How exactly does karma work?

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How exactly does karma work?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:00 am

I've always assumed karma didn't play much of a role in a person's life.However,others think otherwise.Take for instance Angulimala,the killer who was converted by Buddha.While he was with the other monks begging for food,some people attacked him with stones and he had to flee to live.This was supposed to be because of his karma.So karma manifested through the people.So would they have been punished for attacking the monk?But they were simply agents of Angulimala's bad karma.Does this mean people are robots,all their actions simply motivated by karma?
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:57 am

Red Faced Buddha wrote:I've always assumed karma didn't play much of a role in a person's life.However,others think otherwise.Take for instance Angulimala,the killer who was converted by Buddha.While he was with the other monks begging for food,some people attacked him with stones and he had to flee to live.This was supposed to be because of his karma.So karma manifested through the people.So would they have been punished for attacking the monk?But they were simply agents of Angulimala's bad karma.Does this mean people are robots,all their actions simply motivated by karma?
First of all there is no such thing as punishment when we talk about karma. There is no bearded white dude in the sky that judges who goes to heaven and who goes to hell and then sends our soul to its respective abode to be punished or rewarded. An action based in anger brings about the causes for rebirth in hell. An action based in ignorance brings about the causes for rebirth as an animal... If you put your finger in a fire and it gets burnt is that because you are being punished? No, it is merely an outcome of your action. That's the way karma works.

Secondly, the outcomes of the attackers actions (karma) may or may not manifest outcomes depending on three factors: the motivation for their action, the type of action and whether they expressed regret or satisfaction regarding the action. Now, and this is where it gets strange, the people that attacked Angulimala caused/assisted his past negative actions to ripen and acted as conditions for his becoming an Arhat. Does that make their actions good or bad?

Thirdly, no, people are not robots. Our current actions are definitely motivated by our past actions and our past karma sets up habits and tendencies that are acted out in the present BUT we have the ability to choose how and whether we act or not. That's the beauty of human existence. So the villagers that attcked Angulimala could have chosen to not attack him, instead of acting out their feelings of revenge or hatred. They were not forced to act the way they did, no more than you are forced to react angrily to being cursed at.
:namaste:
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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: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:03 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Red Faced Buddha wrote:I've always assumed karma didn't play much of a role in a person's life.However,others think otherwise.Take for instance Angulimala,the killer who was converted by Buddha.While he was with the other monks begging for food,some people attacked him with stones and he had to flee to live.This was supposed to be because of his karma.So karma manifested through the people.So would they have been punished for attacking the monk?But they were simply agents of Angulimala's bad karma.Does this mean people are robots,all their actions simply motivated by karma?
First of all there is no such thing as punishment when we talk about karma. There is no bearded white dude in the sky that judges who goes to heaven and who goes to hell and then sends our soul to its respective abode to be punished or rewarded. An action based in anger brings about the causes for rebirth in hell. An action based in ignorance brings about the causes for rebirth as an animal... If you put your finger in a fire and it gets burnt is that because you are being punished? No, it is merely an outcome of your action. That's the way karma works.

Secondly, the outcomes of the attackers actions (karma) may or may not manifest outcomes depending on three factors: the motivation for their action, the type of action and whether they expressed regret or satisfaction regarding the action. Now, and this is where it gets strange, the people that attacked Angulimala caused/assisted his past negative actions to ripen and acted as conditions for his becoming an Arhat. Does that make their actions good or bad?

Thirdly, no, people are not robots. Our current actions are definitely motivated by our past actions and our past karma sets up habits and tendencies that are acted out in the present BUT we have the ability to choose how and whether we act or not. That's the beauty of human existence. So the villagers that attcked Angulimala could have chosen to not attack him, instead of acting out their feelings of revenge or hatred. They were not forced to act the way they did, no more than you are forced to react angrily to being cursed at.
:namaste:


Thank you,I found your response very satisfying.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby NIRMAL2 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:28 am

.How people treat us is their karma; how we react is ours.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:00 pm

nirmal wrote:.How people treat us is their karma; how we react is ours.


True.(LOL,karma does take a long time.)
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:36 pm

Suppose you are walking along a nice country road and a butterfly lands on the road. But you don't see it, and you step on it without even noticing. Suddenly a giant hand appears in the air, grabs you by the collar and throws you into a flaming pit. This is Sin and Judgement.

Suppose again you are walking down a country road, but you have had a bad day. You are staring at the ground, muttering to yourself about your awful boss, bemoaning the horrible things he has done and plotting revenge. You are so wrapped up in these thoughts that you don't even notice the flaming pit in the middle of the road and so you walk right into it. This is Karma.

And suppose again you are walking down this road (maybe you are a commuter of sorts, you seem to spend a lot of time on it) and there is not much on your mind at all, so your mind reaches out to the day, and soaks it all in. You see a butterfly land on the road and stop to admire it for a minute before moving on. Rounding a corner you immediately notice there is a flaming pit in the middle of the road. Having accumulated a certain amount of experience with flaming pits by now, you give it a wide berth and continue unharmed. This is Enlightenment.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:19 pm

catmoon wrote:Suppose you are walking along a nice country road and a butterfly lands on the road. But you don't see it, and you step on it without even noticing. Suddenly a giant hand appears in the air, grabs you by the collar and throws you into a flaming pit. This is Sin and Judgement.

Suppose again you are walking down a country road, but you have had a bad day. You are staring at the ground, muttering to yourself about your awful boss, bemoaning the horrible things he has done and plotting revenge. You are so wrapped up in these thoughts that you don't even notice the flaming pit in the middle of the road and so you walk right into it. This is Karma.

And suppose again you are walking down this road (maybe you are a commuter of sorts, you seem to spend a lot of time on it) and there is not much on your mind at all, so your mind reaches out to the day, and soaks it all in. You see a butterfly land on the road and stop to admire it for a minute before moving on. Rounding a corner you immediately notice there is a flaming pit in the middle of the road. Having accumulated a certain amount of experience with flaming pits by now, you give it a wide berth and continue unharmed. This is Enlightenment.


Thank you for this insightful, and funny, contribution. :rolling:
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:41 pm

Karma: A study Guide

However, the results ie - in a way workings - of karma is one of the four imponderables specifically outlined by the Buddha as imponderable i.e. unlikely to be known by conjecture, nor frutiful, nor possible except perhaps by the Fully Awakened Ones.

Google "Four imponderables"

And indeed, there is cause and effect, I believe.

Best wishes,
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Pero » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:20 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Thirdly, no, people are not robots. Our current actions are definitely motivated by our past actions and our past karma sets up habits and tendencies that are acted out in the present BUT we have the ability to choose how and whether we act or not. That's the beauty of human existence. So the villagers that attcked Angulimala could have chosen to not attack him, instead of acting out their feelings of revenge or hatred. They were not forced to act the way they did, no more than you are forced to react angrily to being cursed at.

Oh Greg's just saying this because he a government sponsored robot and is supposed to say things like this to keep you in the dark. :tongue:
In truth most of us are like robots most of the time, having no real choice, simply being carried around by the winds/programs of karma. But, as was said somewhere in the Dune series, knowing that there is a trap is the first step in avoiding it. So in the same way, realizing that you're just like a robot is the first step on the long path towards freedom. :sage:
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:50 am

The workings and causes of karma are so vast and complex that trying to ponder how it all works is fruitless. I think that's what the Buddha was after, not necessarily that we shouldn't notice how our lives are shaped by karma and especially by karmic cycles.

What is fruitful is to work within your own experience. I've heard it compared to constantly taking pictures with your mind and senses. Then every situation makes different pictures that were stored away develop. A person yelling at someone who has accumulated merit and practiced compassion will only increase those things as they respond with concern for the person's wellbeing, that they are so disturbed they must lash out. A person yelling at someone who has accumulated more negative karma and self-centered habits will feel threatened, and possibly lash out in retaliation; their own negativity is thus strenghtened. Do you see a homeless person, respond with disgust or shame and perpetuate suffering; choose to ignore him and fine-tune ignorance; or say hello, smile, and say a mani, even if that's all you can do? We're constantly practicing our habits, deepening the grooves our karma makes, with the same diligence as a pianist gets ready for Carnegie Hall.

Any teachings of karma are only useful to the extent that they help us recognize our situation. Willing or not, understanding karma or not, we are unceasingly churning out the karma that shapes and will shape our experience. Do your reflections redirect yourself towards wholesome actions, so you may then have fortunate circumstances for practice and liberate yourself and others? If what is learned or contemplated does not do this, then it's best left for another time. Time after all is not something we have a great deal of as human beings. Someone here on Dharma Wheel has a signature that says we stand among the causes of death like a butter lamp in a strong wind. Do not disregard this.

I look forward to reading more of the wonderful insight others have shared so far :buddha2: :heart:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby zenkarma » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:52 am

catmoon wrote:Rounding a corner you immediately notice there is a flaming pit in the middle of the road. Having accumulated a certain amount of experience with flaming pits by now, you give it a wide berth and continue unharmed. This is Enlightenment.


Are you certain of this? Maybe enlightenment is realizing that you and the flaming pit are fundamentally not different. In which case the problem never arises.
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:41 am

zenkarma wrote:
catmoon wrote:Rounding a corner you immediately notice there is a flaming pit in the middle of the road. Having accumulated a certain amount of experience with flaming pits by now, you give it a wide berth and continue unharmed. This is Enlightenment.


Are you certain of this? Maybe enlightenment is realizing that you and the flaming pit are fundamentally not different. In which case the problem never arises.
There is this little thing called relative truth, you know. It stops one from being roasted alive from stepping into flaming pits.
:namaste:
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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: How exactly does karma work?

Postby zenkarma » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:45 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
zenkarma wrote:There is this little thing called relative truth, you know. It stops one from being roasted alive from stepping into flaming pits.
:namaste:


Which one? :)
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby catmoon » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:49 am

zenkarma wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
zenkarma wrote:There is this little thing called relative truth, you know. It stops one from being roasted alive from stepping into flaming pits.
:namaste:


Which one? :)


The one that seems to exist.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:52 am

:rolling:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
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: How exactly does karma work?

Postby zenkarma » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:54 am

catmoon wrote:

Which one? :)


The one that seems to exist.


Exactly, which reduces the flaming pit predicament to a case of mere mistaken identity. :)
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:06 pm

zenkarma wrote:Exactly, which reduces the flaming pit predicament to a case of mere mistaken identity. :)
Tell you what, you jump into the flaming pit and I will apply the calamine lotion to your mistaken identity. Deal?
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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: How exactly does karma work?

Postby catmoon » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:10 pm

zenkarma wrote:
catmoon wrote:

Which one? :)


The one that seems to exist.


Exactly, which reduces the flaming pit predicament to a case of mere mistaken identity. :)


Precisely. However, for those who may be attempting emptiness at home, it should be pointed out that knowing there is no fundamental difference does not make one immune to flaming pits. Flaming pits should still be assiduously avoided, and even with parental supervision, jumping into flaming pits is certain to result in screaming agony, mental torment, existential crisis, permanent injury and Justin Bieber music.
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Re: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:43 pm


I think I prefer vajra hell!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
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: How exactly does karma work?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:04 pm

:rolling:

I'm with you Greg
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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One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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