Isn't Karma extrapolation?

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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Jesse » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:16 pm

I think it's too easy to think of karma like a form of divine retribution or simple causation, which I don't think it is at all. I believe karma is our habitual tendencies, which are easy to see, and also relates to our deeper impulses which we are usually unconscious of, but these are also visible to us in meditative states.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:50 pm

Alfredo wrote:
As for "you create your own reality," well, if Buddhist karma were true, then it would be possible to interpret the world as something which originates in the mind of each perceiver


---which, incidentally, you are doing via this misunderstanding (which is originating in your own mind), of karma, but which has nothing to do with what Buddhism teaches.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:51 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:...and is not what Buddhism teaches.
Cittamatrin Buddhism teaches exactly "this". ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:57 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:...and is not what Buddhism teaches.
Cittamatrin Buddhism teaches exactly "this". ;)


I think you misread my response.
so, I went back and added emphasis,. and re-arranged the words.
My fault for using split-infinitives in the first place.

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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:19 pm

Alfredo wrote:The basic conceit behind karma is not merely that causality exists, but that it has an ethical dimension. That is, (morally) "good" actions must have "good" results, while "bad" actions...you get the idea. This is held out as evidence of reincarnation, since otherwise the wicked might prosper, people might suffer unjustly, etc. I see all this as something like a category mistake.


Well, the categorical mistake appears because of the error in your interpretation.
Obviously, people who do wicked things often make out quite nicely. For many, crime does indeed pay, and entire civilizations have prospered and developed due to the destruction of the peoples they invaded.
Likewise, the kindest people you might ever meet often die terrible deaths.
How many firefighters are burned alive trying to save the lives of others?

The good causes leading to good results and the bad causes leading to bad results have nothing to do with this kind of observation of outwardly occurring phenomena. Rather, it is very internal. (To give a very simple example), a person who is greedy or stingy will always feel somewhat impoverished, meaning that he or she will never be satisfied that they have enough, even though he or she might be a millionaire. Conversely, a person who has very little, but is happy to share what he or she has with someone, will always feel that, despite their outward situation, regardless of how much money they actually have in their pocket, they will not feel needy. Even if they are hungry, they will not feel the suffering of the millionaire who has everything, stuffs his belly with food, and yet is constantly unsatisfied.

So, you see, it is very psychological. It is a reality created in the mind.
Karma occurs in the mind.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Paul » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:49 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The good causes leading to good results and the bad causes leading to bad results have nothing to do with this kind of observation of outwardly occurring phenomena. Rather, it is very internal. (To give a very simple example), a person who is greedy or stingy will always feel somewhat impoverished, meaning that he or she will never be satisfied that they have enough, even though he or she might be a millionaire. Conversely, a person who has very little, but is happy to share what he or she has with someone, will always feel that, despite their outward situation, regardless of how much money they actually have in their pocket, they will not feel needy. Even if they are hungry, they will not feel the suffering of the millionaire who has everything, stuffs his belly with food, and yet is constantly unsatisfied.

So, you see, it is very psychological. It is a reality created in the mind.
Karma occurs in the mind.


I don't think this really covers the whole scope of karma as used in Buddhism. Although karma is a mental factor, the results of a karmic action are not a mere mental cause and resultant mental effect. The realm a person finds themselves being born into, their physical body, their prosperity etc. can all be caused by karma. Someone can be born as a chakravartin (and have all the marks on their body etc.) due to karma, for example. So I don't think it's an accurate way of describing the Buddhist view to say that karma is something that only influences one's psychological perspective, although it does do also include that (ignoring philosophical idealism for the moment).
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby dude » Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:52 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
dude wrote:"Thought gives rise to action, repeated action hardens into character, and character becomes destiny."
Source please.


I don't recall the sutra citation, so I'll withdraw the assertion if you like.
It was attributed to the Buddha in Lama Surya Das' book "Awakening the Buddha Within."
I'm not his follower, nor do I uphold the Tibetan lineage, but the quote is consistent with what I understand and believe.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:57 pm

It's the "destiny" bit which doesn't sit right with what I know about the Budhas teachings on karma.

PS No need to withdraw anything! :smile:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Wayfarer » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:16 pm

The opening stanzas of the Dhammapada come to mind:

1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.


Acharya Buddharakkhita

Studying Buddhism without accepting karma would be akin to studying physics whilst not accepting gravity.

I also agree with Paul's post above, that it is not simply a psychological phenomenon, it goes much deeper than that.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Alfredo » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:34 pm

The quote is Greek.

Wow. I thought I was the skeptical one, but here a whole bunch of people are interpreting "karma" to mean something like a Christian conscience! Are you quite sure that evil-doers will inevitably be tormented with guilt over their actions? And is that really enough of a punishment?

I had a funny thought. In the comics and bad sci-fi, there is often a "mirror universe" in which good is evil and evil is good. In that world, maybe there is "anti-karma"--i.e., good deeds are punished after you die, while bad deeds are rewarded. Wouldn't that count as causality?

Anyway, for all we know, maybe we live in that world. The major argument against it is...authoritative testimony, which Buddhists apparently reject as a valid pramana.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Paul » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:49 pm

Alfredo wrote:Anyway, for all we know, maybe we live in that world. The major argument against it is...authoritative testimony, which Buddhists apparently reject as a valid pramana.


Don't you mean they accept it, at least for a Buddha's testimony?
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:10 am

Alfredo wrote:The quote is Greek.

Wow. I thought I was the skeptical one, but here a whole bunch of people are interpreting "karma" to mean something like a Christian conscience!


I don't see that. are you just trolling?
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:56 am

Maybe it's a projection. (Can we be trolls to each other?) But here are the money 'grafs:

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
The good causes leading to good results and the bad causes leading to bad results have nothing to do with this kind of observation of outwardly occurring phenomena. Rather, it is very internal. (To give a very simple example), a person who is greedy or stingy will always feel somewhat impoverished, meaning that he or she will never be satisfied that they have enough, even though he or she might be a millionaire.


(To which Paul and jeeprs objected)

Jesse wrote:
I think it's too easy to think of karma like a form of divine retribution or simple causation, which I don't think it is at all. I believe karma is our habitual tendencies, which are easy to see, and also relates to our deeper impulses which we are usually unconscious of, but these are also visible to us in meditative states.


(Which is different, but still seems to avoid the supernatural, afterlife aspect.)

Oh, one more thing about anti-karma (from the mirror universe, where good deeds are punished and bad ones rewarded). Suppose it turns out that our universe IS the evil universe, and that anti-karma is true. In that case, would the correct Buddhist response be to deliberately commit evil, since this is what leads us to liberation?
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby futerko » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:01 am

The point is to reduce karma, not judge what is good or bad.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:41 am

So if torturing babies could reduce your karma (and you knew it would reduce your karma), you'd torture babies? Or better yet, in that case, you'd consider torturing babies to be fine Buddhist practice?
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby futerko » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:47 am

Alfredo wrote:So if torturing babies could reduce your karma (and you knew it would reduce your karma), you'd torture babies? Or better yet, in that case, you'd consider torturing babies to be fine Buddhist practice?


If you think that hitting yourself over the head with a hammer is a cure for a headache, then carry on with this line of "reasoning."
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:55 am

Not the same line of reasoning. I want to know if your Buddhist practice is really motivated by naked self-interest, and if some dubious metaphysics is all that restrains you from rapine and bloody murder.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby undefineable » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:59 am

Alfredo wrote:I had a funny thought. In the comics and bad sci-fi, there is often a "mirror universe" in which good is evil and evil is good.
Alfredo wrote:Suppose it turns out that our universe IS the evil universe, and that anti-karma is true.
Nietzsche indeed demonstrated (clearly enough for those with the wherewithal to acknowledge it) that evil is generally good and good generally evil from the point of view of ordinary reality, so regardless of whether or not you're "trolling" (and whether or not you're seriously suggesting that evil is good), you do have a point that demands to be addressed. However, Buddhism shares in common with other Indo-European religions the aim of 'transcending' that reality somehow.

I've raised this issue (why orthodox takes on 'karma' appear to fall in line with 'herd' morality) before here. It's likely too awkward to be addressed by lay Buddhists. As an example, consider an entrepreneur who a) competes in the full knowledge that desperate economic conditions spell death by starvation to his rivals should he succeed, and b) maintains a positive outlook in which the suffering of others has no place and in which his own suffering is unnecessary (i.e. he knows he'll react to failure by 'going out' with a heroic bang rather than lingering in self-pity) - How is he still generating negative karma? {Note the gendered pronoun :stirthepot: _ }

To me, there are three obvious counter-arguments: First, the most negative of karma is said to be malicious, in that consequent harm to other beings is deliberate and brings satisfaction (google: negative karma four binding factors). Consider wishing harm on others out of anger, or consider the psychopath who gets a thrill from knowing that they're harming others - a thrill inspired by the knowledge that he or she has enough control to ensure that they themselves do not suffer and that others suffer in their stead: Based on nothing more than a conceptual understanding of shunyata, it seems that karma doesn't care whether the suffering envisioned by "evil-doers" is theirs or others', or even whether it's "real". What counts is that a future outcome of suffering for a being or beings is considered afresh, which is more than enough for that same suffering to take root in one's own mind. Secondly, the the Three Poisons (Aversion, Attachment and Ignorance) are all experienced, recurrently, as uniquely painful, and may be involved in any number of "negative" mental and physical actions more deeply than first impressions might suggest. {For reasons I've made clear in other posts, I'm not the best person to speculate on the mental lives of others in any case!!} Last but not least, it seems that through speculations of this kind, people can develop too much pride to acknowledge a simple lack of understanding that has persuaded them they're clever enough to have the last word on a subject. This seems unwise, particularly when that "last word" is an idea that would bring misery and destruction if the majority held it to be a universal truth. Of course it's wise to have some doubts where one has no knowledge to back up any conclusions, but it also makes sense to leave room for future advances in one's insight.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby futerko » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:01 am

Alfredo wrote:Not the same line of reasoning. I want to know if your Buddhist practice is really motivated by naked self-interest, and if some dubious metaphysics is all that restrains you from rapine and bloody murder.


The idea that "actions have consequences" may be dubious metaphysics to you, and yes, those consequences affect not only myself but those around me.

Nothing restrains me from going out raping and pillaging, if I had a good reason to do so then I probably would.
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Re: Isn't Karma extrapolation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:44 am

Alfredo wrote: Oh, one more thing about anti-karma (from the mirror universe, where good deeds are punished and bad ones rewarded). Suppose it turns out that our universe IS the evil universe, and that anti-karma is true. In that case, would the correct Buddhist response be to deliberately commit evil, since this is what leads us to liberation?

In that universe, The Buddha would look like the one we have, except that he would have a black mustache and goatee.
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