Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

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Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Epistemes » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:50 am

Based on some reading I've been doing:

If the situations we encounter in life don't happen by accident but rather result from actions we have done in the past, which I take to mean that, in terms of meta-ethics, there are no accidents and no victims, are the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust? Are the people 9/11 responsible for their deaths?

Or this taking cause and effect and karmic reciprocity too far?
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby LastLegend » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:13 am

Epistemes wrote:Based on some reading I've been doing:

If the situations we encounter in life don't happen by accident but rather result from actions we have done in the past, which I take to mean that, in terms of meta-ethics, there are no accidents and no victims, are the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust? Are the people 9/11 responsible for their deaths?

Or this taking cause and effect and karmic reciprocity too far?


I am not sure how you can drag karma into ethics and put right and wrong on it.
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby undergrowth » Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:59 am

The Dharmic concept of cause-and-effect is a tool, not a philosophy of morality. There is no justice, no right and wrong, no cosmic approval or damnation. But there are rules that govern the arising of phenomena, whether you understand them or not.

As for whether there are accidents, I would disagree and say that all suffering is accidental.
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby meiji1 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:28 am

Beings aren't cognizant of cause and effect, and become the hapless victims of their own ignorance. There's no sense of justice or fairness in that at all.
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Epistemes » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:44 pm

Then, taking any ethical dimension out of it:

If the situations we encounter in life don't happen by accident but rather result from actions we have done in the past, are the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust? Are the people killed during 9/11 responsible for their deaths?

In other words, if we reap what we sow, does it not follow that the people killed during 9/11 are somehow responsible for their own deaths?
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:54 pm

Epistemes wrote:Then, taking any ethical dimension out of it:

If the situations we encounter in life don't happen by accident but rather result from actions we have done in the past, are the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust? Are the people killed during 9/11 responsible for their deaths?

In other words, if we reap what we sow, does it not follow that the people killed during 9/11 are somehow responsible for their own deaths?



Not necessarily. While in Tibetan Buddhism a hard theory of karma is often held out, in Theravada Buddhism it is considered that people can be caught up in negative situations without necessarily having done anything negative to get there. In other words, being in the wrong place at wrong time is possible without it being a karmic thing.

Being born as a human being is a result of good karma; but not necessarily everything that happends to one is a result of karma, some things are purely a result of blind causes and conditions that have nothing directly to do with one's karma.
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Sönam » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:13 pm

Epistemes wrote:Based on some reading I've been doing:

If the situations we encounter in life don't happen by accident but rather result from actions we have done in the past, which I take to mean that, in terms of meta-ethics, there are no accidents and no victims, are the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust? Are the people 9/11 responsible for their deaths?

Or this taking cause and effect and karmic reciprocity too far?


Certainly peoples born jews and exterminated were reincarnation of peoples that in previous life have commited some sort of identical acts ... for exemple may be they were anti-semitics burning synagogs with jews in.

Maybe it's a repeating story along history ... peoples burn jews, then they become jews and are burned, and so on. Or another exemple, maybe Palestinian today were nazis some 70 years ago, etc...

But the question is ... are you responsible for the karma accumulated? and the answer is no, you just inheritate it, but then not all jews die in the holocaust.

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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Karma Yeshe » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:23 pm

From the Teachings that I have gotten, there is Karma on a national level that people can become engulfed in without actualy have commited a specific negitive act.

A very sad note on this topic...

A very large part of the Orthdox Jewish world blames the Nazi's war aganst the Jews on thier fellow Jews who are not as observent. The Holocaust is a result of Gods punishment for not following his laws correctly. This view has lead to intense hate toward other Jews that has often resulted in violence.

And most bizzare...

Many Orthidox Jews have links to terror groups and work with these groups to distroy the state of Isreal, which is considered a grave sine as it is a secular country and must be burned to the ground and its people driven into the sea before God will send the Messiah.

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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:31 pm

The problem with this question, and it's actually a good question, is that it isolates particular events such as the Holocaust, addressing them as if they suddenly sprung up out of nowhere, an also lumps all the victims together as having something more in common than the fact that they were victims.

If you were to ask, 'are shoe salesmen currently responsible for any bad things that are happening to them' we do not assume that there is any connection between a shoe salesman in Iowa who gets robbed and one in New York who gets beat up, because we are not looking at them as a specific target group. Of course, the victims of Nazis were singled out because they were Jews, or Gypsies or Gay or Communists or disabled. But it was the nazis who targeted them and saw them all as a single group of people. It wasn't because all jews are the same, because all jews are not the same.

So, you cannot really separate historically huge events from ordinary events and then use that as a basis for understanding karma. If you begin with conceptual grouping together, then you might say, "yes, it was their fault because they weren't non-jewish" but of course, that makes no sense.

So, is anyone responsible for the suffering they endure?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

If I jump in front of a moving bus, then I am directly responsible for getting hit by that bus.

If I choose to walk on Main Street rather than Broad Street, and I am struck by the Main Street Bus, then I am somewhat responsible for what has happened, because I made a conscious choice which allowed for the conditions to be such that the Main Street bus could (possibly) hit me.

If I am walking down Broad Street, and someone who has stolen the Main Street bus goes on a wild driving rampage down Broad Street, running over many people including me, then I am responsible only in so far as I chose to leave the house that day, again, entering into the realm of possibility that a bus could hit me.

So, the degree to which we are responsible varies.
But if we assume that are always responsible for causing our own suffering, merely because we did not prevent it, then by the same token we would also have to take responsibility for causing the suffering of others as well, because we did not prevent it.

karma is not a cosmic judicial system. It isn't about payback. that is a common misconception.

But speaking of the realm of possibility, can one be reborn there? Possibly?
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:13 pm

Epistemes wrote:Or this taking cause and effect and karmic reciprocity too far?


Yes, too far.
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:15 pm

Namdrol wrote:Not necessarily. While in Tibetan Buddhism a hard theory of karma is often held out, in Theravada Buddhism it is considered that people can be caught up in negative situations without necessarily having done anything negative to get there. In other words, being in the wrong place at wrong time is possible without it being a karmic thing.

Being born as a human being is a result of good karma; but not necessarily everything that happends to one is a result of karma, some things are purely a result of blind causes and conditions that have nothing directly to do with one's karma.


Correct, not everything is the result of karma. From the Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Fives:

The five levels of cause and effect:
1. Non-living matter (physical world)
2. Seed (biological world)
3. Mind (psychological)
4. Kamma
5. Dhamma
(Note that kamma is only one of the levels of cause and effect and does not explain everything.)
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:19 pm

The doctrine of kamma is probably the most misunderstood of all the Buddha’s teachings. The four most common misunderstandings are these.

(1) Everything which happens to us is the result of our past kamma. In actual fact, Buddhism recognized at least four other broad causes of why things happen, including because of the operation of natural laws (dhamm niyāma), biological laws (bīj niyāma), physical laws (utuniyāma) and psychological laws (cittaniyāma,As.854; A.III,62).

(2) We can never escape from the consequences of our past actions. If this were true then we would be completely determined by our past and be unable to change and attain enlightenment (A.I,249). What Buddhism does teach is that several strong intentional good actions may very well modify or even cancel out a bad action and vice versa (Dhp.173). Thus it is correct to say that we are conditioned by our kamma rather than determined by it.

(3) Our experiences in the present life are due to what we did in our last life and what we do now will have an effect in the future life. In reality, many of our actions have a result immediately or soon after we have done them, i.e. in the present life

(4). The fourth common misunderstanding is what might be called ‘kammic naivety,’ i.e. if you kick a monk in this life you will be reborn with a club foot in your next life, if you swear in this life you will have bad breath in the next life, if you are generous in this life, you will be rich in your next life. This, of course, is rather silly.


from: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=207
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Pero » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:41 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:The doctrine of kamma is probably the most misunderstood of all the Buddha’s teachings. The four most common misunderstandings are these.

(1) Everything which happens to us is the result of our past kamma. In actual fact, Buddhism recognized at least four other broad causes of why things happen, including because of the operation of natural laws (dhamm niyāma), biological laws (bīj niyāma), physical laws (utuniyāma) and psychological laws (cittaniyāma,As.854; A.III,62).

(2) We can never escape from the consequences of our past actions. If this were true then we would be completely determined by our past and be unable to change and attain enlightenment (A.I,249). What Buddhism does teach is that several strong intentional good actions may very well modify or even cancel out a bad action and vice versa (Dhp.173). Thus it is correct to say that we are conditioned by our kamma rather than determined by it.

(3) Our experiences in the present life are due to what we did in our last life and what we do now will have an effect in the future life. In reality, many of our actions have a result immediately or soon after we have done them, i.e. in the present life

(4). The fourth common misunderstanding is what might be called ‘kammic naivety,’ i.e. if you kick a monk in this life you will be reborn with a club foot in your next life, if you swear in this life you will have bad breath in the next life, if you are generous in this life, you will be rich in your next life. This, of course, is rather silly.


from: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=207

I'm not sure it's exactly the same in Mahayana though. :shrug:
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Re: Cause, Effect, & Holocaust

Postby Sönam » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:48 am

Pero wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:The doctrine of kamma is probably the most misunderstood of all the Buddha’s teachings. The four most common misunderstandings are these.

(1) Everything which happens to us is the result of our past kamma. In actual fact, Buddhism recognized at least four other broad causes of why things happen, including because of the operation of natural laws (dhamm niyāma), biological laws (bīj niyāma), physical laws (utuniyāma) and psychological laws (cittaniyāma,As.854; A.III,62).

(2) We can never escape from the consequences of our past actions. If this were true then we would be completely determined by our past and be unable to change and attain enlightenment (A.I,249). What Buddhism does teach is that several strong intentional good actions may very well modify or even cancel out a bad action and vice versa (Dhp.173). Thus it is correct to say that we are conditioned by our kamma rather than determined by it.

(3) Our experiences in the present life are due to what we did in our last life and what we do now will have an effect in the future life. In reality, many of our actions have a result immediately or soon after we have done them, i.e. in the present life

(4). The fourth common misunderstanding is what might be called ‘kammic naivety,’ i.e. if you kick a monk in this life you will be reborn with a club foot in your next life, if you swear in this life you will have bad breath in the next life, if you are generous in this life, you will be rich in your next life. This, of course, is rather silly.


from: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=207

I'm not sure it's exactly the same in Mahayana though. :shrug:


for vajrayana "everything" is causes and effects ... what else could it be? God?

the operation of natural laws (dhamm niyāma), biological laws (bīj niyāma), physical laws (utuniyāma) and psychological laws
and what/where/who those extra laws come from? ...

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