Author Topic: Karma and reincarnation help!  (Read 1047 times)

Offline hey

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Karma and reincarnation help!
« on: March 27, 2017, 04:59:02 am »
I hope this isn't too long!

Ok so, there are 2 things I can't get my head around: karma and reincarnation. Maybe I have a very myopic view on these subjects and haven't understood them properly, plus words are limited by mental constructs; all I want is someone to explain it all to me because I've been a believer in the teachings and principles of Buddhism for a few years and tried to educate myself and practice meditation and Buddhism, but I've been stuck on these things ever since I went to talk given by a Buddhist nun here in Nepal and discovered they are integral to Buddhism itself.

So. I find it difficult to think about my own life and the lives of others in terms of karma. So according to the law of karma, the beings in the worst circumstances in life are the ones who got there due to their accumulated 'bad karma'. E.g. Starving children with HIV in Africa, severely disabled people, abused or lame animals, animals killed/tortured for their meat/fur/milk/eggs - etc. And the ones with 'good karma' are those born into comparative privilege or extreme wealth? I feel like my heart bleeds for those who experience extreme suffering in this life, those who I consider innocent - children, animals and the severely disabled. How can I now look at these people, and think, well you deserve this. And what about my own suffering? As a child I experienced suffering, and I'd like to think that as a child it wasn't my fault, even though psychologically I may have been left with a distorted view on that. And in terms of those born into privilege, I would not respect someone more based solely on that person being born into a wealthy family as compared to someone born into poverty. That wasn't a chose either of those people made, plus a child is a child, as children I would treat them the same. And isn't judging someone's karma on how wealthy or externally attractive or healthy they are superficial as hell? Even if someone is born with gifts or talents, does that mean I should value or respect them more than someone born handicapped? Plus isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder, and isn't it also true that wealth and affluence does not equate to being somehow a 'better person', that you can be extremely poor and still be kinder and more compassionate than a person who seems to have everything in the material world?

Furthermore, how can everyone karmas interconnect? If a child is born into an abusive home, and that's their karma, then what about the abusers, is their suffering as a abusers their karma?

Lastly, I try to live an ethical life, but unless I stood still (so as not to accidentally step on an insect or something), naked (because I don't know if the entire process that it took to make my clothes was ethical), and not eat (because I can't be 100% sure if my food caused harm to someone somehow within the whole process of creating it) for example, then how is a person supposed to live a totally ethical life? The nun said intention is important, but what about a Buddhist who eats meat vs. a vegan who hates human beings, where is the balance, what about intention there? Compassion to all living beings is supposed to be integral in both cases. And someone raised the point at the talk that what if 2 people have the same intention but entirely different views on how to act on that intention.

And now onto reincarnation. If a person really isn't their thoughts, emotions or physical body as I have been lead to believe, that the ego is a false self, then what is it that is reborn? If thoughts, memories and emotions actually get transferred somehow then is the 'I' that I think of as me actually me? If cultivating right mind, speech and action is important because of the law of karma, and if you think about it in terms of energy, then is there really an 'I' as a separate entity? Or am a separate and infinite?

And therefore, what really is the difference then between a soul and eternal consciousness? If 'individual' thoughts/emotions leading to speech and action do actually have an affect on everything and can be transferred, along with personality potentially, into rebirths then does that not imply a soul?

Help would be VERY MUCH appreciated,
Thanks! - Ana

Offline bobbypro69

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Re: Karma and reincarnation help!
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 06:08:20 am »
what draws a man to madness ?---what makes him think that he---can harness light and darkness---to create that which is free ?---what makes him think there's light and dark ?---what bounds define what's free ?---whatever makes him disembark---on 'you' and 'them' and 'me' ?---two worlds he has before him---one earthly, one unseen---each has it's pleasure in the swim---each has it's own smokescreen---i pose the question to all concerned---from sacred to obscene---why can't a man fill the fire that burns---and still be self redeemed ?---does one so drain the other---for he who drinks to the hilt ?---is it really divine mother---who so entwines this quilt----of mans existence---to truely make us side---between the worldly appetence---and the meditative bride ?---the problem leaves me baffled---helpless and forelorn---the freest minds then shackled---not one of us freeborn---to take what life can offer---and still fulfill the soul---making every man a gambler---between wants and self control----what draws a man to madness ?---what makes him think that he---can harness light and darkness---to create that which is free ?---what makes him think there's light and dark ?---what bounds define what's free ?---for all this man can leave one mark---and that is just to BE !


Offline francis

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Re: Karma and reincarnation help!
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2017, 07:07:30 am »

From a Theravada sutta; Thus have I heard: ....

Hi Solodris,

If you are going to quote text from the Theravada sutta’s could you please cite sutta number and name.

Thanks

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline francis

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Re: Karma and reincarnation help!
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 03:31:42 am »
Hi francis,

How absent-minded of me, will do!

Thanks Solodris :)
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline Tigermelon

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Re: Karma and reincarnation help!
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 11:55:02 am »
A very important topic and issues that I think vex many practitioners.  One thing to understand is that not all schools of Buddhism view karma and reincarnation in the same way.

I am a Jodo Shinshu practitioner and we are encouraged to view karma as something active in our lives in that we reap what we sew.  Rather than thinking of the problems in your life as a punishment for transgressions in a previous life, you can view them as the simple result of living a life filled with foolishness.  It would be impossible to avoid all misfortune the same way it is impossible to avoid all actions that might lead to misfortune.  Karma, by this way of understanding, is simply the natural result of actions whether those results be desirable or not.  As far as a baby with HIV or a starving child (unprotected sex, greedy political choices, etc.), karma would be seen in all of the negative decisions that were made by many individuals which lead to such results and so you very much should feel pity and act accordingly to counter that.  Being that we are all interconnected, our the effects of are karma are as well.

Reincarnation is a more complicated subject but, in Jodo Shinshu teaching, it is not considered to be (necessarily) a literal thing.  The cycle of suffering is, instead, our continued cycle of wrong thinking and inappropriate actions.  We perpetuate our own suffering in a continued cycle without the need of dying to start it over again.

Of course different schools of Buddhism with promote different beliefs, but keep in mind that there are ways of viewing these troubling subjects that you might find more meaningful than others.  After all, you don't benefit from what you don't accept.


 


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