Dzogchen and karma?

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Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Luke » Tue May 22, 2012 9:29 pm

I found this on the "Approaching Aro" blog:
"Dzogchen is unique in biting the bullet and admitting that there is no Law of Karma. According to Dzogchen, there is no cosmic justice. Dzogchen does not deny karma altogether, but denies that its operation is certain, eternal, external, constant, or universal. The Dzogchen view is that karma is a matter of habit—and therefore empty. If we habitually act in particular ways, we tend to view the world in corresponding ways. If we act aggressively, out of anger, our victims are likely to retaliate. Then we will find the world dangerous. Our anger and paranoia are likely to increase, and this may escalate indefinitely. If we are generous, others may be inclined to reciprocate. So we live in a world partly shaped by our actions and perceptions. However, there is no guarantee in this."

http://approachingaro.org/no-cosmic-justice

Does this truly represent the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition's view of karma? Or is it just this one man's interpretation?
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed May 23, 2012 3:18 am

The idea that karma is some kind of cosmic justice is a widespread misunderstanding.
That is not the meaning in Dzogchen or any Buddhist school... "Law" of karma is a goofy term.


...denies that its operation is certain, eternal, external, constant, or universal. The Dzogchen view is that karma is a matter of habit—and therefore empty. If we habitually act in particular ways, we tend to view the world in corresponding ways. If we act aggressively, out of anger, our victims are likely to retaliate.


This is a little more accurate, but karma has little to do with suggesting how others will respond to our actions.

If a person is greedy, that person's karma will lead him or her to experience deprivation, even if that person has plenty.
If a person feels hostility, that person will have the experience of being surrounded by enemies, even if those around him or her are friends.

karma is, ultimately, about the state of mind we put ourselves into.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby heart » Wed May 23, 2012 5:34 am

Luke wrote:I found this on the "Approaching Aro" blog:
"Dzogchen is unique in biting the bullet and admitting that there is no Law of Karma. According to Dzogchen, there is no cosmic justice. Dzogchen does not deny karma altogether, but denies that its operation is certain, eternal, external, constant, or universal. The Dzogchen view is that karma is a matter of habit—and therefore empty. If we habitually act in particular ways, we tend to view the world in corresponding ways. If we act aggressively, out of anger, our victims are likely to retaliate. Then we will find the world dangerous. Our anger and paranoia are likely to increase, and this may escalate indefinitely. If we are generous, others may be inclined to reciprocate. So we live in a world partly shaped by our actions and perceptions. However, there is no guarantee in this."

http://approachingaro.org/no-cosmic-justice

Does this truly represent the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition's view of karma? Or is it just this one man's interpretation?


No, it is definitely a interpretation that seems more grounded in common sense and psychology than any understanding of Dzogchen.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Greg » Wed May 23, 2012 4:12 pm

Luke wrote:I found this on the "Approaching Aro" blog:
"Dzogchen is unique in biting the bullet and admitting that there is no Law of Karma. According to Dzogchen, there is no cosmic justice. Dzogchen does not deny karma altogether, but denies that its operation is certain, eternal, external, constant, or universal. The Dzogchen view is that karma is a matter of habit—and therefore empty. If we habitually act in particular ways, we tend to view the world in corresponding ways. If we act aggressively, out of anger, our victims are likely to retaliate. Then we will find the world dangerous. Our anger and paranoia are likely to increase, and this may escalate indefinitely. If we are generous, others may be inclined to reciprocate. So we live in a world partly shaped by our actions and perceptions. However, there is no guarantee in this."

http://approachingaro.org/no-cosmic-justice

Does this truly represent the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition's view of karma? Or is it just this one man's interpretation?


Read the comments - he essentially concedes his post is misleading at best. I like that blog but he tends to distort things for the sake of provocation.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 23, 2012 4:18 pm

I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Luke » Wed May 23, 2012 4:54 pm

Lobsang P. wrote:I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.

Er, okay, but are you a Dzogchen practioner? My main question is whether this view is a correct representation of the traditional Dzogchen viewpoint or not.

I do not yet practice Dzogchen so I can't comment on this myself.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Luke » Wed May 23, 2012 4:57 pm

Greg wrote:Read the comments - he essentially concedes his post is misleading at best. I like that blog but he tends to distort things for the sake of provocation.

Ah, good point! His comments seem a lot more sensible.

I'll post the author's main comment here:
"Hi, Alexander, thanks for your comments!

This page has confused a number of readers, and revising it is on my to-do queue.

Key phrases in it, apparently is easily overlooked, are that "Dzogchen does not deny karma altogether" and "the Dzogchen view is that karma is a matter of habit".

The context for the page is that many Tibetan Buddhist leaders have opposed Dzogchen and tried to ban it. I'm trying to explain why that is. One of the standard reasons they give is that Dzogchen denies karma. This is not actually true, but it is true that Dzogchen makes it difficult or impossible to make an ethical theory out of karma. (That is not their only reason for rejecting Dzogchen; I will go into the politics soon in my Wordpress blog.)

For Dzogchen, liberation (enlightenment) is synonymous with "rigpa", which literally means "vision", but in context means "accurate perception". Because rigpa is perfectly accurate, it is not conditioned by karma (i.e. previous actions). It simply reflects reality.

The thing is, rigpa is potentially available to everyone at all times, regardless of karma. If you are a mass murderer and you can maintain rigpa, then your karma is irrelevant.

Dzogchen is called "the path of instantaneous liberation" because the moment you hold rigpa, you are a fully realized Buddha. There is nothing more to be done. In particular, there is absolutely no need to purify past karma.

Within Dzogchen, there is a doctrine called "grol lugs bzhi", which means "the four aspects of liberation". (To understand this, it helps to remember that "liberation" in Tantra and Dzogchen is synonymous with "destruction" of samsara.) The four modes are:

Shar grol (liberation in arising): karma evaporates instantly as it arises.
Rang grol (self liberation): it destroys itself; you don't have to do anything.
gCer grol (direct liberation): it is released as soon as it is perceived.
Ye grol (primordial liberation): liberation is timeless; with rigpa, karma doesn't need to be worn away gradually; it always was an illusion, and once liberated it is gone forever.

Some readers have somehow misread this page as denying rebirth, which it certainly doesn't. The Tibetan bardo teachings, which are the most detailed Buddhist account of rebirth, are part of Dzogchen. According to those teachings, the circumstances in which you are reborn depend only on how you perceive phenomena in the between-lives realms. If you perceive them accurately, then you can choose to be reborn however you like.

Ordinary perception is muddied by perceptual habits, which accumulate as a consequence of habitual actions (karma). Tendencies of misperception are what cause involuntary rebirth. Particular patterns of misperception tend to produce particular kinds of rebirth; anger will lead you to the hell realms, and so on.

The point is that this isn't a "Law" imposed by some sort of external cosmic force. It's just a matter of psychological tendency. The "Law" can be violated at will, and utterly obviated at any moment, by remembering your true nature, i.e. rigpa.

Regarding your second question, Dzogchen has its own cosmogony and ontology, in terms of the trikaya. Briefly, the dharmakaya primordially self-manifests as the sambhogakaya, which self-manifests as the nirmanakaya. This is prior to any karma, which only arises late in the game as nirmanakaya misperceives itself. It's acausal; there's no "why" about it.

I'm not sure where you got "the theory of karma necessarily posits a creation and therefore a creator". I didn't intend to say that, and I can't find it in what I wrote...

Regarding sources. I don't recall an extensive discussion of this; and so, for the time being, I've removed the word "explicitly" from the page text. When I do the revision, I'll hunt through my books and see what I come up with. If anyone else wants to do some research, I'd suggest three possible starting points. One would be Nyingma defenses against the sectarian polemics that wrongly claim that Dzogchen denies karma altogether. Second would be the Bardo Thodol, explaining how rigpa liberates one from karma in the between-lives. Third would be Mipham's Beacon of Certainty, which explains the Dzogchen view of emptiness and liberation.

Best wishes,

David"
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 23, 2012 4:58 pm

I am a Dzogchen practitioner. It accords to my view. Dzogchen is not a monoculture.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby heart » Wed May 23, 2012 6:03 pm

Lobsang P. wrote:I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.


So, you don't know very much about Dzogchen then?

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby heart » Wed May 23, 2012 6:05 pm

Lobsang P. wrote:I am a Dzogchen practitioner. It accords to my view. Dzogchen is not a monoculture.


:smile:
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 23, 2012 6:49 pm

heart wrote:
Lobsang P. wrote:I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.


So, you don't know very much about Dzogchen then?

/magnus

Sorry, you will have to start a fight elsewhere. :anjali:
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed May 23, 2012 7:28 pm

There seems to be a few themes in the excerpt that could be interpreted as controversial... Which one is in question? The cosmic moral retribution? The absence of karma as an external, eternal, constant and universal law? The view that karma arises out of habituation? All of it?
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby heart » Wed May 23, 2012 7:38 pm

Lobsang P. wrote:
heart wrote:
Lobsang P. wrote:I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.


So, you don't know very much about Dzogchen then?

/magnus

Sorry, you will have to start a fight elsewhere. :anjali:


The concept of fight is sprats for mackerels :smile:

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby oldbob » Wed May 23, 2012 9:57 pm

Luke wrote:
Lobsang P. wrote:I am not and have never been an Aro student.

Yes, that is in complete accord with my understanding. The concept of Karma is sprats for mackerels. A crude and conventional way to interest the subject in finding the real essence.

Er, okay, but are you a Dzogchen practioner? My main question is whether this view is a correct representation of the traditional Dzogchen viewpoint or not.

I do not yet practice Dzogchen so I can't comment on this myself.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Salutations to all and ALL,

Tasty sprats - got me on the hook to write this. I don't know if my "mackerels for sharks" will answer the question - but hopefully this is food for thought / instant presence.

The simple answer to Luke's excellent question is, yes and no. The explanation is long, and I apologize for covering a lot of necessary bases that may seem to be off the topic, but hopefully it will all make sense. Please let me know if something does not make sense.

One mans opinion.

This opinion is in no way to explain the view of Buddhism, Dzogchen, or the precious Aro Ter teachings, but I can speak from my small personal understanding and hopefully this will help someone. There is a temptation to parse the quote from the Aro Ter blog, but I don’t know anything much about the Aro Ter (or Buddhism or Dzogchen), so I sincerely pray my personal simple view may be of help to someone. I don’t claim any spiritual high ground but I have heard some Masters speak the truth, and so, like a parrot, want to repeat what I have heard: to make believe I am like them, but I am too old to get it right.

So I begin by stating that all views are just fine in the context of each view. Chuan Tzu spoke of the view of the frog at the bottom of the well as being different from that of an eagle flying over the well, not to mention that of an eclectically educated New York bozo compared to a fully realized Dzogchen Master.

Homage to the Buddha Seed in frogs and eagles (and everyone else.) When you take into account the context from which someone speaks, then you can understand where they are coming from. Hence the variety of Dharma Wheel posts, and Dharma politics. Everything is exactly as it should be, and in that view we all do our best!

Isn’t it amazing!!!

Homage to the Masters!

Into the sharks mouth!

If you don’t believe in karma – gently touch a hot stove. If you are not burned, then let’s talk about “if karma exists.”

What did your face look like a hundred years ago, or what will it look like a hundred years in the future? (Similar to the Tibetan ‘non-logical-reasoning, image-tool’ of a “barren woman’s child” or a “sky flower.”) This is a much more practical question that you could attend to.

When you can describe your face exactly – from both viewpoints (simultaneously?) then (maybe) you can talk about emptiness and karma. MU! is a correct answer, but difficult to grasp. The point is that no one ever died falling off a zafu. Dzogchen is said to include all views (including Zen) so please forgive my pretensions if you are a true follower of the sacred path of Zen. The key point is that if you practice real Dharma (of any sort) under the guidance of a realized Master you will safely get some practical benefit and ALL your questions will be answered.

Yes, the “official” Dzogchen view states there is no karma. The 10 or 12 “Vajra Laughs or the 8 or 9 “Amazing Things” state the position, and its implications simply, eloquently and truthfully, but this is written to, and from, the viewpoint of Samantabhadra, the primal Buddha. We are not (yet) (from the relative viewpoint) the same as Samantabhadra, so for us this simply DOES NOT APPLY. A flash, or flashes, of Rigpa is not enlightenment.

There is no bullet to bite: ‘relative’ functions in the dimension of the relative and the ‘absolute’ functions in the dimension of the absolute. From the viewpoint of the absolute, the moment you postulate any position you are going beyond the pure undefined (but you can’t even say undefined) potentiality of Samantabhadra and reifying emptiness. Samantabhadra does not go beyond awareness as “instant presence” into the four postulation extremes of it is, it isn’t, neither or both. The moment you speak of emptiness you have reified it and it is no longer emptiness. You have labled it as Mr. Empty, or Ms. no-name. Samantabhadra with a name, is no longer Samantabhadra. The Zen folks speak of “If you meet the Buddha in the street, you must kill him,” meaning that the concept of the Buddha is NOT the Buddha. Applying the “big gun” of the Heart Sutra to the emptiness of karma is valid from the point of view of the absolute, but not from the point of the relative.

Yes, Jetsun Milarepa rapped his knuckles on the space in front of him and put his arm through the stone wall behind him, when the scholars asked him to declare whether things exist or do not exist. When you can rap on space or put your arm through stone, then, maybe, it is correct to question if karma exists (still a lot of assumptions).

Yes, the Mahasiddha Saraha was seen to be killing fish, but then he could snap his fingers and bring them back to life. When you can snap your fingers and restore life, then maybe you can talk about karma and emptiness, otherwise all of this has the appearance of an intellectual side track/ side show: like shouting theater in a crowded fire. How does it help anyone?

Sadly there are poor souls who, when reading the "Vajra Laughs" or "Amazing Things" feel that they can go out and act in any old way, and excuse themselves by saying they are “Dzogchenpas”, and practicing empty karma. Sadly: Google the “Darwin Awards.”

Crazies sometime try to find a way to harm themselves and others. Perhaps this is why most enlightened Masters wait until they know their students for a while before they give advanced teachings. Making believe you are a bird, and flying around, is safe with the good advice of “from the ground up.” Then you can (after exhaustion) observe the observer. Partaking of the outer, inner and secret Tsog is harmless if you have good advice and respect the limits of self and others. Then you enjoy the “same taste” of all offerings without any harmful side effects. Integrating with sensation is beyond wonderful, if you have good advice and don’t become addicted. Then the warmth of the “Great Seal” is always with you. With good advice, the seven stages of the dark retreat are comfortable rambles near to home, with no fear or attachment to what arises. Then the inner dimension and the outer dimension dissolve and you rest in the great expanse without hope or fear. Looking at rays of light in certain ways, with good advice, means the stages of the 4 (or 6) lamps occur and the practitioner does not go blind looking into the sun. Then the inner dimension and the outer dimension dissolve and you rest in the great expanse without hope or fear. The key point is that without good advice, the special teachings of Dzogchen can be the road to real suffering, and you will very quickly find out if karma exits.

The secret teachings need to be secret so the pitiful “Darwin Award” crazies don’t use Dharma as an excuse to harm themselves or others.

Crazy wisdom, with good advice is wisdom. Without good advice it can be a disaster. Everything depends on the realization of the Master.

To claim that karma is empty without explaining the “two truths” of the relative and the absolute is WRONG VIEW, in any system, and may be the cause of great harm. The key point is that until Rigpa is stabilized 24/7, karma is functioning, not because of some outer imposed judgment system, but because that is the way we are wired.

To reference “freedom from the four extremes of postulation of: it is; it isn’t; neither; and both, may be a very subtle philosophical truth that will be helpful to some folks, when explained through the views of relative and absolute, but for me it is more comfortable to rest in the simple minded, “you do good – you get good; you do bad you get bad”, and to rest in the vast expanse of “view wide as the sky and actions as small as a mustard seed.” Through self observation I have seen over and over that if I have good motivation and express (24/7) the 4 immeasurables in my continuum, then I am the one who benefits, both in worldly life, and in, moment to moment, Dharma practice (maintaining instant presence through integration with what arises.) If I do bad things, I observe that I get bad results: rigpa is lost and the torrent of thoughts carries me away. This is how I am wired. Others may be wired differently. Perhaps when we are fully enlightened the viewpoint of the Vajra Laughs and Amazing Things will apply, and my activities will arise spontaneously from compassion, but for now I am very happy to respect karma, because that is what works in the relative world.

Rigpa, from the point of view of Rigpa, by definition, is beyond cause and effect, beyond karma. My good actions in the relative world earn the relative merit sprats which are useful to catch the merit mackerel of the absolute, Rigpa.

Crazy Wisdom teachers assume a great responsibility when going beyond conventional norms. Aku Tenba, Drukpa Kunley and the great Mahasiddhas could make spiritual progress by behaving outside the conventional norms. Are you the same?

Even the Monkey King with all his magical powers could not fly beyond Lord Buddha’s hand!

Dzogchen Masters include “The 10 Golden Actions”, “The 10 Bad Actions, and “The Four Thoughts That Change the Mind”, (which specifically includes the functioning of karma), as part of Dzogchen 101. These concepts are given the same reality, truth and weight as “pure from the beginning” and “spontaneously arising”. There is no conflict between the relative and the absolute. Each functions perfectly as (in) its own dimension.

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... harma.html

http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/201 ... ments.html

AH!

Now you understand the answer of "Yes and no" as it relates to Dzogchen and karma.

Now for a nice blueberry gelato! (Please see other posts for the Dzogchen meaning of blueberry gelato, and a posting of the hard to find, 8 Amazing Things.)

May it be of benefit.

May the Dzogchen Masters live long, in good health and with success in all things.

:anjali:
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby MalaBeads » Wed May 23, 2012 11:33 pm

Dear oldbob,

Thanks for the wonderful post. And thanks for showing how such a topic can be addressed with sensitivity and humility. And thanks for being here. No bites from this cranky ole shark.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu May 24, 2012 12:21 am

heart wrote:
No, it is definitely a interpretation that seems more grounded in common sense and psychology than any understanding of Dzogchen.

/magnus


So are you sponsoring the view that karma exists as a external/universal law? And that it indeed acts as a form of control in delegating moral justice and retribution based on one's actions? Following up on my question above; what is your view? Being that there was multiple facets of karma addressed, which aspect (or theme) are you so adamately and diametrically opposed to?
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Dronma » Thu May 24, 2012 2:00 am

oldbob wrote:----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Salutations to all and ALL,
...........
...............
...................
May it be of benefit.

May the Dzogchen Masters live long, in good health and with success in all things.

:anjali:


My sincere compliments to oldbob! :bow: :namaste:
"My view is as vast as the sky, but my actions are finer than flour"
~ Padmasambhava ~
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby heart » Thu May 24, 2012 5:50 am

asunthatneversets wrote:
heart wrote:
No, it is definitely a interpretation that seems more grounded in common sense and psychology than any understanding of Dzogchen.

/magnus


So are you sponsoring the view that karma exists as a external/universal law? And that it indeed acts as a form of control in delegating moral justice and retribution based on one's actions? Following up on my question above; what is your view? Being that there was multiple facets of karma addressed, which aspect (or theme) are you so adamately and diametrically opposed to?


Dzogchen doesn't reject karma, it just says that in the natural state there is no karma and no time either for that sake. Karma in ordinary Buddhism is not at all "a form of control in delegating moral justice and retribution based on one's actions". Karma is not moral justice at all it is something very impersonal, like gravity.

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu May 24, 2012 6:28 am

As others have said, when in one's relative condition (in mind), karma is said to function just as it's explained in sutra.

When in one's knowledge of the natural state, in which constructions like relative and absolute dissolve along with subject and object and cause and result, then it's plain that karma is merely a relative phenomenon... There's no one to accumulate it, and nothing to be accumulated, and one will have no impetus to do anything negative at all; and in that knowledge, one is fully integrated so that what would be experienced in the dimension of samsaric mind as "ripening of karma" is just the effulgence of the natural state.

But, plainly stated, even those who have come to know what instant presence, or rigpa, is are still in their relative condition much or most of the time... We're not in rigpa all the time. As such we must respect the power of the relative and govern our behavior accordingly because there's no guarantee we'll have the power to integrate with our karmic results when they arise, so small and large obstacles and suffering may nonetheless be experienced in an ordinary way. Depending on the strength of one's rigpa, negative eruptions can be great helpers on the path or great obstacles. I think it's best to try to avoid negative actions because one already has plenty of past karma to arise and make one's rigpa blaze if one has that capacity.
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Re: Dzogchen and karma?

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu May 24, 2012 6:45 am

:twothumbsup:
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