Author Topic: 'Competing Karma!?!'  (Read 1582 times)

Offline Ben Yuan

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'Competing Karma!?!'
« on: May 12, 2011, 09:52:14 pm »
I find that Karma for the most part is understandable, but one part of the presentation given by many teachers often seems counter-intuitive.

This is not to pick out any particular teacher, since you can find it in most full presentations of the concept, just an example, from Master Hsing Yun's Unique Characteristics of Buddhism:

"Those who were generous in their previous lives will become rich, while those who have killed others will consequently have a short lifespan. The karma that “fills in the details” of our rebirths is called competing karma."

My confusion arises with wealth. Wealth is number of possessions. Many things with Karma make sense, such as coming into unwholesome effects when the conditions arise because it remains in our consciousness until the conditions arise. However, wealth is a physical effect, and to think that it is caused by something in the consciousness doesn't make that much sense. Also, long and short lives, seem to have causes such as health, and the way in which you take care of your body may be an effect of separate karma than that which is an effect of killing. It seems the effect of killing is that you would feel guilty, but I cannot see that one will remember this in their future life and have it consequently ripen as that effect - since Master says that one must recollect the cause in order for the effect to ripen.

So, I just have a theory about wealth at birth - not sure about lifespan. But if wealth at birth in terms of number of possessions is not related to consciousness, then perhaps wealth as used by this Master is the subjective judgement of wealth. If you have performed generosity then you will appreciate more because you understand the value of things more than a hoarder. So, the effect of having this attitude of generosity is an appreciation of the possessions you have, whether great or small.

As for killing, I suppose the feeling of guilt might still be present in the future life, and might create a tendency to a shorter life. But it is hard to see how the conditions would arise for it to be as black and white as it is made out to be, i.e. you kill = short life.

Thanks.

Edit: I guess similar is collective Karma manifest as things like earthquakes. How do the causes in a group's consciousnesses give rise to tectonic plate movements? Unless it means collective experience of suffering.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 10:00:25 pm by Ben Yuan »

Offline t

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 10:23:08 pm »
Quote
"Those who were generous in their previous lives will become rich...
There was no elaboration on what is 'rich'...can mean anything from inner/outer wealth... not necessary a loaded Swiss account or the latest Ferrari...or that Malibu bungalow

Offline heybai

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 10:37:38 pm »
Nor is generosity (merely) about materials.

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 10:56:44 pm »
Quote
"Those who were generous in their previous lives will become rich...
There was no elaboration on what is 'rich'...can mean anything from inner/outer wealth... not necessary a loaded Swiss account or the latest Ferrari...or that Malibu bungalow
What do you think about short lifespan?

Offline heybai

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 11:09:22 pm »
That it is short?

Short in comparison to longer lifespans...


Offline Wonky Badger

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2011, 12:52:24 am »
That it is short?

Short in comparison to longer lifespans...


Or maybe short in the sense that you, upon nearing death, feel that you have not lived long enough regardless of the actual timespan, in opposite to those that die content?
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
---
What would Buddha do?

Offline t

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 01:47:51 am »
In my worthles estimation, what Wonky said... but admittedly, most people would have seen it in the light of what SDP posted too...

Perhaps it could also be 'short lifespan' in the sense of (within the pre mortem, the here and now situation) where it can be seen in some people's lives which seemingly are a never ending series of duhkha, irregardless of age and actual lifespan:
i. acuteness or intensity of duhkha in one's life
ii. and this acuteness is somehow more manifested in some lives than others
iii. made worst in those who are not able to see a way of cessation of duhkha or at least some kind of hope to reverse it 
a. somehow even when presented, one is not responsive to it
b. circumstances manifest to hinder one from knowing and responding 
c. eventually leading to what Wonky/SDP have raised

What this 'short lifespan' may cover, I am thinking within the typical scope/range of the 8 Sufferings:
    (1) Suffering of Birth
    (2) Suffering of Old Age
    (3) Suffering of Sickness
    (4) Suffering of Death
    (5) Suffering of being apart from the loved ones
    (6) Suffering being together with the despised ones
    (7) Suffering of not getting what one wants
    (8) Suffering of the Five Skandhas

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2011, 02:28:59 pm »
I think that makes sense Wonky.

T - your comment seems to make sense too, but in terms of shortness being intensity of dukkha - it was my understanding that good karma is not the same as the effects of Dharma practice or meditation, the actions which would lead to freedom from dukkha. Since the best karma results in being born as a Brahma, who's death is still suffering. Yet liberation seems to be something different, and I think motionless karma is usually what is produced by meditation.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Offline Ben Yuan

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Re: 'Competing Karma!?!'
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 06:59:35 pm »
Experience arises from the mind and so do our delusions and sufferings. Karma really is the hardest concept to understand. But at the same time is so simple.

Mind precedes all mental states.
Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.
If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts,
suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

Mind precedes all mental states.
Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.
If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts,
happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.
Dhammapada verse 1 and 2


I think that the term used by venerable Master, "competing karma" gives some clue. We often have attitudes of relation to one another, better, worse, etc. If we were to do an act of murder, we will self consciously feel worse off. In terms of competition the karma will make us feel appreciative of our life and feel like it has been wasted.

With collective karma, it is actually a bit more apparent and can be material since collective groups can reach over multiple generations and have more direct inheritance than individuals. In this way you can have the qualitative karma effect the world in a quantitative way. Since Master uses the example of earthquakes, it brought to mind Japan. In Japan they have a collective attitude of care and careful actions result in protective barriers and foundations for structures. So when Japan has earthquakes they generally have low impact as an effect of the qualitative collective karma of care. This is subject to the prataya (conditions) of course of the environment, i.e. material wealth and technology.

It's really horrible that I rationalise it out so far, hahaha, since it's kind of intuitive.

 


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