Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Karma and blaming the victim

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
edited May 2010 in Buddhism Basics
One aspect of karma that always troubled me is that it seemed to justify blaming the victim. Karma, as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes. Thus if we consider a victim of some horrible disease, crime or disaster, can we say to ourselves, "So-and-so must have done something horrible in a previous life! He must deserve his fate" and then leave him to the consequences of his actions?

I've heard some discussion of this, but it seems to be rarely directly addressed. It seems to run counter to the emphasis on compassion in Buddhism. I've heard that the Buddha condemned the caste system in India, which is based on a notion of karma similar to what I've stated (or so I'm led to believe), but I have not run across any sutras that address this.

I have encountered two counter arguments to this notion. The first is simply that it is not compassionate to ignore a victim of karma or to tell him that he got what he deserves. The other, more complicated argument, is that karma is only one force in the world and that said victim might be the object of other natural laws than just karma. Since we can not know whether his fate is based or karma, we can not pass judgement on him and he deserves our compassion.

I find the above explanations only partially satisfactory. Are my thoughts off base on this?

Comments

  • edited May 2010
    As you say, some adversity is due to ripening karma, some is due to other things. We can't know which is which so ideally, all people should treated with compassion. I hear your discomfort though and it also makes me uncomfortable. I class it with one of those things that it can be a waste of time for me to try and figure out - like the origins of the universe. I try to do my best to be compassionate and to work for equality and to help those who need help.
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited May 2010
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    One aspect of karma that always troubled me is that it seemed to justify blaming the victim. Karma, as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes. Thus if we consider a victim of some horrible disease, crime or disaster, can we say to ourselves, "So-and-so must have done something horrible in a previous life! He must deserve his fate" and then leave him to the consequences of his actions?

    I've heard some discussion of this, but it seems to be rarely directly addressed. It seems to run counter to the emphasis on compassion in Buddhism. I've heard that the Buddha condemned the caste system in India, which is based on a notion of karma similar to what I've stated (or so I'm led to believe), but I have not run across any sutras that address this.

    I have encountered two counter arguments to this notion. The first is simply that it is not compassionate to ignore a victim of karma or to tell him that he got what he deserves. The other, more complicated argument, is that karma is only one force in the world and that said victim might be the object of other natural laws than just karma. Since we can not know whether his fate is based or karma, we can not pass judgement on him and he deserves our compassion.

    I find the above explanations only partially satisfactory. Are my thoughts off base on this?

    Not off base, but could use a little push in the right direction. Yes, karma is a part of what dictates experience. If you see someone suffering with disease, or from an assault, or from starvation, you can accurately say "they are having experiences based on karma".

    Its not a matter of blame though. Its a matter of unifying the total experiences of everyone. For instance, the robber and the robbed both suffer, both have causes and conditions that lead to the moment of suffering, and both suffer from the assault. Accepting karma is about sadness, acceptance and direct relating that encompasses ALL actions, not just people who seem to be a victim.

    The person who uses karma as a tool to exact blame is in themselves acting in a way that is unloving. There is no need to blame, ever... blame closes our mind and heart... collapsing the experience into a simple whodunnit. A way to channel our anger over how reality appears.

    If you look at a person who is a 'victim' then you might feel pity... lament for that person who had some atrocity happen that makes you angry. If you see them simply as suffering, like everyone else, then you roll up your sleeves and get to helping in a way that is skillful and direct.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    First, let me say this. I have no problem accepting a sort of psychological karma; the idea that negative thoughts and actions will result in negative consequences in this lifetime, and are self-reinforcing. However, that's not the "big picture" painted by the Buddha of karma.

    If you don't mind, let me indulge in a little self analysis. In considering a victim of disaster or disease, I find that it causes me sorrow and I want to cast blame on the perpetrator of the injustice. I find the law of karma forcing me to direct my wrath against the victim of the misfortune. This causes me a fair bit of dukkha, as well as doubts about the "fairness" of karma. (I know, karma is considered a natural law and not an instrument of punishment for sin, but I'm still shaking off the Judaeo-Christian worldview.) Matt, your comments about placing blame helped me come to this realization and I thank you. I still need to reflect on this...

    There is also a personal element at play. I suffer from a debilitating illness (fortunately arrested by medication.) The law of karma forces me to blame...myself for my condition. Not a comfortable position to be in.

    As a final thought, it seems that the law of karma can be easily misinterpreted and used as an escape hatch to avoid helping others, or deliberately misconstrued an excuse to oppress the unfortunate. Any comments on this?
  • edited May 2010
    Hi nakazcid.

    Karma most certainly isn't some kind of a punishment system.

    I suggest reading the links provided by o0Mundus-Vult-Decipi0o.


    Kind regards,

    Dazzle




    .
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    Hi Dazzle,

    I have read the links provided and found them instructive, though it was Matt's post that provoked some self-examination. I understand that karma is not regarded as an instrument of punishment, but as someone from a hellfire-and-brimstone Christian background I tend to see the world in terms of sin, punishment and penance meted out by a deity. I spent many years as an agnostic, but these habits of thought are hard to shake.
  • edited May 2010
    Hi nakazcid,

    Yes, I understand completely. Dont worry too much about it.

    This might be helpful reading for you:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/nowknow.htm

    and this:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble.htm


    Kind wishes,

    Dazzle





    .
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited May 2010
    If you don't mind, let me indulge in a little self analysis. In considering a victim of disaster or disease, I find that it causes me sorrow and I want to cast blame on the perpetrator of the injustice. I find the law of karma forcing me to direct my wrath against the victim of the misfortune.

    There is also a personal element at play. I suffer from a debilitating illness (fortunately arrested by medication.) The law of karma forces me to blame...myself for my condition. Not a comfortable position to be in.

    There are three philosophies which are considered by Buddhism to be wrong view and which must be carefully distinguished from the teaching of kamma:


    1. Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering arise from previous kamma (Past-action determinism).


    3. Ahetu-apaccayavada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    o0Mundus-Vult-Decipi0o:

    I agree that karma is not blind determinism. However, the thought that the victim might be the cause of his own suffering gives me pause. Similarly, the thought that I mightbe responsible for my own illness causes me distress.

    To spell it out more explicitly, what I'm getting from the readings is that karma plays a role in the sufferings we all encounter in life, but it is not the sole cause of dukkha. However, the simple possibility of responsibility for one's own suffering is a chilling premise. Must I pay for the crimes of what amounts to a different self (though we share a mindstream, subtle conciousness, etc.*) in a different lifetime? Will it be read as a badge of shame by my co-religionists?

    I was tempted to go back and edit what I wrote above, but I'll let it stand. Clearly I'm still clinging to notions of self and punishment. I did read the passage about the illusory conflict between no-self and kamma, but admit that I could only grasp the edges of it.

    *Mindstream and subtle conciousness are concepts I don't grasp clearly, and don't pretend to. If the self (or the mental construct we interpret as self) dissolves at death with the skandhas, exactly what is it that passes to another self?
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid,

    I'm happy you found some of the shared thoughts useful for self reflection. The next questions that arose seem very logical to me, I think its something that many people question. I think the next step would be to deconstruct the idea of 'a victim of karma.' As Mundus expertly quoted, karma is not past-action determinism.

    Looking for the reason that the person is assaulted or sick or whatever caused the 'victim' moment to arise is folly. The branches of that kind of causal behavior dig deep into both instinctual and social needs, parents, grandparents and on and on into infinitum. Rather, when you experience the person, seeing them as sick or assaulted or happy or whatever it is... that's the unskillful part, and you can be free from those specific and limiting labels.
    In considering a victim of disaster or disease, I find that it causes me sorrow and I want to cast blame on the perpetrator of the injustice. I find the law of karma forcing me to direct my wrath against the victim of the misfortune.

    This here is a good illumination of what I'm talking about. Here you say two important things.
    One: "I project a label onto a person who suffers, creating a victim and an injustice through blaming" (where blaming=projecting)
    and two: "I suffer when I relate to those labels."
    Can you see it?

    I wonder, if you just stay with "That person is suffering in this moment" if you would be more available to use your ample compassion to help.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • lightwithinlightwithin Veteran
    edited May 2010
    I find myself in the same situation as the OP. I seem to automatically think "I/they have what I/they deserve" when I view someone in a bad situation.

    This thread has been helpful in clarifying it a lot. But it will be a struggle to incorporate the insights I've read into my stubborn, conditioned mind.
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    aMatt wrote: »
    nakazcid,
    This here is a good illumination of what I'm talking about. Here you say two important things.
    One: "I project a label onto a person who suffers, creating a victim and an injustice through blaming" (where blaming=projecting)
    and two: "I suffer when I relate to those labels."
    Can you see it?
    I wrote a long, heartfelt reply only to have it oblitered by a forum timeout. Sigh.

    I think I see it. If I cast someone as victim, I'm loading myself down with all sorts of baggage and preconceptions about what a victim is. Perhaps so-and-so is a spiritual master, and not afflicted by dukkha in the slightest by his misfortune. I don't know and can't know. I'm also trying to cast anger at someone/something for his misfortune, which is counter productive to practice.

    Number two is trickier. The victim's misfortune reminds me of my own misfortune, and my complicity in the ripening of my own karma (according to my flawed understanding.) This just causes more suffering on my part. This also is not good for practice.

    From a practical perspective, I get it. The intuitive and intellectual angle is harder, though. lightwithin is right though about the struggle to overcome the conditioned mind...
    aMatt wrote: »
    I wonder, if you just stay with "That person is suffering in this moment" if you would be more available to use your ample compassion to help.

    With warmth,

    Matt
    This seems like excellent advice, and I'll do my best to follow it. Perhaps further reflection will make it easier to follow...
  • DeshyDeshy Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    Karma, as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes.

    Are my thoughts off base on this?

    This theory has a lot of missing points.

    1) If the actions of your pevious life "ripen" in this life where are those bad and good stuff recorded? Cosmic account?

    2) What is reborn and how is it reborn?

    3) How can you free yourself from dukkha in this life when the cause of your dukkha is in your prevous life where you cannot possibly change it? :confused:

    My understanding is that the above theory of kamma is merely unverifiable speculation. Kamma as I see it is in this moment, in this life. The good things you do in this life give you peace of mind/happiness and joy in this life, in this moment.

    If you happen to break your leg by falling so what? There is no need for your mind to be sick just because your body is sick. As you can see, the causes and conditions of your dukkha are here and now, not in some past life.
  • edited May 2010
    This is what Bhikkhu Buddhadasa had to say about karma:

    KAMMA

    "We come now to the word "kamma" (Sanskrit, karma). When ordinary people say, "That's kamma!" they mean "Too bad!" Bad luck as punishment for sins previously committed is the meaning given to the word "kamma" by ordinary people.

    But in Dhamma language the word "kamma" refers to something different. It refers to action. Bad action is called black kamma; good action is called white kamma. Then there is another remarkable kind of kamma which is neither black nor white, a kamma that serves to neutralize the other two kinds. Unfortunately, the more people hear about it, the less they understand it. This third kind of kamma is the realization of not-self (anatta) and emptiness (sunnata), so that the "self" is done away with. This kind of action may be called Buddhist kamma, the real kamma, the kind of kamma that the Buddha taught. The Buddha taught the transcending of all kamma.

    Most people are interested only in black kamma and white kamma, bad kamma and good kamma. They take no interest in this third kind of kamma which is neither black nor white, neither bad nor good, which consists in complete freedom from selfhood and leads to the attainment of Nibbana. It wipes out every kind of bad and good kamma.

    People don't understand the method for wiping out kamma completely. They don't know that the way to put an end to all kamma is through this special kind of kamma, which consists in applying the Buddha's method. That method is none other than the Noble Eightfold Path.

    The practice of the Noble Eightfold Path is kamma neither black nor white, and it is the end of all kamma. This is kamma in Dhamma language. It is very different from the "kamma" of immature people, who exclaim "That's Kamma!" meaning only "Too bad!" or "Bad luck!" Kamma understood as bad luck is the kamma of everyday language"


    http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books2/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Keys_to_Natural_Truth.htm



    _/\_


    .
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    Deshy wrote: »
    This theory has a lot of missing points.
    1) If the actions of your pevious life "ripen" in this life where are those bad and good stuff recorded? Cosmic account?
    2) What is reborn and how is it reborn?
    3) How can you free yourself from dukkha in this life when the cause of your dukkha is in your prevous life where you cannot possibly change it?
    These are all good questions, and ones that I struggle with. (In fact I asked number two in an earlier post.) Even though I've taken refuge, I still find myself in the process of verifying the Dharma for myself. However, a purely materialistic interpretation of the Dharma leaves me cold. I lived as a rational materialist for decades after adolescence, and I feel it left me emotionally and spiritually unsatisfied, perhaps even stunted in those regards. Your experience could well be different.
    That doesn't mean I'm going to throw logic to the wind; I'm just going to use it as one possible tool to evaluate the relevance and veracity of the Dharma for myself. This ties into Dazzle's post about the Kalamma Sutta.
    Deshy wrote: »
    My understanding is that the above theory of kamma is merely unverifiable speculation. Kamma as I see it is in this moment, in this life. The good things you do in this life give you peace of mind/happiness and joy in this life, in this moment.
    If you happen to break your leg by falling so what? There is no need for your mind to be sick just because your body is sick. As you can see, the causes and conditions of your dukkha are here and now, not in some past life.
    As I understand it, this concept of karma pervades the Dharma, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, making it kind of difficult to summarily dismiss. From what I understand we are supposed to examine the Dharma for ourselves; if we find it to be valid from not just a logical standpoint, but also a spiritual and practical (in the sense that it is good for our practice) one, we should embrace it.
    Perhaps accepting a metaphysical form of karma would be a hindrance to you; then I would urge you to discard it and practice the Dharma as it best benefits you. That's just my opinion, though.

    Dazzle - Thanks so much for the post! Clearly I need to read the Kalamma Sutta. For some reason my old sangha discouraged reading sutras, though I never understood why.
  • DeshyDeshy Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    From what I understand we are supposed to examine the Dharma for ourselves; if we find it to be valid from not just a logical standpoint, but also a spiritual and practical (in the sense that it is good for our practice) one, we should embrace it.

    Being able to verify for oneself is an important aspect of the Buddha Dhamma; something which makes it unique from the other religions. If you cannot verify faith and know its truth for yourself it is going to be just blind faith
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    Deshy wrote: »
    Being able to verify for oneself is an important aspect of the Buddha Dhamma; something which makes it unique from the other religions. If you cannot verify faith and know its truth for yourself it is going to be just blind faith

    That depends on how you define blind faith. To me, it means accepting any belief or doctrine without testing it. In the Kalamma Sutta, the Buddha talks about how to test a doctrine of belief system (from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation):

    Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.

    (Italics on logical conjecture and adoption are mine.) What I take away from this is that we should not judge a doctrine or belief system by how logical it is (or how well it models reality), but rather by the results it produces in those who believe or practice it. In my original post, I was not asking "Is karma logical?" but rather "Is karma cruel?" To me, this is a more important test of the law of karma.
  • DeshyDeshy Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    That depends on how you define blind faith. To me, it means accepting any belief or doctrine without testing it.

    Well, that's what blind faith is: Accepting and believing the unverifiable
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    One aspect of karma that always troubled me is that it seemed to justify blaming the victim.
    The teaching of karma is not for this purpose. The teaching of karma is to encourage people to refrain from harming rather than for the purpose of condemning victims of crime.

    We can ask the question, when a person is murdered, what is the reason for that?

    Is it due to an action performed in a past life or is it due to hatred & delusion in the murderer?

    Where does the cause lie? Where is the cause found?

    :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    However, that's not the "big picture" painted by the Buddha of karma.
    Where? Please provide a reference?

    The "big picture" painted in by your mind or by the Buddha?

    I can only recall one sutta from thousands that may possibly propose such a view however this sutta is only in the Pali but not the Chinese equivalent.

    :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    As I understand it, this concept of karma pervades the Dharma, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, making it kind of difficult to summarily dismiss.
    Where? Please provide a reference where these things are mentioned in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path?

    :confused:
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    Where? Please provide a reference?

    The "big picture" painted in by your mind or by the Buddha?

    I can only recall one sutta from thousands that may possibly propose such a view however this sutta is only in the Pali but not the Chinese equivalent.

    :)
    Hi, Dhamma Dhatu. There are many big pictures in my head, and they are very hard to keep track of. :) Sometimes they obscure my sight, sometimes not.

    In my old sangha, I was discouraged by other members from reading primary canon, and instead encouraged to read "secondary" sources like Tsongkhapa and Santideva. I was told that I might take the original sutras out of context. Thus my knowledge of primary sources is a bit shaky.

    Despite this, one of the tales told in the Sangha was an instance where the Buddha in a previous life was captain of a ship. The Buddha knew that a passenger aboard the ship was a murderer, and that night would kill everyone on the ship. So the Buddha killed this man before he could commit the crime, knowing full well that he (the Buddha) would have to take the karmic "burden" for killing this man in a subsequent lifetime. In spite of the consequence, he was willing to do this to save the 500 or so people on board his ship.

    I didn't know this until a few minutes ago, but apparently this is from the Upāya-kauśalya Sūtra. I am unable to quickly find an English translation and verify the accuracy of the oral rendition I heard, but the outline of the tale seems correct.

    This would seem to indicate the action of karma across multiple lifetimes. Am I inferring incorrectly?
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited May 2010
    The improper use of Karma may involve blaming the victim but that involves using Karma for your own ego purposes. Other people's Karma is not something one can speculate on and maintain skillfull thought.

    It also involves blaming. Looking for whose fault or which circumstance has created the situation. What Pema Chodron suggests when we start blaming is to "drive all blames into one". In other words, look at the contribution you, as a contemplator have contributed to this negative Karma. It becomes obvious your judgement has increased the burden of this Karma and it, in and of itself has Karmic repercussions for you.
  • edited May 2010
    as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes. Thus if we consider a victim of some horrible disease, crime or disaster, can we say to ourselves, "So-and-so must have done something horrible in a previous life! He must deserve his fate" and then leave him to the consequences of his actions?
    Deserves compassion and is nothing but compassion.
    One aspect of karma that always troubled me is that it seemed to justify blaming the victim. Karma, as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes.
    I've heard some discussion of this, but it seems to be rarely directly addressed. It seems to run counter to the emphasis on compassion in Buddhism.
    From hindsight, I got many very terrible mental hit from a person for quite a period of time, who may have reacted over the above perception of "negativity" as well. The response is still compassion, even cause death - this is Buddhism, is not easily attainable - I m still learning. However, for death cause from earthquake etc that beyond mankind, it's sort of atoning past bad karma and those karma that remain to fruition are goodness karma that would take precedent, and eventually Buddha karma of enlightenment. Nonetheless, if contacted to teachings of Buddhism and practice properly, it will evoke the karma of goodness.
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    Despite this, one of the tales told in the Sangha was an instance where the Buddha in a previous life was captain of a ship. The Buddha knew that a passenger aboard the ship was a murderer, and that night would kill everyone on the ship. So the Buddha killed this man before he could commit the crime, knowing full well that he (the Buddha) would have to take the karmic "burden" for killing this man in a subsequent lifetime. In spite of the consequence, he was willing to do this to save the 500 or so people on board his ship.

    I didn't know this until a few minutes ago, but apparently this is from the Upāya-kauśalya Sūtra. I am unable to quickly find an English translation and verify the accuracy of the oral rendition I heard, but the outline of the tale seems correct.

    This would seem to indicate the action of karma across multiple lifetimes. Am I inferring incorrectly?

    It seems to me to be an unimportant inferring. Rather, the point seems that when looking at how we act, sometimes acting compassionately and wisely is the most important thing to do, no matter what the karma is in the moment. Like, killing a poisonous snake or wasp nest that troubles a preschool.

    It still seems you're missing the most important aspect of karma. For instance, if you see a person getting a million dollar gift, you might consider his karma good. Next to him is a man who has only a bowl of rice, you might consider his karma poor.

    Karma doesn't bring about the money or rice. Karma brings about the nature of the mind that is viewing the money or the rice. The man with the rice is happy and content. The man with the money is immediately grasping, suspicious, defensive of his money... quite discontented. Those mental states are what we look at when we are examining and dismantling karmic ruts.

    If you're viewing of the monetary gift or bowl of rice as karma, then you're clinging to a momentary rising phenomena. The rice is already poop and still you hold that it was poor. The money is all spent and still you might consider it good. If you look at the victim of the assault, his or her body heals by itself, the actions are over in a flash of moment. The karma that lasts is the mental stress, the suffering, the formation of the mental state that arose during and after the event.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    aMatt-
    I understand that the principle of karma acting across multiple lifetimes is not the main point of the tale. However, Dharma Dhattu asked for some scriptural evidence of my 'big picture' (or at least I think that's what he/she was asking for) so I provided what evidence I could.
    What I take from the tale is that acting out of compassion, regardless of the consequences, is a key part of the path to liberation, and is provided as an example of right action.
    In the case of an assault victim, I agree that he will not suffer mental anguish if he doesn't dwell on the assault, or the label of 'victim'. However, if his leg was broken in the assault, he will probably experience physical pain for a time. Is this dukkha?
    The term rising phenomena is one I've not heard before. If it's not too much trouble can you explain or provide a link?
    Thanks...

    EDIT: I think I'm getting off topic. If anyone is moderating this, please let me know if a new thread should be started.
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    However, if his leg was broken in the assault, he will probably experience physical pain for a time. Is this dukkha?

    Not at all. If he laments or wails or gets angry or confused over the pain or the leg or assault, that is dukkha. The broken leg is a broken leg. The pain is pain.
    nakazcid wrote: »
    The term rising phenomena is one I've not heard before. If it's not too much trouble can you explain or provide a link?

    Rising phenomena is a term my teacher my used to explain to me the forms that we experience in the world of shapes and colors. For instance, the bag of money is a phenomena that exists for a brief moment. The broken leg. The bowl of rice. A chair. A keyboard.... etc etc. These are all phenomena that arise in the senses, are cognized by our brain, stay for a brief touching and fade away. I find that regarding them as phenomena directly can help one understand the absolute transience of all objects, people, ideas and mental states.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited May 2010
    Hi Nakazcid,
    I understand that the principle of karma acting across multiple lifetimes is not the main point of the tale.
    However, you're misunderstanding kamma as the Buddha taught it still and so you're missing the point entirely. aMatt did a beautiful job of explaining it. You have some preconceived notions about kamma that need to be let go of.

    Dhamma Dhatu did ask for a scriptural citation for your claim, but DDhatu and [most, at least] people in this Thread are Theravadan practitioners and so a Mahayana Sutra which supposedly expounds a historical event does not hold any weight for us. Most here are either agnostic or outright deny rebirth and that the Buddha taught it. Also, this sutra does not suggest that this is the "big picture" of kamma as the Buddha taught it nor does it suggest that it pervades the 4NTs and the 8FP.

    Part of the problem of this Brahmic understanding of karma is that people believe it to work according to their own moral ideology. People want moral justification for all of the "bad things" that happen in the world. A baby is born with a terrible illness due to certain factors such as genetics. That's it. There are causes and conditions. There is no victim, no one to blame. And no matter how much you want "fairness" and "moral justification," you won't find it, because these are ultimately just empty concepts.
    However, if his leg was broken in the assault, he will probably experience physical pain for a time. Is this dukkha?
    The Buddha taught about dukkha as a mental phenomena. Even the Buddha felt physical pain (for instance, see the Mahaparinibbana sutta). There are many suttas which discuss this but a good place to start would be here.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2010
    I feel also that karma should not be used to blame. But rather for the victim to reclaim their life. Ok I have a disease injury or I have been assaulted... But I believe in karma so I can turn that negativity in a positive direction by using the misfortune in the path of awakening.
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    edited May 2010
    I think I'm starting to see what you're saying. This seems to be the key concept:
    aMatt wrote: »
    Karma brings about the nature of the mind that is viewing the money or the rice.
    Would it be too much of a stretch to substitute attitude for nature of mind? If the man with the rice receives the rice in the proper spirit (or right attitude), he is very happy for this gift. If the man receiving the money has a bad attitude, he may feel momentarily grateful to the giver, but is seized by paranoia about who might take his money. Let's turn the concept on its head. If the man receiving the rice has bad karma, he will say to himself "I have received a pittance! The other beggars may steal it from me." If the man receiving the money has good karma, he will receive it with gratitude and a good attitude and give it away to charity or put it to good use. Closer?

    For the sake of brevity, let's call this notion of good karma gets good fortune, bad karma gets bad fortune Brahmanic karma. Perhaps because of the pervasiveness of Brahmanic karma, I've always thought that if I bought into the notion of a cycle of rebirth and death influenced by karma, I had to accept the Brahmanic notion as well. In many ways I prefer the, um, un-Brahamanic version. However, personal preference doesn't make it so. Is this un-Brahmanic concept common to all traditions of Buddhism? Theravada? Or this site in particular?

    Valtiel, thanks for your post. It made me re-read aMatt's past and understand what he was saying. Or at least I think I understand it.

    I've been interested in Theravada for a while, and have been perusing the Dhammapada. (Is that considered canon in Mahayaha traditions?) Any other recommended reading?
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited May 2010
    nakazcid wrote: »
    Would it be too much of a stretch to substitute attitude for nature of mind?

    I think that interpretation is great. I would even say karma is forced attitude, based on ruts of perceiving and interpreting the bags of money and bowls of rice in our life.
    nakazcid wrote: »
    If the man with the rice receives the rice in the proper spirit (or right attitude), he is very happy for this gift. If the man receiving the money has a bad attitude, he may feel momentarily grateful to the giver, but is seized by paranoia about who might take his money. Let's turn the concept on its head. If the man receiving the rice has bad karma, he will say to himself "I have received a pittance! The other beggars may steal it from me." If the man receiving the money has good karma, he will receive it with gratitude and a good attitude and give it away to charity or put it to good use. Closer?

    Exactly. In the looking here, you're demonstrating that karma is certainly related to but not dependent on the phenomena. The way we interact with it makes all the difference.
    nakazcid wrote: »
    Is this un-Brahmanic concept common to all traditions of Buddhism? Theravada? Or this site in particular?

    I admit I am unsure of 'all traditions', but as far as I have seen, the interpretation we're looking at here is widely observed as the most accurate form of what was being taught by the Buddha.
    nakazcid wrote: »
    I've been interested in Theravada for a while, and have been perusing the Dhammapada. (Is that considered canon in Mahayaha traditions?) Any other recommended reading?

    We have some great Theravada minded Buddhists around, I'm sure they can offer some good books. You might have to post another thread if no-one stops in.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • edited May 2010
    What I take from the tale is that acting out of compassion, regardless of the consequences, is a key part of the path to liberation, and is provided as an example of right action.
    For enlightened being perspective.
    The mindset of terrorist also acting out of compassion in the name of holiness; Secret society likewise. The only exception is that there is concrete actionable plan and meeting, and you responded with the key part of the path to liberation, regardless of the consequences - this is kudos. Nonetheless, there is this enforcement officers and counselling officers that you may wish to dearly consider.
Sign In or Register to comment.