Many Buddhists view karma as "if something bad happens to someone, it's because of their bad karma from this or a previous life." I now realize that such a belief is heartless and cruel. That is why I recently renounced Buddhism and now follow the teachings of Jesus.
A few thoughts from my limited perspective:
1) Good for you! Following your heart, mind and intuition sounds like a good idea. Find solace and happiness where you can. Is there a better option?
2) Is it heartless and cruel that sometimes a star goes supernova and "dies"? That is it's "karma" based on the natural laws of physics. Similarly, we humans are subject to the same laws of cause and effect, the natural laws of physics as the star, but also less observable and to us less clear ones, such as emotional, moral, physical etc. Causes still produce effects, even if we're not always aware of them. It's good to keep an eye out and try to produce as many positive causes as possible and as few negative ones as possible.
3) I have no recollection of past lives so have no opinion on past-life karma. But I do have recollection of previous "phases" of my life and can very well see both the positive and negative outcomes of some of my actions. That's my understanding of "past-life-karma".
4) Thus have I read, in the final analysis/seeing, even karma is seen through so it is not some kind of ultimate truth or exact science.
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7.
Karma is also acknowledged in Christianity, they just haven't given it a name, elaborated much in the way of teachings about it, or extended it to cover multiple lifetimes. I suspect it is pretty much a universally acknowledged principle in other religions, and in societies in general.
To regard Karma as being "good" or "bad" I think tends to be an unfortunate and unnecessarily dualistic. oversimplification. Whatever we do now will most certainly affect our lives and our minds in the future - that's inescapable. Will that effect accord with our desires and what we imagine to be our needs, or trash our desires and show us something else, something previously undreamed of? It is fascinating to watch it unfold, like the Lotus blooming. Is the Lotus ugly, or beautiful? It depends on how we have constructed it, and also upon the way we choose to view it.
Those who attribute the results of everything to Karma are suffering under a simplistic misunderstanding of the Dharma.
Within Buddhism, the operations of the universe divide up into five laws, with
the law of karma only being one of those laws. Much is attributed to those other 4 laws.
(1) the laws of the physical world – that the world is not answerable to one’s will;
(2) the laws of the organic world – that all things flow;
(3) the laws of morality – that karma is inexorable;
(4) the law of the Dharma – that evil is vanquished and good prevails;
(5) the laws of mind – that of the will to enlightenment.
The purpose of teaching about karma is not for an assignment of blame upon anyone as much as it is a teaching showing that the consequences of all of our moral decisions potentially affecting everyone to such a degree that not even death offers an escape from its inertia.
Much of it's teaching is about fostering the naked examination of our own hearts and minds so that we can work at minimizing the possible arisings of our own heartlessness or cruelty.
May the followers of your newly chosen religion, continue to pass the same level of scrutiny and judgment that your Buddhist acquaintances, couldn't.
Personally, I feel it's a great shame that you have chosen to evaluate a Philosophical Religion that came about 500 years or so before Christ's birth, and have dismissed its entire history, interpretations, mass of teachings, and meanings, for the fault of one misquoted and misunderstood view.
For my part, having been brought up as a Roman Catholic for the best part of 45 years of my life, and having been educated thus-wise, I have embraced Buddhism wholeheartedly - not always as a good Buddhist, mind! - but I continue to appreciate much of what the New testament teaches and illustrates, and find much of its content worthy, and valid.
Who was it said. "Judge not, that ye be not judged"....?
Karma is an issue of cause and effect, not of reward and punishment, carrot and stick, though some appear to interpret it in that way.
If we look for cruelty in these realms, we need look no further than the Christian doctrine of original sin, whereby we are all cursed by the supposed transgression of Adam.
Jesus himself, of course, had little to say about the issue. Matthew 5:22 perhaps?
Zen master Shakespeare once said
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
This also applies to karma and how one perceives the results of one's actions,,,.Bearing in mind good and bad are relative
The explanation that changed my mind on the subject from someone who did believe in karma as all encompassing was that just because someone's current suffering came about from past actions doesn't mean they aren't worthy of compassion and help. Helping them would also be their karma.
I think I'd also ask if there isn't something else at work here? Most people wouldn't think that one idea is morally bankrupt and abandon the whole project. Are there other factors that led you to believe the way you do now and subsequent to that you now look on Buddhism with an unfavorable lens?
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Original sin comes from the Old Testament. I, for one, think that being as the Old Testament is the OPPOSITE of the teachings of Jesus, it should be banished from the Christian Bible, along with the Gospel of Matthew.
Thank you to everyone for your comments. I see the tone of my post has provoked some truly inspiring replies. I'm not sure I meant for my original post to sound as negative as I now realize it does. Perhaps "renounced" was the wrong word, a word used when I was caught up in the moment (as I too often am.) Maybe I meant to say that my newfound faith in Jesus has superseded my old beliefs, though even that may be too strong a word.
I realize that everything gets corrupted over time. Too many Buddhists, especially Theravada, believe that people suffer due to their karma and so nothing can be done. I have heard exactly this viewpoint said aloud by many Buddhists in Indochina. To say that this is a corruption of the Buddha's original teachings is an understatement.
Your replies have sparked some deeper thinking in my mind, deeper than I'm used to in this world, it being what it is. The 5 Precepts are principles that I believe everyone should follow, regardless of what else they believe. And let's remember that many insist that Jesus was himself a Buddhist monk in India during his 21 "lost years," an idea supported by the fact that so many of Jesus' words seem to be almost exact quotes from the Buddha. Funny how a few posts to a forum can help bring someone closer to enlightenment, but I feel these few posts have done exactly that for myself. I guess we all need to keep helping each other reach that hoped-for place.
Thank you again for all your replies.
I'm also sorry if my original post upset anyone. I guess you're never too old to learn the importance of considering the possible effects of your words before you post/speak them. Thank you to everyone again.
Perhaps I was considering how unfortunate I and my mother have been, the mistreatment we have always suffered at the hands of close family. I think it will take me many years to overcome my anger and learn to think calmly and more rationally.
"Helping them would also be their karma." I'm reminded of a man in Cambodia who said of girls working in brothels, "It's the result of their past karma. There's nothing anyone can do." The reply is, if you don't try to help them then you are gaining bad karma for yourself. It's sad that anyone would misinterpret the dharma in that way.
I guess we're all still on the journey, making giant leaps over the years but only baby steps day by day.
You are absolutely correct. No one faith knows it all, not one is perfect. I think it's all one huge jigsaw puzzle and each faith is a only a few pieces of the puzzle. Thanks for your insight.
Well, as the Dalai Lama said, “Don’t become a buddhist, but use buddhism to become a better whatever-you-are.” I think he was quite right to say that the insights of buddhist philosophy have something to offer to Christians, Muslims and others, and that some people are better off with other traditions. It is a personal choice.
I would say that any spiritual path can be a good one. If it is approached with wisdom, care, insight, and openness there will be opportunities to get to know oneself and the universe, and there are certain universal aspects of the human experience which we get to recognise, such as silence and illusion.
Hello. This is not the original Buddha teachings of kamma. I read the original Buddha teaching is if you believe your situation is due to past lives, your belief leads to inaction, which is wrong. Here it is, here
I was so offended!
May have to go to Cambodia and sell myself to the highest bidder/Buddhist contemplative or sushi stall ...
Pray for me! I have been barbecued!
To be honest, I've felt that way my entire life. Seriously. I guess that's why I'm looking for refuge now, perhaps always will. On a lighter note, I'll look for you at the nearest sushi stall.