"taking someone else's negative karma"

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"taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby spanda » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:10 pm

"I just remembered that when I was at a teaching with Mingyur Rinpoche he more or less said that Buddhas can't take on/change our karma and that if it were possible they would've done so already."


I remember reading somewhere a testimony of a Tibetan yogi who, at one point, because of his deep compassion, he realized Tonglen for a peasant who had suffered an accident in front of him and wounded badly at his head. The Yogi died in a very short time, because of his authentic Tonglen, and miraculously the peasant healed suddenly, even if his wound was very serious though, and would have been practically condemned to die..
It is this situation an example of taking someone else karma?
Therefore I wonder, is really impossible to take someone else karma, or it is possible in exceptional cases?
How to understand the stories about miraculous healings performed by various siddhas, if it is not possible to take over someone else's karma?
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Pero » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:19 pm

spanda wrote:How to understand the stories about miraculous healings performed by various siddhas, if it is not possible to take over someone else's karma?

The same way a doctor performs surgery on someone and saves their life.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Sherab » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:49 am

spanda wrote:...Therefore I wonder, is really impossible to take someone else karma, or it is possible in exceptional cases?

My speculation:
Enlightened beings can take away the karma that you have already created but they cannot stop you from creating new karma. Without the stopping of creation of new karma, taking away karma already created is ultimately an exercise in futility.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:51 am

Sherab wrote:
spanda wrote:...Therefore I wonder, is really impossible to take someone else karma, or it is possible in exceptional cases?

My speculation:
Enlightened beings can take away the karma that you have already created but they cannot stop you from creating new karma. Without the stopping of creation of new karma, taking away karma already created is ultimately an exercise in futility.



Quite impossible, from a Buddhist pov.

However, in Hinduism, Jivanmuktis are considered able to accomplish this feat.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Sherab » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:02 am

Namdrol wrote:
Sherab wrote:
spanda wrote:...Therefore I wonder, is really impossible to take someone else karma, or it is possible in exceptional cases?

My speculation:
Enlightened beings can take away the karma that you have already created but they cannot stop you from creating new karma. Without the stopping of creation of new karma, taking away karma already created is ultimately an exercise in futility.



Quite impossible, from a Buddhist pov.

However, in Hinduism, Jivanmuktis are considered able to accomplish this feat.

Like Spanda, I've read narratives about how certain teachers/lamas/gurus were able to take away the sufferings of certain animals/people through tonglen. Even here on this board, I've read someone narrating a personal experience of being at the receiving end of a tonglen practice. However, all theses anecdotes do not square with what I was taught about karma .. that it cannot be taken away by someone else. But I think the suttas and sutras are silent about this. So what I've stated in my previous post is my way of resolving the impasse.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:16 am

Sherab wrote:However, all theses anecdotes do not square with what I was taught about karma .. that it cannot be taken away by someone else. But I think the suttas and sutras are silent about this. So what I've stated in my previous post is my way of resolving the impasse.


They are not silent about it. The sutras reject this idea explicitly.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Sherab » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:23 am

Namdrol wrote:
Sherab wrote:However, all theses anecdotes do not square with what I was taught about karma .. that it cannot be taken away by someone else. But I think the suttas and sutras are silent about this. So what I've stated in my previous post is my way of resolving the impasse.


They are not silent about it. The sutras reject this idea explicitly.

Would appreciate it if you help me out by providing some quotes from the suttas/sutras.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby spanda » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:18 am

Sherab wrote:Like Spanda, I've read narratives about how certain teachers/lamas/gurus were able to take away the sufferings of certain animals/people through Tonglen. .


There are much to many stories about this one, to be all false. And not only in Buddhist tradition. How can this stories be explained, from a Buddhist point if view, if it is impossible to really take the future sufferings of others?

Also, if Tonglen doesn't affect in any way the person for whom you try to do Tonglen, than what's the purpose? I know the theory, we realize Tonglen essentialy for ourselves, to develop compassion, to break our insensible ego, but, when I really see someone in suffering, i don't want to start doing something (Tonglen) for myself! I really want to do something for the person in cause, to really help him, not for myself!
In the situation in which is completely impossible to take someones karma, what's the value of Tonglen for the one who is suffering, if it's completely useless from the point of view of decreasing his suffering by somehow taking it into myself?
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby heart » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:23 am

Compassion and kindness based on an understanding of our condition is always beneficial for everyone involved. There is no reason to doubt that.

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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby wisdom » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:18 am

spanda wrote:Also, if Tonglen doesn't affect in any way the person for whom you try to do Tonglen, than what's the purpose? I know the theory, we realize Tonglen essentialy for ourselves, to develop compassion, to break our insensible ego, but, when I really see someone in suffering, i don't want to start doing something (Tonglen) for myself! I really want to do something for the person in cause, to really help him, not for myself!
In the situation in which is completely impossible to take someones karma, what's the value of Tonglen for the one who is suffering, if it's completely useless from the point of view of decreasing his suffering by somehow taking it into myself?


Its not that Tonglen can't or doesn't work, its that it doesn't remove the root cause of the suffering nor does it eliminate the repetition of negative actions which will create more suffering of the same kind in the future. For example, if someone repeatedly did something that harmed themselves the doctor would administer medicine each time, however the doctor cannot stop the person from doing that nor eliminate the habits that will make them do it again. Tonglen administers that medicine on an energetic level.

There is also the level where it is a mental exercise done in order to reduce selfishness, but that is not done for you either. You reduce selfishness in order to benefit other beings as well, because being selfish is a cause of suffering for yourself and others, so even in that sense doing Tonglen is really reducing the suffering of others.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Dharmaswede » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:10 am

Good post Wisdom. Karma is a tricky issue.

It would be falling into an extreme to think that we cannot help other sentient beings with their negative, ripened karma, be it as a doctor, psychologist, chödpa, fellow human being or what have you. Karma can be conceived of as a continuum ranging from potential seeds, to ripened/manifested effects, similar to the range of "cause" and "effects".
There is also as an interplay between "individual" and "external" factors (I put those words in quotation marks because they are conceptually imputed) including the re/acting of others. Thus, I take it that the subtle levels of karma ("seeds") of another being are not accessible for external healing (for want of a better word), while the more manifest are.

(But I am making things up as I go along and could be very wrong! That being said, I have faith that the wise guys on this forum will set me straight if I am spreading too much delusion.)

Best Regards,

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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Will » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:45 pm

Perhaps what is going on is that only the effect (vipaka) of actions can be mitigated or removed by another, but since the person being helped has done nothing to remove or lessen the cause(s) himself, then in future (this lifetime or another) that effect will precipitate again.
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:55 pm

spanda wrote:
"I just remembered that when I was at a teaching with Mingyur Rinpoche he more or less said that Buddhas can't take on/change our karma and that if it were possible they would've done so already."


I remember reading somewhere a testimony of a Tibetan yogi who, at one point, because of his deep compassion, he realized Tonglen for a peasant who had suffered an accident in front of him and wounded badly at his head. The Yogi died in a very short time, because of his authentic Tonglen, and miraculously the peasant healed suddenly, even if his wound was very serious though, and would have been practically condemned to die..
It is this situation an example of taking someone else karma?


I think there needs to be more details to this story. This may be a case where the the person who was wounded perhaps shared in the merits offered by the yogi. If so, that is not taking on another person's karma. The Yogi dying was perhaps unrelated and due to his own karma and conditions.

    all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed."

    — AN 5.57

    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:28 pm

Misdeeds cannot be washed away with water,
the suffering of living beings cannot be removed with the hand,
my realization cannot transferred to another,
but by showing the true nature of things, there will be liberation.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:37 pm

If ones accepts the idea that Buddha's are able to remove negative karma and suffering directly one is left with needing to formulate a Buddhist response to the "Problem of Evil".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil
སེམས་རྣམ་པར་གྲོལ་བར་བྱའི་ཕྱིར་བྱམས་པ་བསྒོམ་པར་བྱའོ།
“In order to completely liberate the mind, cultivate loving kindness.” -- Maitribhāvana Sūtra
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby alexa42 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:48 pm

I think that the great yogis may be able to mitigate the ripening effect of the person's karma... thus allowing the person to engage in purification. I'm not sure how that would relate to the yogi then dying... this would have to relate to his own karma??
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby spanda » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:45 pm

wisdom wrote:Its not that Tonglen can't or doesn't work, its that it doesn't remove the root cause of the suffering nor does it eliminate the repetition of negative actions which will create more suffering of the same kind in the future. For example, if someone repeatedly did something that harmed themselves the doctor would administer medicine each time, however the doctor cannot stop the person from doing that nor eliminate the habits that will make them do it again. Tonglen administers that medicine on an energetic level.


What do you mean by: "Tonglen administers that medicine on an energetic level"?

I understand that Tongen can't remove the root cause of the suffering, but, for example, lets' take the situation of a lama who is very sick. All his disciple will start to practice a long life practice for him, right? Why, if it's impossible to influence/take someone else's karma? How could be my Mandarava practice helpful for someone else, in that moment, specifically for a health problem?
We could say that, because we "dedicate the merit" of this practice? Ok, what's that mean exactly? So, if I "dedicate" the merit of a practice, then it works to diminish the suffering and prolong the life of someone else who is ill, (even with an hour), but when I do Tonglen, it doesn't work, because it's impossible to interfere with someone else karma?

My question is: if someone had a "karmic program" where he must dye by a disease at the age of 45 (just an example), if I personally do something for this man (Tonglen, Mandarava, etc), with an sincere and authentic wish to help him, it will really help him? In that moment, with that specific disease?


wisdom wrote:here is also the level where it is a mental exercise done in order to reduce selfishness, but that is not done for you either. You reduce selfishness in order to benefit other beings as well, because being selfish is a cause of suffering for yourself and others, so even in that sense doing Tonglen is really reducing the suffering of others.



Yes, but this is not a help for the person in case in that moment, but somehow in an hypothetical future. Obviously that "being selfish is a cause of suffering for yourself and others", but if I see a man in suffering (physical or emotional), let's say I spontaneously feel a hart felt deep need to help him, and even to take from his suffering, to "carry" myself his pain, in order for him to be free. If Tonglen can't really do this, than what's the use? In that moment I don't want to "diminish my ego", or to "develop compassion" because I already have (hypothetical :) a deep compassion in my heart. I just want to really help him.


Karma can be conceived of as a continuum ranging from potential seeds, to ripened/manifested effects, similar to the range of "cause" and "effects".

Perhaps what is going on is that only the effect (vipaka) of actions can be mitigated or removed by another, but since the person being helped has done nothing to remove or lessen the cause(s) himself, then in future (this lifetime or another) that effect will precipitate again.


Ok, let's say that it can't influence the "cause", but could at list influence Tonglen the "effect"?


If we look at Milarepa's life:

"A few days later, the Master showed increasingly grave symptoms of illness. Geshe Tsakpuhwa brought a little meat and beer, and pretending to inquire about his health, said to the Master, " It is really a pity that such an illness befalls a saint like the Master. If it is possible to share it, divide it among your disciples. If there is a way to transfer it, give it to a man such as myself. But since that is impossible, what should be done? "
The Master smiled and said," You know very well that my illness has no natural cause or provocation. And in any case, illness in an ordinary man is not the same as illness in a spiritual man. I should accept it as a special opportunity for inner transformation. For this reason, I bear my sickness as an ornament. A certain being is possessed by the demon of egotism, which is the worst one of all. It is he who has caused my illness. You could neither exorcise the demon nor cure me. If I shared my sickness with you, you could not bear it for an instant. I shall not transfer it." But Geshe Tsakpuhwa insisted .
Master said, " Well then, I will not transfer it to you, but I will transfer it to that door. Watch carefully." And he transferred it to the door of the cell. Immediately there was a loud crack and, shaking violently, the door began to break apart. At this moment, the Master was without illness.
The Master withdrew the sickness from the door and gave it to Tsakpuhwa, who collapsed in pain. Paralyzed and choking, he was on the verge of death. Then the Master took back a large part of the sickness and said, " I have only given you half of my sickness and you could not bear it."



So, I can transfer my pain to others, (at a high level on spiritual realization, obviously), but I can't take the pain of someone else, by yogic methods, because "the suffering of living beings cannot be removed with the hand, my realization cannot transferred to another"?

Could someone explain me, what exactly Milarepa did? Was Milarepa capable (if he wanted) to take someones else's suffering? If yes, this mean that he could "take"/reduce someone else karma?
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:51 pm

spanda wrote:
Could someone explain me, what exactly Milarepa did? Was Milarepa capable (if he wanted) to take someones else's suffering? If yes, this mean that he could "take"/reduce someone else karma?


This is a story in a Tibetan novel. Pure fiction.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby spanda » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:51 pm

Mr. G wrote:
I think there needs to be more details to this story. This may be a case where the the person who was wounded perhaps shared in the merits offered by the yogi. If so, that is not taking on another person's karma. The Yogi dying was perhaps unrelated and due to his own karma and conditions.


No. From what I remember , the situation was presented like an example of "perfection" of Tonglen. Definitively the dead of that yogi was presented like he was caused by the transference of the pain/karma of that man to himself.
I will try to search for the source of this story
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Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

Postby Nosta » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:02 pm

When you recite Namo Amituofo (and maybe other mantras too) it is said that you are rippening away your bad karma. Not making it to disapear, but like throwing it far away from you.
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