Enlightenment and Karma

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Enlightenment and Karma

Postby chokyi lodro » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:53 pm

Whenever the story of the Buddha is recounted, it is explained that by achieving Enlightenment he became liberated from the wheel of life and death (samsara). I was thinking about how this would work.

Surely, Gautama Buddha (or any Buddha for that matter) still had the negative karma of non-meritorious actions in the past to deal with? So, how would the Buddha have broken out of samsara at the end of his lifetime? Or, is it the case that because he was by then omniscient, he also had the means to purify, or somehow mitigate, the results of those 'bad' deeds? (A very simplistic explanation I once heard of tantra springs to mind.)

Does anyone follow what I'm asking here? I'm trying to work out how one can actually link Enlightenment and practically escaping repeated birth and death, and what means that would actually take.

Any help welcome! :thanks:
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:55 pm

markadm wrote:(A very simplistic explanation I once heard of tantra springs to mind.)


Disco.

There are ways to change karma.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:32 am

This is a good question to be asking. It shows you are beginning to look at the process of birth and death as a process. A process has stages of causes leading to effects. The Buddha described this process as paticca-samuppada, the 12-links of dependent origination. Seeing that process in action actually caused the process to stop. It is by this method that he leaves samsara. The body is just a residue at that point. When the body no longer functions, the round of samsara will not restart with a new birth.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:48 am

When one automatically views everything as empty/having arisen from causes and conditions, then that person is freed from karma.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

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Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby chokyi lodro » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:30 am

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:[re: tantra]

Disco.

There are ways to change karma.

Well, that's what I was thinking. :smile: It is often said that "karma is infallible", meaning that once the cause exists the effect must come. The two are linked together. But, then I thought that there must be practical means for a Buddha or proto-Buddha to mitigate the effects, so that when he dies he will escape birth and death.

Of course, that does lead me also to wonder if the problem of forgetting one's past lives, and thus not being able to remember the dharma, could be lessened for those almost at Enlightenment, which would then make having to do it in one lifetime not so much of a problem.

deepbluehum wrote:The Buddha described [the process of birth and death] as paticca-samuppada, the 12-links of dependent origination. Seeing that process in action actually caused the process to stop. It is by this method that he leaves samsara. The body is just a residue at that point. When the body no longer functions, the round of samsara will not restart with a new birth.

Not that I doubt you, but could you explain more: how does seeing it occurring cause paticca-samuppada to stop? Konchog1: I would apply the same question to what you said. What both go you have said implies to me that our knowledge of the process has an input into its function, which would make me wonder: can one choose not to be reborn? We know that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have chosen to be reborn a certain way, so is the flipside true?

What you and Karma Dondrup Tashi have said, have made me wonder if breaking out of samsara is not really an issue, provided one had some kind of influence over one's rebirth. After all, the mahayana viewpoint is that one must achieve one's own liberation for and in the context of other beings, so it can be seen to be of more utility to not break out of samsara - whether enlightened or not - because it might be more useful to be born as someone or something in order to lead someone else to their own liberation.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby catmoon » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:12 am

Attaining enlightenment does not instantly cancel all karma. In the Buddha's life there were a number of karmic issues that cropped up, old old karma manifesting itself. But, suppose one sits by a pond idly throwing rocks in. The water is disturbed. If you stop, at first there is little difference, but over time the surface of the water may become very still.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:20 am

The way to change Karma is to see what karma really is. That's what enlightenment is all about.
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: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby chokyi lodro » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:38 am

Andrew108 wrote:The way to change Karma is to see what karma really is. That's what enlightenment is all about.


That's something I don't entirely understand, though.

Say the effect of pushing an apple on a desk is that it rolls... do you mean that if I realise that the cause is directly linked to the effect, then I might think of ways to stop it (e.g. somehow increasing the friction on the desk) for future? But what happens to the apple - or apples - having already been pushed?

catmoon: I liked your analogy, but again it makes me think that one must simply "ride it out". That would go against what Karma Dondrup Tashi said.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:34 am

markadm wrote:Say the effect of pushing an apple on a desk is that it rolls... do you mean that if I realise that the cause is directly linked to the effect, then I might think of ways to stop it (e.g. somehow increasing the friction on the desk) for future? But what happens to the apple - or apples - having already been pushed?

Not really. When you experience karma there seems to be something there. Something happening. Can't be denied. And actually Karma isn't to be denied. What is though, is the thought that Karma represents reality in a full way.
No one denies Karma, but when you look you can see that karma, cause and effect, are not so fixed. For example one can't experience two times at once. So one can't experience the push and the roll at the same time.
Fixed durations when looked at are experienced as 'beginningless' and 'present momentless' with no definite end point either. Again we are not denying appearances, but we are seeing that instead of being absolutely factual, real appearances are becoming 'mere' or dependent. So karma starts to be seen as our activity. Making things solid is our business. Coming from our side. And that's o.k because we are not trying to break the rules and become superhuman. However with a fuller understanding of how karma is, the reality of karma, we get an idea that our reality is a bit more richer than we thought.
Buddha represents that richness in that he has karma, but at the same time can see what it is clearly and that it's not really what it appears to be. He can see through the process and the fixation. When it comes to suffering this is very important. Again we are not trying to be heros or superhuman, but we want to appreciate and understand the fact of experiences more fully - the good and the bad. So understanding karma as being something whilst representing nothing is very important. Some practitioners see karma as just freshness or vividness. They don't try to create things and when bad things happen they seem not to be effected. The 16th Karmapa had a very nasty cancer but didn't really suffer from it. So these are the things we get to know. In my view Karmapa is enlightened. This doesn't mean that karmic appearances fade away but the clinging to them as being real does.
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: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:34 pm

Any karmic effect happens where? In the body. We are talking about suffering and pain. So the practice of meditative absorption mitigates it. There are myriads of methods. Buddha spent a lot of time trying them all out, and figured out that they hadn't hit the nail on the head. So he recognized the 12 causal links the are invariably tied together in the matrix of pain and suffering. The first link he recognized is ignorance, better understood not just as unknown information, but as unconscious of a process. By becoming conscious of the process, it stops. You are wondering why that is, and the only answer is because it is. You have to see this for yourself and you will understand. Why is falling always down? It's a natural law, but until you see this nature for yourself it's like trying to explain the Mona Lisa to a blind person.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby LastLegend » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:00 pm

markadm wrote:Say the effect of pushing an apple on a desk is that it rolls... do you mean that if I realise that the cause is directly linked to the effect, then I might think of ways to stop it (e.g. somehow increasing the friction on the desk) for future? But what happens to the apple - or apples - having already been pushed?


If you no longer push the apple, will it continue to roll? At some point it must stop right. Now instead of pushing the apple, you are pushing the orange. Karma and rebirth are continuous.

When enlightened, you will have no problems in receiving karmic retributions. Your fleshly body will receive retributions, but your mind does not experience suffering. Master Dogen cried, but his emotion was not tainted. There were stories where Buddha received his retributions after enlightenment. Enlightenment was his money, and he could pay the debt with it. So right now, we have no money, and the debt is staggering.

Also, any body that is made from flesh will have to depart one day. That's birth, old age, sickness, and death. If Buddha manifests in a flesh body, he will be subjected to the effects also. But his mind does not experience suffering; experience the effects of suffering.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:15 pm

markadm wrote:Say the effect of pushing an apple on a desk is that it rolls ...

How do we know it will roll? What if instead of rolling it flies? Or turns into a grapefruit? How do we know for sure it won't?

Perhaps if we find a way to see for sure that the sky is always clear it doesn't much matter what kind of clouds obscure it?

Perhaps if we collapse the cave of hope and fear we'll have no expectations and if the apple rolls it will be as miraculous as if it flies or turns into a grapefruit?

If we have love and nonresistance for everything how can we ever have "bad" results of karma?

:alien:
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby chokyi lodro » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:19 pm

:shrug: I'm getting confused now. I thought the whole point of karma was that the cause and effect were of like natures, and related to one another.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:00 pm

Sure. Karma's just habitual causation.

But positive karma, just as much as negative or neutral karma, maintains my basic delusion that Buddhism intends to uproot. What goes up will just come down again. Avoiding "bad" habits and doing only "good" habits doesn't solve my problems.

[N]irvana cannot be attained by means of action, for the cause-effect relation gives rise to and sustains the conditioned and made.

Capriles

So - what if "separate agency", and in general the experience that causes me to perceive phenomena as being compounded, conditioned and made, is an illusion? What if I can uproot that illusion through direct realization? I.e. I won't abandon bad actions but overcome action itself, i.e. transcend all karma.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby catmoon » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:41 pm

The pond analogy is only a rough approximation to truth. You don't always have to ride it out. Here, let's strain the analogy some more.

It is possible for waves to cancel each other out. But the cancellation is rarely perfect. So, by virtuous actions, we do ameliorate the force of incoming karma. We create a situation in which good and bad karma are likely to ripen simultaneously, with a more or less neutral result.

I think that's how it works, but it's just personal speculations to be honest.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:03 pm

markadm wrote:I thought the whole point of karma was that the cause and effect were of like natures, and related to one another.


In my understanding, Karma are actions and the effect of them.
Now the "cause and effect" are a bit different. The cause of unwholesome acts are greed, anger and delusion. Or our ignorance.
The effect is the repercussion of our unwholesome actions coming ripe.

We do our best to do good, but we are human and not perfect. So we make mistakes.

So in my understanding the more good we do the more good Karma we create. This will not negate the wrongs we've done, but in turn there will be more good Karma to ripen than "bad". So things will become better for us as we progress on our journey to realize the Truth of Buddha nature that's in us.
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
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If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby DarwidHalim » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:28 am

Someone is said realize their enlightenment, when he or she sees the true nature of reality, which is like illusions - empty appearances.

It doesn't cancel out the appearances.

The appearances that appear in you is due to your Karma.

Because, you can see the nature of this illusory karma, you no longer affected by the play of these appearances. They appear, but no matter how they appear, you are no longer affected by it.

The thought of anger can appear, but that thought really cannot disturb your equanimity, because you see the nature of the anger is illusory.

You are still and perfectly peace in the middle of tornado.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby waimengwan » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:44 pm

If the Buddha developed Bodhicitta even sleeping they will collect huge amounts of merits due to their wish to benefit sentient beings. I have a few theories about why a Buddha will not have negative karma to experience.

1) He has overcome the 3 poisons and ignorance, and if one's mind cannot have these negative motions how can any dormant negative karma arise?

2) If he has bodhicitta he will be creating the causes to overcome his negative karma all the time.

3) The merits created by one who has bodhicitta will overwhelm any negative karma. So negative karma cannot manifest under such a condition.
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Re: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:28 pm

Aspirational bodhicitta and genuine bodhicitta are a little bit different. The bodhicitta that you mention here is the aspirational type. Genuine bodhicitta is related to wisdom/emptiness.
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: Enlightenment and Karma

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:24 am

By the way, Buddha, arhat, and high bodhisattva no longer create karma and result of karma, whether good, or neutral.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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