Karma and the Ten Powers

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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby alwayson » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:03 am

The Buddhas have infinite bodies called Sambhogakāyas.

The ONLY reason why these bodies last forever is because of the aspiration to benefit infinite sentient beings (an infinite cause).

Sambhogakāyas are still empty/dependently originated.
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:21 am

Emptiness is not an unconditioned reality opposite to conditioned reality. It is because all is conditioned that it's empty, it's actually the same thing.

As for free will, the mind is a series of conditioned factors that interacts with other conditioned experiences. It doesn't mean that there is some external force ruling over people. In fact, this idea that there is a "free self" is an illusion. Without such self, it is also pointless to conceive oneself being controlled by anything. Thinking itself is a series of conditioned factors. But, this basic causality should not be confused with karma because it is a special case.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:18 am

Hmmm someone has been studying hard and eating his Wheaties.

Great post. :woohoo:
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Acchantika » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:05 pm

Asabandha wrote:
Acchantika wrote:Therefore, a Buddha's actions are not deterministic nor are they random, nor is the process of liberation deterministic, nor is it random.

Or so I understand it.

This is more or less my understanding as well, but if I could ask you to clarify one point for me. When you say that a Buddha's actions and the process of liberation are neither deterministic nor random, how exactly do you arrive at this statement?


My understanding is that liberation is not deterministic nor arbitrary because (nonconceptual) wisdom is not the result of any cause, nor any effort; you cannot do anything and bring about wisdom as a result. Knowing this, a practioner removes the ignorance that obscures wisdom instead. This is why enlightenment is basically gradual, even though what constitutes enlightenment has no inherent stages. So while the unconditioned cannot be caused, the process of liberation must be causal. Hence, neither deterministic nor random.

I can't explain the Buddha part in depth, but this is just ignorance and a limitation of understanding on my part, the answers do exist.
Last edited by Acchantika on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Acchantika » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:18 pm

Astus wrote:Emptiness is not an unconditioned reality opposite to conditioned reality. It is because all is conditioned that it's empty, it's actually the same thing.


I was referring to karma, not dependent origination.

Karma is the result of ignorance and is conditioned. The realisation of emptiness is non-ignorance and unconditioned. They are the exact opposite from a conventional perspective. Ultimately, they are still not the same, nor are they different.

In fact, this idea that there is a "free self" is an illusion. Without such self, it is also pointless to conceive oneself being controlled by anything.


Selves, karma, emptiness, liberation are all illusions. Everything is already empty, so why strive for enlightenment when both the striving and the enlightenment are empty? Because sentient beings perceive their suffering as real, there is no other reason.
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby mint » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:30 pm

Astus wrote:As for free will, the mind is a series of conditioned factors that interacts with other conditioned experiences. It doesn't mean that there is some external force ruling over people. In fact, this idea that there is a "free self" is an illusion. Without such self, it is also pointless to conceive oneself being controlled by anything. Thinking itself is a series of conditioned factors. But, this basic causality should not be confused with karma because it is a special case.


How does this relate to the so-called Ten Powers?
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Astus » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:14 am

Acchantika wrote:
In fact, this idea that there is a "free self" is an illusion. Without such self, it is also pointless to conceive oneself being controlled by anything.


Selves, karma, emptiness, liberation are all illusions. Everything is already empty, so why strive for enlightenment when both the striving and the enlightenment are empty? Because sentient beings perceive their suffering as real, there is no other reason.


From a simple conventional perspective, beings have free will and can act as they please then bear the consequences. From the same point of view, ten powers and such are magical and inconceivable. Also, on this level you either believe it or not all these things.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby LastLegend » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:22 am

Yes sir!
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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Astus » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:42 am

mint wrote:
Astus wrote:As for free will, the mind is a series of conditioned factors that interacts with other conditioned experiences. It doesn't mean that there is some external force ruling over people. In fact, this idea that there is a "free self" is an illusion. Without such self, it is also pointless to conceive oneself being controlled by anything. Thinking itself is a series of conditioned factors. But, this basic causality should not be confused with karma because it is a special case.


How does this relate to the so-called Ten Powers?


If we suppose that from a single point of time all past and future can be known, buddhas with omniscience are aware of it all. This is of course very much a theoretical assumption, not something based on traditional Buddhist explanations.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Acchantika » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:44 pm

Astus wrote: Also, on this level you either believe it or not all these things.


Exactly; and on this level one is a sentient being. Therefore, any action perpetuates karma, including striving for liberation. Because liberation only applies to a sentient being, this is a genuine problem irrespective of level of description and so forth and not solved by refuting free will in favour of determinsim or vice versa, in my opinion.
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:26 am

I think these are great questions - not in the 'who cares' or 'too complex' basket at all......

My take on them is that you're pointing to an epistemological problem which arises out of the claim that Buddha's have omniscience: having sufficient knowledge of all causes and effects necessarily implies something about the nature of all causes and effects.

But I think it is far better to approach the topic of causes and effects from the metaphysical point of view, rather than the epistemological: far more is written from that perspective, it is therefore more deeply and systematically cached out. The epistemic capacities of Buddha's, is in comparison, rather more speculative. I suppose I am tempted to ask: what is the epistemic basis for that claim?

Buddhism clearly does not assert a deterministic view of causality: I would go as far as to say that the entire soteriological logic of all Buddhisms, rests on the basic premise that agents (karmic 'doers') always have the capacity to cultivate different cetana's (intentions) and undertake different karma's (actions). Liberation is only possible on that basis - it rests on the assumption that agents who are subject to karma have enough agency to do something about that subjection.

So, I think that that view of karma/causality is far more central to most Buddhism's than the epistemological claim that Buddha's are endowed with omniscience.

If a Buddha knows what choices I'm going to make before I make them, then I don't have agency to make choices; they are not choices in any meaningful sense. If I lack the agency to make choices, I also lack the agency to move in the direction of liberation. That line of thought takes us down a dodgy path that many (especially medieval) theists went down.

You're happy to accept a logic contradiction ~ I would suggest maybe a deeper investigation into what it is meant by Buddha's having omniscience. Something I'm not particularly well equipped to pursue....

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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:38 pm

Agents acting and deciding is OK, that is our normal reality. But if you go to a "deeper level" then decisions and choices can't come from nothing but must be conditioned, otherwise it's very much a violation of dependent origination and causality in general. So in one sense there are free agents, in another the agents themselves are conditioned beings with conditioned minds.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:49 pm

Astus wrote:Agents acting and deciding is OK, that is our normal reality. But if you go to a "deeper level" then decisions and choices can't come from nothing but must be conditioned, otherwise it's very much a violation of dependent origination and causality in general. So in one sense there are free agents, in another the agents themselves are conditioned beings with conditioned minds.


No doubt about that - the range of possible choices are determined by the range of samskarahs which have been previously accumulated.

So, you're right in pointing out that agency in Buddhism is not akin to a completely free agency; but neither is it wholly determined by past accumulations - there is always the possibility of creating new intentions and undertaking new actions.

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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:09 pm

tobes wrote:No doubt about that - the range of possible choices are determined by the range of samskarahs which have been previously accumulated.

So, you're right in pointing out that agency in Buddhism is not akin to a completely free agency; but neither is it wholly determined by past accumulations - there is always the possibility of creating new intentions and undertaking new actions.


There are always new actions, decisions, and such. However, they're based on the conditions present in the mind, including of course external circumstances that influence the mind.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Karma and the Ten Powers

Postby Asabandha » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:39 pm

Thanks to everyone for their input. This has turned into a very interesting thread with some pretty heavy topics of conversation. I do not have much to add right now, but this has provided plenty of food for non-thought. :popcorn: Mmmmm, popped Dharma. Delicious!
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