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Origin of the Kamma/Karma teching

edited December 2006 in Philosophy
As you might now, the so called Dharmic Religions, that`s Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism share some same or similar doctrines. One of them happens to be kamma.

I personally believe there is much confusion out there what kamma means, obviously, the notions of it in the dharmic Religions differ. In Buddhism, I think kamma is clearly not the infamous "cause and effect" simplification, but is the cause, never the effect. I copied the following from Wikipedia:

In Buddhism, karma (Pāli kamma) is strictly distinguished from vipāka ("fruit" or "result"). Karma is categorized within the group or groups of cause (Pāli hetu) in the chain of cause and effect, where it consists of the elements volitional activities (Pali sankhara) and action (Pali bhava).

As evidence for this assertion, post the following (A.VI. 63)

"O! Bhikkhu monks, it is volition - cetana that I call Kamma, -cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami, having willed one acts through body - kaya kamma, speech - vaci kamma, or mind - mano kamma. "

Does this conform with your view of kamma? Or do you think that you will ripe exactly the same what you did in the past? If, why so? Is it your opinion, were you taught this, or do you have evidence in buddhist scriptures?

Further, I`d like to know to whom the origin of the karma doctrine is usually attributed. I read that not the brahamins, but an unknown householder first came up with it, and it is not possible to determine of which particular sect the idea originated.

Regards

Comments

  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited November 2006
    That sounds about right, though I think kamma can be used as cause/effect for simplicity's sake in non-technical discussions. People will usually know what you are talking about. Still, Kamma/Vipaka would be technically correct. I usually keep vipaka out of my verbage as most people are not familiar with it.

    _/\_
    metta
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited November 2006
    fofoo,

    The teachings on kamma are as simple or as complex as you want to make them. On the more simplistic level, kamma (volitional action/intention) will produce a vipaka (fruit/result) as long as there is avijja (ignorance) present. With avijja present, all intentional actions of body, speech, or mind have to potential to ripen during this life-time (dittha-dhamma-vedaniya-kamma), in the next birth (upapajja-vedaniya-kamma), or in later births (aparapariya-vedaniya kamma) (A.VI.63). It is only when aviija is removed that one ceases to produce more kamma, and consequently, one is finally freed from samsara (round of rebirth). As for the origins of the concept behind the term as well as the term itself, I do not know where it originally arose or by whom it was first suggested—I just have the conviction that the Buddha was the first to correctly understand it.

    Regards,

    Jason
  • edited November 2006
    Anyone who wants to take a deeper look in the mental states according to Abhidhammattha-Sangaha can have a look here.

    My current understanding is that mental states precede kammic acts in thought, word and deed.
  • edited December 2006
    I think of karma more having to do with mental states. For instance, if you go through life with an attitude that 'Life's a Bitch' and that everyone is out to get you, then you will have a tough time going through life. If you take a sucky attitude, you reap sucky states of mind. I find it to be very simple. However, if you take a positive attitude or at least a neutral one, you will be far better off.

    Now I don't personally attribute seemingly bad things that happen to me to as my karmic consequences. I mean sometimes it's my fault, other times it is someone else's fault, but most of the time it is no one's fault and it is something unavoidable.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2006
    I think of karma more having to do with mental states. For instance, if you go through life with an attitude that 'Life's a Bitch' and that everyone is out to get you, then you will have a tough time going through life. If you take a sucky attitude, you reap sucky states of mind. I find it to be very simple. However, if you take a positive attitude or at least a neutral one, you will be far better off.

    Now I don't personally attribute seemingly bad things that happen to me to as my karmic consequences. I mean sometimes it's my fault, other times it is someone else's fault, but most of the time it is no one's fault and it is something unavoidable.

    "Positive mental attitude" was a catchphrase for quite a number of years among salespeople. It was touted as the key to success. "There are no problems, only opportunities" was another.

    In order truly to understand, we need to look at the extreme cases: the tortured who find peace in their cell or the concentration camp prisoner dying with the Sh'ma on their lips. Their positivity makes absolutely no difference to the horrors being inflicted on them. It is, indeed, their 'mind' that controls their reaction. Look at the Amish who, in the first days after the school slaying, gathered to forgive the perpetrator, comfort his family and heal the community.

    "PMA" will not stop the tsunami or the invasion. To be born an Iraqi and to be living today will be the result of kamma and, at the same time, will be the opportunity to escape it once and for all.
  • edited December 2006
    "Positive mental attitude" was a catchphrase for quite a number of years among salespeople. It was touted as the key to success. "There are no problems, only opportunities" was another.

    In order truly to understand, we need to look at the extreme cases: the tortured who find peace in their cell or the concentration camp prisoner dying with the Sh'ma on their lips. Their positivity makes absolutely no difference to the horrors being inflicted on them. It is, indeed, their 'mind' that controls their reaction. Look at the Amish who, in the first days after the school slaying, gathered to forgive the perpetrator, comfort his family and heal the community.

    "PMA" will not stop the tsunami or the invasion. To be born an Iraqi and to be living today will be the result of kamma and, at the same time, will be the opportunity to escape it once and for all.

    I agree. That's why I believe that happiness has less to do with external conditions than it does with mental states. Some of the angriest, and most depressed people have every 'thing' they could imagine. And yet some of the happiest people on this Earth are locked away never to be seen again.

    I also agree that being positive won't stop bad things from happening to you. It won't stop sickness, war, poverty, or death. But it can help us deal with those things.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2006
    I agree. That's why I believe that happiness has less to do with external conditions than it does with mental states. Some of the angriest, and most depressed people have every 'thing' they could imagine. And yet some of the happiest people on this Earth are locked away never to be seen again.

    I also agree that being positive won't stop bad things from happening to you. It won't stop sickness, war, poverty, or death. But it can help us deal with those things.

    There was a great story that went the rounds a few years ago.

    A young merchant banker flew over to the States to attend a series of Tony Robbins' seminars (He is the big guru of "Release the Giant Within" and confidence-building). The banker returned, brimming with confidence and, in the first week managed to lose the bank a substantial wodge of wonga (technical terms for pelf). Summoned to his manager he is asked what he intended to do, he replied: "I'm booked to go back to New York for a 'top-up your confidence' workshop with Tony." The manager reflected for a moment and then suggested: "It could be better to go somewhere else where you can top up on competence first."

    The image of being able to walk through fire and not be burned, through flood and not be drowned may not describe external reality but, as you say, it can reflect the state of mind, which, after all, is the only way in which we filter reality.
  • edited December 2006
    I will now call the great Inquisitor Nyanatiloka into the witness stand:

    kamma: (Sanskrit : karma): 'action', correctly speaking denotes the wholesome and unwholesome volitions (kusala- and akusala-cetanā) and their concomitant mental factors, causing rebirth and shaping the destiny of beings. These kammical volitions (kamma cetanā) become manifest as wholesome or unwholesome actions by body (kāya-kamma), speech (vacī-kamma) and mind (mano-kamma).Thus the Buddhist term 'kamma' by no means signifies the result of actions, and quite certainly not the fate of man, or perhaps even of whole nations (the so-called wholesale or mass-kamma), misconceptions which, through the influence of theosophy, have become widely spread in the West.

    .....

    1. kamma ripening during the life-time (diṭṭha-dhamma-vedanīya kamma);

    2. kamma ripening in the next birth (upapajja-vedanīya kamma);

    3. kamma ripening in later births (aparāpariya-vedanīya kamma).

    The first two kinds of kamma may be without kamma-result (vipāka), if the circumstances required for the taking place of the kamma-result are missing, or if, through the preponderance of counteractive kamma and their being too weak, they are unable to produce any result. In this case they are called ahosi-kamma, lit. 'kamma that has been', in other words, ineffectual kamma.

    The third type of kamma, however, which bears fruit in later lives, will, whenever and wherever there is an opportunity, be productive of kamma-result. Before its result has ripened, it will never become ineffective as long as the life-process is kept going by craving and ignorance.



    kamma in BUDDHIST DICTIONARY. Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, by NYANATILOKA
    MAHATHERA


    Any thoughts on this and does it conflict with your understanding of kamma?
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