"Purifying" karma?

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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby simhamuka » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:01 pm

Aemilius wrote:I am quite sure that the idea of purification belongs to the very early buddhism, as does confession. In the Udana Vagga there is a sutta where Shakyamuni refuses to teach because the company of bhikshus is not pure. Then Maudgalyayana looks with his supernormal vision and soon finds who the culprit is, and then takes him by the hand and leads him outside of the congregation. So the idea exists also in the Sutta Pitaka. Hirakawa Akira & Paul Groner have said that the whole Abhidharma is just about karma, in a very detailed manner.
How does confession purify oneself, and the Sangha? It has been taught somewhere in the Abhidharma that confession purifies because one feels ashamed and one vows to abide by the precepts. It is thus not an outside figure that purifies oneself but one's own contrition. It is often difficult to believe in this, and people want more theatrical things to be convinced of it. I myself believe that the mental state of confession purifies oneself.
I think that confession belongs to the original Dharma, because the purity of the Sangha is a prominent idea in early buddhism, and because it is achieved through confession etc. Whereas dedication of merit has acquired in the course of time certain aspects that seem to me unnecessary and even negative in character. People do not trust that good deeds are good deeds by themselves, why is that? Where does the fear of losing them come from?
Collecting merit is present in the Dhammapada in the idea that one should collect a treasure in one's youth, during one's mature life, that one can enjoy in one's old age.


The idea of purification definitely belongs in very early Buddhism. The Vinaya is too rarely studied by non-monastics, but in the vinaya the monks and nuns engage in a twice-monthly purification and confession practice called sojong.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby safron » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:52 am

the evil karma is either erradicated or not.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Matylda » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:04 pm

Luke wrote:I've noticed that many Tibetan lamas talk about "purifying karma" (usually referring to doing something painful or difficult with good motivation which will supposedly negate some of one's bad karma), but this concept isn't found in Theravada teachings as far as I'm aware (except as a Jain concept which Shakyamuni refutes).
So are there any Mahayana texts which support this idea of "purifying karma" or is it just an idea that Vajrayana teachers borrowed from the Jains and Hindus?



Not only Tibetan lamas.. In Japan you have also many practices like that.. and they help to purify bad karma...
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Matylda » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:06 pm

Spirituality wrote:Another sideline and the reason that I do occasionally practice purification practices, though not nearly as much as the lama's would wish, is that it makes sense to remind oneself of the 10 non-virtues. http://buddhistsutras.org/rules/10nonvirtues.htm

I.  Three physical misdeeds
1) Killing, the taking of life
2) Stealing, Taking which is not given
3) Sexual Misconduct
II.  Four verbal misdeeds
4) Lying, stating something which is untrue.
5) Instigation, speech which cause division between friends, relatives, etc.
6) Gossip,
7) Harsh words
III.  Three mental misdeeds
8) Covetousness
9) Ill will
10) Wrong Views


I have only come across this list in Tibetan Buddhist circles, but there can be no doubt that it is Buddhist in spirit: ethics are at the heart of the Buddhist path, going right back to the Pali Canon.


Mahayana sutras talk about same unvirtues acts. Like Upasakasilasutra talks about them at length, and some other sutras concerning bodhisattva vinaya...
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:24 am

The ten paths of good action is mentioned in the Vimalakirti Sutra, in chapter Purification of the Buddha Field. The ten good deeds are explained in the Flower Ornament Scripture. There is the Sutra of the Path of the Ten Good Karmas
http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra27.html
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby sinweiy » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:32 am

Luke wrote:So are there any Mahayana texts which support this idea of "purifying karma" or is it just an idea that Vajrayana teachers borrowed from the Jains and Hindus?


i am from the Pureland tradition which is from Mahayana. One of the ten common doubt is as the following that talks about purification of karma. The dark house analogy is especially enlightening.

Question 8

From time immemorial, sentient beings have committed countless transgressions. Moreover, in this life, from infancy to old age, they create additional evil karma because they do not have the opportunity to encounter good spiritual advisors. Under these circumstances, how can it be said that "At the time of death, they will achieve rebirth with only ten perfect utterances of the Buddha's name"? Furthermore, how do you satisfactorily explain the teaching that such practitioners "transcend the binding karma of the Triple Realm"?
Answer

In truth, it is difficult to assess the number or the strength of the good and evil kamic seeds that sentient beings have created from time immemorial. However, those who, at the time of death, encounter a good spiritual advisor and accomplish ten utterances, must have created good karma in the past. Otherwise, they could not even meet a good spiritual advisor, let alone accomplish ten pure recitations!

Now, lest you think that the evil karma from beginningless time is heavy while ten utterances at the time of death are light, I shall cite three reasons why rebirth in the Pure Land does not necessarily depend on the weight of bad karma, the amount of practice or the duration of cultivation. The three reasons concern a) the Mind, the conditions and c) the issue of certainty.

a) Mind

The trangressions committed by sentient beings spring from deluded, perverse thought. Recitation of the Buddha's name, on the other hand, arises from right thought, that is, hearing of Amitabha Buddha's name and true virtues. One is false and the other is true. There is no possible comparison between them!

This is similar to a house which has been boarded up for ten thousand years. If the windows are suddenly opened to let the sunlight in, all darkness immediately dissipates. However long the period of darkness may have been, how can it fail to disappear? It is likewise for sentient beings who have committed transgressions for many eons but achieve rebirth at the time of death through ten pure recitations.

Conditions

Transgressions grow out of dark, inverted thoughts, combined with illusory circumstances and environments. Buddha Recitation, on the contrary, arises from hearing of Amitabha Buddha's name and pure virtues, combined with the aspiration for enlightenment. One is false and the other is true. There is no possible comparison between them!

This is analagous to a person struck by a poisoned arrow. The arrow has penetrated deep inside his body and the poison is strong, deeply wounding his flesh and bones. Still, if at that moment he hears the "celestial drum", the arrow will "shoot out" of his flesh by itself and the poison will be neutralized. The arrow has not penetrated so deep nor is the poison so strong that he cannot recover! It is likewise for sentient beings who have committed transgressions for many eons but achieve rebirth at the time of death through ten pure recitations.

c) Certaintiy of Salvation

When sentient beings commit transgressions, they do so enter from the "intervening mental state" or "post-mental state". These two mental states do not apply, however, at the time of death: there is only one extremely powerful, utterly intense thought of recitation, letting go of everything before dying. Therefore, rebirth is achieved.

This is analogous to a very large, strong cable which even thousands of people cannot break. Yet, a child wielding a "celestial sword" can cut it in several pieces without difficulty. It is also similar to a huge pile of wood, accumulated for thousands of years, which, when set on fire by a small flame, is completely consumed within a short time. The same is true of someone who has practiced the Ten Virtues throughout his life, seeking rebirth in the Heavens. If, at the time of death, he develops an intense perverse thought, he will immediately descend, instead, into the Avici (Never-Ending) Hell.

Although bad karma is intrinsically false and illusory, the overpowering strength of Mind and thought can still upset a lifetime of good karma and cause the individual to descend onto evil paths. How, then, can Buddha Recitation, which is true, wholesome karma, generated intensely at the time of death, fail to upset his bad karma, even though that karma may have been accumulated from time immemorial? Therefore, someone who has committed transgressions for many eons, but, at the time of death accomplishes ten recitations with a totally earnest Mind, will certainly be reborn in the Pure Land. Not to achieve rebirth under such circumstances would indeed be inconceivable!

The sutras teach:

"A single utterly sincere recitation of Amitabha Buddha's name obliterates the grave wrongdoings of eight million eons of Birth and Death."

This is possible because the practitioner recites the Buddha's name with a Mind of utmost sincerity and therefore can annihilate evil karma. As long as, on his deathbed, he utters the Buddha's name in such a frame of Mind, he will be assured of rebirth. There can be no further doubt about it!

Traditionally, it has been explained that the dying person's ability to recite ten utterances is due entirely to previous good karma. This explanation is not, however, correct. Why is this so? It is because, as a commentary states, "if it were merely a question of previous karma, only the vow for rebirth would be necessary, and there would be no place at all for practice ..."

The practitioner who, on his deathbed, accomplishes ten recitations, is able to do so because of his previous good conditions (enabling him to meet a good spiritual advisor) and because of his own wholehearted recitation. To attribute rebirth in such circumstances exclusively to previous good karma would be a great mistake! I hope that practitioners will ponder this truth deeply, develop a firm Mind, and not be led astray by erroneous views.
http://www.purelandbuddhism.com/10Doubts.pdf
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Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:57 am

Spirituality wrote:I have only come across this list in Tibetan Buddhist circles, but there can be no doubt that it is Buddhist in spirit: ethics are at the heart of the Buddhist path, going right back to the Pali Canon.


The early buddhism split 100 years after Parinirvana into Mahasanghika and Sthaviravada, which further split into Sarvastivada and Theravada. The Pali Tipitaka was written down some 500 years after Parinirvana in a monastery in Sri Lanka that also practiced Mahayana teaching and Mahayana sutras. This monastery was later destroyed by a competing theravada faction, that also took possession of the written collection of suttas. Their writing down had been a long and tedious process, lasting for several generations. I haven't heard or read when and where the Tripitakas of the Sarvastivada and Mahasanghika were written down. Nevertheless the above and other historical facts show that the Mahayana existed in both the Mahasanghika and Sthaviravada schools. It has been a undercurrent in buddhism, dealing with advanced teachings and advanced practices. Accessible for those who were mature enough for it. This view about the Mahayana has been put forward by Edward Conze and others.
The Buddha taught a method by which people can themselves know the truth about all and everything. There were always persons who really attained it, who had unlimited access to the truths about the universe. Then others would react to it in different ways, which gave rise to the various schools in buddhism.
The information about the schisms in early buddhism and the writing down of the Tipitaka are from History of Indian Buddhism From Shakyamuni to Early Mahayana; by Akira & Groner.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:27 am

Purifying Karma is referring to a change in outlook often accompanied by a change in circumstance that conventionally appears positive. It's not just a buddhist concept. It can actually be found everywhere - all the time. A prostitute becomes a social worker. A former drug addict becomes a mentor for drug addicts. etc. It's letting go of some old concepts and accepting others that are conventionally more beneficial. It's a human thing found everywhere at all times. It might even be an 'evolution' thing.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Tilopa » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:30 am

Purification in this context refers to neutralizing karmic imprints which have been created and implanted on the mind - in this and previous lives - through negative actions of body, speech and mind. Unless they are purified they will ripen in the form of suffering experiences, either as a lower form of rebirth or as negative experiences and obstacles to spiritual realization in the human realm. Hence ngondro and other methods the Lamas teach for purifying karma. It's not specifically a Tibetan thing and AFAIK all Mahayana traditions incorporate purification into their respective practices. In Vajrayana there are also many practices taught to overcome karmic obstacles - Vajrasattva being one of the most well known.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby Son » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:27 pm

Spirituality wrote:Another sideline and the reason that I do occasionally practice purification practices, though not nearly as much as the lama's would wish, is that it makes sense to remind oneself of the 10 non-virtues. http://buddhistsutras.org/rules/10nonvirtues.htm

I.  Three physical misdeeds
1) Killing, the taking of life
2) Stealing, Taking which is not given
3) Sexual Misconduct
II.  Four verbal misdeeds
4) Lying, stating something which is untrue.
5) Instigation, speech which cause division between friends, relatives, etc.
6) Gossip,
7) Harsh words
III.  Three mental misdeeds
8) Covetousness
9) Ill will
10) Wrong Views


I have only come across this list in Tibetan Buddhist circles, but there can be no doubt that it is Buddhist in spirit: ethics are at the heart of the Buddhist path, going right back to the Pali Canon.

purification practices are a great way to counter the natural tendency to slip morally and excuse every mistak we make, making it likely we'll make it again. Combined with the tibetan advice to rejoice at what we do well, and dedicate the merits, the result is, I think, psychologically balanced and can help us stay on the path. The main problem in trying to change is after all not good intentions, but keeping them. Purification rituals counter the guilt of making a mistake while encouraging us to try again.


The ten unwholesome actions. These were indeed taught by the Buddha and are integral to all Buddhism.
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Re: "Purifying" karma?

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:41 am

As for purification practices in the Mahayana tradition, and I am by no means an advanced practitioner, I was taught Vajrasattva practice as a means to purify karma from both this life and previous ones. Vajrasattva is the embodiment of the purification powers of all the Buddhas.

Of course it must be practiced, as with all things, with the correct mind and motivation behind it. Since learning this, and I do believe the mindful thought of trying to at least reduce the negative karma in my daily life (which never quite works out!) since begging this practice has given me a lot of inner strength and motivation to continue on this path.

Here is a short guide by Lama Zopa Rinpoche -
http://www.lamayeshe.com/?sect=article&id=394

As with many things, reading about practice can be a little dry and I suggest asking about it to one of your teachers.
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