Collective karma

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Re: Collective karma

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:28 pm

How does collective karma impact entire societies, like the United States? On the one hand, I feel responsible somehow for the fact that the country I live in uses 25% of the world's resources for 5% of the population, uses military strength to enforce unfair trade agreements that hurt others, and any huge litany of complaints with the military industrial machine that is the US.

On the other, I feel like a tiny cog in a huge machine. I'm doing my best, but will contributing even indirectly to the suffering the US inflicts on the world make it harder to try to liberate other beings and myself?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:44 pm

If one lives in America, but for instance does not believe, or act from a viewpoint of American Exceptionalism, and is is no position of power, do they share the same Karma as someone who believes America's position in the world is justified, should be reinforced and acts accordingly, and is closer to the power required to more effectively perpetuate the status quo?

In other words, does the negative Karma, or potential for it increase as one goes "upwards" in society, or do we all share an equal chunk culpability, and the karmic effects?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby jikai » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:06 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:If one lives in America, but for instance does not believe, or act from a viewpoint of American Exceptionalism, and is is no position of power, do they share the same Karma as someone who believes America's position in the world is justified, should be reinforced and acts accordingly, and is closer to the power required to more effectively perpetuate the status quo?

In other words, does the negative Karma, or potential for it increase as one goes "upwards" in society, or do we all share an equal chunk culpability, and the karmic effects?


I would assume that as motivation is a conditioning factor of the act itself that the potential for negative karma would increase if one were of the belief that America's position in the world were justified, and decrease accordingly if they did not feel such a position were justified.

I guess the same would apply re your position of power or lack there-of?

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Re: Collective karma

Postby Jesse » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:23 am

what is collective karma


I would guess society.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:55 am

NO, there is no sutric evidence for collective karma. Even the Vasubhandu quote by Huseng shows that it is the common intention shared by each individual in the group that gives the personal outcome. If you do not have the intention, then you will not have the outcome (or the same outcome). Karma is personal.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:44 pm

The article Kamma: The creative life-force of human beings by Nalin Swaris argues that there is collective karma in buddhism: http://www.purifymind.com/KammaLifeforce.htm

Action occurs in a society, acts are done in the context of other beings, karma itself is social by nature.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby floating_abu » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:34 pm

lotwell wrote:Is there any historical or sutric basis for such a concept or is it merely a figment of modern syncretic blending of religious ideas?

with love,

Lotwell


It's actually as obvious as pie, no backups even needed...please just observe the world for yourself, your actions, words, your government, your choices, your life, and those of those around you....look what it makes up. It all - every single theme and thread -- makes up THIS life, and it will for evermore i.e. whilst this world is in operation.

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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:10 pm

Aemilius wrote:The article Kamma: The creative life-force of human beings by Nalin Swaris argues that there is collective karma in buddhism: http://www.purifymind.com/KammaLifeforce.htm

Action occurs in a society, acts are done in the context of other beings, karma itself is social by nature.
Yes, but the consequences of your actions are yours, not somebody elses. If a general orders a massacre they do not have the karma of killing, as such, to deal with, but the karma of wrong speech. The soldiers may have the karma of wrong view (I must obey the general) and definitely have the karma of wrong action (killing). But even then, each soldier will undergo the consequences of: their actions, their intentions and their joy or sorrow about the action they executed. If somebody in the group kills with glee they will not have the same consequences as those that kill with hesitation. If someody in the group kills many while another kills one... If somebody in the group kills with a slow and tortuous manner while the other tries to kill their victims as painlessly as possible... Etc... So even though it is one group engaged in a single event, well it is pretty obvious that they will ot suffer the same consequences. ie NO COLLECTIVE KARMA.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:56 pm

TNH has written about collective karma before. I guess how I would understand it now is that it's more like collective influence. If you're in a society that values wholesale consumerism, you'll take part in that to some extent despite your best intentions. Wouldn't that entail some kind of weak karmic continuation? Or another example that I can think of, in France where it's almost cultural to be racist against English and Belgian people. A child learns that from their parents and becomes a racist adult through osmosis instead of negative intention to irrationally hate a nationality. Of course, no one's stopping them from going "wait a minute!" if they get a twist on their perspective. But maybe collective societal influence can look a lot like karma in those instances?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:36 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Aemilius wrote:The article Kamma: The creative life-force of human beings by Nalin Swaris argues that there is collective karma in buddhism: http://www.purifymind.com/KammaLifeforce.htm

Action occurs in a society, acts are done in the context of other beings, karma itself is social by nature.
Yes, but the consequences of your actions are yours, not somebody elses. If a general orders a massacre they do not have the karma of killing, as such, to deal with, but the karma of wrong speech. The soldiers may have the karma of wrong view (I must obey the general) and definitely have the karma of wrong action (killing). But even then, each soldier will undergo the consequences of: their actions, their intentions and their joy or sorrow about the action they executed. If somebody in the group kills with glee they will not have the same consequences as those that kill with hesitation. If someody in the group kills many while another kills one... If somebody in the group kills with a slow and tortuous manner while the other tries to kill their victims as painlessly as possible... Etc... So even though it is one group engaged in a single event, well it is pretty obvious that they will ot suffer the same consequences. ie NO COLLECTIVE KARMA.
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The example of the general doesn't hold, if you have ordered a deed, you are responsible for it. If you have caused the performance of a deed, you are responsible for the action itself, it is not "false speech"! This is kind of wrong action of causing to be done is enumerated in the Sutra of Confession before the 35 Buddhas, it is also mentioned in the Dhammapada.
The example of collective karma that is found in the sutras is the appearance of the castes or classes in human society. They appear gradually as a result of collective Pratitya Samutpada, this is what Nalin Swaris has found out and what he explains. Same kind of collective course of events, collective Pratitya Samutpada, is described in the Aggañña sutta, when it describes the beginnings of human society.
As an example of collective action we could take the existence of national borders or the existence of sovereign states. We all take part in this action daily, we all benefit (or suffer) from it, and we are karmically responsible for it.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:14 am

Aemilius wrote:The example of the general doesn't hold, if you have ordered a deed, you are responsible for it. If you have caused the performance of a deed, you are responsible for the action itself, it is not "false speech"! This is kind of wrong action of causing to be done is enumerated in the Sutra of Confession before the 35 Buddhas, it is also mentioned in the Dhammapada.
Mind quoting some sources?

Needless to say I disagree. If you have not commited the act (karma) of killing you will not undergo the effect of the act of killing. If the order to kill, by itself, made one a killer of sentient beings, then even if the order was not executed, you would still undergo the effects of the act of killing. This is obviously not logical. This is not a case of trying to allocate blame or responsibility for the killing, nor is it a legalistic debate about what is a more heinous crime. You kill, you will have the karma vipakka of killing (and always in dependence upon your intention for carrying out the act and your subsequent mental state regarding the act). If you order a killing, you will have the karma vipakka of wrong speech.
The example of collective karma that is found in the sutras is the appearance of the castes or classes in human society. They appear gradually as a result of collective Pratitya Samutpada, this is what Nalin Swaris has found out and what he explains. Same kind of collective course of events, collective Pratitya Samutpada, is described in the Aggañña sutta, when it describes the beginnings of human society.
Nonsense. It is a refutation of the brahman claim (wrong view) to liberation by right of their belonging to a certain caste. It actually supports the idea of individual action (the choice to become a sravaka) and not caste membership as the defining characteristic of liberation.
As an example of collective action we could take the existence of national borders or the existence of sovereign states. We all take part in this action daily, we all benefit (or suffer) from it, and we are karmically responsible for it.
Again this is nonsense. I may, for example, support national boundaries but oppose armed guarding of the boundaries. Does this mean I will experience the karma viapkka for a racist border guard, for example, shooting and killing a refugee? Obviously not!

In any group/collective, even a group taking part in a concerted action, there as just as many individual differences as there are similarities.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:10 pm

Here is a teaching on the confession for the 35 Buddhas, see page 9. http://www.thubtenchodron.org/PrayersAndPractices/35Buddhas.pdf

According to Sravasti Dhammika Buddha says that "one should not kill, encourage others to kill, approve of killing, or speak in praise of killing", (Ang. Nik. V 306). Sravasti Dhammika has recently written about vegetarianism and Buddhism in his blog Dhamma Musings, and this question of causing others to kill or abstaining from it, quite naturally belongs to the topic of vegetarianism, don't You think so?

Sources: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Anguttara_Nikaya_3.16

The six realms arise because there is collective Pratitya Samutpada, and there further arise 100 000 realms within those six realms. They arise gradually, as a manifestation of collective and individual actions of beings. Because there is collective Depedent Arising there are different realms, realms that are products of collective habitual tendencies. There is action and karma that is shared in common, and action and its result that is individual. Because of this there are the different realms, and beings in these realms that experience the same realm. Because they share in common a similar karmic result, they experience a manifest result that is a particular realm. That realm is not experienced by other beings who share in common another type of karmic result and who are thus said to be living in another realm.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:36 pm

Aemilius wrote:Here is a teaching on the confession for the 35 Buddhas, see page 9.
This (and the other link you provided) is an interpretation, not scripture. I have asked for scripture.
According to Sravasti Dhammika Buddha says that "one should not kill, encourage others to kill, approve of killing, or speak in praise of killing", (Ang. Nik. V 306)...
Yes, but he does not say that the one that encourages another to kill will have the karma vipaka of killing. You see nobody said that wrong speech cannot lead to rebirth in a Hell realm, the Hell realm is not reserved just for those that kill, it is reserved for those that act via the three doors with a mind full of anger/aversion. The person killing may not be acting out of anger/aversion, they may be acting out of wrong view and thus take rebirth in the Animal realm. The one that encouraged them to kill may be acting with a mind full of aversion/hatred and thus take rebirth in the Hell realm.
The six realms arise because there is collective Pratitya Samutpada, and there further arise 100 000 realms within those six realms. They arise gradually, as a manifestation of collective and individual actions of beings. Because there is collective Depedent Arising there are different realms, realms that are products of collective habitual tendencies. There is action and karma that is shared in common, and action and its result that is individual. Because of this there are the different realms, and beings in these realms that experience the same realm. Because they share in common a similar karmic result, they experience a manifest result that is a particular realm. That realm is not experienced by other beings who share in common another type of karmic result and who are thus said to be living in another realm.
Says who? I mean if you read the Buddhas teachings on Dependent Origination I think you will find that it is a VERY individual process. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html I don't see any talk in there about collective arising, do you? Anyway, how far do you take this idea of the collective karma? Community? Nation? Continent? Planet? Universe? Like, how far does this apparent collective outcome stretch? Am I to undergo the karma vipaka of every being in the six realms, because we are all samsaric beings, because we share the collective action of existing in samsara? :shrug:

Sorry, but logically it just does not hold any water (and it is not verified by scripture). Feel free to continue to believe it, I will rest assured that, just because we belong to the collective category of human Buddhists, I will not suffer the consequences of your mistaken view! :tongue:

Anyway, let's look at it from another (positive) perspective: If the Buddha achieved enlightenment then we (ie all human beings) will all reap the fruits of his "achievement" due to the mere fact that we are all human beings like the Buddha was. Nonsense. If that was the case then we would all be enlightened right now due to the mere fact that all the Budhas are Buddhas already are. Unfortunately not.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:03 pm

For what it's worth, my visit to the local Mahayana temple this past weekend for their English language class actually covered killing/murder. They (monk/teacher) stated that the person who aids, abets, or orders a violent act (such as killing) was just as guilty of the murder as the person who actually did the killing and their karma would be affected accordingly. They didn't quote any specific source for that, it's just what they told our class. That's not to say that there aren't different schools of thought on that subject, I'm just relaying what they told the class.

For what it's worth........ :smile:
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:48 pm

tattoogunman wrote:For what it's worth, my visit to the local Mahayana temple this past weekend for their English language class actually covered killing/murder. They (monk/teacher) stated that the person who aids, abets, or orders a violent act (such as killing) was just as guilty of the murder as the person who actually did the killing and their karma would be affected accordingly. They didn't quote any specific source for that, it's just what they told our class. That's not to say that there aren't different schools of thought on that subject, I'm just relaying what they told the class.

For what it's worth........ :smile:
Karma vipaka (the outcome of an action) is not about guilt/innocence. It is about executing an act and undergoing the consequences of executing the act.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby tattoogunman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:57 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
tattoogunman wrote:For what it's worth, my visit to the local Mahayana temple this past weekend for their English language class actually covered killing/murder. They (monk/teacher) stated that the person who aids, abets, or orders a violent act (such as killing) was just as guilty of the murder as the person who actually did the killing and their karma would be affected accordingly. They didn't quote any specific source for that, it's just what they told our class. That's not to say that there aren't different schools of thought on that subject, I'm just relaying what they told the class.

For what it's worth........ :smile:
Karma vipaka (the outcome of an action) is not about guilt/innocence. It is about executing an act and undergoing the consequences of executing the act.
:namaste:


Hmm, I can't recall if they actually used "guilty" or not - may have just been my inflection there. Either way, they were basically saying that the person ordering the killing was going to suffer the same *consequences* as the ones who actually did the killing :tongue:
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:15 pm

tattoogunman wrote:Hmm, I can't recall if they actually used "guilty" or not - may have just been my inflection there. Either way, they were basically saying that the person ordering the killing was going to suffer the same *consequences* as the ones who actually did the killing :tongue:
If the underlying mental condition was the same, then yes, quite obviously.

A thought occured to me: does the person eating a steak share in the karma vipakka of the slaughterer that killed he cow? Will they have the same karmic outcome as the one that did the killing?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby KeithBC » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:A thought occured to me: does the person eating a steak share in the karma vipakka of the slaughterer that killed he cow? Will they have the same karmic outcome as the one that did the killing?
:namaste:

I don't think so. Their intentions are likely quite different, though the spectrum of possible intentions is broad enough that probably most combinations are represented by someone or other.

For example, the diner may want the cow dead so that he can eat it, while the slaughterer may simply want to feed his family, and is doing the only dirty job that an immigrant can get. Or the slaughterer may be a sick b*stard who enjoys killing, while the diner doesn't give a though to his meal's origin and just wants to eat something tasty.

The probability that they have similar motivations is infinitesimal. Therefore, different karma vipaka.

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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:17 am

Agreed, so we need to have the same intention to have similar outcomes.

But when we talk about karma vipaka, intention is only one of the three factors involved.

The second factor is the action itself and its extent. This is where the differentiation exists between the act of the general that ordered the killing and the act of killing itself. So just having a common intention is not enough. The act itself also plays a role in the outcome as does: How many were killed, how they were killed, who exactly was killed, etc...
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:29 am

PS I believe that the major problem in this discussion is that people consider karma in terms of guilt/innocence, justice, retribution, reward/punishment, deservable outcome, providence, etc... ie that they consider karma through the prism of ethical/moral/legal values instead of what it actually is: a natural law.
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