Guy Armstrong on Emptiness, Karma. and Volition

Sam Gentile, modified 2 Years ago at 3/9/21 12:48 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/9/21 12:48 PM

Guy Armstrong on Emptiness, Karma. and Volition

Posts: 1347 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
From the emptiness retreat I just came back from, Guy Armstrong gave a Dharma Talk on Emptiness, Karma, and Volition. Feel free to ignore if this is old territory for you but I was really struck by the power of volition in shaping and changing your spiritual path.

First he explained Karma which I am going to leave out.

Volition is a universal mental factor which means that it always present in every moment of concious experience. Volition is arising over and over in in each moment. It is influenced by other mental factors: desire, judgement, compassion, anger, wisdom and so on. The karmic significance of an act has to do with the wholesome or unwholesome mental factors that form the volition behind the act. Action is the word in this complex undertaking in which mind is truly the forerunnerof mental factors that arise and pass and influence different moments of volition, which then give rise to actions of body, speech, and mind. This is all happening moment after moment in evry waking moment without any self at the center.

The question is not, Do I want to create new karma or not? We are creating new karma in every mome to hamt because we are intending something in every moment. The question is, What kind of karma am I creating? And what karma do I want to create? The recomended choice is clear. Since happiness will be born with wholesome intentions, then we only want to have wholesome states of mind as the source of our actions. But it is not easy to have only wholesome states of mind, greed, hatred, and confusion continue to torment us.

Happiness will only be born from wholesome states of mind but what are wholesome states of mind born from? This is the purpose of the path. The path is to clarify the heart and mind. So that more and more we will abide. This is called purification of the mind.

Seen in this light, karma becomes our best friend because it shows the way to happiness. Actions become our friend and our refuge because they can lead us out of suffering. The way to do this is Right Effort.
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 3/9/21 4:13 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/9/21 4:13 PM

RE: Guy Armstrong on Emptiness, Karma. and Volition

Posts: 2752 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The way I understand it, karma is created by clinging to experience, because you plant a little seed each time you hold onto something pleasant, reject something unpleasant or ignore something neutral. The less you cling, the less new karma you create and the more life just flows as it is while you freely experience the results of your old karma without resistance.

Intention is a funny one because conventionally we assume that we are choosing to do stuff, but when you look closely enough you see that it's conditioned (cetana in link 4 namarupa of dependent origination), hence no real free will. I think that's why the Buddha emphasized letting go (3rd noble truth). Who chooses to let go you might ask? Well you could say it was a deterministic process that got triggered when you were fortunate enough to bump into the dharma :-)

Intentionally choosing wholesome actions and cultivating wholesome mental states certainly seems like it is possible, conventionally speaking. I see it as like a halfway house, because it will take you to incredible mental states, rebirth in pure lands etc., but even there can be clinging. The "final step" of letting go even of that and being ok with just what is, whatever it is - the old karma - is when the whole new karma production proces collapses. Supposedly :-)