Author Topic: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?  (Read 12914 times)

m0rl0ck

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2009, 09:31:18 am »
One person/personality is suffering for acts commited by another. Is that just ? Is it fair?

Is it fair that gravity causes the ignorant toddler to fall and injure itself?  Until such time as he does, he doesn't know he needs to avoid falling.  Justice and fairness are arbitrary concepts that simply don't apply.  

One person doesn't suffer for the acts committed by another.  They suffer because they are born.  They suffer because they do not recognize the source of their suffering and do something about it. Suffering is not what happens to us, it is how we perceive and deal with what happens to us.

Thats actually a pretty good answer. Tho i think justice and fairness are more than arbitrary concepts. Justice and fairness are recognized across all human cultures.  Saying that suffering is a human condition, that we suffer because we are born, isnt really addressing the question. From the perspective of the individual personality, suffering is real and immediate and it just isnt right that one personality should suffer for the acts of another.

EDIT: Arent justice and fairness the basis of the karmic system? good deeds -> good results etc.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 09:55:40 am by m0rl0ck »

Offline humanitas

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2009, 11:34:26 am »
Karma is just and fair.
Karma is not just or fair.
Karma is both just/fair and unjust/unfair.
Karma is neither just/fair nor unjust/unfair.


I think karma is a far more complex concept than we give it credit much of the time.  The above is of course only my understanding of karma.  I could be mistaken, if I am please correct.

If someone does something "negative" (rob a bank) and gets lots of money (something positive) and gets away with it (unfair/unjust outcome) does karma address the injustice?  Or does karma simply unfold the potentials developed regardless of morality?  Does the engine of a car concern itself with the morality of its driver?  Or does the driver concern him/herself with the morality and the car simply works cause-effect?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 11:37:33 am by Ogyen Chodzom »
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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2009, 01:05:04 pm »
I'm guilty of a double standard that so many people have when it comes to their loved ones. I understand karma, it makes sense, for the most part I hold it true. But when it comes to my little sister my mind wants to shove away the idea that she had bi-polar, that she had borderline personality disorder, that she was so prone to addiction, because of Karma. I still just don't like (not don't understand, just don't like) that her mind and addictions could push her to suicide because of Karma, that because of bad Karma she had to be unhappy in this life, because when she was clear, when she was sober, she had so much good in her. Yet I have had people that hear my story say things to the effect of she must have had some very bad Karma. It gives me a heaviness in my heart, and I wish I could do something for her if that was indeed the case.
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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2009, 01:10:51 pm »
Ok fine you got hung up on the word punishment. When you can unentangle yourself this is the issue:
Your analogy doesnt even cover the situation, one can learn to avoid risky circumstances, on the other hand there is no avoiding karma. Its suffering of the innocent for bad acts commited by another person/personality entirely and no matter how much you say that personality doesnt exist, the personality that suffers does have conditional existence at least and the suffering is real.

One person/personality is suffering for acts commited by another. Is that just ? Is it fair?


Dear M0rl0ck, who are the innocent --those who didn't commit said deed in this instance of consciousness we call life? Focusing on a specific instant is not taking into account the most basic of Buddhist premises--interdependent origination by which aren't all sentient beings bearers and creators of all karma?  I still think you are seeing this from a "justice" standpoint which -while I can agree is necessary for our daily discernments of crimes/punishments in society to moderate and keep many people from doing bad deeds- is still a human moral construct and varies culture to culture.  Karma has nothing to do with justice, and if we seek justice from karma we will only come up with more karma.  What you are talking about in terms of "innocent" suffering for the acts of others is people's karma ripening to experience the results of previous conditions and aspirations created.  

I can certainly see where you are coming from emotionally with your line of questioning and I think it's perfectly understandable for anyone, but it is inexact when referring to karma or what karma concerns itself with.

In reading what you wrote in several posts, I've reached a potential insight that we may be viewing karma differently in our definitions.  Coming from a Western perspective it would feel to many that karma has a "hierarchy" and this is like a justice system much like our legal system, where if you do bad x you reap y result.  But this is not quite accurate.  Let's think of this in less solid terms.  It's not that karma is this fixed structure that operates and does with or without your consent.  It's more like when you grow something (bija -a karmic seed) in yourself in a certain way your consequent experiences are very colored by that "something" you grew inside.  For example, if you nurture a lot of anger, when life just happens (like it does to everyone) you respond with what you grew inside you (anger) and you experience the "life happening" as very angy, unjust, painful.  But a person who's grown a lot of kindness1 within themselves experiences the same stuff, the "life happens" as the person who grew more anger in themselves. (1. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this "the energy that helps us to touch life deeply is smrti, the energy of mindfulness.") So the person with kindness is stronger in smrti than ego and experiences that "life happens" much less painfully as they have cultivated the tools and view in themselves to not get stuck in more suffering.  The negative karma of the angry person is experiencing life and deeds of others as very upsetting, painful.  Jeffrey Dahmer experienced of the same "life happens" scenarios  as the HHDL does.  But Jeffrey Dahmer (by his karma) went deeper into the darkest human emotions and hellish deeds done to others and himself (eventually resulting in his death) while the Dalai Lama has spread more peace and kindness and compassion.  Their karma came to fruition because of how they nurtured their ignorance/attachments/aversions.  So much of karma is not this rigid event happening.  It's not that things happen because someone watched us and said, Oh! You have done these bad deeds and therefore you will have a car accident and pay your karma debt.  It's more like you chose in every moment to respond either with your impulses or with a method like the dharma that expands and opens (process of emptiness-shunyata) instead of controls and shrinks (ego-based process).  So what you chose in every moment comes to fruition in the way you perceive and build your samsaric prison moment by moment.  It's not this rigid thing that' a law but a non-solid experience that is like a layer over your perception you either strengthen towards ego (Dahmer) or strengthen towards awakening -(HH Dalai Lama) Am I making any sense?  I hope so...  If I am making sense, then read the following with this idea that karma is not this rigid structure but an experience and see how the words of the Buddha feel to you with that in mind.
 

HOW KARMA WORKS

A very good and succinct explanation by Geshe Tashi Tsering in his book The Buddha's Medicine for the Mind: Cultivating Wisdom and Compassion:

"Intention is the most important of all mental events because it gives direction to the mind, determining whether we engage with virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral objects. Just as iron is powerlessly drawn to a magnet, our minds are powerlessly drawn to the object of our intentions.

An intention is a mental action; it may be expressed through either physical or verbal actions. Thus, action, or karma, is of two types: the action of intention and the intended action. The action of intention is the thought or impulse to engage in a physical or verbal act. The intended action is the physical or verbal expression of our intention. Karma actually refers to the action of intention but in general usage it includes the intended action and the seeds that are left in the mind as a result.

How do we accumulate karmic seeds? Every physical and verbal action is preceded by mental activity. Goodwill motivates a kind gesture; ill will motivates nasty words. Ill will is the intention to cause mental, emotional or physical harm. Thus, before and during a bad action, ill will is present in our mind. The presence of ill will before and during this act has an impact and influence on the mind due to which a certain potential is left behind. This potential is a karmic seed, a seed planted in our mind by physical, verbal or mental action. The strength or depth of this seed is determined by a number of factors, including how strong our intention is, whether we clearly understand what we are doing, whether we act on our intention and whether the physical and verbal action is completed.

Seeds will remain in the mind until they ripen or are destroyed. Seeds left by negative mental events and actions can be destroyed by the four opponent or antidotal powers. The most important of these four powers are regret for the negative act and a firm resolve not to act that way again in the future. Seeds left by positive mental events and actions can be destroyed by anger.

Even if we do not act on a negative intention, a karmic seed of diminished potency is still left in the mind. This incompleted seed is easier to remove. If it is not destroyed, a negative seed will eventually produce an unpleasant and negative effect while a postive seed will produce a pleasant and positive effect. Karmic seeds do not go to waste even after one hundred aeons. They will come to fruition when the time comes and the conditions assemble.

Actions motivated by the wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings and dedicated to that end have a special feature. The positive effects of such an act will be experienced many times over without being exhausted. For this reason, virtue dedicated to complete enlightenment is likened to a magnificent tree that bears fruit every season without fail. Such virtues will bear fruit until Buddhahood is attained."

A fragment of the The Sutra of the Causes and Effects of Actions by Shakyamuni Buddha, from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archives that probably conveys the idea very straight-forward:

"Then the Buddha spoke to Ananda thus, “This question that you are asking--it is all on account of a previous existence, in which every one’s mind was not alike and equal. Therefore, in consequence, the retribution is of a thousand and a myriad separate and different minds.
Thus the person who in this world is handsome comes from a patient mind, and the ugly comes from amid anger; the needy come from meanness.
The high and noble comes from prayer and service, and the lowly and base comes from pride.
The great and tall person comes from honor and respect and the short-legged person comes on account of contempt.
The person who hinders the bright splendor of the Buddha is born black and thin; and the one who tastes the food of the fast is born deprived of food.
The person who is too sparing of fire and light is born infirm; the one in whose eyes fault always appears is born night-blind.
The person who slanders the Law is born dumb; and the person who does not want to hear the Law is born deaf. .....
The person who is compassionate is born long-lived, and the one who kills living beings is born short-lived.
The one who gives gifts is born rich.
The one who gives a gift of horse and carriage to the three jewels has many horses and carriages.
Then the person who reads and asks about the sutra is born intelligent; but the stupid person comes from an animal existence.
The person who cannot stay in his place comes from among the apes; the one who binds the hands and feet of living beings is born paralyzed in hand and foot.
The person who is of evil passions comes from snakes and scorpions; the one who keeps the precepts (sila) is complete in the six kinds of organ, but the person who breaks the precepts is incomplete in the six kinds of organ.
The unclean person comes from the existence of pigs; the person who likes song and dance comes from among actors. The one who is greedy comes from dogs; the one who eats alone, their neck is goiterous.
The one who castrates living beings has incomplete pudenda; the one who on one side abuses his superior has a short tongue.
The one who seduces the spouse of another, after dying falls among the geese, and a person who commits incest will fall into the existence of sparrows."


THE FOUR LAWS OF KARMA
Results are similar to the cause. Simply said, when I cause other people harm, I will harvest suffering myself. It is important to note here, that "positive" actions are defined as actions that have happiness as a result; "negative" actions are defined as actions that lead to suffering as a result.
No results without a cause. As is obvious within science, things do not just appear out of nothing.
Once an action is done, the result is never lost. Similarly as above, things do not just disappear into nothing.
Karma expands. Once we have an imprint of an action in our mind, it tends to be habit-forming. As is often said in wars for example, killing the first enemy is tough, but after a handful, one quickly loses count and it becomes "normal". Also psychology often stresses a similar point when e.g. explaining actions of adults from their childhood experiences.

WHAT IS NEEDED FOR KARMA TO RIPEN?

A previous action, or karmic potential.
Conditions: the circumstances must be available before I can undergo a specific result.
A deluded mind. Without delusions in our mind, we will never experience the results of previous actions. This happens to Arhats and Buddhas; their minds have been purified from delusions, and they are beyond the realm of karma.
It should be realised that without any karma to ripen at all, we could never experience anything unpleasant - most likely, when this occurs, we are in a blissful state of nirvana or full enlightenment.

WHAT DECIDES THE SEVERITY OF THE RESULTS?

The severity of the results of our actions depends on various factors:

Our intention or motivation - the intention is the most important aspect by far, as karma is mainly connected to the intention of the action, be it positive or negative.
The nature of the action: obviously, gossiping is less severe than killing.
The actual deed: whether we kill in self-defence or sadistically torture someone to death does make a difference, usually this directly related to intention.
The basis or object: it does make a difference whether we kill our mother or an ant.
Repetition; how often do we repeat the action, which reinforces the habit, and makes even killing feel less negative.
Doing the reverse: if we always behave negatively to others and never try to do any good, consequences will be severe.
How we experience the result of an actions does depend on our other actions in life. For example, if we experience the result of being hungry for a day, there is a huge difference whether we experience this as a malnourished person in a hopeless situation, or as a healthy fast for an obese person.

WHAT DECIDES WHEN A CAUSAL EFFECT WILL OCCUR?

From: The Four Noble Truths by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

Question: "Could Your Holiness please explain why the result of karma is sometimes instant and why on other occasions we have to wait lifetimes before the causal effect occurs?"

Answer: "One factor would be the intensity of the karmic action itself. Another factor is the extent to which the various other conditions that are necessary for that karma to ripen are complete, and this is dependent, in turn, on other karmic actions. Vasubandhu addressed this in the Abhidharmakosha, in which he states that, generally speaking, the karmic actions which are the most forceful tend to produce their effects first. If the intensity of a karmic action is euqal to that of another karmic action, then the result of the action with which the individual is most familiar tends to ripen first. However, if two karmic actions are equally forceful and equally familiar, then the one that is committed earlier tends to produce its results first."


WHAT IS "GOOD" AND "BAD" KARMA?

Interestingly enough, the Buddhist answer to this question forces you to think and decide for yourself.
Positive actions are defined as their result being a pleasant experience, negative actions are defined by their unpleasant results.

Obviously, the results mentioned here are unlikely to come immediately (so-called 'instant karma' is considered rare), instead the karmic result may take lifetimes to ripen. For example, if I steal an ice-cream and enjoy eating it afterwards, the enjoyment is not a karmic result of stealing the ice-cream; it may be the result of helping someone else. The karmic result of stealing an ice-cream is an unpleasant experience, like when something will be stolen from me. [my thoughts in relation to your point of "innocent paying for the misdeeds of others" -those "innocent" people are experiencing this result from other negative deeds committed by them]

In A Living Buddhism for the West, Lama Anagorika Govinda expresses another approach:

"All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.
The world is neither good or bad.
It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other."


More on the definition of karma/kamma
  

The theory of Karma
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 01:22:17 pm by Ogyen Chodzom »
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Offline WonderlandAlli

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2009, 01:54:28 pm »
I'm guilty of a double standard that so many people have when it comes to their loved ones. I understand karma, it makes sense, for the most part I hold it true. But when it comes to my little sister my mind wants to shove away the idea that she had bi-polar, that she had borderline personality disorder, that she was so prone to addiction, because of Karma. I still just don't like (not don't understand, just don't like) that her mind and addictions could push her to suicide because of Karma, that because of bad Karma she had to be unhappy in this life, because when she was clear, when she was sober, she had so much good in her. Yet I have had people that hear my story say things to the effect of she must have had some very bad Karma. It gives me a heaviness in my heart, and I wish I could do something for her if that was indeed the case.

And by understand I mean the following ideas about Karma (I realized later that saying I understand it sounds a little lofty, I don't mean that I am an expert or anything)

  • Nobody is exempt from karma.
  • Negative karma arises from negative things.
  • Negative things arise because of negative karma.
  • Good deeds work off karma to help you get "Even Steven" so to speak.
  • Accepting the negative things that came from your negative karma also helps you to work through the karma.
  • Generating good karma comes after being Even Steven and creates merit.
  • Merit can be generated in honor of others to help alleviate some of their bad karma.
  • Merit can be generated in honor of others while you still work through your negative karma because you dedicate the deeds for that person.

The merit part may be where I have less understanding so if anyone wants to add please please do.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 01:56:00 pm by WonderlandAlli »
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Offline humanitas

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2009, 02:06:33 pm »
The merit part may be where I have less understanding so if anyone wants to add please please do.

Merit=cultivation of positive potentials.  When they say "merit accumulation" they mean the "stacking effect" of all the positive potentials grown from practice within your experience (how you talk, walk, view life).

Positive potentials will be the spark that ignites "favorable conditions"1 and get the engine (karma) turning into motion (wheel of dharma) so to speak.  (1. ALL situational conditions which are by the nature of emptiness neutral and have no inherent positive or negative charge)

Does that make sense?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 02:08:30 pm by Ogyen Chodzom »
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David

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 02:30:06 pm »
I think people have a hard time really understanding kamma because of deeply ingrained ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc., and we do this because we still cling to the idea of a self to which these things happen.  Once one can set aside their preconceived, dualistic ideas about the world around them, kamma makes perfect sense, and is so logical.  If we stop thinking of things as good or bad, and think of them as wholesome or unwholesome, or even functional vs disfunctional it becomes easier to see kamma as just a form of energy, manifested in various ways determined by dependent origination.  I think that trying to understand kamma without understanding how it fits with the other teachings (Anicca, anatta, dukkha, sunyata, patticasamupadda) is next to impossible.

Offline humanitas

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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2009, 02:31:47 pm »
I think people have a hard time really understanding kamma because of deeply ingrained ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc., and we do this because we still cling to the idea of a self to which these things happen.  Once one can set aside their preconceived, dualistic ideas about the world around them, kamma makes perfect sense, and is so logical.  If we stop thinking of things as good or bad, and think of them as wholesome or unwholesome, or even functional vs disfunctional it becomes easier to see kamma as just a form of energy, manifested in various ways determined by dependent origination.  I think that trying to understand kamma without understanding how it fits with the other teachings (Anicca, anatta, dukkha, sunyata, patticasamupadda) is next to impossible.

I completely agree.
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Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2009, 04:26:13 pm »
    • Good deeds work off karma to help you get "Even Steven" so to speak.
    • Generating good karma comes after being Even Steven and creates merit.
    • Merit can be generated in honor of others to help alleviate some of their bad karma.
    • Merit can be generated in honor of others while you still work through your negative karma because you dedicate the deeds for that person.

    Not quite.  Good deeds, or kamma, doesn't get you even per se.  This isn't really an accounting system with credits and debits.  Generating good kamma will increase wholesome results and can prevent previously planted kammic seeds from being nourished and coming to fruition, but those seeds still exist, laying dormant until conditions are appropriate for their coming to fruition.  All kamma is individual, and while we "dedicate merit" to others, it is up to those others to take advantage of the opportunity to generate beneficial kamma of their own.  For example, a loved one sees our good kamma, and rejoices in it, therefore generating beneficial kamma for themselves.  But I can't really "deposit" my kamma into some one else's "account", contrary to popular understanding of this practice.  We "dedicate" merit as an exercise in dana, and to prevent what Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as "spiritual materialism", making our practice a type of business transaction, i.e. chanting sutras to accumulate merit so my current or next life will be more pleasant.

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    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #24 on: December 04, 2009, 07:34:21 pm »
    My mind goes so many places when I contemplate cause and effect, it's hard to know where to start (or stop)!  Personally, I have a hard time accepting the after-life concept, but I can go there for the sake of discussion.

    First, love and compassion to WonderlandAlli, who is obviously missing her sister this holiday.

    Now to the discussion.  Do difficult people come into our lives because they are completing the necessary conditions for our own karma to ripen?  Do they come into our lives to make us better persons in the next?

    We are all affected by the actions of others.  The people who live downstream in polluted water are fulfilling the karma of others' actions.  Maybe the child of one of these people invents a better water treatment process.  If he hadn't suffered, then others would not have been saved.

    If you're the one who pollutes the water, it may be your children who have to pay the price.  People tend to want to protect their own children, even at the expense of others.  Somewhere in there should be some moral deterrent (sp?) or lesson.  If you make your kids miserable, then when you are old you will be forgotten or mistreated by them.

    So, these are some of my own thoughts when I contemplate karma.

    Donna 

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    m0rl0ck

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    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #25 on: December 04, 2009, 07:41:08 pm »
    Whether you call it fairness or justice or whatever there is a moral sense to karma, otherwise good deeds wouldnt get good results etc.
    Without this suffering would be random and there would be no merit, rebirth in higher realms etc.
    And the suffering of a subsequent personality for the acts of a previous one is real. How is this just? and if it isnt, is it worth our beleif or even attention?

    Offline humanitas

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    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #26 on: December 04, 2009, 08:27:49 pm »
    There is a moral sense to doing good deeds for the benefit of oneself/others.  Karma itself holds no morality, as David put it, it does not apply to Kamma.  Simple cause-effect, what you grow/do in yourself and outside yourself is what you get.  Karma literally means action.  Action may hold morality or not.  The action itself isn't the moral structure you are speaking of.  

    In Buddhism suffering isn't random because of dependent origination, and merit, rebirth, realms all engage with the potentials of karma.  

    Without a better understanding of the twelve links of dependent origination, karma is often near impossible to really comprehend.

    In the twelve links of Dependent Origination the principle states that all phenomenon arise depending upon a number of casual factors. In other words, the phenomenon exists on the condition that the other/s exist; it has on condition that other/s have; it extinguishes on condition that other/s extinguish; it does not have on condition that other/s do not have. For existence arise, there are twelve links in the chain:

        1. Ignorance is the condition for karmic activity;
        2. Karmic activity is the condition for consciousness;
        3. Consciousness is the condition for the name and form;
        4. Name and form are the condition for the six sense organs;
        5. Six sense organs are the condition for contact;
        6. Contact is the condition for feeling;
        7. Feeling is the condition for emotional love/craving;
        8. Emotional love/craving is the condition for grasping;
        9. Grasping is the condition for existing;
        10. Existing is the condition for birth;
        11. Birth is the condition for old age and death;
        12. Old age and death are the condition for ignorance; then back to (1) and the cycle continues...

    Dependent Origination at Buddhanet.net
    Dependent Origination at Wikipedia
    More basics on Interdependent Origination

    Let me know if I'm still not making sense.  :namaste:
    « Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 09:14:48 pm by Ogyen Chodzom »
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    Offline humanitas

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    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #27 on: December 04, 2009, 08:42:05 pm »
    My mind goes so many places when I contemplate cause and effect, it's hard to know where to start (or stop)!  Personally, I have a hard time accepting the after-life concept, but I can go there for the sake of discussion.

    First, love and compassion to WonderlandAlli, who is obviously missing her sister this holiday.

    Now to the discussion.  Do difficult people come into our lives because they are completing the necessary conditions for our own karma to ripen?  Do they come into our lives to make us better persons in the next?

    We are all affected by the actions of others.  The people who live downstream in polluted water are fulfilling the karma of others' actions.  Maybe the child of one of these people invents a better water treatment process.  If he hadn't suffered, then others would not have been saved.

    If you're the one who pollutes the water, it may be your children who have to pay the price.  People tend to want to protect their own children, even at the expense of others.  Somewhere in there should be some moral deterrent (sp?) or lesson.  If you make your kids miserable, then when you are old you will be forgotten or mistreated by them.

    So, these are some of my own thoughts when I contemplate karma.

    Donna  

    (((((((((((((Alli)))))))))))))) many hugs to you.

    I can definitely understand the hesitation many feel at the "after life" concept.  I did too quite a bit, till I came to my own conclusion that we really pose a lot of notions on things we think we know, accepting this little bit was really an afterthought in the "bigger picture."  I don't think the "after life" is really after life.  If you were to look at a seed before it sprouts in the ground, there is a whole entire tree in its form in its potential.  If we look for the seed in the sprout we will find no seed, only a sprout.  Yet we know the sprout came from the seed.  When we see the tree we won't see its original seed OR sprout form, only its tree form.  If you don't envision the change that death brings on as a seed going to sprout going to tree but as these solid objects as life/awareness then death and ...no awareness then even the term after-life implies that life is over.  But if we go back to the seed.  The seed might feel its dying, we don't know.  The caterpillar changes into a butterfly, such a transformation and it's there in every cell is the story of its metamorphosis.  The Buddhist method simply gives us a context, (my opinion) to place this constant state of change and transformation.  If we don't look at it so solid, we'd see there's a lot of room for the concept to evaporate and the not-knowing space allows the truth to emerge.  

    I've been told and I've seen pictures of what cells look like.  But I've never looked in a high-powered microscope at a chromosome myself.  Have you?  Yet we know that chromosomes are essential components of reproduction.  How do we know this?  We've been told, we've seen evidence, we choose to believe.  This part of Buddhist practice is not that different.  We see how not-solid life is every day if we are still enough to perceive it.  I think when we look at the transition of death it's not that different from the caterpillar going from one form to the butterfly form.  How exactly that looks like from the standpoint of the alaya (the storehouse consciousness) I'm not sure as I don't recall and I'm not that advanced of a student.  But the whole what happens after death is really quite irrelevant overall except in academic terms or understanding a bigger picture.  When talking about suffering, the present moment is key.  The truth is that every moment is death and rebirth.  In every moment we choose how to work those potentials and we create the conditions for seeds to become sprouts.

    There is an Indian saying that says, "Nothing begun is ever lost."  Something to consider.  Just because we can't perceive or see it right now doesn't mean we never will or that it doesn't exist.  It simply doesn't exist to us because of our ignorance (see 1st link of dependent origination).

    Thanks for bearing with my mental flailing I sometimes call logic.
    « Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 09:18:55 pm by Ogyen Chodzom »
    This post was made with 100% recycled karma

    David

    • Guest
    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #28 on: December 04, 2009, 11:55:18 pm »
    My mind goes so many places when I contemplate cause and effect, it's hard to know where to start (or stop)!  Personally, I have a hard time accepting the after-life concept, but I can go there for the sake of discussion.

    Now to the discussion.  Do difficult people come into our lives because they are completing the necessary conditions for our own karma to ripen?  Do they come into our lives to make us better persons in the next?

    We are all affected by the actions of others.  The people who live downstream in polluted water are fulfilling the karma of others' actions.  Maybe the child of one of these people invents a better water treatment process.  If he hadn't suffered, then others would not have been saved.

    If you're the one who pollutes the water, it may be your children who have to pay the price.  People tend to want to protect their own children, even at the expense of others.  Somewhere in there should be some moral deterrent (sp?) or lesson.  If you make your kids miserable, then when you are old you will be forgotten or mistreated by them.

    So, these are some of my own thoughts when I contemplate karma.

    Donna 

    You're looking upon this life as a stand alone experience, when in fact, this life is but one manifestation of a stream of kamma that has been in action, regenerating itself and manifesting in the various planes as appropriate since beginningless time.  So in that sense, there is no life after life, because there is no death, only a dissolution of this manifestation of the skandhas upon which time the stream of kamma takes on a new form, based on what has come before.  These streams of kamma have various habits and charactistics that they tend to pass along, but no fixed structure or identity.  Because of these habits and tendencies, certain streams may form an affinity for one another, becoming kammically "linked" to one another, thereby bringing us together with others over and over again. But thinking there is a "lesson" to learn from all of of this comes from clinging to the idea of a fixed self. 

    Kamma refers to the volitional actions, both physical and mental that generate rebirth.  Not all cause and effect can or should be categorized as kamma.  The actions of others do indeed effect us, and our actions effect others, but this is more an expression of shunyata than kamma.  Because all things are devoid of an inherent existence, they are all interconnected, and the actions of one ripple out effecting all.

    Again, kamma cannot be understood as a stand alone concept.  It has to be considered in relation to the other teachings in order to make sense.

    David

    • Guest
    Re: Why do good people suffer if karma exists?
    « Reply #29 on: December 05, 2009, 12:10:34 am »
    Thats actually a pretty good answer. Tho i think justice and fairness are more than arbitrary concepts. Justice and fairness are recognized across all human cultures.  Saying that suffering is a human condition, that we suffer because we are born, isnt really addressing the question. From the perspective of the individual personality, suffering is real and immediate and it just isnt right that one personality should suffer for the acts of another.

    EDIT: Arent justice and fairness the basis of the karmic system? good deeds -> good results etc.

    While different cultures may have a sense of justice and fairness, the particulars of what constitutes just and fair behavior can vary widely and are applied arbitrarily.  Two people committing the same offense seldom receive the same punishment, because we tend to allow other factors to shape our judgement.  Let's face it, even in cultures where every one is equal, some are more equal than others.

    We suffer because we are born does indeed address the issue.  It is precisely because we take the view point that we are an individual that we are reborn into suffering.  While we may not be the same individual who performed the unwholesome kamma that is coming to an unpleasant fruition in this life, we are not separate from it either.  

    Is it justice and fairness that causes the apple seed to produce an apple tree, as opposed to a mango?  Is conservation of matter or energy governed by justice?  Does gravity worry about fairness?  Does sunlight shine only on the righteous, or foul weather seek out the wicked?

    Things do not happen to us, they happen from us.
    « Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 12:23:00 am by David »

     


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