Causes of poverty.

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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:28 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:And no, karma is not an invisible force in the universe.

It depends on how we use language but to be more accurate I should have said it's a universal principle that applies to all ordinary beings everywhere at all times.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:03 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yes, everything happens for a reason. But not everything that happens to a person is the result of their own actions.


Greg wrote: Well actually it is. Let's take the flooded river example. Now a river flooding is (maybe) not a consequence of a specific action on your behalf, but being in the vicinity, or living in the vicinity, or being born in the vicinity is due to your karma. That is the reason why not everybody was in the vicinity of the flood.


PVS wrote: Yes, that is true. Technically, every moment of where you are is a result of your previous actions. I guess what I meant was that there is a sort of hierarchy of relevance. Ultimately, everything is connected with everything else.

Agreed

But at some point (and I bet there could be a mathematical equation for this) the causes are so numerous and so far removed that their significance is hardly relevant.

Usually it's taught only a Buddha can fully understand the very subtle nuances of cause and effect.

For example, both of my parents served in the US Army during WW2, and they met at some sort of military social function in the early 1940's. But this would not have happened if Germany had not invaded the rest of Europe. So, you could say that if Hitler hadn't come to power, my parents would not have met or gotten married I would not be here. But the connection is so remote it is essentially meaningless. I don't need to thank the nazis for my being able to post on Dharma Wheel.

Only because you don't properly understand karma. In fact you should thank the Nazis for being partly responsible for your present good fortune just as the Jews should be deeply grateful because without WW2 and the extermination camps it's unlikely the state of Israel would exist today.

So, when someone brings up the issue of poverty, and then somebody else brings up the point that where a person is today is the result of some past karma, okay, that karma could have been 100 lifetimes ago. It is an essentially meaningless conclusion

This is where you have completely missed the point. Past life karma IS what determines present life experiences which is why our present day conduct is so important for our future.

Furthermore, what constitutes poverty is not necessarily wealth. In the Wonderful Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, the average per capita income is less than US$3000 per year. This doesn't mean the people are living in poverty. But poverty can mean no home, no access to drinking water, no education and no easily accessible medical care, or all of the above combined. For a person to have the "positive karma' to be born is such a place where those things exist, those things first have to exist!

Or brought into existence by individual and collective efforts.

It doesn't matter what your karma is if a cure for your fatal disease hasn't been discovered yet. It's like saying that people born two hundred years ago had the unfortunate karma, due to past actions, of not being born when there was the internet.

Again you have missed the point. If you have a fatal disease that's your karma, if there's no cure for it that's your karma, if there's a cure but you can't afford it that's your karma, if you can afford it but it doesn't work that's your karma.

Furthermore, if a person's tendency is to be generous, and as a result they acquire great wealth in a following lifetime, then with that wealth they have two options. They can continue being generous, lifetime after lifetime, which, if we hold to the principle that actions tend to become habitual, is likely the case, then over time, exponentially, enough people would give away enough wealth so that there would be no more poverty.

No ...as long as people have delusions there will always be some who create the causes to be poor but even if poverty is somehow eliminated from this world those who steal will experience poverty in another life in another world. There's no escape from karma.

The other option is that having been born into wealth, they become covetous and greedy, and this in turn would perpetuate exponentially until there is no more wealth anywhere. So, I think it is an illogical and impossible proposition.

This is definitely an illogical and impossible proposition.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:46 am

outside of your own mind, where does your karma exist?
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:30 am

"Tilopa", by your way of understanding, there should be no precept against killing, because as soon as I kill somebody, I am merely causing them to realize the fruit of karma that they have already planted through their own past negative deeds, and the more people I kill, the more people I am helping to realize the results of their own past actions, and is it not better for them to have this karmic justice meted out sooner than later? And having thus helped them settle some of their karmic accounts, having lifted that karmic burden, does this not bring them that much sooner to Buddhahood? And having brought them that much sooner to Buddhahood, have I not in fact generated incalculable good karma for myself through all that killing?
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:06 am

...by your way of understanding, there should be no precept against killing, because as soon as I kill somebody, I am merely causing them to realize the fruit of karma that they have already planted through their own past negative deeds, and the more people I kill, the more people I am helping to realize the results of their own past actions, and is it not better for them to have this karmic justice meted out sooner than later?

To be killed by you they must have created the cause - most likely by killing you in a previous life - but that doesn't mean your action is good. You have created negative karma for yourself which will bring a suffering rebirth and also cause you to be killed again in the future. And so it goes, life after life after life - we kill and are killed, rape and are raped, torture and are tortured, abuse and are abused, persecute and are persecuted etc. etc. etc. for as long as we remain under the influence of karma and delusions. It's exactly why there SHOULD be a precept against killing - and stealing, and lying and adultery. Because what goes around comes around - it's called cyclic existence.

And having thus helped them settle some of their karmic accounts, having lifted that karmic burden, does this not bring them that much sooner to Buddhahood? And having brought them that much sooner to Buddhahood, have I not in fact generated incalculable good karma for myself through all that killing?

If you study some authentic teachings on karma you will easily understand why this statement is completely wrong.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:09 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yes, that is true. Technically, every moment of where you are is a result of your previous actions.
I guess what I meant was that there is a sort of hierarchy of relevance. Ultimately, everything is connected with everything else. But at some point (and I bet there could be a mathematical equation for this) the causes are so numerous and so far removed that their significance is hardly relevant.
I imagine that it is quite the opposite actually, ie that nothing is too far removed as to not influence where you are and where you will be. If it was then, over an infinite number of lifetimes, no action would have a consequence, all outcomes would be lost over time.
So, you could say that if Hitler hadn't come to power, my parents would not have met or gotten married I would not be here. But the connection is so remote it is essentially meaningless. I don't need to thank the nazis for my being able to post on Dharma Wheel.
Well maybe you do? :tongue: But seriously, again the answer is the same. If it is not due to your actions in the past that you ended up the child of your parents and being born in/under the circumstances you encountered then what is it due to? Luck? Fate? God?
So, when someone brings up the issue of poverty, and then somebody else brings up the point that where a person is today is the result of some past karma, okay, that karma could have been 100 lifetimes ago. It is an essentially meaningless conclusion.
Or by the same token it is essentially a meaningful conclusion.
For a person to have the "positive karma' to be born is such a place where those things exist, those things first have to exist! It doesn't matter what your karma is if a cure for your fatal disease hasn't been discovered yet. It's like saying that people born two hundred years ago had the unfortunate karma, due to past actions, of not being born when there was the internet.
Well, some people are born in places and times where those things exist, others are not. So why then if not due to karma?
Furthermore, if a person's tendency is to be generous, and as a result they acquire great wealth in a following lifetime, then with that wealth they have two options. They can continue being generous, lifetime after lifetime, which, if we hold to the principle that actions tend to become habitual, is likely the case, then over time, exponentially, enough people would give away enough wealth so that there would be no more poverty. The other option is that having been born into wealth, they become covetous and greedy, and this in turn would perpetuate exponentially until there is no more wealth anywhere. So, I think it is an illogical and impossible proposition.
That's because you give the extreme in both cases whereas in reality there a re many more shades of grey. This allows for one to develop or regress spiritually. Your take on karma seems more "Hindu' ie fated, whereas Buddhism says that in any situation you have the choice to act in a wholesome or unwholesome manner and thus experience the consequences of your decision.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:09 am

If I am walking down the street and trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and sprain my ankle or whatever, of course that is the result of my own action. But it is not my karma that puts the crack in the sidewalk.

The idea that karma is some kind of judgmental force in the universe, deciding what is good and what is bad is just faceless theism. You might as well believe in God.

Suppose a person is in a hurry to get to the airport, and speaks rudely to the cab driver, and as a result, the cab driver drives slower, and the person misses his flight.

One would conclude that because of this person's negative action, he has reaped a negative result. Bad action is bad karma or whatever.

But suppose it turns out that the flight he missed crashes, and everybody onboard dies. So, you would then have to say the man had good karma after all.

but then, suppose it turns out that the plane crashed into the man's house, destroying everything. Oh, now it has to switch back to bad karma again.

But, it turns out that the man had everything insured for millions of dollars and now he is richer than he ever was before. So, now it's good karma again

and on and on.

The point is, looking at karma this way, in hindsight, is nothing but the creation of what is basically a "self-fulfilling prophesy". If you think something is bad, you say it must be the result of negative karma and if you think something is good, you say it is the result as positive karma. This is merely a process of convenience satisfying the feeling of dissatisfaction which results from ignorance.

The original post, identifying the conditional causes of poverty, is not about why some people have poverty and others do not. It is about the conditions which define poverty in the first place.

There is a difference between some karmic excuse for why a person experiences poverty, and what poverty is and what causes it.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:15 am

In addition to muni's posting...possible causes of poverty...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html
"What are the six channels for dissipating wealth which he does not pursue?
(a) "indulgence in intoxicants which cause infatuation and heedlessness;
(b) sauntering in streets at unseemly hours;
(c) frequenting theatrical shows;
(d) indulgence in gambling which causes heedlessness;
(e) association with evil companions;
(f) the habit of idleness.

"There are, young householder, these six evil consequences in being addicted to idleness:
"He does no work, saying:
(i) that it is extremely cold,
(ii) that it is extremely hot,
(iii) that it is too late in the evening,
(iv) that it is too early in the morning,
(v) that he is extremely hungry,
(vi) that he is too full.

"Living in this way, he leaves many duties undone, new wealth he does not get, and wealth he has acquired dwindles away."
"Sleeping till sunrise, adultery, irascibility, malevolence, evil companions, avarice — these six causes ruin a man.
"The man who has evil comrades and friends is given to evil ways, to ruin does he fall in both worlds — here and the next.
"Dice, women, liquor, dancing, singing, sleeping by day, sauntering at unseemly hours, evil companions, avarice — these nine causes ruin a man.
"Who plays with dice and drinks intoxicants, goes to women who are dear unto others as their own lives, associates with the mean and not with elders — he declines just as the moon during the waning half.
"Who is drunk, poor, destitute, still thirsty whilst drinking, frequents the bars, sinks in debt as a stone in water, swiftly brings disrepute to his family.
"Who by habit sleeps by day, and keeps late hours, is ever intoxicated, and is licentious, is not fit to lead a household life.
"Who says it is too hot, too cold, too late, and leaves things undone, the opportunities for good go past such men.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:18 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:If I am walking down the street and trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and sprain my ankle or whatever, of course that is the result of my own action. But it is not my karma that puts the crack in the sidewalk.

No but it's your karma to be in the place where there is a crack in the sidewalk

The idea that karma is some kind of judgmental force in the universe, deciding what is good and what is bad is just faceless theism. You might as well believe in God.

We're not saying this and no Buddhist would...you create karma, you can purify it, you can change it.

Suppose a person is in a hurry to get to the airport, and speaks rudely to the cab driver, and as a result, the cab driver drives slower, and the person misses his flight. One would conclude that because of this person's negative action, he has reaped a negative result. Bad action is bad karma or whatever. But suppose it turns out that the flight he missed crashes, and everybody onboard dies. So, you would then have to say the man had good karma after all.but then, suppose it turns out that the plane crashed into the man's house, destroying everything. Oh, now it has to switch back to bad karma again.But, it turns out that the man had everything insured for millions of dollars and now he is richer than he ever was before. So, now it's good karma again and on and on.

Go ahead knock yourself out!

The point is, looking at karma this way, in hindsight, is nothing but the creation of what is basically a "self-fulfilling prophesy". If you think something is bad, you say it must be the result of negative karma and if you think something is good, you say it is the result as positive karma. This is merely a process of convenience satisfying the feeling of dissatisfaction which results from ignorance. The original post, identifying the conditional causes of poverty, is not about why some people have poverty and others do not. It is about the conditions which define poverty in the first place.


Karma is not a set of rules formulated by Buddha or anyone else, it's an explanation of how things work according to the perception of enlightened beings and according to that explanation happiness and suffering come from positive and negative karma respectively, it's really that simple. But there are many things to consider - the basic principles of karma, when and how they apply, exceptions to those principles, purification and so forth. It's a huge subject and you need to receive oral teachings from someone who really knows it well because you will never fully understand it from books, the internet or a forum like this.

There is a difference between some karmic excuse for why a person experiences poverty, and what poverty is and what causes it.

Poverty may be relative but the causes of it - in so far as it is the subjective experience of an individual - have been explained by Buddha. Those causes are karmic and are related to stealing and miserliness in previous lifetimes.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby muni » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:17 am

I thank you for the interesting reading also about karma you offer me. I must reflect about.

Coming back to what Kirt wrote and so looking to right now how these causes can be I see the need of respect and not so much of statistics.
When their is lack of action through genuine compassion, mutual respect; then all those efforts are kept in narrow way. The interconnectedness isn't seen in vast view.

Two attitudes are jumping in mind:

"I am so poor, I am victim so help me". And " I the great am going to help you". These operas are boring, lack understanding.

Now people are mingling everywhere in the world, wow, a wonderful teaching of colorful mandala! It is therefore we should reflect how Buddhists can help.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby muni » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:24 am

Equality of opportunities, right protection.......... http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNA ... 92,00.html
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:30 pm

Tilopa wrote:
Poverty may be relative but the causes of it - in so far as it is the subjective experience of an individual - have been explained by Buddha. Those causes are karmic and are related to stealing and miserliness in previous lifetimes.


Yeah, but that wasn't what the original post was about.
The view you hold is essentially that conditions arise only when karma is considered as a factor. It's circular reasoning.

In your point of view, a giant sink hole in the middle of a highway isn't a driving hazard
as long as nobody falls into it,
because drivers will only fall into it if it is their 'karma' to do so, some will drive around it and some will drive into it
but that the hole itself doesn't occur otherwise.
And then only after that happens, the hazard is only a result of individual karma.
What you are saying is that conditions arise only with karma.
But there is karma and there are obstacles.

Of course, a person can say that a hole has no inherent "hazardness" quality to it.
The hole, by itself, is empty!
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:48 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:If I am walking down the street and trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and sprain my ankle or whatever, of course that is the result of my own action. But it is not my karma that puts the crack in the sidewalk.
Yes, but you tripped on it.
The idea that karma is some kind of judgmental force in the universe, deciding what is good and what is bad is just faceless theism. You might as well believe in God.
Red herring.
Suppose a person is in a hurry to get to the airport, and speaks rudely to the cab driver, and as a result, the cab driver drives slower, and the person misses his flight.

One would conclude that because of this person's negative action, he has reaped a negative result. Bad action is bad karma or whatever.

But suppose it turns out that the flight he missed crashes, and everybody onboard dies. So, you would then have to say the man had good karma after all.

but then, suppose it turns out that the plane crashed into the man's house, destroying everything. Oh, now it has to switch back to bad karma again.

But, it turns out that the man had everything insured for millions of dollars and now he is richer than he ever was before. So, now it's good karma again

and on and on.
Who said karma is linear? Go read "The Patthanuddesa Dipani" http://mahajana.net/texts/kopia_lokalna/MANUAL02.html coz your straw man has failed.
There is a difference between some karmic excuse for why a person experiences poverty, and what poverty is and what causes it.
So there is something other than karma which causes poverty? You mean the distribution of wealth is not based on peoples action? On greed and ignorance? So (again) what is it based on? Do you reckon you can answer that without resorting to red herrings and straw men? Please??? Image
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:42 pm

What you call my 'red herring' was my response to Tilopa's referring to karma as "a universal force" and "a universal principle". That is some new-age interpretation. The universe doesn't care at all what happens to you.

I am not saying that conditions do not have causes. Of course poverty arises in many cases because of peoples actions.Or it can happen because a tsunami wiped out all your frams and your hose and you have nothing and you are starving and sick. The tsunami is not caused by people.

And it can be a result of greed and miserliness, but that may be on the part of someone with more political power than on the part of the person who is living in poverty.

I am not denying that karma places a person squarely in the middle of the experiece they have.

My point is that what is functioning as karma is the way a person experiences the conditions which arise in one's life. It isn't the conditions per se.

It isn't having money or not having money that determines whether a person feels rich or poor. It is the person's outlook, which is the result of the karma. that is why I first mentioned that the Buddha lived without shelter and begged for food but did not say "I am poor".

To quote my teacher on this,
"The notion or the assessment of something as a state of suffering or state of misfortune that must therefore be the result of previous negative karma, the criterion for this is not how that state is assessed by a given culture or appraised by those around the person, but how the person, him or herself, experiences it. Regardless of what an outside observer might feel about someone‟s circumstances or experience, if the person, him or herself, feels something as suffering, even if that something that they are feeling as suffering someone else would think of as something desirable, it is the result of negative karma, because it is an experience of suffering."

Sometimes it rains and sometimes it doesn't. That isn't karma. Those are natural conditions. And the fact that a person might get caught in a storm, the fact that this is the result of his or her own actions is a moot point. The critical factor is how the person regards being in that rain, whether they like it or not, and that is based on attachment.

Our karma is the internal experience we have of external conditions (often the things we have no control over) that we encounter. If the amount of gold a person has were the result of karma, then gold would have to have some intrinsic value to it, and karma could be measured by price. You could calculate how much karma is needed to acquire so much gold. Gold would have to be said to have a self-arising existence. But Gold has no intrinsic value. Gold is only valuable in a monetary sense because we think it is. A person with a ton of gold may feel he still doesn't have enough, so he has a mentality of poverty. A person who doesn't feel any attachment to gold at all may feel very rich. Yes, it is our mental activity which gives gold its value, so in that sense having a lot of gold or not is karma. But karma does not determine how much gold there is in the world.

The conditions of poverty are both external and internal. For an individual, his or her karma creates his or her internal conditions, but the external conditions are not necessarily created by that person, although they certainly could be and quite often are.

The original post referred to the external conditions which give rise to poverty. Essentially blaming the people who live in those conditions for those external conditions "on their karma" is not the same as regarding their mental attitude toward those conditions, which is the karma we can actually change.

It's like the story of trying to cover the earth with leather as opposed to just putting on a pair of shoes to protect the feet.

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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:50 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What you call my 'red herring' was my response to Tilopa's referring to karma as "a universal force" and "a universal principle". That is some new-age interpretation. The universe doesn't care at all what happens to you.
fair enough, I agree with you but I don't think Tilopa was trying to put across this idea, just expressing themselves clumsily.
I am not saying that conditions do not have causes. Of course poverty arises in many cases because of peoples actions.Or it can happen because a tsunami wiped out all your frams and your hose and you have nothing and you are starving and sick. The tsunami is not caused by people.
I didn't say it was.
My point is that what is functioning as karma is the way a person experiences the conditions which arise in one's life. It isn't the conditions per se.
Karma means actions not experiences. You are talking about "feeling" (Skt. vedana, Tib. tshor-ba) and/or "mental formations", "impulses", "volition", or "compositional factors" (Skt. samskāra, Tib. 'du-byed). We are not talking about the same thing.
Our karma is the internal experience we have of external conditions (often the things we have no control over) that we encounter.
Yes and no.
The original post referred to the external conditions which give rise to poverty. Essentially blaming the people who live in those conditions for those external conditions "on their karma" is not the same as regarding their mental attitude toward those conditions, which is the karma we can actually change.
Nobody said anything about blame. The title of the thread is "Causes of poverty", the answer is??? Take a guess... :smile:
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:03 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Karma means actions not experiences.

Yes, I am quite aware of this.
But karma, if not regarded experientially, is a pointless consideration. It doesn't matter where your karma leads you if you don't experience it, and it is due to karma that beings experience things as they do, for example, hungry ghosts perceiving fresh cool water as pus.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:46 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What you call my 'red herring' was my response to Tilopa's referring to karma as "a universal force" and "a universal principle". That is some new-age interpretation. The universe doesn't care at all what happens to you.

I'm using the word universal to mean omnipresent as per this definition from thesaurus.com:

Omnipresent

Definition: all-present
Synonyms: everywhere, infinite, pervading, pervasive, ubiquitary, ubiquitous, universal

You're the one trying to impute some new age meaning into it. My usage is correct and to anyone who knows the teachings on karma, obvious.

Greg you owe me an apology because my language isn't clumsy and you've hurt my feelings :crying:
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:01 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:My point is that what is functioning as karma is the way a person experiences the conditions which arise in one's life. It isn't the conditions themselves.

Actually it is.

A full and complete karmic action produces 4 results:

1. rebirth in one of the realms of existence
2. personal experience
3. habitual tendencies established in the mind
4. environmental conditions of the world, country or place one inhabits

There is no contradiction between this and the experience of karma as good or bad being totally subjective as your teacher correctly says but if you want to say that your karma is not responsible for the conditions in your life then you are mistaken.
Last edited by Tilopa on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby Tilopa » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:07 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The original post referred to the external conditions which give rise to poverty. Essentially blaming the people who live in those conditions for those external conditions "on their karma" is not the same as regarding their mental attitude toward those conditions, which is the karma we can actually change.

There are no external conditions which give rise to poverty that exist independently from the karma of the beings whose subjective experience it is.
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Re: Causes of poverty.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:31 pm

Tilopa wrote:
There are no external conditions which give rise to poverty that exist independently from the karma of the beings whose subjective experience it is.

So you are saying that karma, not plate tectonics creates tsunamis.

What about gravity?
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