Karma

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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:13 am

That is the view of many in modern society, but I can't see how it can be reconciled with the idea that sila (morality) is one of the 'three supports' for the spiritual life (the others being wisdom and meditation). Seen this way, morality is indispensable for seeing through illusion.


Of course acting morally is good for us, but it doesn't change the fact it is illusory, and relative. Just because morality is illusory doesn't take away the consequences of our actions.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:08 am

I think the idea that morality or ethics and so on is 'illusory and relative' is part of the modern secular-scientific view of life. In fact that very idea of 'scientific view of life' is actually self-contradictory, because science is really a method, not a view of the world as such. So the 'scientific worldview' within which nothing really means anything and morality is illusory, is not really even scientific.

And as I mentioned, in all Buddhist traditions, 'morality' (sila) is one of the three main 'supports' of the practice of Dharma, the other two being wisdom (prajna) and meditation (samadhi). So the idea that morality is 'illusory and relative' would not find a lot of support in Buddhism.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:14 am

Is killing an insect more or less moral than killing a human being? Truth is there is no difference except our species is more inclined to feel badly when killing their own kind.
Is it immoral to kill someone who is going to kill many other innocent people?

Aside from emotions and human law, what dictates what is moral or not? If i change my feelings or perception of some moral dillema does that also change the morality of the act?

Morality is entirely subjective. The point of morality in Buddhism is simple. To help purify our "karma".
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:36 am

Jesse wrote:Is killing an insect more or less moral than killing a human being?


Although killing is generally prohibited, I think it is generally agreed that it is considerably more culpable to kill human beings than to kill insects or other lesser animals. I think if to equate human life with the life of insects indicates confusion about the question.

You seem to have taken on board the general view that 'morality is subjective and relative'. That is not something which Buddhists believe or teach even though it is a very widely held view in modern society.
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Re: Karma

Postby LastLegend » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:07 am

kresh wrote:thanks for the replies!!
I have a follow up question:
is there an amount of good or bad karma? what I mean by that is: is there a difference in bad karma between say stealing a candy bar or killing someone? good karma? picking up somebodies garbage verses helping a homeless man/woman in need?
sorry for going a little off topic here... just curious as to what you all have to say.

thanks


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Re: Karma

Postby muni » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:33 am

Morality is an important method.

When there is no subject doing/not doing something to an object ( see Transcendent Perfections), there is no intented harm and no apprehended morality. This means not there is killing and it is okay, rather such deluded intented action isn’t. There is selfless love in which all is/are included. At least so is said.
As long as we live in misperception morality is very needful. :smile:

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Re: Karma

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:57 pm

kresh wrote:thanks for the replies!!
I have a follow up question:
is there an amount of good or bad karma? what I mean by that is: is there a difference in bad karma between say stealing a candy bar or killing someone? good karma? picking up somebodies garbage verses helping a homeless man/woman in need?
sorry for going a little off topic here... just curious as to what you all have to say.

thanks


The karma doesn't have to do as much with the action as with the intention of the action. So, there is not some "good deeds rating system" like an olympic sport, where all the Buddhas hold up cards with numbers on them after you do something.

However, an action, say a positive one such as you have described, if done without holding onto the notion of "I am doing a good thing" and without expecting any reward, and without holding to the concept of one doing the action and one receiving the results of the action, this brings one more merit, meaning that the accumulation of positive karma is greater.

But again, this points directly back to my two previous comments regarding why this is so.


That is why the karma of someone who, say, donates a million dollars to a good cause, say, a children's hospital, with all good intentions, but is all the while thinking, "people will really respect me for this...I will get my picture in the paper...maybe they name a building after me..." and really thinking more about themselves,
--why that person's merit is going to be less that that of a person who donates just a little, perhaps they can only afford a dollar, but their wish is purely for the benefit of the recipients, in this case, children.

Karma and merit are an expression, or perhaps a reflection, of the motivation of the doer.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:18 pm

You seem to have taken on board the general view that 'morality is subjective and relative'. That is not something which Buddhists believe or teach even though it is a very widely held view in modern society.


I don't understand why you continually accuse me of proliferating a scientific world-view. I form my own opinions from my personal experiences, and deductions. You seem to have an extreme aversion to materialism in general, and while that's fine and all, black and white thinking almost always misses the mark.

I think it is generally agreed that it is considerably more culpable to kill human beings than to kill insects or other lesser animals.


Hypothetically if a new species emerged which far surpassed our intelligence, to them we would be 'lesser animals', and our lives would be the equivalent of those insects to them. Does that mean our lives are worth less than theirs? If not, why are insects lives worth less than ours? We are not superior or more important than an insect. I know it's hard to admit, but it's the truth.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:However, an action, say a positive one such as you have described, if done without holding onto the notion of "I am doing a good thing" and without expecting any reward, and without holding to the concept of one doing the action and one receiving the results of the action, this brings one more merit, meaning that the accumulation of positive karma is greater.


Lol. I remember when I first read the Diamond Sutra, for months afterward I couldn't do anything good without questioning my own intentions, It nearly drove me mad. Tbh these thing's really need a better explanation.
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Re: Karma

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:48 pm

Jesse wrote: We are not superior or more important than an insect. I know it's hard to admit, but it's the truth.

That all depends on the criteria.
So, it's not absolutely true. It's only relatively true.
"superior to" and "more important than" are not necessarily relevant criteria, and thus, not necessarily the basis for why the karma for killing a human might be considered greater.
Insects outnumber humans by the billions. So. relatively speaking, it is rare to be born as a human. Yet, the teachings explain that it is precisely the conditions of the human realm ("precious human birth") which make it possible to practice the path of liberation (Dharma), and thus bring other to liberation as well. You can speculate on the implications of that if you want to.
Furthermore, the motivation for killing a human must be taken into account.

When antibiotics are given to a human in order to combat a disease, the result is that in order to save one human life, millions of microscopic organisms may be wiped out. So, one can certainly subscribe to the notion that human life is worth no more than that of a bacteria, and depending on how you look at it, this may be true. But that person shouldn't take medicines that fight infections, if they don't want to be accused of being hypocritical.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:19 pm

Jesse wrote:We are not superior or more important than an insect. I know it's hard to admit, but it's the truth.


We should admit it, why? I try to avoid killing insects and spiders, but sometimes I have to, even though I don't like it. But if I were to kill a person, that would be a completely different matter, both legally and morally, and if you can't see that, then you had better adjust your perspective.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:20 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Jesse wrote: We are not superior or more important than an insect. I know it's hard to admit, but it's the truth.

That all depends on the criteria.
So, it's not absolutely true. It's only relatively true.
"superior to" and "more important than" are not necessarily relevant criteria, and thus, not necessarily the basis for why the karma for killing a human might be considered greater.
Insects outnumber humans by the billions. So. relatively speaking, it is rare to be born as a human. Yet, the teachings explain that it is precisely the conditions of the human realm ("precious human birth") which make it possible to practice the path of liberation (Dharma), and thus bring other to liberation as well. You can speculate on the implications of that if you want to.
Furthermore, the motivation for killing a human must be taken into account.

When antibiotics are given to a human in order to combat a disease, the result is that in order to save one human life, millions of microscopic organisms may be wiped out. So, one can certainly subscribe to the notion that human life is worth no more than that of a bacteria, and depending on how you look at it, this may be true. But that person shouldn't take medicines that fight infections, if they don't want to be accused of being hypocritical.
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There is no hypocrisy in my words, or beliefs. whether I eat meat to live, or take anti-biotics to survive an infection doesn't change the fact that our lives are equal. whether I am eaten, or whether I eat, both lives are essentially the same. When a Tiger kills a human being because it is hungry does that make the tiger evil?

"superior to" and "more important than" are not necessarily relevant criteria, and thus, not necessarily the basis for why the karma for killing a human might be considered greater.


The only reason the karma might be greater is because of our tendencies, and emotions. It may create more suffering, because we are social creatures. but that still doesn't change the value of a life, and yes of course value is relative.

it is rare to be born as a human.


How do you know that? How do you know that human-like species don't exist all over the universe, or multi-universes? We don't. It's an assumption.

which make it possible to practice the path of liberation (Dharma), and thus bring other to liberation as well. You can speculate on the implications of that if you want to.


Also an assumption, and an arrogant one at that.

But that person shouldn't take medicines that fight infections, if they don't want to be accused of being hypocritical.


I'm sorry the truth is painful, perhaps you should reflect a bit more on the motivation of your words.

Of course intention is what's important, it's what creates the imprints for our habits, tendencies and ultimately our 'karma'. However this is not what I'm arguing.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:27 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Jesse wrote:We are not superior or more important than an insect. I know it's hard to admit, but it's the truth.


We should admit it, why? I try to avoid killing insects and spiders, but sometimes I have to, even though I don't like it. But if I were to kill a person, that would be a completely different matter, both legally and morally, and if you can't see that, then you had better adjust your perspective.


Nothing but a knee-jerk reaction. Emotion does not dictate truth. I'm finished with this conversation.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:35 pm

You will make assertions that 'humans are not superior to insects' without any kind of argument, and then storm off when they are criticized.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:41 pm

jeeprs wrote:You will make assertions that 'humans are not superior to insects' without any kind of argument, and then storm off when they are criticized.


Actually I provided plenty of good arguments. What I received was nothing but knee-jerk emotional retorts, and personal accusations/insults. If that's what it takes to make you feel as if you've won/your opinion is superior that's fine, you win.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:53 pm

You didn't provide an argument at all. You started off by asserting that 'morality is subjective and illusory' at the top of this page. I responded that 'the idea that morality or ethics and so on is 'illusory and relative' is part of the modern secular-scientific view of life'. And it certainly is that. This is not an ad hominem attack or personal rebuke, it is a consideration of the issues and the context in which such statements are made. Nor is it a 'knee-jerk' response.

The notion of 'karma', and, for that matter, the formation of 'right view', are both central to understanding Buddhism on any level. I'm not interested in 'proving my superiority' - if I relied on Forums for that I would be in dire straights :smile: . I am attempting to engage in a debate about ethical philosophy and karma and am still willing to do that.
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Re: Karma

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:03 am

Jesse wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
When antibiotics are given to a human in order to combat a disease, the result is that in order to save one human life, millions of microscopic organisms may be wiped out. So, one can certainly subscribe to the notion that human life is worth no more than that of a bacteria, and depending on how you look at it, this may be true. But that person shouldn't take medicines that fight infections, if they don't want to be accused of being hypocritical.


There is no hypocrisy in my words, or beliefs. whether I eat meat to live, or take anti-biotics to survive an infection doesn't change the fact that our lives are equal. whether I am eaten, or whether I eat, both lives are essentially the same. When a Tiger kills a human being because it is hungry does that make the tiger evil?


I'm not disagreeing with you that in that respect all life is equal.
I'm not really in disagreement about any of your statements, nor was I making a personal attack.
In fact, it seems I may have misinterpreted your statement.

With regards to the insect to human ratio, I was speaking about Earth.
If you know of any other places where there are humans, well, that certainly might change the odds.
Regarding the rarity of being born human,
and the statement that only humans can practice dharma,
I was referring to what is taught. And there are logical reasons for this assertion, that bugs can't practice dharma. Theoretically it may be possible, but generally, it appears they are too preoccupied with basic survival.

Moraility is subjective and otherwise arbitrary, and relative. but this also raises the question of whether or not one suffers any consequences from intentional "negative actions" if one feels no remorse.

But again, karma has less to do with the action itself, that with the motivation behind the action,
and it is actually that motivation which produces the results of the action, not the action itself.

In the post you responded to, I began:
"...That all depends on the criteria.
So, it's not absolutely true. It's only relatively true.
"superior to" and "more important than" are not necessarily relevant criteria, and thus, not necessarily the basis for why the karma for killing a human might be considered greater.
"

In this respect, you are right. it makes little difference whether one kills a mosquito or a human as far as ending up with one less creature is concerned.
But, using a different criteria, killing humans is (almost always) worse. One of the reasons why is that the motivation is often intense anger or hatred, although these days (in the United States, anyway) people do not need to much of a reason to shoot someone. So, that reasoning too may change.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:19 am

Jesse wrote:When a Tiger kills a human being because it is hungry does that make the tiger evil?


No, because tigers are not conscious agents in the same sense that human beings are. So they don't act with evil or selfish intent. Neither do ants, mosquitoes, or, for that matter, great white sharks. Only conscious agents are capable of acting intentionally. That is why 'the problem of evil' is a uniquely human problem; it doesn't affect, or concern, other types of creatures. It pertains to 'the human condition', which is, as the name implies, unique to human beings.

PadmaVonSambha wrote:it makes little difference whether one kills a mosquito or a human as far as ending up with one less creature is concerned.


Why equate humans with insects? It doesn't make any sense to me. Why is it, you think, that killing mosquitoes is not recognized as a crime, whilst animal cruelty or killing is, and intentionally killing humans (apart from in acts of warfare or legitimate self-defence), regarded as 'murder'? Surely this distinction has some basis in reality?

It is significant that human beings are uniquely placed in Buddhism to benefit from the Dharma. 'Only a human can attain enlightenment as a fully enlightened Buddha. Enlightenment as an arhat can be attained from the realms of the Śuddhāvāsa deities. A bodhisattva can appear in many different types of lives, for instance as an animal or as a deva. Buddhas, however, are always human.' (From the Jewel Ornament of Liberation. quoted in Wikipedia.)
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Re: Karma

Postby dude » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:15 am

In this respect, you are right. it makes little difference whether one kills a mosquito or a human as far as ending up with one less creature is concerned."

Wow. You flunk this section, buddy. That is NOT Buddhism.
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Re: Karma

Postby Jesse » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:12 am

You guys are making the assumption that human life is devalued when said to be equal to insects. This is hardly the case, rather insects lives as equally valuable and precious as ours. Either way I'm quite sick of people declaring what buddhism is or is not when they hardly have a clue.
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Re: Karma

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:26 am

You haven't demonstrated knowledge that is superior to those whom you criticise. Rather, you make a lot of assertions and declarations without any supporting arguments. We are not simply picking on you, but Internet forums are places where your ideas are challenged, so you have to expect that if you post on them.

Question for you, Jesse - do you know and interact with any Buddhists outside this forum?
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