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 Post subject: what is and isn't Karma
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:09 pm 
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I brought this up in a discussion not too long ago and got weird looks:

Do people believe everything that happens is Karma?

If 100% of what you experience is your own Karma, this is essentially the same as pre-destination isn't it? Meaning that if it's all Karma there is really no possibility for the exercising of free will, other than the exercising of what you think is free which will has actually already been determined by your Karma, in which case no volitional action is necessary (or even possible) to affect your own Karma.

Karma seems to be an untenable paradox if it's assumed to be absolute...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:27 pm 
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Try googling "berzin karma" and click on any of the first few listings. All are excellent.
Sorry, I tried to insert links without success.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:36 am 
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for example the mental factor of free will or intention is produced due to causes and conditions (largely propelled by karma), but the thing that is produced is the very capacity of choice/intention. this doesnt mean that what the intention decides is already made or predetermined, although someone who can see your mind, karma, and environment could easily predict what you would do

yes berzin's articles on karma are very good ( berzinarchives.com )


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:43 am 
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Hi,

Link to a really helpful teaching, ( I think ) :smile:

http://www.thubtenchodron.org/GradualPa ... 3Jul92.pdf

little excerpt from link:

"Although things do not happen by accident, they don’t happen in a pre-planned, predetermined way either. This is something hard for us to understand because our Western paradigm often sees things as, “It’s either this or that”. And we think that “this” and “that” include all that there is. Then we ask the question, “Is there free will or is it predetermined?” The answer we get back is that it is neither. But, we go, “But it has got to be one of it!” Well, that is only because of our conceptual process. We’ve made black and white, we thought that’s all there is. There are actually many other things that could exist too.
We can see by our lives that there is free will but, ironically, there isn’t free will. We can do absolutely anything we want to do. I know they say there is freedom in a democracy. You can do whatever you want. But I mean, let’s face it, I can’t flap my arms and fly. I have limitations. It’s not like we can do anything we want to do. We’re limited by causes and conditions. We’re limited by things in the past. I didn’t grow up with wings, so I can’t fly. I can’t speak Russian right now. It’s not like we can do absolutely anything we want. What things we can do depends on us having created the cause. If I had studied Russian and kept it up, then I would be able to speak Russian now. But if the cause isn’t created, the result will not happen. Therefore I can’t speak Russian. There’s no absolute free will.
But on the other hand, we can’t say that things are predetermined. You can’t say that it’s fated and predetermined that I can’t speak Russian, because I could have. I did study it for a year. I could have kept it up and then I could have been fluent. You can’t say it’s predetermined that I don’t speak Russian,because definitely I could have taken that route in my life. There was the free choice to do that.
This paradigm of either this or that – we get stuck in that and it prevents us from understanding. It’s interesting. The deeper I get into the Dharma, the more I see that often what makes us confused is how we’re thinking to start with. We ask questions in a particular way, and then we don’t understand the answer we get because it isn’t said in a way that accords with our thinking. There were fourteen questions that different people asked the Buddha but the Buddha didn’t answer them. Some people began to say the Buddha didn’t know what he was talking about. They say he didn’t know the answers to the fourteen questions. He just faked it saying, “I’m not going to answer those questions.”
But that’s not the case at all. It’s because of the way the questions were asked. It’s like, “Is this table made of marble or concrete?” How do you answer that question? All they can conceive of is marble and concrete. The table is made of wood, but if you say it is made of wood, they can’t handle that because they can’t conceive of that. The reason the Buddha did not directly answer many of these questions is because of the conceptual processes of the people who are asking the questions.
In discussing karma, we have to look at our preconceptions and examine them. I see this, again and again, even in my own practice. We have lots of preconceptions that we don’t recognize as preconceptions. We think that’s just the way things are. And then we come to Dharma teachings and our mind gets knocked around a bit. We come out feeling completely confused. It’s like our mind has a square hole and we’re blaming the round peg for not fitting in. "


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:11 am 
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That was very helpful Sonny, thanks. I'll pour through the Berzin links when I have time as well, I like his site alot.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:30 pm 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
That was very helpful Sonny, thanks. I'll pour through the Berzin links when I have time as well, I like his site alot.


:thumbsup:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:01 pm 
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justsit wrote:
Try googling "berzin karma" and click on any of the first few listings. All are excellent.
Sorry, I tried to insert links without success.
Like this and this :tongue:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:18 pm 
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Yeah, like that! :techproblem:

:thanks:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:20 pm 
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The idea behind karma is everything happening.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:39 pm 
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Maybe I'm mistating one of Newton's laws, but nonetheless true, imo: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. How about an asteroid hitting the Earth? I don't know, maybe a reaction to the sum total of all earthly karma? So I think everything is karma.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:07 pm 
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Again, at least from a perspective of reasoning it out, the idea that Karma is absolute such as the asteroid example seems to end up being absurd though, because if it is absolute in that sense, it is the same as predestination minus a God being involved, i.e. if everything that happens in karmicly based, it has already been determined by well..Karma, that includes one's reaction to trying to change Karma. I'll spend more time with these links, but maybe part of the issue is that viewing Karma only as results is in error, if it is only results, and is absolute..then either it is absurd, or the proposition that we can change it is absurd. Basically, if everything ever is a definitive result of Karma, then it would require something "outside" of Karma to change it...

At this point all I can fathom is that is basically unexplainable or unfathomable to us, nonetheless, many Buddhist scholars have certainly tried to tackle it!
So far the Berzin link really makes alot of sense...
I will spend some time with these links though.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:05 am 
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Quote:
if everything that happens in karmicly based, it has already been determined by well..Karma, that includes one's reaction to trying to change Karma.


When your sitting in meditation, isn't most of what your observing karma? If so, these impulses, thoughts, perceptions etc. can be observed without them effecting you, so that insinuates free-will. Though what made you sit there in the first place? I get what you mean. It's kind of weird.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:32 am 
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Whatever text on this topic I try to read, I can still find no convincing explanation of how could anything NOT be predetermined. I just don't get it. Logically everything seems to point to complete predetermination.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:51 am 
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http://buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=207

What do people think of this in Mahayana terms? I mean obviously S. Dhammika is Theravedin in some sense, but I like what he says here.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:56 am 
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If everything was pre-determined, wouldn't it be kind of pointless to try & keep precepts, meditate, pray or even to try & improve yourself or your situation at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:14 am 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Do people believe everything that happens is Karma?

Believing this or that is karma of humans. It is manifestation of human dilemma. :sage:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:49 am 
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mirage wrote:
Whatever text on this topic I try to read, I can still find no convincing explanation of how could anything NOT be predetermined. I just don't get it. Logically everything seems to point to complete predetermination.

You were predestined to say that though, so it doesn't really count. :tongue:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:07 am 
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mirage wrote:
Whatever text on this topic I try to read, I can still find no convincing explanation of how could anything NOT be predetermined. I just don't get it. Logically everything seems to point to complete predetermination.

Isn't that great?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:55 pm 
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Mirage 'Whatever text on this topic I try to read, I can still find no convincing explanation of how could anything NOT be predetermined. I just don't get it. Logically everything seems to point to complete predetermination"
The finger does seem to point to predetermination. Everything that is meant to happen will happen....the only possible escape route is to keep quiet!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:26 pm 
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mirage wrote:
Whatever text on this topic I try to read, I can still find no convincing explanation of how could anything NOT be predetermined. I just don't get it. Logically everything seems to point to complete predetermination.

One simple analogy that helped me understand is that of a seed.
Actions produce karma - positive action, positive result (seed). Negative action, negative result (seed).
Now, as we know, seeds do not produce fruit (karma vipaka) just by themselves. The correct conditions must be present -the right temperature, good soil, sufficient water, sunlight, etc. When the causes and conditions are present, only then is the fruit manifest.
So in our analogy, karmic consequences do not manifest until the necessary causes and conditions are present. I've heard some teachers mention that results appear due to 50% karma, 50% causes and conditions.
To say that any result is predetermined, in the sense of inevitable, is correct in one way. When a flower seed is planted
AND the causes and conditions are present, you will only get a flower plant, not a tree or a bush.
But to say that any specific result - this seed producing this flower plant - could only have manifest in one way is incorrect. That one seed could have bloomed in other locations, in slightly different soil, a little more/less rain, etc. and produced a slightly different looking flower, slightly different color, etc.
Hope that helps.


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