Collective karma

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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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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: 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.

Om mani padme hum
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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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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: 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.
"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: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:46 pm

The teaching of Thubthen Chodron is a commentary on a Mahyana sutra. On page 9. he comments a sentence from that sutra which begins: "I have created, caused others to create (negative karma)..."
The action is causing others to create negative karma, and it does exist in a sutra.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:09 pm

Borders are an action shared in common in the sense that you think, and you take it for granted, that for ex. Switzerland exists. You would be very offended if Switzerland didn't exist, and if anybody could move to Switzerland whenever they wanted. You also consume goods that are produced in countries that are protected by borders. You also say that a person is Swiss, etc... In these ways You take part in the action of national borders everyday of your life.

Action shared in common exists in Yogachara scriptures, it is found in the Five Works of Maitreya.
It is a cause for the perception of similar and dissimilar realms. Yogachara uses it in explaining the arising of the perception of the six realms.
How else could you explain the arising and manifestation of the six realms?

Salistamba sutra that explains the Conditioned Genesis or Pratitya Samutpada had a greatest number of commentaries written to it in India of all sutras, says the David Ross-Reat who translated it. I haven't seen them, but I think there must be something about this topic in them. There are tibetan commentaries on the Pratitya Samutpada and Salistamba sutra, you could find out what ancient tibetan scholars have written about it ?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:26 pm

The teaching of Thubthen Chodron is a commentary on a Mahyana sutra. On page 9. he comments a sentence from that sutra which begins: "I have created, caused others to create (negative karma)..."

You obviously do not know what the word karma means. Karma means action. The quote quite clearly says that one has been the cause for other people to act negatively, not that one's karma vipaka has been transfered to others.
:namaste:
"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: Collective karma

Postby viniketa » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:34 pm

gregkavarnos wrote: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.


I agree that early Western translators did a disservice by translating karma as "retribution", which has led to it being described in the various terms above. For some reason, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of some teachers to designate karma a "natural law", but it is certainly an impersonal "law" of cause and effect. Impersonal is the key descriptor, here. No retribution, punishment, providence, etc.

That said, and with all due respect to gregkavarnos, I have both heard and read teachings that "collective karma" does exist. Berzin (here) says it is more correctly termed "shared karma", but then goes on to use the more common term "collective karma". While I have heard/read of it most from Tibetan Buddhist teachers (including HHDL and Lama Zopa Rinpoche), it have also read Theravāda teachers who use the term. Apparently, even academics have read/heard such teachings (see this PDF from Richard Hayes).

My understanding, briefly, is that certain cultures and groups share a "worldview" to the extent that it affects intentional action and therefore karma.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:49 pm

Aemilius wrote:Borders are an action shared in common in the sense that you think, and you take it for granted, that for ex. Switzerland exists. You would be very offended if Switzerland didn't exist, and if anybody could move to Switzerland whenever they wanted. You also consume goods that are produced in countries that are protected by borders. You also say that a person is Swiss, etc... In these ways You take part in the action of national borders everyday of your life.
Borders are commonly agreed to definitions/conventions of essentially non-existent phenomena. But this is completely irrelevant to the discussion.
Action shared in common exists in Yogachara scriptures, it is found in the Five Works of Maitreya.
It is a cause for the perception of similar and dissimilar realms. Yogachara uses it in explaining the arising of the perception of the six realms.
How else could you explain the arising and manifestation of the six realms?
I do not disagree that beings with similar mental predispositions give rise to similar phenomena. But am I responsible for your name and form just because we are both human beings?

To build a house you need the concerted effort of builders, plumbers, electricians, architects, etc... right? But, let's say, that the plumber did not fit the pipes properly and the house floods the first time you flush the toilet. Is the architect to blame because he was part of the comon intention to build the house? The electrician? The builder?

This is the key concept that you have continuously, throughout this entire thread, failed to address (ignored actually).

If you do not address this point, if you cannot come up with a logical answer to this hole in your theory, then it sinks.

Can you address this point?
:namaste:
"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: Collective karma

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:41 pm

If karma cannot be shared why do bodhisattvas return to nama-rupa and teach compassionate behavior to persons? Wouldn't they already have the karma to realize compassion themselves without being taught?
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:37 pm

Teaching is definitely one way of sharing the merit accumulated from ones practice, BUT what happens in a situation when I teach somebody and the teaching falls on deaf ears? Does this mean that the (my) karma was not transferred properly, or does it just mean that essentially the students actions are the only things which will generate their karmic outcomes for them? If karmic transference was possible (in a literal sense, I take my karma and give it to you) then why don't the Buddhas, that have an unlimited store of merit, just transfer all their infinite merit to us and liberate us? Because they cannot. Only we can liberate ourselves. I can be shown the door, but if I want to exit, I have to walk through it.
:namaste:
"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: Collective karma

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:28 am

Suppose you put rifles in the hands of 1000 men and put them on the battlefield and ordered them to start shooting. And let us suppose they do so and they all kill someone. All but one, who refuses to shoot out of compassion.

If collective karma existed, that one guy would suffer the exact same consequences as the others in his unit. Thus, the causative link between one's actions and results would be broken, and karma itself could not exist.
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Re: Collective karma

Postby Caz » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:35 am

Collective Karma would imply a collective consciousness which is something that isn't taught by Buddha.
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Collective karma

Postby Aemilius » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:25 am

Caz wrote:Collective Karma would imply a collective consciousness which is something that isn't taught by Buddha.


The six realms do not exist, but their perception arises due to the habitual tendencies of beings. This means that we, as humans, see the sun and we see lakes and we see oceans. This is all due to our karmic tendencies. The world outside has no real and true existence.
At the same time there are beings who have the perception of darkness, the perception of smoke, etc... There is only the appearance of a world. This appearence is similar to a group of beings, like the six groups of beings (i.e. hell beings, hungry ghosts, etc...). The appearance is similar because beings share similar tendencies in their consciousness.

How did these similar tendencies come about? They came about as a result of accumulated karma over long period of time. In a sense there is collective consciousness because we agree that there is the sun, that there are lakes and there are seas. We strengthen each other's belief that the outer world is true when we perceive a similar realm. Our perception of the appearence of a world is never exactly the same even in the human realm, because our minds and our senses are slightly different, or much different.
There is collective consciousness in the sense that devas perceive the heavenly realms, titans perceive the titan realm, humans perceive the human realm, etc...

Buddha describes karmic results that are experienced collectively when he teaches about the future development of the Dharma and Sangha, (that they will go through 500 year phases of degeneration, and so on...). In so doing he is describing a collective situation of humanity and a collective situation of Dharma and Sangha. Buddhist commentarial literature ascribes this development/degeneration of Dharma and Sangha to collective karma or lack of morality etc, more often than not this is the view. The collective situation described or manifested is merely mind or consciousness, it has no independent existence.
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