what I've read before about the way Life - including its evils and suffering - can only be properly understood through higher levels of consciousness (wisdom). But what about the African child who is starving to death? How could that advice be given to him? He's 5 years old and hasn't eaten in a week. No one in the vicinity has any food, so it's not as if anyone's actions or good intentions could save him. Is this "retribution karma", is it just "too friggin bad!", chance or what?

It's very hard for me to conceptualise that I'm not here for some reason, that my existence has some sort of purpose....so I guess that's where a God would come in for me. A God that put me here for some reason and purpose, even if i don't know what that is. If on the other hand I'm just a result of chance biology, then that's sort of "not good enough". Chance biology is not a good enough reason for existence, in my view. However I have to admit this could be how Life works.

Bruno, the same thing - "a universe with people and stuff" but devoid of meaning and purpose, isn't satisfactory. The child starving to death has no way or hope of realising anything through meditation. He just gets born, suffers a few years of horrible pain, then dies.

Sorry this post is very negative a woeful in tone. Any practical answers appreciated!


basically, what florian said.

also, read this chapter of MCTB if you haven't already and really think about it.

tarin
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
ok I read it.

I don't view God as a person with a beard, nor anything material. I don't view him as sitting in Heaven far away, if that's what you're getting at. My "best guess" would be that a God is the basic intelligence and energy that permeates and creates everything we can sense, and everything we can't sense. Unlimited and unbounded - no 'god free zones' and I'm quite ok with God being everything, including the annoying itch in my armpit or the dog shit on the pavement.

Now what about the African kid?
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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god in the paradox
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
ok I'm fine with that aspect of it. There's every possibility that there are things i can't understand from my current level of consciousness, that may be revealed later.

Since I don't have that level of consciousness now, I'm asking those who do have it: "why is a child born into a life of pain? Does it have anything to do with the layman's concept of retributive karma?".
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
god in the paradox
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
It's not necessarily paradoxical. It would only be paradoxical if you viewed the child as completely pure and innocent. What if he was Hitler in a past life? So my question remains.
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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C C C:
It's not necessarily paradoxical. It would only be paradoxical if you viewed the child as completely pure and innocent. What if he was Hitler in a past life? So my question remains.


and what if hitler was a victim child in a past life? so the paradox doesn't go anywhere. in the meantime, there must be a way out of this mess, no matter how it started, must there not?
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:
and what if hitler was a victim child in a past life? so the paradox doesn't go anywhere. in the meantime, there must be a way out of this mess, no matter how it started, must there not?


Yes, I suppose we just work to burn off old karma.
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
C C C:
Thanks for that Florian. Sounds like reasonable advice. It matches with what I've read before about the way Life - including its evils and suffering - can only be properly understood through higher levels of consciousness (wisdom). But what about the African child who is starving to death? How could that advice be given to him? He's 5 years old and hasn't eaten in a week. No one in the vicinity has any food, so it's not as if anyone's actions or good intentions could save him. Is this "retribution karma", is it just "too friggin bad!", chance or what?


Well, what is preventing you from helping that 5 year old? If his welfare is of real concern for you, you should really do something about it. You know, unless it's just a theoretical consideration.

Also, you were the one asking about karma. I doubt that a starving person in Africa has as your level of interest in this question. For them, getting the essentials of food and shelter will be what it's about. So obviously, it would not be a good thing to go to such a person and say to them, "some things lead to good things, some to bad things...". Instead, you'd want to give them clean water and some digestible food.

C C C:
It's very hard for me to conceptualise that I'm not here for some reason, that my existence has some sort of purpose....so I guess that's where a God would come in for me. A God that put me here for some reason and purpose, even if i don't know what that is. If on the other hand I'm just a result of chance biology, then that's sort of "not good enough". Chance biology is not a good enough reason for existence, in my view. However I have to admit this could be how Life works.


Well, having a god giving you a purpose is all well and good, but where does that god get their purpose? By delegating the origin of purpose to your god, you only push the uncomfortable question away by one single step, I can't help put notice. Pushing problems out of sight is what the Buddha called "ignorance".

Of course, if your god's purpose is to give purpose to your life, you have an interesting circular situation. That could be a very fruitful line of inquiry - find out, really, experientially, what that would mean - why does your god need a purpose? Why must purpose have a separate source? Again, this is practice instructions: get to know your god really, really well. Where your fingertips are touching the keyboard, you are touching your god. When you are full of compassion and helpless anguish over the fate of starving children, you are experiencing your god's helpless anguish and compassion. And so on.

Cheers,
Florian
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
C C C:

Bruno, the same thing - "a universe with people and stuff" but devoid of meaning and purpose, isn't satisfactory.


Hmm... you write as if "meaning and purpose bring satisfaction," but I have often found instead that (to me) "satisfaction brings a sense of meaning and purpose." This is a very old discussion of ours emoticon emoticon emoticon

When I am happy, then living in this universe of people and stuff is really meaningful and being alive is really great in general... Being alive becomes its own purpose, there doesn't need to be some "external source" of purpose, meaning or validation --- this is it and this is enough. (Heck it's way more than enough, I just came from a walk in the park, and was noticing the snow... What a lavish aesthetic luxury!...)

CCC:

The child starving to death [...] just gets born, suffers a few years of horrible pain, then dies.


And it makes sense to do one's best in order to have that stop happening as much as possible, while understanding that only a world-wide effort is going to end hunger for good.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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I can tell you that doing insight meditation helped me understand how I myself work, and to some extent this can be extended to others, understanding how they work. I guess that could be called "understanding karma"... It's really handy and helps not getting angry at others and oneself, not being self-righteous or judgemental, and even in being happy and simple.

CCC:

Why create such a World where people should suffer so greatly at the hands of others? If I was designing the 'Game of Life', I'd at least give the participants a chance to understand what's going on, and give them an escape route.


Maybe there is no god... Isn't it possible that there is just a universe, with people and stuff...? Do you think that would be a bad thing for some reason? (And if you do, why?)

CCC:

Why do some children get born into situations where there is no possibility but for them to endure extreme pain and suffering at the hands of others... or as a victim of Nature itself (natural disasters)? Have they committed some hideous crime in a past life? What on Earth is going on?

Please don't answer with "CCC, observe the aversion in your mind" because that's not helpful.


Well, that depends on the situations. For instance, some people are born into a state of war, which is wrought due to hatred and territoriality, which exists because of the passions. Some people die of an earthquake which happens due to the movement of the teutonic plaques etc...

What do you want help with, exactly?

(Interestingly, if the passionate instincts were never part of our brain, I doubt we would have survived as a species, and if there was no geological activity, I doubt life on earth could even be possible... Indeed it is very surprising that it all works so well, from galaxies to white blood cells! Which is not to disregard the fact that there is a lot of things that could use improvement... such as war and hunger.)
Graeme M., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 9 Join Date: 5/14/10 Recent Posts
C C C:
I wonder whether insight meditation provides any understanding of karma (what it is, how it works), and whether the layman's definition has any merit.

...

Why do some children get born into situations where there is no possibility but for them to endure extreme pain and suffering at the hands of others... or as a victim of Nature itself (natural disasters)? Have they committed some hideous crime in a past life? What on Earth is going on?


I don't claim any attainments, but I have pondered these topics sincerely (intellectually and via analyzing meditative experiences) for quite a while, so I can't resist chipping in.

Regarding karma, when I am most vividly experiencing what I take to be the 'reality of karma' it is simply this:

*Any* time you create a new concept involving a sense of 'self', or take an action stemming from your sense of 'self', you are setting up conditions in *your own mind* which are like a loaded gun ready to shoot you in the foot. I have experienced states of really 'tuning in' to this such that it almost 'hurts' immediately every time I realize I have created karma in this way. (Does anyone else share my take on that?)


Regarding God and suffering, well on one hand I think speaking of God (or of no God!) is just a rough metaphor for levels of reality our human mind/language will never really understand... but that said I find 'God talk' useful. How about this perspective: there are no individual selves and God is the experiencer of all phenomena. When God decides to create the whole universe, God is simply experiencing every single phenomena implied in the unfolding of that universe. From God's perspective, 'time' doesn't exist so every moment is simply 'there'.

Why does God choose to imagine things which seem horrible? Well one answer could be that to God there is no good or bad since it's impossible to 'hurt God's feelings'.

But another angle to consider is that perhaps God doesn't actually have the ability to pick and choose parts of the universe to 'censor'. Science seems to suggest that the entire universe may in principle be describable as the expression of a single pattern... in this sense perhaps our entire universe is part and parcel of a single, fractal-like 'thought' and if God wanted to imagine this universe at all, God had to imagine the whole thing.

If there really is a creator God, I think the one thing we can surmise is that God thinks that having a Universe is better than having Nothing. emoticon
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for all the helpful replies.

Been reading this: http://www.swamij.com/archery-karma-yoga.htm#quiver
which looks at karma from a yoga perspective. If anyone would like to comment on it, I'd be interested to hear more.

It answered a couple of questions I hadn't even thought of.
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Been studying this topic further and it looks like "God" makes you pay for any action that leaves an imprint on your subconscious mind. So much for free will. Seems like everything has to be done Its way, otherwise It makes you suffer.

For the positive imprints, It makes you pay by creating more and more desire. For the negative imprints, It makes painful things happen to you, like inauspicious birth/parents, circumstances, accidents, tragedies etc. So God's a ###### bastard! Quite possible in my view.

Or, maybe karma is just a deeply ingrained belief? ...possible? I still think desire is a good thing. How could it not be - it has been the motivating force behind Life itself since the beginning of time! Unless God created a World of desire just to see how much pain It can inflict on people! In which case, God truly is a ###### bastard!

I wonder how God will choose to punish me for calling him names? emoticon
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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C C C:

Or, maybe karma is just a deeply ingrained belief? ...possible? I still think desire is a good thing. How could it not be - it has been the motivating force behind Life itself since the beginning of time! Unless God created a World of desire just to see how much pain It can inflict on people! In which case, God truly is a ###### bastard!


Yeah CCC without the various instincts I doubt that our species could have survived. So it's great we got 'em, in a way, as a species, or the two of us wouldn't be here. (and there is no need to blame an imagined god, it's just the way the universe works, as understood by physics, chemistry, biology,...)

I think these mechanisms completely outdated, though. Being the cause of such widespread violence and greed, they are obviously no longer suitable or interesting in today's society. Not to mention the incredible amount of personal suffering they entail! It's a bit as if people couldn't wake up to the fact that we are no longer ape-like hunter-gatherers, that we could really start enjoying being alive, rather than madly exploit and dispute natural resources. And the various instincts are behind all of that!
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi CCC,

Good work! Notice how desire imprisons your experience: when you desire to experience something, what you are actually experiencing is not the presence of that something, but the desire for it, i.e. the absence of what you desire. Desire creates a place and time where you experience only the lack of what you desire.

When you are calling your god names because you are experiencing their actions clearly (instead of experiencing the desire for a god acting in certain ways), that is a good sign. If your god is everything there is, you calling them names is part of what makes them what they are, is in fact another divine manifestation to be witnessed, isn't it? Keep going.

Cheers,
Florian
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
C C C:
Been studying this topic further and it looks like "God" makes you pay for any action that leaves an imprint on your subconscious mind. So much for free will. Seems like everything has to be done Its way, otherwise It makes you suffer.

For the positive imprints, It makes you pay by creating more and more desire. For the negative imprints, It makes painful things happen to you, like inauspicious birth/parents, circumstances, accidents, tragedies etc. So God's a ###### bastard! Quite possible in my view.

Or, maybe karma is just a deeply ingrained belief? ...possible? I still think desire is a good thing. How could it not be - it has been the motivating force behind Life itself since the beginning of time! Unless God created a World of desire just to see how much pain It can inflict on people! In which case, God truly is a ###### bastard!

I wonder how God will choose to punish me for calling him names? emoticon


Maybe replace "God" with "my mind" and you will have something that makes perfect sense =).
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Ident Silence, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
C C C:
I wonder whether insight meditation provides any understanding of karma (what it is, how it works), and whether the layman's definition has any merit.

Horrific things happen to people every day. Right now, someone somewhere in the World is being tortured or mutilated, maybe for political or military reasons, maybe for pleasure.... When I watch the evening news it makes me hate God (which I'll define here as the intelligent creative force of Nature). Why create such a World where people should suffer so greatly at the hands of others? If I was designing the 'Game of Life', I'd at least give the participants a chance to understand what's going on, and give them an escape route.

Why do some children get born into situations where there is no possibility but for them to endure extreme pain and suffering at the hands of others... or as a victim of Nature itself (natural disasters)? Have they committed some hideous crime in a past life? What on Earth is going on?

Please don't answer with "CCC, observe the aversion in your mind" because that's not helpful.


These are similar to the questions that led me to begin trying to see reality as it is when I was a teenager. Why do people suffer? Why go bad things happen to good people?

At that time my understanding of what karma 'is' was basically "do good things and good things will happen to you", in the material and emotional sense, and vice versa but even a rough examination of day to day experience shows that this just isn't the case. To spend our time worrying about why another person is having a particular experience is pointless as it doesn't bring us any insight into our own experience of things as they are which is where the truth can be found. Not in someone else's life.

As someone else said on here, if the wellbeing of a suffering child concerns you to this extent then do something about it whether it's donating to a charity or doing volounteer work in whichever country. If it helps to reduce your own suffering then so be it but understand why you feel that way by examining each aspect of it as it arises and passes. I know that probably sounds cliched on here but it's true.

You talk of a god or an "intelligent creative force of Nature" but these are only definitions, words loaded with assumption, preconception and expectation which can all be examined and reduced to their most basic elements and seen as they are. Florian made a very good point which rings true for me from a Western magickal perspective:

My advice to those who have one or more gods whose acts are incomprehensible is: really, really get to know your god so intimately that you realize their every action. If your god is the creator and maintainer of the universe, then they manifest in everything - a used condom; a beautiful flower, a torturer's toolkit, the gaze of your lover's eyes, the view from your eyes, the last gasp of a baby dying from pneumonia, your neighbor's SUV, the smeared corpse of a hedgehog run over by that SUV, your fingernails, and so on. Everything that happens is your god doing something, and since they are your god, you'll want to pay very close attention lest you miss a divine gesture. Remember, you are watching your god: anything at all that happens is of divine significance.


This is pretty much the basis of the Oath of a Magister Templi to interpret everything as a direct communication from god. It's the experience of the suffering which holds the truth, which I have come to understand as being what initiates call the "trance of sorrow". By understanding the nature of suffering and freeing ourselves from it we can come to teach others how to free themselves since no one is going to do it for you.

Understand you own karma before trying to figure out anyone else's.
Trent H., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

Here’s an interpretation, which I put forth because it is actually practical (can be personally applied right this moment), makes sense (does not presuppose odd metaphysical views), and jives with the traditional texts more so than other interpretations I’ve seen (which makes it useful for understanding the context of other practical discourses). I am not proposing this is necessarily the “correct reading,” so I won’t respond to any critiques of that nature.

The “cycle of rebirth” pertains only to the moment-to-moment rebirthing (arising & passing) of a ‘self.’ Let’s say a person is in a situation in which an identity is triggered. It (past karma) arises (accompanied with a feeling-felt stress): “wow, it is awful that you don’t believe in God.”[1] This is said to arise due to "past karma" because the identification was created in the past (perhaps it was originally handed down from parent to child in this case, then built upon from there-after [2]). This iteration of the cycle can go one of three ways:

(1) The identification is entrenched more deeply by obsessing about it ("but God has to exists, he answers my prayers!"), justifying it with new evidence ("see, page X of the bible says Y!"), or by adding new layers to it (such as unforgiving indignation toward the supposed offender: "I don't like John Doe very much"). This specific part of the cycle has not been uprooted and additional karma has been added to the cycle.

(2) Shortly after being triggered, an identification of ‘higher priority’ arises and so the other temporarily passes (immediately preceding the new arising). This specific part of the cycle has not been uprooted, but little to no additional karma has been added.

(3) The identification is seen through in some way—as silly, or delusional, or stressful, or not-self, or impermanent, or whatever [3]-- and is thus released. This specific part of the cycle of rebirth has ended; it has been uprooted entirely, and no further karma can come from it.

Now consider that ‘beings’ in general cling tightly to a myriad of identifications and are consciously or unconsciously creating more of them all the time. Further, 'beings' typically cycle through several different identifications at a time; sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, some in the foreground, some in the background. Hence: a perpetual cycle of ‘me’ being 'reborn' all the time, a cycle of 'me' justifying ‘my’ existence. This is why an arhat (using the 10 fetter model definition) is said to have ended the cycle of rebirth itself, as there is no more self, no more identification, no more being, no more stress, etc; there is no ‘me’ to arise: “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.”

Helpful?
Trent

[1] What is perceived to be “good” (“bright”) or “bad” ("dark") is self referencing (inherited from institutions, culture, some are inborn, etc) and does not specifically reference some universal set of dogmatic principles (unless those dogmatic principles have been adopted as identifications / have been incorporated into one’s self). And so it is amorality which leads to ending the entire mess: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html

[2] Humans are born with instinctual identifications, and from the moment they're able to take on new ones / build upon the inborn, they do so (blindly). This may provide some clue as to the seemingly-literal statements about rebirth, as all 'selves' are fundamentally the same (and so any passing on of 'you' to 'another' is also just 'you' passing on to another 'you').

[3] It doesn’t matter how or why a bit of the self is eliminated, because none of it actually fundamentally exists anyway (hence ‘delusion’). A contemplative simply has to sincerely decide to eliminate whatever mental defilement arises. Perhaps the justification for what is said here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Trent H.:
Hi,

Here’s an interpretation, which I put forth because it is actually practical (can be personally applied right this moment), makes sense (does not presuppose odd metaphysical views), and jives with the traditional texts more so than other interpretations I’ve seen (which makes it useful for understanding the context of other practical discourses). I am not proposing this is necessarily the “correct reading,” so I won’t respond to any critiques of that nature.

The “cycle of rebirth” pertains only to the moment-to-moment rebirthing (arising & passing) of a ‘self.’ Let’s say a person is in a situation in which an identity is triggered. It (past karma) arises (accompanied with a feeling-felt stress): “wow, it is awful that you don’t believe in God.”[1] This is said to arise due to "past karma" because the identification was created in the past (perhaps it was originally handed down from parent to child in this case, then built upon from there-after [2]). This iteration of the cycle can go one of three ways:

(1) The identification is entrenched more deeply by obsessing about it ("but God has to exists, he answers my prayers!"), justifying it with new evidence ("see, page X of the bible says Y!"), or by adding new layers to it (such as unforgiving indignation toward the supposed offender: "I don't like John-Doe very much"). This specific part of the cycle has not been uprooted and additional karma has been added to the cycle.

(2) Shortly after being triggered, an identification of ‘higher priority’ arises and so the other temporarily passes (immediately preceding the new arising). This specific part of the cycle has not been uprooted, but little to no additional karma has been added.

(3) The identification is seen through in some way—as silly, or delusional, or stressful, or not-self, or impermanent, or whatever [3]-- and is thus released. This specific part of the cycle of rebirth has ended; it has been uprooted entirely, and no further karma can come from it.

Now consider that ‘beings’ in general cling tightly to a myriad of identifications and are consciously or unconsciously creating more of them all the time. Further, 'beings' typically cycle through several different identifications at a time; sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, some in the foreground, some in the background. Hence: a perpetual cycle of ‘me’ being 'reborn' all the time, a cycle of 'me' justifying ‘my’ existence. This is why an arhat (using the 10 fetter model definition) is said to have ended the cycle of rebirth itself, as there is no more self, no more identification, no more being, no more stress, etc; there is no ‘me’ to arise: “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.”

Helpful?
Trent

[1] What is perceived to be “good” (“bright”) or “bad” (dark) is self referencing (inherited from institutions, culture, some are inborn, etc) and does not specifically reference some universal set of dogmatic principles (unless those dogmatic principles have been adopted as identifications / have been incorporated into one’s self). And so it is amorality which leads to ending the entire mess: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html

[2] Humans are born with instinctual identifications, and from the moment they're able to take on new ones / build upon the inborn, they do so (blindly). This may provide some clue as to the seemingly-literal statements about rebirth, as all 'selves' are fundamentally the same (and so any passing on of 'you' to 'another' is also just 'you' passing on to another 'you').

[3] It doesn’t matter how or why a bit of the self is eliminated, because none of it actually fundamentally exists anyway (hence ‘delusion’). A contemplative simply has to sincerely decide to eliminate whatever mental defilement arises. Perhaps one reason for this mention: (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html).


Awesome! Best one I've heard yet. now if only I understood why the metaphysical stuff about literally being reborn between lives, the fantastical and very meticulous descriptions of Bardo, etc.
no-name seems more proper, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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Cause when you experience the bardo you realize they are just trying to be detailed...
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Ident Silence, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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Quality. That's all I have to say.
Graeme M., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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Trent H.:
his may provide some clue as to the seemingly-literal statements about rebirth, as all 'selves' are fundamentally the same (and so any passing on of 'you' to 'another' is also just 'you' passing on to another 'you').


That's a memorable and concise way to put it.

I have had similar thoughts; first I arrived at the point of thinking:
"Hey that clever Buddha was using a bait-and-switch to redefine a popular belief in re-incarnation into a discussion about the sense of self"

and then later I thought:
"Actually, given the only-relative nature of any being's existence, if you are going to talk on the level where a person 'exists' and is 'born', then heck you might as well talk about 'karma' and 'reincarnation' because all of those concepts are real/not-real to about the same degree!"

There was something quite humorous about this progression.
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Thanks trent.

When a painful 'trigger' situation arises, you try to observe both the event and your emotional reaction to it in a detached manner. In that way you de-power the subconscious imprint (karma) and prevent it from re-emerging. A process of dis-identification.

Is that correct?

I'll attempt to answer my question about the starving African child now without having to reference what I as an observer should do to help him.

Say a person misses a few meals as a child, gets a bit anxious and reacts unskillfully, then the karma relating to food/survival has begun. As an adult, that imprint will re-emerge as some sort of stressful circumstance relating to food. Maybe he goes bushwalking, gets lost, has no food for a few days and becomes so anxious about the availability of food that he reacts by hoarding a pantry full of food 'just in case'. So the subconscious imprint builds. After a few lifetimes of unskillful reaction, the person may have built the karma to a level where he manipulates and steals food from others, even if it means they have nothing to eat and die. In the next incarnation (if there is such a thing), the thing he most fears actually happens. He gets born as an African kid with nothing to eat... and he dies.

If this is how karma works, perhaps a simple summary might be to say that we need to face our demons when they emerge.

I still can't say I'm at all happy with a 'God' that creates humans that can suffer so severely. But I'm looking into florian's advice as well.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
C C C:

Say a person misses a few meals as a child, gets a bit anxious and reacts unskillfully, then the karma relating to food/survival has begun. As an adult, that imprint will re-emerge as some sort of stressful circumstance relating to food. Maybe he goes bushwalking, gets lost, has no food for a few days and becomes so anxious about the availability of food that he reacts by hoarding a pantry full of food 'just in case'. So the subconscious imprint builds. After a few lifetimes of unskillful reaction, the person may have built the karma to a level where he manipulates and steals food from others, even if it means they have nothing to eat and die. In the next incarnation (if there is such a thing), the thing he most fears actually happens. He gets born as an African kid with nothing to eat... and he dies.


You don't have to invent this little story in order to see karma in action. It is enough to realize that the person who (perhaps greedily, perhaps needingly) steals food from others, is already suffering. The perpetrator is also a victim, the debt of karma is paid in this very lifetime, both at the moment of the perpetration, and in the future through the "subconscious imprints" you refer to.

This you can see for yourself by just being mindful when you are angry, or greedy, or in general desire something. The understanding you seek is in your direct experience (as many have pointed out in this thread), not in some imagined narrative about reincarnation.

If you are constantly mindful, then you can cut off the triggers by the root. If you are not, then you are doomed to see them when they already have gained a life of their own, and are already causing mischief. I speak from personal experience.
k a steger, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello C C C - Do you practice through your own hunger (i.e., stop eating after noon, fast weekends)?
Trent H., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

C C C:
When a painful 'trigger' situation arises, you try to observe both the event and your emotional reaction to it in a detached manner. In that way you de-power the subconscious imprint (karma) and prevent it from re-emerging. A process of dis-identification.

Is that correct?


To be more specific, but still not nearly as specific as could be: one observes both the event and reaction to it, neither expressing nor repressing any thoughts or feelings regarding the situation, while sincerely trying to understand why one is having a reaction at all. Through that sincere investigation, or perhaps for another reason, one decides to eliminate that identification entirely. ("Well, it is silly for me to be upset just because someone else believes something I don't." or better yet "Well, it is silly for me to believe in anything at all... if god still exists after I stop believing (just like tables and cups and trees do), then hey, that's nice too!") In that way, one eliminates the source of the karma at the root and prevents it from re-emerging. It is a process of dis-identification, yes; the kind which removes the karma entirely, rather than simply "dis-embedding" oneself from it. One is extinguishing the fires of passion completely.

C C C:
Say a person misses a few meals as a child, gets a bit anxious and reacts unskillfully, then the karma relating to food/survival has begun.


Yes, and it is important to realize that children (and adults) generally have no idea how to react skillfully, nor do they know that there's even a reason to do so (this is why the root of many identifications/karma end up being buried deeply in one's past). In other words: it is all done blindly.

C C C:
As an adult, that imprint will re-emerge as some sort of stressful circumstance relating to food. Maybe he goes bushwalking, gets lost, has no food for a few days and becomes so anxious about the availability of food that he reacts by hoarding a pantry full of food 'just in case'. So the subconscious imprint builds.


This seems viable. I would shy away from worrying about whether it's subconscious or not, though (it just isn't important, but viewing it in such a way could cause confusion or inaction).

C C C:
After a few lifetimes of unskillful reaction, the person may have built the karma to a level where he manipulates and steals food from others, even if it means they have nothing to eat and die.


If by "lifetimes" it is understood that we are still talking about the same physical life (and thus are referring to "lifetimes" in the sense of a "being"), then yes, I suppose that could happen. But it could manifest in many other ways. A few examples: fear of poverty, a fear of letting go of valued things in general, pride in one's food stores or the means by which they were gained, shame in times of less plenty, desire for more even if needs are met, aggression if one's valuables or means by which to obtain them are threatened, projected resentment toward those less fortunate; even nurturing feelings could arise if one shares that food with another and thus feels this to be more significant than it would feel for someone who did not have that identification.

C C C:
In the next incarnation (if there is such a thing), the thing he most fears actually happens. He gets born as an African kid with nothing to eat... and he dies.


There is no such thing physically, but if he were to have a wife or children or some other companions his actions could influence, his karma (this identification) could "rub off" on them. Thus, the next incarnation of the identification/karma would be in the child, the wife, or the other companions. I would venture to say that every child picks up some of their elders' karma; 'I' for one had many blindly acquired identifications from both 'my' parents and 'my' siblings. And unless the child uproots the identification prior to having children of his own, he would likely pass it on to them too. Thus: "I" am reborn each generation again, "my" karma becomes "his" karma; "I" am quintessentially the same in each person.

C C C:
If this is how karma works, perhaps a simple summary might be to say that we need to face our demons when they emerge.


Better yet, when one faces them directly, one can look at them so intently and so clearly that one realizes that the demons are utterly insubstantial; they don't even exist in the actual world you are sitting in right now. Peace on earth is happening right this very moment!

Trent
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Hi steger, no I don't. But I usually try to practise it with other painful stimuli which trigger reactions in me.

Bruno, trent - what's wrong with the idea of reincarnation? I'm not attached to it, but I feel you're both a bit against the idea somehow. Correct me if I'm wrong here but didn't Buddha himself once re-live all his hundreds of past lives and karmas during a meditation? While the average bloke (like me) has no idea what happens after death, surely it's reasonable to consider reincarnation a possibility. And in that sense, an inauspicious re-birth due to 'bad' karma may also be possible.

If you're saying "forget about karma, just do your best here and now" well yes, I try to do that.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

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C C C:
Hi steger, no I don't. But I usually try to practise it with other painful stimuli which trigger reactions in me.

Bruno, trent - what's wrong with the idea of reincarnation? I'm not attached to it, but I feel you're both a bit against the idea somehow. Correct me if I'm wrong here but didn't Buddha himself once re-live all his hundreds of past lives and karmas during a meditation? While the average bloke (like me) has no idea what happens after death, surely it's reasonable to consider reincarnation a possibility. And in that sense, an inauspicious re-birth due to 'bad' karma may also be possible.

If you're saying "forget about karma, just do your best here and now" well yes, I try to do that.


To me, believing in reincarnation means really going out on a limb and buying into some mystical beliefs. I don't think any of us here are Buddhists. We just like the techniques, and find them to not be mystical at all but actually quite practical and naturally-occurring processes. Reincarnation, at least for those of us who haven't developed psychic powers and thus the ability to see our or others' past lives, requires a large element of faith and is not verifiable, so kind of, what's the point in believing in it explicitly? I don't believe or disbelieve in it; I really just don't know.
k a steger, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Tell me about karma

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
HI C C C

Apologies if I implied painful stimuli is in order. I am thinking that anchoring the mind in a non-conceptual practice while wrestling a conceptual one is, to me, very useful, like a 'preventitive medicine'/balanced workout.... . I would also find focusing intently on this thought (i.e., not ignoring it, going through it) which you have introduced in the thread useful, but again, knowing that, for me, greater utility/benefit seems to come from an accompanying and 'different' practice (i.e., non-conceptual). Hope this helps.

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