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Karma and Newton's Laws - Dhamma Wheel

Karma and Newton's Laws

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Buckwheat
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Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:13 pm

I would like to compare/contrast Karma and Newston's Third Law of Motion, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." I would like to leave rebirth out of this discussion.

They seem like very similar concepts to me, both inferring that all actions have consequences. It seems Karma is roughly like an extension of Newton's Law, it goes beyond the current moment and includes the statistical probabilities of actions that are out in the world. If I agitate the world, there is more agitation as a consequence. If I calm the world, there is more peace for me to enjoy. If I strike an object with my fist, it strikes me back. If I gently nudge and object, it gently nudges me back. If I send anger and violence out into the world, anger and violence are my consequence. If I send joy and happiness out in to the world, joy and happiness are my reward.

There is a clear difference between the two in that Newton was dealing with physical matter and their motions, while karma deals with the moral dimension of our actions and experience. But there also seem to be some similarities between the two concepts.

I know this is a bit of a stretch, but my general theme is that it seems to me one doesn't need a "magical" force to understand Karma, and it is not a stretch of the imagination to realize that consequences always come around sooner or later. I know sometimes in life it feels like you can "get away with" something, but it seems like there is always some consequence, even if it's just guilt, shame, and lost night's sleep, or a hit to one's reputation. More often than not, we really do face the direct consequences of our actions. I never seem to "get away with" anything!! :D

(Edits in red)
Last edited by Buckwheat on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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daverupa
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby daverupa » Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:26 pm


Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:07 am

I am not trying to reduce kamma to a scientific or physical principle, only to set up an analogy (not a direct parallel) between karma and physics. My purpose is to take another look at kamma from another perspective so that I can deepen my understanding. Dependent origination seems to me very similar to the fundamental assumption of physical laws, that of cause and effect. However, I acknowledge that Buddhism and physics study very, very different aspects of experience.

I don't see how "sending" is magical. If I shoot the stray cat across the street, that is sending violence into the neighborhood. Nothing magical. Despicable, but not magical.

You point out a limitation to the analogy that one must not posit a "force carrying particle" when considering karma. Agreed!! Understanding "this cause" leads to "that effect" is the focus, along with realizing that once certain causes appear the effects are as inviolable as gravity itself. I like your comment about the identity mistake. It's making me think (in a good way :). I do tend to study anatta and kamma as two separate topics, but combining them is interesting.

Kamma always seems to be described as belonging to an individual, I believe the line is something like, "...I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma...". Yet anatta says that this is "not me/not mine". I think resolving this is the primary motive behind creating this thread. If anybody has a unique analogy or idea for drilling this into my practice, I would love to hear those ideas. And if it fits into my karma-physics analogy, bonus points. But more important is just resolving my perceived kamma/anatta conflict.

I also want to add that anatta has not been my focus lately, because when I was focusing on it a while back I started to lose my identity in ways that were clearly unhealthy. I decided to return to the fundamentals of generosity and virtue so that I can get myself in a position to take on anatta without falling apart at the seems.
Last edited by Buckwheat on Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

Gena1480
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Gena1480 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:05 am

as far as Buddhist law goes
what ever ceases first, arises last
what ever ceases last, arises first
thus the cycle continues.
it is not the same as Newton's law.
metta.

chownah
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby chownah » Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:53 am


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David N. Snyder
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:22 am

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Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:09 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:31 am

Last edited by Buckwheat on Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

danieLion
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby danieLion » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:31 am

Forgive me if this is off topic, but the Laws the Law of Kamma most remind me of are The Law of Effect (cf. E.L. Thorndike et al) and The Law of Reinforcement (cf. B.F. SKinner et al). They deal with the same subject: behaving.
D :heart:

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:22 pm

If you are looking for a metaphor, i like the "stone dropped into a still pool" better. It at least allows for more complex relationships. Despite what newton, the materialists, and b.f. skinnner say, we dont live in a universe simple enough to allow for simplistic one to one causal relationships.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:44 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

danieLion
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby danieLion » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:17 am


Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:26 pm

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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JeffR
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby JeffR » Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:08 pm


Gena1480
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Gena1480 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:20 am

what ceases first, it is verbal fabrications
what arises last ,it is verbal fabrications
what arises first, it is mental fabrications
what ceases last, it is mental fabrications
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
metta

Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:07 pm

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:01 pm

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

Buckwheat
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:52 pm

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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daverupa
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:53 pm


danieLion
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Re: Karma and Newton's Laws

Postby danieLion » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:27 am



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