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happiness: verb - the manifestation of realization (of one's true nature)
The mind is ...
now quiet, now noisy, now quiet, now noisy, now quiet, now noisy ...
And because the noisy mind creates so many problems for ourselves, we naturally tend to attach to the quiet mind. And in framing all of this more familiarly, the sages have associated this cycle to unborn and being born ... continuously. (Samsara anyone?)
So, what would it mean to not be born?
Early on in practice, the attempt is, quite reasonably, to then try to quiet the noisy mind. (Spoiler alert!) But the inevitable result of practice (which often takes years or many, many years - depending on how stubborn one is), is the realization that, while the mind will quiet down, it will simply never be quiet.
So, with a mind that will never, ever be quiet, how then do we reconcile not being born?
Well, what if there is no difference between a quiet mind and a noisy mind - that it is all a part of a natural continuum (original mind)? What if the mind has been just doing it's thing all along, and it's only that a part of us that has gotten convinced otherwise? Would it be the mind that has changed or just our beliefs?
@Snakeskin, thanks. You are exactly right. My hope was to present a distinction between a notion of karma as pure action and a notion of the law of karma as an action with intention that produces a consequence.
One of my teachers, in downplaying some of the emotional aspects of the word, would always say "karma just means action" - and so in my own mind, I had come to separate karma from intention - placing the notion of intention into the law of karma. It's clear that it is unrealistic to try to separate the accepted meaning of karma from the notion of intention.
Thanks for your answer.
I believe we all have different perception and different standard of ethics. Buddhist teaching is what bring us together. Kamma is intention, that's it. Buddhist ethics is not personal value, fashion, trend, etc.. Buddhist ethics is what saves us from samsara, helps us developing samadhi and then panna/wisdom. It's middle way, one can only save oneself, no one can save others. Our enemies are greed, hatred and delusion.
Just because an ethic seems to be perfect doesn't mean it is the teaching of the enlightened one. Extreme goodness will not bring us closer to the end of birth and death.
We all have our own karma, even animals have their own karma. Caged, beaten, inhumane treatment are all the result of their own karma. If all animals live happily and free from suffering, that means the law of karma is not working. There is reason why it's called animal realm.
I am just sharing my thought. Appreciate your reply. Happy new year 2018!!
A lot going on here, where to begin?
Maybe just to start with trying to clarify the notion of karma (action). It is important to thoroughly understand why the Buddha would really concern himself with karma. (And it's not about trying to understand why some chickens end up in factories and others end up in barns.) Two main reasons:
First, the fact is that karma is the basis for the concept of causality - that one action becomes the cause of a subsequent action (that necessarily arises) ... and another and another, each action arising and inevitably ending. (Dependent origination.) So, the notion of karma in giving rise to the notion of causality, naturally gives rise to the notion of impermanence ... and enter the Buddha with the 4NT, connecting impermanence, attachment and suffering.
But the discussion of karma has a second important component. If karma (and causality) is like billiard balls that have previously been set in motion, then how do we ever realistically make changes in our lives. And to that end, Buddhism teaches that karma is less like billiard balls and more like planted seeds - that previous actions don't automatically dictate future actions, but merely present some probability - a probability that we can influence through current choices. Enter the 8FP. Essentially, we water the good seeds and abandon the bad ones. And through this line of argument, the Buddha assures us that we are not automatically destined to suffer.
Some reactions (by the 4NT numbers)
Consider that dissatisfaction is a function of pleasure - that greater pleasure necessarily means greater dissatisfaction. Now, factor in the diminishing returns on individual pleasures coupled with the correspondingly increases in dissatisfaction due to this diminished pleasure and the pretty convincing argument is that the attempt to maximize pleasure is (ultimately) a losing proposition.
The ignorance of reality must be understood as the ignorance of the inevitability of change (impermanence). And in attaching to things that we presume to be permanent but are (in reality) not, we create problems for ourselves. But most importantly, we often don't consider that states of mind and purity and even holiness are among the many impermanent things that we naturally attach to and that do create problems for us.
Nowhere in the 4NT does it state that there is a permanent end to suffering. If, in fact, there was a permanent end to suffering, that, in itself, would violate the fundamental understanding that all things, except nirvana and space, are conditioned. The only possible way out of this dilemma is to argue that suffering itself does not exist. While Nagarjuna (Mr. Emptiness) might argue this, this is not the thrust of the 4NT.
Regarding the notion of renouncing the self, the reality is that there is a mode of cognition where the separation between ourselves and the rest of 'whatever' disappears. In a sense, both we and the world disappear. This is not a permanent mode (as nothing but space and nirvana is permanent), but it is one that a person must experience before she can fully start to appreciate the teachings of Buddhism. So, to 'renounce the self and the world' is clearly just linguistic mechanism to get one to seek out this experience of 'disappearing'. This is one of the early reasons that so many put their butts on cushions for so long. (And it's just a fundamental problem with words in that they can only ever make perfect sense when both parties share a common experience and agree on which words to use to describe it. When only one side has an experience that needs to be shared, to the other side it sounds like gibberish or is easily misconstrued.)