Group Karma

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Group Karma

Postby Will » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:14 pm

Vasubandhu from Abhidharmakosa vol. 2, 649:

When many persons are united with the intention to kill, either in
war, or in the hunt, or in banditry, who is guilty of murder, if only one of
them kills?

72c-d As soldiers, etc., concur in the realization of the same
effect, all are as guilty as the one who kills.

Having a common goal, all are guilty exactly as he who among them
kills, for all mutually incite one another, not through speech, but by the
very fact that they are united together in order to kill.

But is the person who has been constrained through force to join the
army also guilty?

Evidently so, unless he has formed the resolution, "Even in order to
save my life, I shall not kill a living being."


So a group united in the same intent, whether good or bad, will get the same karmic effect; only modified to the extent the individual's motive varies somewhat from the group's shared intent.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Group Karma

Postby mudra » Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:13 am

Will wrote:Vasubandhu from Abhidharmakosa vol. 2, 649:

When many persons are united with the intention to kill, either in
war, or in the hunt, or in banditry, who is guilty of murder, if only one of
them kills?

72c-d As soldiers, etc., concur in the realization of the same
effect, all are as guilty as the one who kills.

Having a common goal, all are guilty exactly as he who among them
kills, for all mutually incite one another, not through speech, but by the
very fact that they are united together in order to kill.

But is the person who has been constrained through force to join the
army also guilty?

Evidently so, unless he has formed the resolution, "Even in order to
save my life, I shall not kill a living being."


So a group united in the same intent, whether good or bad, will get the same karmic effect; only modified to the extent the individual's motive varies somewhat from the group's shared intent.


"Oh no, not again!" :smile:
(But recognizing the OP, I clicked on it anyway. Agree with your take on it, but perhaps one could underscore more the fact that they each experience their own results which are similar - you'd be amazed at how many people understand "they will get the same karmic effect" as being "one collective karma that they have to experience at the same time as a group etc...")

And the general who orders the attacks creates karma for each death caused by his soldiers...
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Will » Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:34 am

"mudra"Oh no, not again!" :smile:
(But recognizing the OP, I clicked on it anyway. Agree with your take on it, but perhaps one could underscore more the fact that they each experience their own results which are similar - you'd be amazed at how many people understand "they will get the same karmic effect" as being "one collective karma that they have to experience at the same time as a group etc...")

And the general who orders the attacks creates karma for each death caused by his soldiers...


I am not amazed at how people "understand" anything.

But to share the same karmic effect at the same time and place, two or more folk would need to be almost karmic clones of one another. They would have to have, over many lives, very similar karmic patterns of motive, strength, frequency etcetera - not very likely at all.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:14 am

Would it then not follow that on the reverse if people are united in a benevolent cause, such as saving lives, charitable activities and/or being of benefit to others, then all share in the merit of a single good action by a single individual?

I remember my Tibetan guru talking about this before. We're collectively creating the world we live in through our actions. The example he provided was the locks on a door -- in the beginning you didn't lock your door, then you added one, then two, then three, then an alarm system. I think for him, coming from Tibet and then rural India, the notion of home security was a bit strange. Our collective actions produce a society where people are terrified of being robbed, raped, killed and so on. One secondary result of that is the amount of locks on a door (and the home security systems).

The world as it exists is a result of the collective actions of all beings. It follows that if more and more people have positive thoughts and abandon evil actions, speech and thoughts, then the collective result will reflect that.
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Will » Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:51 am

Huseng wrote:Would it then not follow that on the reverse if people are united in a benevolent cause, such as saving lives, charitable activities and/or being of benefit to others, then all share in the merit of a single good action by a single individual?
[...]
The world as it exists is a result of the collective actions of all beings. It follows that if more and more people have positive thoughts and abandon evil actions, speech and thoughts, then the collective result will reflect that.


Yes indeed, very true! Je Tsongkhapa also mentions one of the best ways to garner merit is to simply admire and agree with any noble deed one hears of. We do not even have to do the act, just cheer on the actor.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Group Karma

Postby mudra » Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:49 pm

Will wrote:
Huseng wrote:Would it then not follow that on the reverse if people are united in a benevolent cause, such as saving lives, charitable activities and/or being of benefit to others, then all share in the merit of a single good action by a single individual?
[...]
The world as it exists is a result of the collective actions of all beings. It follows that if more and more people have positive thoughts and abandon evil actions, speech and thoughts, then the collective result will reflect that.


Yes indeed, very true! Je Tsongkhapa also mentions one of the best ways to garner merit is to simply admire and agree with any noble deed one hears of. We do not even have to do the act, just cheer on the actor.


There are those who rejoice at the virtuous acts of those less advanced and even get more merit thru their rejoicing than the person who performed it ..
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Will » Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:42 pm

Here is Je Rinpoche on "rejoicing karma" from the Great Lam Rim, (vol. 1:97):

The nature of sin is that the three mental poisons cause you to use
your body, speech, or mind to actually engage in an activity—that
is, to do it yourself—or to enjoin someone else to do it, or to rejoice
in someone else's having done it. So as to broadly include all of this,
the verse says, "Whatever." To confess sin is to recall the faults of
your earlier sins and then to regret them. Confess them from the
depths of your heart with an attitude of restraint toward future sin.
When you do this, you prevent the growth of the sins you did before
and discontinue committing them in the future.

The next verse expresses the fourth branch of worship, rejoicing:

I rejoice in all merit, whatever it may be,
Of all the conquerors of the ten directions, conqueror's children,
Pratyekabuddhas, those with more to learn,
Those with no more to learn, and all ordinary beings.

"Rejoicing" means to remember the benefits of the virtues of these
... persons, and then to cultivate delight in them as a
poor person would with a discovered treasure.


I included the part dealing with confession because he reminds us of the flip side. Rejoicing in another's bad actions, brings that bad karma to us.
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Re: Group Karma

Postby dave » Sun Jun 27, 2010 11:55 am

Will wrote:Vasubandhu from Abhidharmakosa vol. 2, 649:

When many persons are united with the intention to kill, either in
war, or in the hunt, or in banditry, who is guilty of murder, if only one of
them kills?

72c-d As soldiers, etc., concur in the realization of the same
effect, all are as guilty as the one who kills.

Having a common goal, all are guilty exactly as he who among them
kills, for all mutually incite one another, not through speech, but by the
very fact that they are united together in order to kill.

But is the person who has been constrained through force to join the
army also guilty?

Evidently so, unless he has formed the resolution, "Even in order to
save my life, I shall not kill a living being."


So a group united in the same intent, whether good or bad, will get the same karmic effect; only modified to the extent the individual's motive varies somewhat from the group's shared intent.


Seems logical.
I have learned very similar in the Buddhist University.
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:22 pm

That there is a common effect for similar actions is beyond dispute, the teachings of the Buddha on kamma show this very clearly, and that karmic effect is modified by intention, the object that is acted upon (killing an arhat as opposed to killing a mosquito), the quantity and quality of the action and satisfaction gained from an action is also indisputable.

But to say that the karma vipakka will be indentical is going a bit too far.

Okay, the Abhidha...ma texts basically outline the limited range of sentient experience, so it can be said that since we are dealing with such a limited range of experience then the combinations that can occur are also limited and that there is a distinct possibility that the karma vipakka for a group of individuals engaged in the same action may be similar. But I think the term "similar" is of importance here. The abovementioned passages seem to say that the karma vipakka will be the same. This, I feel that this is too far fetched. Why? Because sentient beings have been cycling through samsara forever, so the possibility that their individual mind streams will bring about an identical outcome is kinnda difficult to believe.

If one looks to the Abhidha...ma "lists" one finds a limited but still seemingly vast array of experiences, if one combines these with the structures of dependency outlined in the Patthanuddesa Dipani http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/The_ ... _Relations then the possible number combinations shoot right off the end of the scale!

Though I don't find the theory of group karma improbable the lack of references to it in Sutta and Sutra leads me to believe that it is a later development in Buddhist theory which, of course, is not a negative trait but is a point of concern. Maybe the theory requires better elucidation/analysis based on realisations?
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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: Group Karma

Postby Tilopa » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:06 am

All the teachings I have received on this subject have included an explanation of 'collective karma' where groups of individuals share the same general experience. For example all those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami or the Tibetans being invaded and oppressed by the Chinese. For sure individual karma affects each persons specific experience so that some die, some don't and so forth but why does something like that happen to a group, tribe, family or whatever? Collective karma.
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Re: Group Karma

Postby ground » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:06 am

Being mindful everyone may experience "group karma" in one's own sphere. It is the way of perceiving and fabricating what arises. Education, school, media ... being member of this or that group ... just watching one's habits and challenge these can reveal the being conditioned by the karma of other individuals and the absorption of habits that are more or less dominant in the collective one is born into and the sub-collective(s) one "chooses" (?!) to associate with.

Mindfulness on the other hand is the way to become independent of "collective" karma in the same way it is a method to stop the workings of one's individual karma. Actually the borderline between "collective" karma and "individual" karma cannot be drawn. Why? Neither can be identified as such.


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Re: Group Karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:51 am

TMingyur wrote:Actually the borderline between "collective" karma and "individual" karma cannot be drawn. Why? Neither can be identified as such.
That is actually a good point, ideas of collective and individual do arise from a false sense of dualism between "myself" and "others", but at the same time the Pali Canon Sutta on kamma are quite clear about the individualised nature of kamma and its effects.
Maybe what is necessary here (as everywhere else) is the fine balancing act between extremes? In this case those of individual vs collective?
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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: Group Karma

Postby Will » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:38 pm

Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw gives me a new way to look at the group karmic effect notion:

Again, the result of kamma is taken to be twofold: as drifting, affecting the individual, and as overflowing, affecting others. Of these the former implies prosperity, or adversity experienced by a man in this or that existence as an individual being, in consequence of his meritorious or demeritorious deeds. Under this aspect the result of kamma affects the doer of the deed only. But in his existence as an individual being, owing to the heat and power of his kamma promoting his happiness, or causing him misery, there arise conditions of prosperity, or adversely, with respect to persons other than himself. This is called the overflow of the result of kamma. Under this aspect the result of his kamma is shared by others.

The drifting course of the result of kamma may be illustrated by the prosperity of King Mahasudassana's life in the Mahasudassana-sutta.[52]

Moreover, owing to the power of the meritorious deeds of the king, various conditions of prosperity in the lives of other persons arose, some together with his own condition, some coming from this or that source. This may be taken as an illustration of the overflowing course of the result of kamma. It may even promote the happiness of the inhabitants of other continents.[53]

As regards evil deeds, the story in which the whole kingdom was ruined in consequence of the overflowing course of King Nalikera's act, persecuting five hundred sages,[54] and such other stories may be related.

Again, it is written: 'A person, Bhikkhus, may be so born as to promote the well-being of many men, the happiness of many men, the interests of many men, the well-being and happiness of many gods and men. A person, Bhikkhus, may be so born as to increase the ill of many men, the misery of many men, the ruin of many men, the ill and misery of many gods and men.'[55]

It not only affects beings, animals as well as men, but it also permeates the realm of space, and the whole organic world. Thus we read in our texts:


'It is,the rule, Bhikkhus, that when the Bodhisatta, having
fallen from the Tusita-heaven, enters his mother's womb, then
there appears throughout this world including the celestial
worlds, an infinitely splendid radiance surpassing in splendour
the divine radiance of gods, and then the ten thousand
world-systems tremble, shake and quake.[56] Such is the
overflowing result of a Bodhisatta's acts of fulfilling many
perfections.
When men become exceedingly sinful in thought and deed, all the overflowing course of their kamma rushes from this extensive earth up to the orbits of moon, sun and stars, agonising even the whole realm of space, and the whole organic world of trees, etc., undermining by degrees the cause of prosperity and strengthening that of adversity.



What do you think of this "overflow" idea of vipaka, resulting from the "power or heat" of actions?
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:05 am

It seems to me that what he is talking about is not an "overflow" of the outcome but the outcome acting on the individuals mindstream in such a way as that it acts as a cause for (or colours) their next action.

Like, for example, as a consequence of a former action a negative outcome manifests which "causes" me to get angry and thus act in a negative manner again, thus being a cause for the suffering of others. Or another example may be: the outcome of a meritorious act is that I gain material wealth and then I use this material wealth for the benefit of others. The others are benefiting from my action of donation which, the consequence of previous merit, allows me the capacity of benefiting others. ie They benefit from my action . I could have had a positive outcome (gaining wealth) but act greedily and hoard it. The outcome of the previous merit is manifest (wealth) but my actions do not allow others to benefit from it. I could have negative outcomes, but choose to deal with them personally (overcome their effect on my mindstream) and thus not affect those around me negatively.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Group Karma

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:20 am

Will wrote:Vasubandhu from Abhidharmakosa vol. 2, 649:

When many persons are united with the intention to kill, either in
war, or in the hunt, or in banditry, who is guilty of murder, if only one of
them kills?

72c-d As soldiers, etc., concur in the realization of the same
effect, all are as guilty as the one who kills.

Having a common goal, all are guilty exactly as he who among them
kills, for all mutually incite one another, not through speech, but by the
very fact that they are united together in order to kill.

But is the person who has been constrained through force to join the
army also guilty?

Evidently so, unless he has formed the resolution, "Even in order to
save my life, I shall not kill a living being."


So a group united in the same intent, whether good or bad, will get the same karmic effect; only modified to the extent the individual's motive varies somewhat from the group's shared intent.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Basically with an authority figure and obedient peers present people will do anything. Without them present not usually. So Vasubandhu is right.
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