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Would it be safe to say that past kamma only determines the situation into which you are born, and does not in fact determine the path of your life?
can't say for sure. Don't worry about what past Kamma has done.
Be more concerned about your Kamma now.
It's an unconjecturable.
I think we can have help with equanimity from reflection on karma. We might have connections to other beings through previous karma. So a being that we don't know or know much about might have a connection to us from a previous life that we know nothing about.
There is no question that we are connected to other beings. In my opinion, there is no 'might' about it. When you consider, on a basic, mundane level, that when you require a blood transfusion, you are receiving blood from countless, unnamed, unseen people (and when you give blood, you give to many) then there's no room for doubt, that we are interconnected. we all have the same emotions, and feel them in the same way, although we might manifest them in a variety of ways; but we all feel happiness, sadness, anger, stress, joy... So we are interconnected on an emotional level too...
And we have all been children, with mothers, and fathers... and we have all known hundreds of people and seen them in their ten-thousands... When we gaze upon another human being, we gaze at ourselves. They weep through tragedy, we feel it and are moved. We see someone laughing, and the mirth is contagious.
Oh yes, indeed. We certainly have connections...
It's how we appraise them now, interacting with them, that creates our Kamma, now.
I should have stated better; I meant past life kamma...
Remember that Milarepa achieved enlightenment in one lifetime despite all the negative karma from his early life. Thus the only karma that matters is the current; past karma in this life or in past lives does not necessarily define your present or future.
Short answer yes & no.....
In a sense one could say, there is no past karma, or.... past karma is all there is...
We are karmic beings (creatures of habit ) and it is karma/action/reaction which continually propels the clinging aggregates (form consciousness, sensation perception habitual tendencies) known as the self along...and which is forever changing (never a dull moment) ...coming together and drifting apart...form is emptiness.... emptiness is form
However from what "I" gather developing awareness (through meditation) of this energy flux in motion, can help free up the clinging aggregates, so they go with the flow in a smooth manner, as opposed to their usual habit of going against the grain so to speak...
I'm under the impression, past karma (the past is all there is when it comes to propelling the self along ) determines the path of one life ( as they say old habits die hard ) but developing awareness can change the course of events (develop new habits)....
Karma can be liken to starting afresh...
Today I think...
Past karma very much has the capacity to affect its current host in this moment and usually continues on into the future.
Past karmic momentum does dissipate on its own over time so its effects are not everlasting but compared to us humans with mayfly like lifespans, it might as well be eternal.
Present karma is how we can affect past karma's momentum that is affecting us today.
Present karma has the potential of dissolving, maintaining or accelerating the effects of past, present and future Karma.
Practicing Buddhists are just the surfers trying to stay upright down karmic wave fronts.
The ones going on for the sunny beaches are Theravadins.
Those who keep turning back out there for more waves are Mahayana.
I wish I'd done a bit more research before going Zen.
of course we are the sum total, karmicly, of our past causes to this moment. But we continue to make causes, changing the karmic effect as we go. We are not trapped by our karma, we are the directors of our karma.
Peace to all
I was under the impression the mechanisms of karma — what exactly happens, how it ripens and so on — were unconjecturable so I never really looked into them further. I also wouldn’t want to comment for fear of passing on hearsay or imagined ideas.
It was a choice choice.
... and now back to a bit more living karma ...
As Ambedkar explained, if there is no soul, then there is no karma either. Now if you want to debate the existence of the soul....
Just another opinion @opiumpoetry - he'd get on well with Stephen Batchelor.
dont let kamma define you;let you define kamma.past kamma is gone.sometimes clinging to past kamma linger in ones mental frame work of i-labels which soldify the illusion of self.
but buddha gave a way out.see kamma not lasting.see kamma as change.basic dhama.then self applys same as kamma.subject to imperminence and change.this is the phenomenon view --to see clearly right view of the 8fold aspect--towards dispassion and unbinding.clinging to kamma clinging to self may lead to dukkha.hence,kamma defines you.
the buddha is smart .he address the mental state of kamma dukkha.change your kamma through 4 truth and 8 fold.shaky,in thera,was keen to develop mastery in thought and action or kamma to change kamma-dukkha to kamma-nibbana.hence we define good kamma,i.e. 5 precept,towards nibbanna....
another way of saying dont let life define you;you define life.
I don't. The Buddha refuted the existence of a Soul, stating that all we think, say and do, and all we perceive, imagine, see, feel, hear, is dukkha and illusory. The Noble 8Fold Path is the way to liberation from Dukkha. At no point, in any category of the EightFold Path does The Buddha draw attention to, mention or support the existence of a Soul.
So, no, I don't NEED to 'debate the existence of the soul'. It's completely irrelevant, unimportant and a distraction.
In my view, that is a very odd question.
Which step on the path of your life were you not born into?
An equally odd answer. Is it not only your first citta, your first thought into which you are born? There is no predestination in the Dhamma, only kamma.
I don't believe, as some do, that past kamma determines every good and bad thing that happens to you, simply that you're born into a situation, and perhaps with and among personalities and attitudes determined by your past actions and demeanor. Children don't get horrific childhoods or terrible diseases because they were bad people in a past life. They get those things simply because those things often come with life. The lesson is to attempt to live this life so as not to be born into another - i.e.to reach Nibbana.
There is a kind of predestination in that all effects have a cause and all causes are effects from prior causes.
If there is another life to follow this one it only makes sense that causation dictate the outcome. I doubt it has anything to do with punishment and reward.
Is that the lesson you learned from the dharma?
The lesson I see is how to be ever more aware and to live this life without the unneeded extra suffering.
Next lives can take care of themselves.
That'll do for me!
... and now back to the calmer kamma
It would seem that we're all part of each other's karmic patterns...coming together in order to fulfill one of many actions...part of the compound karmic puzzle...
Individual ingredients coming together to form the karmic stew we call life...sweet & sour flavour...sometimes the taste is sweet other times sour...
Us and "them', Baby.
Edit to add: Here I use the term "Baby" as in "fellow babies" ala Dr. Johnny Fever.
karmic stew.....I like that. You're making me hungry
I'm still learning. If not, questions wouldn't be necessary.
Certainly there is more than one lesson to be learned from the Dhamma. As I recall, the Buddha avoided subjects that didn't somehow lead to enlightenment.
Being of the Theravada school, I believe that the goal is to live and practice in such a way as not to HAVE another life if it can be avoided.
I'm guessing we all still are.
He said he was here to teach the cessation of suffering and avoided questions about unconjecturables like trying to trace karma through lifetimes.
Fair enough. But then wouldn't it still be best to concentrate on what you are doing now rather than tracing past karma?
You already disbelieve that an infant's disease is not karma related so being nosey, I'm curious about the reason you asked the question. Perhaps the answer you seek is there.
The Mahayana tradition often states this but if you read the Samyutta Nikaya 36.21 the Buddha refutes this.
Who said anything about tracing past kamma? My question simply asked if it was fair to say that kamma determined the situation you were born into, not what happened once you were there. There was no question or speculation on what that kamma may have been.
Simply believing or disbelieving something doesn't make it sacrosanct. We should all be willing to question, and even challenge our beliefs at times. I'd be a Vedantic Hindu tomorrow if someone could show me that it's an undeniable truth, or Catholic, or Satanist for that matter.
How does one try to figure out if karma determined a situation without looking to past causes? If your question is not about figuring past karma then I may have misunderstood.
That all depends on how badly one wants to believe. Cognitive dissonance is a real thing.
You are right about questioning our own beliefs. This is why Buddha taught not to cling to views.
I mean, even if you get the answer you seek from somebody or some experience there is always a chance it is not quite right.
When there is the possibility of missing information, making any conclusion is conjecture.
That is what he taught for monks but he also taught the lay person how to live according to the dharma to keep the suffering to a minimum in the here and now. In the Mahamangala Sutta he says that a harmonious family life is a highest blessing.