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Does it really matter what our past karma was?

there have been quite a number of people
who argued that it is not important what our past karma
was.
some say it is pointless to speculate becos buddha said
that besides karma, there are other factors involved.

let's take an example.
if a baby boy is born to a woman who was raped, he will
have a difficult start in life. His father, the rapist is unlikely
to be in his life. And his mother will have to deal with the
trauma.

ok, so according to buddha, this boy was born in this
situation partly due to his past karma. yes, buddha also
said karma is not the only factor.

yet, karma is the only factor that is within our control.
so, do you still think it is a waste of time to think about
how your past karma has contibuted to your present predicament?
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Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    hermitwin said:

    there have been quite a number of people
    who argued that it is not important what our past karma
    was.
    ...

    Here on this forum? Is that really an accurate statement?
  • so, do you still think it is a waste of time to think about
    how your past karma has contibuted to your present predicament?
    My karma makes me say, 'yes!' :wave:
    cvalueNirvana
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited September 2013
    our present is the combined result of some part of our past actions' result and present moment action's result. law of karma is not sequential, rather complex. but past karma, is in past, so anyways thinking about it shall not help, as nothing can be done to change the past karma. but what can be done is to act morally in present, so that the future may have something good as an effect of what is done in present. as far as, does it really matter what our past karma was - it matters but not completely as something good can always be tried to be done in present.
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    do you still think it is a waste of time to think about
    how your past karma has contibuted to your present predicament?
    Namaste,

    Personally, yes I think asking "What if I did xxx?" is a waste of time. Like asking "What if?" and dwelling on the past. The present is what matters. So if my illness is due to karma from a previous life where I was abominable, then I will use the present, here and NOW to ensure I come from a place of metta.

    In metta,
    Raven
    vinlynlobsterJeffrey
  • Don't worry, be happy.
    Being mindful of your present actions is the only thing we need to think about. Being aware of possible karmic slip-ups is fine, it keeps you on the path, but to worry and ponder over it is not right thought. ( IMO, as always :) )
    poptartVastmind
  • hermitwin said:

    ... do you still think it is a waste of time to think about how your past karma has contibuted to your present predicament?

    I think it's useful to understand how our previous actions have led us to where we are now, because it hopefully means we don't keep repeating the same mistakes.
    hermitwinkarmabluespegembaraVastmind
  • I'm not sure what you're asking. Past karma is what got you to where you are today. And no, I'm not talking about some speculative past life. Your actions brought you to this present moment to some extent. So when it comes to looking around and saying, "What the heck happened to get me into this mess?" your past actions matter quite a bit.

    But your past karma doesn't effect your decisions once you've gotten yourself here. In that manner, past karma doesn't matter at all. It is your situation that limits your actions now, not past karma.
  • Exactly, the point that I am trying to get at.

    hermitwin said:

    ... do you still think it is a waste of time to think about how your past karma has contibuted to your present predicament?

    I think it's useful to understand how our previous actions have led us to where we are now, because it hopefully means we don't keep repeating the same mistakes.
  • Our experiences are the results of our Karma, So yes indeed it does matter if we wish to have good experiences then we need to collect an abundance of Merit and purify previous non virtue.
  • Cinorjer said:


    But your past karma doesn't effect your decisions once you've gotten yourself here. In that manner, past karma doesn't matter at all. It is your situation that limits your actions now, not past karma.

    Perhaps, but one's current situation - the result of past karma - also includes mental conditioning and habitual mind-states that may shape and limit how one acts in the present. So understanding and being able to change that conditioning is also important.
    Cinorjer
  • we should not forget that what we did 5 days ago
    and 5 minutes ago is also our past karma.
    Nirvana
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    Learning from the results of our actions is important, sure. But I don't give much of any thought to past life karma because it seems pretty pointless. I can consider how my karma today might affect my next life, but it's enough to consider how it'll affect the next moment. For me anyhow. But I don't remember anything about past lives, so why would I waste time trying to figure if something I am experiencing (positive or negative) is a result of something that happened 275 years ago that I don't remember?
    MaryAnneInvincible_summerVastmind
  • It seems the question is looking to assign blame on something or someone. Wasted effort! If we have a cloud in the mind it isn't necessary to find the historical reasons for its presence, but to sit with it mindfully. Searching for the cause is just another cause. If and when it dissipates, the structure and reasons are obvious, so why bother looking?
    JeffreyDandelionlobsterdhammachick
  • The law of karma is one of the five remembrances that the Buddha advised both lay people and monastics to contemplate on often.

    As per the Upajjhatthana Sutta:
    "There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?

    "'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    "'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' ...

    "'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.' ...

    "'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.' ...

    "'I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.'

    "These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.
    Thich Nhat Hanh phrases the fifth remembrance practice into more plain wording as follows:
    My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
    There are many benefits that can be gained from contemplation on karma:

    1) When we acknowledge that we ourselves create the causes of our life experiences by our own thoughts and deeds whose results we must experience, then in this way, we can learn to take full responsibility for our lives. In Ven. Thubton Chodron's words: "Because we create the causes for our own future, we have responsibility. If we want happiness, we must create the causes of happiness; no one else can do it for us. Since we don't want suffering, it's up to us to abandon the causes of suffering. So [the law of karma] places the responsibility for our lives directly upon us."

    2) As our contemplation on karma develops, we internalize the fact that all our actions will always produce an effect. So our mindset becomes more in tune with the following verses of the Buddha as recorded in the Udanavarga:
    Do not think that the commission
    Of even a tiny [act of negative karma] will not pursue you.
    Just as a large vessel is filled
    By falling drops of water,
    So too is a fool filled up with [negative karma]
    Accumulated a little at a time.
    As we internalize this fact, we become less inclined to write off the little things as "Oh, this doesn't matter", or "Just this once". We also become more mindful of our thoughts and deeds in order to more carefully guard against that which is unskillful. In these ways, our virtue becomes more refined.

    3) Contemplation on karma also helps us to develop equanimity because we see how things arise due to causes and conditions, and how the effect has been determined by such causes and conditions, not by our wishes. In this way we learn to just accept things as they are and to let go of trying to control the results.

    Now, even though situations that occur to us may to some degree have been brought to fruition by our past actions which cannot be changed, but in every present moment we still have the power of choice to react to a certain situation either skillfully or unskillfully. If our past conditioning limits our ability to react skillfully, then we should strive to abandon these unskillful habitual tendencies and develop that which is skillful instead. This is something that is within everyone's reach, as the Buddha affirmed in the Kusala Sutta:
    "Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It is possible to abandon what is unskillful. If it were not possible to abandon what is unskillful, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.'

    "Develop what is skillful, monks. It is possible to develop what is skillful. If it were not possible to develop what is skillful, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because it is possible to develop what is skillful, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' If this development of what is skillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because this development of what is skillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.'"
    ThaiLotusmisecmisc1Vastmind
  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    Hmm. It creates matter, I think; our being, existence. So if our matter, matters.. then yes?
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 2013
    If I could remember the causes of current conditions from past lives then maybe. Since I can't, it is useless to speculate.

    Better to do the best we can here now as to further growth instead of stagnating in the land of What if.
  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    edited September 2013
    But, does it have to matter in a way that means you can remember past lives? Can it not just matter in the sense that you want to just try to do the best you can, with the life and circumstances you have been given? Acceptance. If you have acceptance, then it matters. Otherwise, wouldn't you would have apathy, if it didn't matter?
  • I believe it matters because one might think they can get away with harmful acts. Even if nobody finds you out you will still be subject to your karma.
    Dandelion
  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    @Jeffrey I agree.

    Maybe I am just not knowledgeable enough, or I am missing something big here, but if you believe in Karma, and your existence matters to you, then for me the answer is very simple: YES!

    I also think that there is a difference between becoming sour, melancholic, negative about circumstances and pondering over the 'whys', and on the other hand, acceptance. For me, there is something about the question, which is explicitly grounded in acceptance.

    Sorry I can not explain my thoughts further, or present them in a clearer way.
  • Perhaps it is better to not dwell, not be morbidly absorbed, too critical or otherwise lost in past moments. Think well of yourself. You are on a journey to Buddhahood/Nirvana/The Next Moment. Bye bye karma. Hello new beginner . . . :wave:
  • there is a big difference between what you consider
    morbid and what buddha taught.

    buddha suggested we think about our death often, everyday.

    oh, how morbid is that!
    lobster said:

    Perhaps it is better to not dwell, not be morbidly absorbed, too critical or otherwise lost in past moments. Think well of yourself. You are on a journey to Buddhahood/Nirvana/The Next Moment. Bye bye karma. Hello new beginner . . . :wave:

  • Our past bad Karma is like weeds. If we don't want to suffer from our bad Karma then we have to grow a lot of good Karma to control the spread of bad weeds.
    JeffreykarmabluesVastmind
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    ...but what can be done is to act morally in present, so that...

    Is it really moral action? To my mind compassionate action and an unselfish, caring attitude is less likely to accrue "bad karma." The idea of being moral seems so ego-imbued to me.

    Cinorjer said:


    But your past karma doesn't effect your decisions once you've gotten yourself here. In that manner, past karma doesn't matter at all. It is your situation that limits your actions now, not past karma.

    Perhaps, but one's current situation - the result of past karma - also includes mental conditioning and habitual mind-states that may shape and limit how one acts in the present. So understanding and being able to change that conditioning is also important.
    Hear! Hear!
    cvalue said:

    Our past bad Karma is like weeds. If we don't want to suffer from our bad Karma then we have to grow a lot of good Karma to control the spread of bad weeds.

    I think what you say here @cvalue is what repentance is all about: Changing the heart and the mind and setting oneself up both for atoning for mistakes in the past and for finding a fresh spring within that bubbles over with compassion and friendliness for all. Of course, something innate within us will try to set restrictions on our forgiveness or forbearance towards others, but those restrictions bolster up our little egos. In many instances, our teeming egos are the worst weeds; if we can kill the ego in meditation, that is the best Karma (lit., "WORK") of all.
    Jeffreykarmabluescvalue
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    I understand the point of people thinking it's important to consider so that you don't perform harmful acts, but to me that just reminds me too much of "do good things so you get into heaven!" as if you need a reason to do the right thing/good things and a reason not to. A person can be a moral person even if there are not after-life consequences to it. If it works for others to keep that in mind, then that's all that matters. For me, I just don't think of my life in terms of "Oh, well, I WAS going to steal from that person but now that I'm thinking about it, I better not because in my next life something might happen to me."
    vinlyndhammachickcvalue
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    karasti said:

    I understand the point of people thinking it's important to consider so that you don't perform harmful acts, but to me that just reminds me too much of "do good things so you get into heaven!" as if you need a reason to do the right thing/good things and a reason not to. A person can be a moral person even if there are not after-life consequences to it. If it works for others to keep that in mind, then that's all that matters. For me, I just don't think of my life in terms of "Oh, well, I WAS going to steal from that person but now that I'm thinking about it, I better not because in my next life something might happen to me."

    Yes, and I sometimes wonder if in the old times the Christians taught hell to make it simple for simple people, and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    dhammachickMaryAnne
  • You can be moral just because you have compassion. But that would only work if we were 100% compassionate. With rebirth it is a pressure to increase wherever we are attain that 100%. Even if it is looking like it will fail you can always forge dharma connections so we can continue the march to 100 in our subsequent lives. On the tip of a blade of grass there is a Buddha with his/her Bodhisattvas around. I say that because you shouldn't think "oh well *I* can't form connections to the dharma". Really all you do is to make effort and keep the mind balanced between too heavy and lax.
    cvalue
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited September 2013
    vinlyn said:


    Yes, and I sometimes wonder if in the old times the Christians taught hell to make it simple for simple people, and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    In the Torah/OT the "Lake of Fire" actually did exist. It was either a hot spring or volcanic opening called Genehom (spellig is not quite correct). So when people were taught about burning in the Lake of Fire, it was literal - you break the law and G-d would throw you into it. But of course, my understanding and knowledge of both Christianity and Judaism, leads me to believe that G-d is not that petty and would never do it, especially since He saved a town from total destruction for the sake of one righteous man. Among other examples.

    Still that's now getting off topic. My apologies /theology mode off.

    In metta,
    Raven
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    vinlyn said:


    Yes, and I sometimes wonder if in the old times the Christians taught hell to make it simple for simple people, and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    In the Torah/OT the "Lake of Fire" actually did exist. It was either a hot spring or volcanic opening called Genehom (spellig is not quite correct). So when people were taught about burning in the Lake of Fire, it was literal - you break the law and G-d would throw you into it. But of course, my understanding and knowledge of both Christianity and Judaism, leads me to believe that G-d is not that petty and would never do it, especially since He saved a town from total destruction for the sake of one righteous man. Among other examples.

    Still that's now getting off topic. My apologies /theology mode off.

    In metta,
    Raven
    Thank you. I enjoyed reading that perspective.

  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    Veering slightly off topic or not, @dhammachick, parallels (or complete distinctions) between the religions can be drawn and yield good fruit. There are many elements concerning karma which are intrinsically callous and demeaning of the welfare and worthiness of others. In this area, the crude Pharisees of the Bible seem just as blind to the plight of the Samarian or other "low-life" as the upper castes in India have historically been to the chandalas and such.

    Karma basically means "fruit of work(s)," and can be used as a tool for dismissing the human realities before you due to people just getting what they deserve. I believe that a spiritual seeker would only point the finger of karma inward and say, "I brought this on myself." (Thus spoke Swami Vivekananda when he said we have only ourselves to blame [in matters spiritual].) BUT it is simply Philistine, IMO, to point the finger outward and say people are only getting what they deserve.

    Compassion is the only scale on which to measure karma, be it ours or "theirs."

    Does it really matter what our past karma was?

    Who can answer this question definitively?

    I myself am a blank slate theorist on this matter, though. It's what you make of your current life, starting at whatever point you can either choose or best manage, that matters. Life is an adventure and we are not born as slaves to our karma unless we so choose.
    vinlynJeffreykarmabluescvalue
  • aMatt said:

    It seems the question is looking to assign blame on something or someone. Wasted effort! If we have a cloud in the mind it isn't necessary to find the historical reasons for its presence, but to sit with it mindfully. Searching for the cause is just another cause. If and when it dissipates, the structure and reasons are obvious, so why bother looking?

    There is kamma that is white, black and mixed. And most importantly there is the kamma that ends all kamma ie. the Noble 8FP - virtue, stillness and wisdom - that leads to freedom from all kamma.

    How else did Angulimala attained arahantship after killing so many people?
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html

    Bloody-handed
    I used to be,
    renowned as Angulimala.
    See my going for refuge!
    Uprooted is [craving],
    the guide to becoming.

    Having done the type of kamma
    that would lead to many
    bad destinations,
    touched by the fruit of [that] kamma,
    unindebted, I eat my food.
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    @Nirvana - I agree with you about the Pharisees and the treatment of the Samaritans. I was merely explaining a point @vinlyn touched on, not defending the faith. I like to let people make up their own minds regardless of their POV :)
    vinlyn
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited September 2013
    vinlyn said:

    ....and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    I don't find that theory convincing because Indian thought at the Buddhas time was very sophisticated. It's like saying that we modern people are very clever and sophisticated, not like those poor ignorant fools the Buddha taught to.
    Have you done any serious investigation of the Buddha's teachings on kamma?
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    edited September 2013

    vinlyn said:

    ....and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    I don't find that theory convincing because Indian thought at the Buddhas time was very sophisticated. It's like saying that we modern people are very clever and sophisticated, not like those poor ignorant fools the Buddha taught to.
    Have you done any serious investigation of the Buddha's teachings on kamma?
    Is that why Buddha did much of his preaching with simple stories?

    And I might add that, in general, that in each succeeding time period in human history, people are more intellectually sophisticated.

  • pegembara said:



    There is kamma that is white, black and mixed. And most importantly there is the kamma that ends all kamma ie. the Noble 8FP - virtue, stillness and wisdom - that leads to freedom from all kamma.

    How else did Angulimala attained arahantship after killing so many people?
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html

    Bloody-handed
    I used to be,
    renowned as Angulimala.
    See my going for refuge!
    Uprooted is [craving],
    the guide to becoming.

    Having done the type of kamma
    that would lead to many
    bad destinations,
    touched by the fruit of [that] kamma,
    unindebted, I eat my food.

    This seems non sequitur. It was through encountering Buddha, ordaining and allowing dissipation, rather than looking into past lives and trying to understand why. If I recall the story correctly, part of his dissipation was being beaten physically for the karma he had accrued... which Buddha said take it on the chin and let it settle. The little pain to avoid the big pain.

    Said differently, wishing to know past lives' karma seems like lamentation about present karma, as though we need a perpetrator to justify the victim. Both ignorance, no perpetrator, no victim. Ignorance present in the past, ignorance present now. Why care why the poisoned arrow is in, better to yank it out while you have the chance.

    With warmth,
    Matt
  • aMatt in the Tibetan tradition they do fire pujas to rid them of past karma. I've never participated, but definitely knowing that you need to with due speed purify negative karma is a part of that. There are four stages, but I don't have my copy of the Jewel Ornament of Liberation (lam rim bible for karma kagyu). I remember some of the other of the four: create positive karma by meditation on emptiness or other punya (merit), take refuge in the triple gem as a ship takes refuge in a storm, mindulness to escape further negative karma. I've also read of a type of karma that leads to unbinding.
  • Sure, but where is the negative karma?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I'm not sure where, but I think it is in seed consciousness. That is what pegembra was talking about with the: white, black, and mixed seeds.

    The four properties of the universe are: flux/change, a heart/compelling, finely structured and not an amorphous blob of emptiness, and both manifest and non-manifest. That's from a dharma talk I transcribed. So the negative seeds can be non-manifest until the conditions are right.
  • Not all Buddhists taught karma in a simple way. The Pali Abhidhammattha-sangaha, one of the most important medieval commentary of the Abhidhamma, elaborates the theory of karma in quite a technical manner. The Abhidhamma is regarded as the "Higher Teachings of the Buddha" in contrast to the Sutta Pitaka which is regarded as the conventional teachings.

    Here are some excerpts of what is covered with regards to karma:
    (i) With respect to function there are four kinds of Kamma, namely,

    (a) Reproductive Kamma

    Every birth is conditioned by a past good or bad Kamma which predominates at the moment of death. The Kamma that conditions the future birth is called Reproductive (Janaka) Kamma.

    The death of a person is merely "the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon". Though the present form perishes, another form which is neither the same nor absolutely different, takes its place according to the potential thought-vibrations generated at the death moment, as the Kammic force which propels the life-flux still survives. It is this last thought, which is technically called Reproductive Kamma, that determines the state of a person in his subsequent birth. This may be either a good or bad Kamma.

    Janaka Kamma is that which produces mental aggregates and material aggregates at the moment of conception. The initial consciousness, which is termed the patisandhi viññāna (rebirth-consciousness), is conditioned by this Janaka Kamma. Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth-consciousness there arise the body-decade, sex-decade, and base-decade (kāya-bhāva-vatthu dasaka).

    The body-decade is composed of the four elements - namely,

    the element of extension (pathavi),
    the element of cohesion (āpo),
    the element of heat (tejo),
    the element of motion (vāyo);

    their four derivatives (upādārūpa) - namely,

    colour (vanna),
    odour (gandha),
    taste (rasa),
    nutritive essence (ojā);

    vitality (jīvitindriya), and body (kāya). The sex-decade and the base-decade also consist of the first nine plus sex (bhāva) and seat of consciousness (vatthu) respectively.


    (b) Supportive Kamma

    Upatthambhaka - that which comes near the Reproductive Kamma and supports it. It is either good or bad, and it assists or maintains the action of the Reproductive Kamma in the course of one's lifetime. Immediately after the conception till the death moment, this Kamma steps forward to support the Reproductive Kamma. A moral Supportive Kamma assists in giving health, wealth, happiness, etc., to the person concerned. An immoral Supportive Kamma, on the other hand, assists in giving pain, sorrow, etc., to the person born with an immoral Reproductive Kamma as, for instance, to a beast of burden.

    (c) Obstructive Kamma

    Upapīdaka - Obstructive Kamma which, unlike the previous one, tends to weaken, interrupt and retard the fruition of the Reproductive Kamma. For instance, a person born with a good Reproductive Kamma maybe subject to various ailments, etc., thus preventing him from enjoying the blissful results of his good action. An animal, on the other hand, who is born with a bad Reproductive Kamma, may lead a comfortable life by getting good food, lodging, etc., as a result of his good Counteractive Kamma preventing the fruition of the evil Reproductive Kamma.

    (d) Destructive Kamma

    Upaghātaka - According to the Law of Kamma the potential energy of the Reproductive Kamma could be nullified by a more powerful opposing Kamma of the past, which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly operate, just as a counteractive powerful force can obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Such an action is called Destructive Kamma, which is more effective than the previous two in that it not only obstructs but also destroys the whole force. This Destructive Kamma also may be either good or bad.

    As an instance of the operation of all four, the case of Devadatta, who attempted to kill the Buddha and who caused a schism in the Sangha, may be cited. His good Reproductive Kamma conditioned him a birth in a royal family. His continued comforts and prosperity were due to the action of the Supportive Kamma. The counteractive Kamma came into operation when he was subject to much humiliation as a result of his being excommunicated from the Sangha. Finally the Destructive Kamma brought his life to a miserable end.

    (ii) With respect to the order in which the effect of Kamma takes place, there are four kinds of Kamma, namely,

    (a) Weighty Kamma

    Garuka - which means either weighty or serious, may be either good or bad. It produces its results in this life, or in the next for certain. If good, it is purely mental as in the case of the jhānas. Otherwise it is verbal or bodily. The five kinds of immoral Weighty Kamma according to their gravity are: - (i) the creation of a schism in the Sangha, (ii) the wounding of a Buddha, (iii) the murder of an Arahat, (iv) matricide, and (v) parricide.

    These are also known as ānantariya Kamma because they definitely produce their effects in the subsequent life. Permanent Skepticism (niyata micchāditthi) is also termed one of the Weighty Kammas.

    If, for instance, any person were to develop the jhānas and later were to commit one of these heinous crimes, his good Kamma would be obliterated by the powerful evil Kamma. His subsequent birth would be conditioned by the evil Kamma in spite of his having gained the jhānas earlier. Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was born in an evil state, because he wounded the Buddha and caused a schism in the Sangha.

    King Ajātasattu would have attained the first stage of sainthood if he had not committed patricide. In this case the powerful evil Kamma acted as an obstacle to his gaining sainthood.

    (b) Proximate Kamma

    āsanna, or Death-proximate Kamma, is that which one does or remembers immediately before the dying moment. Owing to its significance in determining the future birth, the custom of reminding the dying person of his good deeds and making him do good acts on his death-bed still prevails in Buddhist countries.

    Sometimes a bad person may die happily and receive a good birth if fortunately he remembers or does a good act at the last moment. A story runs that a certain executioner, who casually happened to give some alms to the Venerable Sāriputta, remembered this good act at the dying moment and was born in a state of bliss. This does not mean that although he enjoys a good birth he will be exempt from the effects of the evil deeds accumulated during his lifetime. They will have their due effects as occasions arise.

    At times a good person may die unhappily by suddenly remembering an evil act of his or by harbouring some unpleasant thought, perchance compelled by unfavourable circumstances. Queen Mallikā, the consort of King Pasenadi, led a righteous life, but as a result of remembering, at her death moment, a lie which she had uttered, she had to suffer for about seven days in a state of misery.

    These are only exceptional cases. Such reverse changes of birth account for the birth of virtuous children to vicious parents and of vicious children to virtuous parents. As a rule the last thought-process is conditioned by the general conduct of a person.

    (c) Habitual Kamma

    cinna Kamma is that which one habitually performs and recollects and for which one has a great liking.

    Habits, whether good or bad, become second nature. They tend to form the character of a person. At leisure moments we often engage ourselves in our habitual thoughts and deeds. In the same way at the death-moment, unless influenced by other circumstances, we, as a rule, recall to mind such thoughts and deeds.

    King Dutthagāmani of Ceylon was in the habit of giving alms to the Bhikkhus before he took his meals. It was this habitual Kamma that gladdened him at the dying moment and gave him birth in the Tusita Realm.

    (d) Reserve Kamma

    Katattā - All actions that are done once and soon forgotten belong to this category. This is as it were the reserve fund of a particular being.


    (iii) With respect to the time of taking effect, there are four kinds of Kamma, namely,

    (a) Immediately Effective Kamma
    (b) Subsequently Effective Kamma,
    (c) Indefinitely Effective Kamma, and
    (d) Defunct Kamma.

    Ditthadhammavedanāya Kamma is that which is experienced in this particular life.

    According to Abhidhamma one does both good and evil during the javana process which usually lasts for seven thought-moments. The effect of the first thought-moment, being the weakest, one may reap in this life itself. This is called the Immediately Effective Kamma. If it does not operate in this life, it is called Defunct or Ineffective (ahosi). The next weakest is the seventh thought-moment. Its evil effect one may reap in the subsequent birth. This is called Upapajjavedanīya Kamma. This, too, becomes ineffective if it does not operate in the second birth. The effects of the intermediate thought-moments may take place at any time until one attains Nibbāna. This type of Kamma is known as Aparāpariyavedanīya - Indefinitely Effective. No one, not even the Buddhas and Arahats, is exempt from this class of Kamma, which one may experience in the course of one's wanderings in Samsāra. There is no special class of Kamma known as ahosi, but when such actions that should produce their effects in the present life or in a subsequent life do not operate, they are termed Ineffective.


    (iv) With respect to the place in which effect takes place, there are four kinds of Kamma, namely,

    (a) Immoral Kamma,
    (b) Moral Kamma pertaining to the Sense-sphere,
    (c) Moral Kamma pertaining to the Rūpa plane, and
    (d) Moral Kamma pertaining to the Arūpa plane.
    The entire chapter on rebirth and karma can be read here:
    http://www.palikanon.com/english/sangaha/chapter_5.htm

    bookwormNirvana
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited September 2013
    @karmablues I can't help marveling at the ability of the human mind to take a simple idea and turn it into a complex, multilayered tower of beliefs. Those monks back then must have had a lot of time on their hands to ponder karma.
  • My personal opinion is that we all interpret karma the wrong way.I dont think karma is this magical idea that is kept track of than chooses to help or screw us over judging by it. I think karma is a physical and obvious result. I was always unhappy and had bad life situations when I was a teen. I was very weak minded and had nothing. I was so depressed every single day, I would just cling to anything in the world that I can enjoy. So much "bad" in my life but I learned from it. I learned so much from it and question my existance more than most people that I know combined. The sadness taught me so much, with adversity comes a stronger mind. The karma factor, people with bad life situations actually have a blessing in disguise. The worst things to ever happen to me are now the best things to ever happen to me.

    The people who get pretty much all the attention and everything they ever want eventually pay for it. Those people are always so lost and empty, you often find them all being identical to each other. The highest questioning of their existence is financial or relationship issues. When I ask them things like "why do you smoke weed and drink alcahol" most of them reply with "because everybody does that, why wouldnt I do it". It just seems like none of them have a single original thought in their heads. Its so plastic and empty.
    bookwormCinorjer
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran



    ...The people who get pretty much all the attention and everything they ever want eventually pay for it. Those people are always so lost and empty, you often find them all being identical to each other...

    I don't think that is necessarily true as a rule, but I have often thought back to my elementary and junior high years. In our small town school there were 3 golden children...and then all the rest of us. One of the golden children was Kathy...who grew up to be a prostitute. Another was Louis, who grew up to be a used car salesman and died at around age 50. The third was Diane, and I really don't know what became of her.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited September 2013
    @karmablues: Thanks for sharing this wonderfully esoteric stuff from the Pali Abhidhammattha-sangaha.

    I write in rebuttal of lines written three posts above:

    I think it's irresponsible and groundless to write this sort of thing off as needless scholasticism or what-have-you. I say this because it is in no way an oversimplification, which most talk on karma tends to be. Oversimplification is a falsifier and an obfuscator and an enemy of reason and the truth. I know this too well from the sloganism a lot of people call religion or right thinking. Oversimplification has no depth and thus is shallow and begging to be shattered with fuller examination.

    Karma a simple idea? I daresay not! Karma is a force, not a simple idea. It is a power-house of stored-up energy (work) that frames us within certain parameters from which we cannot easily extricate ourselves or one another.

    No, this wonderfully esoteric stuff from the Pali Abhidhammattha-sangaha is no "complex, multilayered tower of beliefs," but rather a reasonable person's guide to keeping karma in its place, IMO. But I say this as one who loves philosophy and is rather suspicious of the soundbite language of the marketplace.

    I will want to bookmark your post. Thanks.
    karmablues
  • This seems non sequitur. It was through encountering Buddha, ordaining and allowing dissipation, rather than looking into past lives and trying to understand why. If I recall the story correctly, part of his dissipation was being beaten physically for the karma he had accrued... which Buddha said take it on the chin and let it settle. The little pain to avoid the big pain.

    Said differently, wishing to know past lives' karma seems like lamentation about present karma, as though we need a perpetrator to justify the victim. Both ignorance, no perpetrator, no victim. Ignorance present in the past, ignorance present now. Why care why the poisoned arrow is in, better to yank it out while you have the chance.

    With warmth,
    Matt
    This sutta made no reference to past lives but to the potential for kamma to ripen in the present and future. That is still within the realm of conventional truth. At this point Angulimala was not yet enlightened. If he were, these instructions would be totally unecessary.
    The Blessed One saw him coming from afar and on seeing him said to him: "Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!"
    After after practising, he managed to yank out the poisoned arrow -
    Then Ven. Angulimala, having gone alone into seclusion, experienced the bliss of release.

    "Having done the type of kamma
    that would lead to many
    bad destinations,
    touched by the fruit of [that] kamma,
    unindebted, I eat my food."
    Having removed the arrow, "he" is now unindebted, free from kamma and its effects.

    How do you yank the arrow? By following the N8FP to its conclusion.
    NirvanaJeffrey
  • to say that we dont need to know why things happen
    is just like saying, i have lung cancer but i dont want
    to know that the reason is i have been smoking heavily
    for the last 20 years.

    not to mention that the need to know why is the instinct
    that drives human civilisation.
    bookworm
  • @Cinorger @Nirvana

    Thanks for both of your comments. In fact I can appreciate both points of view although as a rather intellectually-inclined type of person, I tilt more towards Nirvana's perspective.

    As a student of the Thai forest tradition, I see the benefit of their simplistic way of teaching and the emphasis on meditation over scholasticism. I am quite certain if I asked the forest monks whether I should study the Abhidhamma, most if not all would say don't bother.

    However, at the same time I have also studied under vipassana Ajahns who were very fond of the Abhidhamma and would integrate lectures on the Abhidhamma into their meditation retreats. These Ajahns saw intellectual knowledge as going well hand-in-hand with meditation practice. Personally, I felt I benefited a lot from these retreats.

    Now, if someone were to ask me if they should enroll in a meditation course or an Abhidhamma studies course, I would say if you don't have time for both then go for the meditation course. The forest monks are a perfect example that the key to gaining insight into the Dhamma is through meditation.

    However, there are also plenty of highly skilled meditation monks who are Abhidhamma experts especially in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma so I can only conclude that intellectual knowledge of the more complex teachings is not necessarily a hindrance to meditation and true insight as some people claim. For those who are intellectually inclined I think exposure to the more technical and philosophical aspects of the teachings, which one will discover exists within a system that has an admirable inner consistency despite the very intricate details, can really help in developing conviction/faith in the Buddha and his teachings. This faith/conviction initially based on reason can act as a stimulus for the practice through which that faith/conviction eventually becomes more and more based on experience.
  • vinlyn said:

    vinlyn said:

    ....and the Buddhists taught karma to make it simple for simple people.

    I don't find that theory convincing because Indian thought at the Buddhas time was very sophisticated. It's like saying that we modern people are very clever and sophisticated, not like those poor ignorant fools the Buddha taught to.
    Have you done any serious investigation of the Buddha's teachings on kamma?
    And I might add that, in general, that in each succeeding time period in human history, people are more intellectually sophisticated.
    I don't think humans have become any more intelligent. The "progress" we see is in the application of intellect to technology, including technology to destroy each other.
    I'm not sure if you've read the suttas, but the main debate described is between eternalists and annihilationists - basically it's the same debate that we're having now.

  • Cinorjer said:

    @karmablues I can't help marveling at the ability of the human mind to take a simple idea and turn it into a complex, multilayered tower of beliefs.

    Another tendency of the human mind is a knee-jerk rejection of things which challenge existing pre-conceptions.
  • Which includes the existing pre-conceptions that have been built like a wall around a fundamentalist idea of Buddhadhamma derived from literalist ideas.
  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran
    These are some really insightful comments
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