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Karma in my own words

Hello all,

I am just beginning to embrace Buddhism. I am still struggling to get my head around some of the concepts. That said, I find that when I explain something in my own terms, using analogies, I tend to increase my comprehension of it. I've put together this explanation of karma, and wanted to throw it out there to get your thoughts, corrections, etc. Thanks in advance.

  • Every behavior, emotion, and thought generates karma.

  • These karmic effects can be felt "locally", i.e., within this lifetime, or will impact future rebirths.

  • With respect to them impacting future rebirths: it is as if we are throwing a football to a player on a football field; the football represents our consciousness - an impersonal, "not me" consciousness - and throwing it represents our death and the rebirth of that consciousness, and it being caught by another player (which could be another human, or a fish, or a deva, etc.). represents that impersonal consciousness arising in another sentient being (and being one of the 5 "heaps" or aggregates that comprise that being). Karma would be akin to who catches the ball (a fish, a human, a deva, a preta), the spin we put on the ball, the speed and angle at which it travels, the distance it travels. Whatever catches that ball, i.e., inherits that impersonal consciousness (that was once 1 of the 5 aggregates comprising me) is affected by the spin, angle, speed, and distance with which it was thrown. That is the karmic effect impacting upon rebirth.

Now, the ultimate goal of the Dharma is to end all suffering, which seems to also be the equivalent of ending all karma. So...if that happens....then what? When one reaches Nirvana, what happens to that impersonal consciousness that will NOT arise again because it has been pulled free of samsara??

HozanShoshin

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    No.
    We do not 'end' all suffering. We can't do that.
    All we can do is 'transcend' all suffering. That is to say, we might still experience suffering, but we do not attach ourselves to it, cling to it, or dwell in it.
    We do not 'end' kamma. We cease creating negative kamma.
    When you reach Nibbana - Enlightenment - you still have Consciousness. You have transformed it, and rendered it, not impersonal, but incapable of being negatively affected by Attachment. But Consciousness still arises.

    Hozan
  • Tony1853Tony1853 Nyc New

    Hello federica, and thanks very much for your reply.

    You said:

    When you reach Nibbana - Enlightenment - you still have Consciousness. You have transformed it, and rendered it, not impersonal, but incapable of being negatively affected by Attachment. But Consciousness still arises.

    So if one reaches Nirvana in this lifetime, and then dies...what happens to their consciousness? does it arise elsewhere through rebirth?

    Hozan
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Why do you think any one of us would have a concrete answer to that? Sadly, nobody I know who has reached Enlightenment has come back to let us know....
    HHDL is a reincarnation of a previous Dalai Lama - but the process of reincarnation is distinct from that of re-birth, and is mostly peculiar to Tibetan Buddhism...

    According to Theravada Consciousness is thus:

    Hozan
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Manners, by the way... Welcome to the forum! #waves#!!

    Vastmind
  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    Try this, I find Ven Rob very accessible .....

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Welcome @Tony1853 . :)

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @federica said:
    Why do you think any one of us would have a concrete answer to that? Sadly, nobody I know who has reached Enlightenment has come back to let us know....
    HHDL is a reincarnation of a previous Dalai Lama - but the process of reincarnation is distinct from that of re-birth, and is mostly peculiar to Tibetan Buddhism...

    According to Theravada Consciousness is thus:

    @federica may I ask which branch of buddhism you practice? And thank you for your above explanation to Tony - it helped my understanding greatly too! Thanks @Tony1853 for asking a great question

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Hozan said:

    @federica said:
    Why do you think any one of us would have a concrete answer to that? Sadly, nobody I know who has reached Enlightenment has come back to let us know....
    HHDL is a reincarnation of a previous Dalai Lama - but the process of reincarnation is distinct from that of re-birth, and is mostly peculiar to Tibetan Buddhism...

    According to Theravada Consciousness is thus:

    @federica may I ask which branch of buddhism you practice? And thank you for your above explanation to Tony - it helped my understanding greatly too! Thanks @Tony1853 for asking a great question

    I would say I lean far more to Theravada, but am happy to incorporate aspects and smatterings of Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism, in that I enjoy the recitation of Mantras while counting Mala beads....

    HozanVastmind
  • Tony1853Tony1853 Nyc New

    @federica said:
    Manners, by the way... Welcome to the forum! #waves#!!

    Hi!! Thanks much for that link re: consciousness. Extremely helpful. Cheers!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I found it so. I'm glad you do.

    I am not sure, however, how you're going to fit that in with your rather imaginative and interesting conclusion, regarding the ball-throwing.... ;)

  • Tony1853Tony1853 Nyc New

    @federica said:
    Manners, by the way... Welcome to the forum! #waves#!!

    Hi!! Thanks much for that link re: consciousness. Extremely helpful. Cheers!> @federica said:

    I found it so. I'm glad you do.

    I am not sure, however, how you're going to fit that in with your rather imaginative and interesting conclusion, regarding the ball-throwing.... ;)

    Would you say that the football throwing analogy of karmic effects is wide of the mark?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    No but catching it is a slippery task....

    Tony1853lobsterVastmind
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Tony1853 said:
    Hello all,

    <3 Hello <3

    Now, the ultimate goal of the Dharma is to end all suffering, which seems to also be the equivalent of ending all karma. So...if that happens....then what?

    Then it gets ... interesting ...
    Samsara (the realm of dukka/tears/suffering) is

    Nirvana

    Did you guess? Did you feint your embrace?
    Tee hee.

    Welcome to your calmer karma ...
    In the words of the Buddha - 'chill' ... eh wait ... he said some other stuff ... maybe was his karma ...

    We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/buddha121308.html

    Where do we join?

    DhammaDragon
  • ZeroZero Veteran

    @Tony1853 said:
    When one reaches Nirvana, what happens to that impersonal consciousness that will NOT arise again because it has been pulled free of samsara??

    So if one reaches Nirvana in this lifetime, and then dies...what happens to their consciousness? does it arise elsewhere through rebirth?

    Would you say that the football throwing analogy of karmic effects is wide of the mark?

    This assumes that consciousness is something that exists in a packet or a base unit - which then leads to the questions, where did it come from and where will it go?

    lobsterVastmind
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Personally I found karma to be the wrong end of approaching the dharma for a new beginner. It either is present and active or not, but generally the effects of something are part and parcel of the action, so "karma" is kind of inherent, and far from being some kind of magical balancing force.

    It has been said that if you look deeply enough into each of the Buddha's teachings you will see all the others. If you look at Thich Nhat Hanh's explanation of interbeing perhaps you will see karma siting there looking back at you.

    Happy learning!

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    The Buddha did not indulge in metaphysical speculation.
    If not pondering on where we come from and what happens in the afterlife was good enough for him, then it is good enough for me.
    I think, @Tony1853, that the most important thing we need to know about karma is: skillful actions reap skillful consequences, unskillful actions reap unskillful consequences.
    Live as skillfully as you possibly can, here and now.
    Keep walking and enjoy the landscape as you move.

    federicalobsterShoshinTony1853
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    ... poetry in karma days ...

    "Forgive everything that has ever happened
    Life is everything we can imagine
    Laid out in patterns of pain and passion
    You cannot control it
    So keep your compassion
    There are no accidents
    There are no factions
    There is no us or them
    Nothing to borrow or lend
    No enemy or friend
    And only forgiveness can make that happen
    The only battle worth the fight
    From the Rwandan genocide
    To the Seven Sisters forgiving Orion for how he chases them across the skies every night
    Forgiveness is for giving
    So give yourself this gift from time to time
    And let all of your mistakes
    Become all of your greatest gifts
    In disguise"

    Forgive by Trevor Hall

    HozanDhammaDragon
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