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Thread: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

  1. #1

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    I APOLOGIZE FOR THE LENGTH OF THE FOLLOWING ... IT MAY TAKE SEVERAL LIFETIMES TO READ!

    Hi Ho,

    It's been a couple of weeks since our last "BIG Questions". But now fate has led us to the next which, though seemingly some of the trickiest, I find not so tricky at all ...

    What about KARMA?

    Mr. D asked ...

    The thing about Karma is this: I don't really see how the Buddhist belief in Karma is compatible with the possibility that the universe is random and unintended. Karma for me means that there are no 'coincidences' and nothing happens just 'by chance'. We find ourselves where we find ourselves and with certain people for a reason. Karmic relationships and patterns are at work, and maybe we even get exactly what we need... As such, if Karma is true then it would be a kind of proof against the idea that the universe is random and unintended. You can't believe in Karma AND consider the possibility that this is all random and unintended. This is to assume of course, that the Buddhist notion of Karma refers to more that mere materialistic determinism or mechanistic cause and effect: a cause yielding an inevitable effect which in turn acts as the cause of another inevitable effect and so on... But as far as I'm aware, this idea is usually supported by those who believe that there is only matter, and nothing else, and I would never have associated Buddhism with that sort of thing. And Karma always seemed to have more to it than that...

    ...

    Buddhism says that Ignorance and delusion bind us to the cycle of birth and death. As such, when one who hasn’t realised his/her true nature and remains in ignorance dies, they are subsequently reborn. But what happens to one who has realised their true nature in life, attained enlightenment , Satori...? What happens to a Buddha when their physical body disintegrates, if they are not reborn and they are egoless?
    In a nutshell, Karma means our volitional actions (which includes words and thoughts) are causes which have effects good and bad. Our lives are (in whole or part ... for there are other, non-Karmic causes too such as natural and environmental factors) the product of past Karmic causes, and our life contains the causes of future effects. Usually, this is coupled with a belief that our Karmic volitional actions in this life will help determine future rebirths.

    But the details of what that all entails, and exactly how the system works, can be rather fuzzy.

    The idea of Karma, and a belief in a rather mechanical system of rebirth (or reincarnation ... not quite the same thing, more about that in a moment) existed in Indian religion long before the time of the Buddha. What is more, it seems highly likely that Guatama Buddha himself believed in a rather mechanical system of rebirth resulting from Karma (Kamma in Pali). There is some small debate about this, because the Buddha's words were passed on as an oral tradition, and not written down for centuries after his death ... and because the Buddha often adapted his teachings to the ears of his listeners, and adapted many Hindu concepts (in order to attract Hindus to his ideas). However, it certainly seems hard to doubt that the Buddha himself taught a very mechanical, detailed system of rebirth ... and that Buddhists continued to believe as much ever since ... much as in the following system (explained by a teacher in a Vietnamese tradition)

    According to Buddhism if a human does not obtain nirvana or enlightenment, as it is known, the person cannot escape the cycle of death and rebirth and are inevitably be reborn into the 6 possible states beyond this our present life, these being in order from the highest to lowest;

    Heaven. In Buddhism there are 37 different levels of heaven where beings experience peace and long lasting happiness without suffering in the heavenly environment.

    Human life. In Buddhism we can be reborn into human life over and over, either wealthy or poor, beautiful or not so, and every state between and both as it it is served up to us. Anything can happen, as is found in human life and society all around us as we are familiar with in the day to day human world in is myriad of possibilities. What we get is a result of our Karma of what we have dragged with us from previous existences and how it manifests in our temporary present lives.

    Asura. A spiritual state of Demi-Gods but not the happy state experienced by the gods in the heavens above this state. The Demi-Gods are consumed with jealousy, because unlike humans, they can clearly see the superior situation of the gods in the heavens above them. They constantly compete and struggle with the gods due to their dissatisfaction with their desires from the others.

    Hungry Ghost. This spiritual realm of those who committed excessive amounts of evil deeds and who are obsessed with finding food and drink which they cannot experience and thus remain unsatisfied and tortured by the experience. They exhaust themselves in the constant fruitless searching.

    Animals. This realm is visible to humans and it is where spirits of humans are reborn if they have killed animals or have committed a lot of other evil acts. Animals do not have the freedom that humans would experience due to being a subject constantly hunted by humans, farmed and used in farming, also as beasts for entertainment.

    Hell. This realm is not visible to humans. It is a place where beings born there experience a constant state of searing pain and the various types of hell realms reads like a variety of horrific torture chambers. Those with a great deal of negative Karma can remain in such places for eons of time.

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/viewdeath.html


    In later Buddhist philosophy (not only popular belief), the details could become ... well, quite detailed (such as in these descriptions of Buddhist 'Hells'!

    * Arbuda – the "blister" Naraka. This is a dark, frozen plain surrounded by icy mountains and continually swept by blizzards. Inhabitants of this world arise fully grown and abide life-long naked and alone, while the cold raises blisters upon their bodies. The length of life in this Naraka is said to be the time it would take to empty a barrel of sesame seed if one only took out a single seed every hundred years.

    * Nirarbuda – the "burst blister" Naraka. This Naraka is even colder than the one above, and here the blisters burst open, leaving the beings' bodies covered with frozen blood and pus.

    * Sa?gh?ta – the "crushing" Naraka. This Naraka is also upon a ground of hot iron, but is surrounded by huge masses of rock that smash together and crush the beings to a bloody jelly. When the rocks move apart again, life is restored to the being and the process starts again. Life in this Naraka is 10,368*1010 years long.

    * Raurava – the "screaming" Naraka. Here beings run here and there looking for refuge from the burning ground. When they find an apparent shelter, they are locked inside it as it blazes around them, while they scream inside. Life in this Naraka is 82,944*1010 years long.


    The reason that this is said to be a system of "rebirth", and not "reincarnation", is based primarily on the very fine distinction that the Buddha denied an eternal "self" or "soul" that would pass on from life to life. Buddhist philosophers have struggled for generations, often bending over backwards, thus to explain how there can be a "you" which is reborn when there is no "you" ...

    Here are a couple of modern attempts, one from the London Buddhist Vihara ...

    The non-existence of a permanent soul or spirit that reincarnates from one life to another is fundamental to the Buddha’s teachings. A permanent soul cannot exist in the ever-changing, interdependent process of mind and matter which constitutes a living being. However, the momentum of accumulated kamma results in a new existence. The individual so born is neither the same nor different from the previous being. Buddhism, therefore, describes this process as ‘rebecoming’ or ‘rebirth’ in preference to reincarnation which implies a resurrection of the same entity. It is the force of one’s accumulated kamma which drives life onward from one existence to another. Only an enlightened being (arahant) creates no more kamma.
    http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/...a/qa_kamma.htm


    The modern Theravada scholar Walpola Rahulan, in his book What the Buddha Taught (1959), asked,

    "If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?

    "When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. ... Physical and mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full."


    Ideas of Karmic Rebirth have been just as present throughout the history of Ch'an/Zen Buddhism as well. It varied from teacher to teacher, but there is no reason to believe that Zen Buddhists of old believed less in Karmic Rebirth than other Buddhists. HOWEVER, the emphasis in Zen Buddhism on "living in this life, in the present moment" quickly began to make the question less important to Zen Practitioners. Be a good human being here and now, seek to do no harm now in this life ... and what happens after this life will take care of itself. As well, the pivot point of "birth and death" in right this moment, where birth and death are ever occurring ... and the place of realization and release from "birth and death" is right this moment too, right in this life now.

    Based thereon, many modern teachers (me included ... and may I burn in a hot Buddhist hell if wrong) do not find the question so important or central to Buddhist Practice.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.

    But what about those future lives, heavens and hells? Will I be reborn as an Asura or a cocker spaniel?

    My attitude, and that of many other Buddhist teachers, is that ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.


    Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

    And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

    In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.

    In closing, a couple of (more like 5) final notes ...

    Buddhists all through history, including Guatama himself, always spoke of our escape from the cycle of birth and death, heaven and hells ... and that largely involves emptiness, and tasting a realm beyond all such states. So, in that way, the Buddha himself implied and often directly said that "Karma" and "Rebirth" only exist so long as you see the world that way, and they each vanish when you pierce through them (for example, this from the Nibbana Sutta)

    There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support (mental object). This, just this, is the end of stress.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit...8.01.than.html


    Remember too that being "reborn" was never seen as a positive thing in Buddhism (despite how modern practitioners often want to "come back"), but was seen as something to be escaped!

    Second, even in the most mechanical of mechanical views of Karma, what is truly important is (not past causes) but our harmful and beneficial actions here and now, in this present life. We are not prisoners of Karma, but have great freedom in this moment to make our lives and the future. So, again, what is vital is the here and now.

    Third, on the question of why "bad things happen to good people" and such ... one Buddhist view has always been "because of their 'bad' past Karma". For example, this explanation of why so many folks died in the great Tsunami a few years ago ...

    To Ananda Guruge, former Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States who teaches at the Buddhist-affiliated University of the West in Rosemead, the Buddhist doctrine of karmic law, not random chance, determines who lives and dies in any disaster. The region suffered collective bad karma, he says, perhaps prompted by oppression, unjust war or other negative actions that invited the calamity.

    In Sri Lanka and Thailand, both majority Buddhist countries hit by the tsunami, people tend to believe that those who perished were paying the price of accumulated demerits in this life or past ones, Guruge said, while the survivors were reaping rewards.

    “Buddhist doctrine makes people responsible for their own fate,” said Guruge, whose own family in Sri Lanka largely survived. ...

    But he said such doctrines of cause and effect provide solace by empowering people to take corrective action. By doing good deeds, he said, people can improve their own futures and transfer their merits to deceased loved ones to help bring them a better rebirth.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jan...al/me-beliefs8


    However, another Buddhist view is that there is a perspective by which we can drop all thought of birth, death, Tsunami and victims, suffering and such. By that view, there are no "bad things" to happen to "good people" ... and no "people, for all is empty! This is a view that I often teach when asked about these questions.

    Fourth, even if the Buddha did have an incomplete, or even dead wrong, view on "birth and death" ... no harm to my Buddhist Practice. For me, Guatama Buddha was much like the Wright Brothers in a glider at Kitty Hawk, while now we can board a Boeing 777. I even say that maybe, just maybe, the Buddha was not infallible on every darn thing and, while he was 90% right in his proposals, he also had some klunkers and narrow ideas here and there (as fits a man who lived in a traditional, myth based society some 2500 years ago in ancient India). No matter, as that 90% he taught was so wondrous that I happily bow to him in gratitude.

    Fifth...

    What happens when we die? Some say that death is an illusion. How so? ... Why is it said that Satori destroys the fear of death?
    Yes, I see that death is an illusion anyway. So, the whole question is moot from that perspective. We'll talk about this more in our next edition of ...

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions !


    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-08-2014 at 03:53 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    By the way ... rather off topic, but I just heard a great "Agnostics Gospel Song" on the radio ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj2UkQ9kLIE[/video]]

  3. #3

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Oh wow. My favorite topic. Seriously. For those of us with a penchant for obsessing over insoluble questions, nothing beats this one! Thank you Jundo for giving us a good "roadmap" and great advice on not building heavens and hells in this world.

    I just wanted to make a couple of small observations...probably just venting my own internal struggles with the topic, heh. Anyway here goes. On the subject of randomness versus determinism, it seems to me that Buddhism is actually a bit ambiguous. It teaches that yes, there is an ultimate order to the universe, but we don't understand how it works. To understand this would require keeping track of the entire web of causes and conditions in multiple universes stretching back through infinite time. The law governing the order of things is karma, but the Buddha taught that the workings of karma are imponderable and anyone trying to figure them out risks going mad. So I think practically speaking, we can't really say Buddhism is either deterministic or non-deterministic.

    Secondly, since the traditional view holds that we accumulate karma over infinite lifespans, there's really no way to know why one person's karma happened to manifest in this life in the form of death-by-tsunami, while another person's manifested in the form of being a lucky survivor. Actually, according to this view all of us must have already experienced every form of suffering many times over. The lucky survivor this time may be the victim next time and vice versa. Or, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, one day we're the shepherd and another day we're the tyranny of evil men. And one day we're that bug someone's aiming a spraycan at. The only thing we have control of in this terrifying scheme of things is our present-time action, i.e. planting them wholesome karma seeds in our ever-fertile alayas, transferring merit, and so on.

    Really hoping to read others' thoughts on the subject...

    Gassho,
    Rob

  4. #4

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Thanks for that Jundo, as you know it's some thing that's got my head in a whizz from time to time after hearing some very mechanical and literal views of karma and re-incarnation talked about by a senior monk of the OBC. Interestingly when I asked others of the same order they obviously didn't see it his way but were very diplomatic about their answers.

    Part of the problme must be there there is no 'Buddhist View' as such just lots of ideas around a theme and as we know the idea-l and actual aren't necessarily the same. My experience certainly supports my creating my own 'heaven and hell' here on earth in this life now depending on my life and how I react circumstances and the choices I make/made.

    I find the talk made of peoples misfortune, be it in tsunami's, disabilities, or whatever to be pretty distasteful and not helpful to Buddhism and possibly not even Buddhist thinking (seems sadly lacking in compassion). Having said that it also shows that no matter what, the human being has a truley fantastic potential when you see how many people overcome tremdous difficulties they are born with, pity no all humans use there potential to a more positive end.

    The rest of your life starts now, and now and now...... so do good, good for others and cease from evil

    In gassho, Kev

  5. #5

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Hi Jundo,

    Hey, that's a beautiful summary, I wouldn't change a word. Thank you.

    Gassho
    Ken

  6. #6

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Quote Originally Posted by robert
    I just wanted to make a couple of small observations.... On the subject of randomness versus determinism, it seems to me that Buddhism is actually a bit ambiguous.
    Nishijima Roshi, in the book I translated with him a few years back, had a pretty good section on this: How we can be bound by causes, yet have great freedom. I think it is as good a solution as one will ever get to the old "free will vs. determinism" dilemma, for any armchair philosophers out there.

    If you are interested in the subject, here is what he wrote, which (in my free will, due to endless causes and conditions ) I have decided to slightly abridge:



    21. CONTRADICTIONS IN HUMAN FREEDOM


    Sekishin: [If] I recall from our recent discussions, I think it was said by you that human beings are bound hard and fast, top to bottom, by the ‘Law of Cause & Effect’ …..

    Gudo: Yes, that is right. The perspective of the ‘Law of Cause & Effect’ is that our every action, without exception, has its origin in a priori causes stemming from our actions, as well as environmental and other factors which occurred in the past.

    Sekishin: But if that is the case, I believe that there are some strange implications. For example, if we posit that we are so firmly bound by ‘Cause & Effect,’ by a priori causes, then we human beings truly lack freedom of action, freedom of choice and free will. And if that is so, [free choice] loses all real meaning … What was the means [in Buddhism] to resolve the contradiction?

    Gudo: That means of resolution was found in a concept of the ‘instantaneousness of the universe.’

    Sekishin: The ‘instantaneousness of the universe?’ ….. What is that?’

    Gudo: If I were to describe in a very few words the meaning of the ‘instantaneousness of the universe,’ I would say this: ‘Each and all of that which exists in this world in which we reside arises and take places moment by moment, all while vanishing and passing away moment by moment.’

    Sekishin: That seems like a rather strange idea …..

    Gudo: Well, if we look at it from our ordinary, common sense viewpoints ….. it could be seen as strange. However, if we look at it from a Buddhist perspective, we see that the idea is straight on the mark as a statement of Reality, and constitutes one of the pillars of Buddhist thought.

    Sekishin: Might I trouble you to explain it in a way that may be easier to understand?

    Gudo: [The] one and only time in which we can live is in this present. Yet, this ‘present’ in time is continuously, moment by moment, but the future becoming the present as the present turns into the past ….. Thereby, this time which is the ‘present’ can never be but the continuous ‘moment to moment.’

    If we think from a common sense view, we human beings feel, in some vague manner, that we are existing somewhere in an expanse of time, at a point on a ‘time line,’ stretching from the past into the present connecting to the future. However, in our daily lives as human beings, if we try to think realistically about the situation, we are not living in some expanse of time stretching from the past into the present and connecting to the future. Instead, we must perceive that we are ever, always living just in this present, and nowhere else. We are living in the moment which is this very present that arises and passes away, in each smallest instant. And because this very time in which we are living is this moment, this very instant which is the present that arises and passes away moment by moment, when we hold up this world in which we live against such a vision of time, we must see that this world too, and all this world contains, arises and passes away, comes and vanishes moment by moment, instant by instant.

    Sekishin: I see….. This is something that we usually do not realize in our daily life, but when you state it in such manner, I see how we could think in that way.

    Gudo: Certainly, it is not something that we become aware of easily in our day-to-day lives, but this instantaneous world that I have described is the world in which we are actually living. And this idea of the nature of the world constitutes the Buddhist concept of the ‘instantaneousness of the universe,’ in Japanese ….. setsuna-shoumetsu. The word ‘setsuna’ derives from the Sanskrit term ‘kshana,’ an extremely small measure of time which we might refer to, in modern language, as ‘an instant,’ ‘a moment.’

    Sekishin: But how does this concept of the ‘instantaneousness of the universe’ serve to settle the contradictions regarding human freedom ... and the idea of the ‘Law of Cause & Effect?’

    Gudo: With regard to that matter, Master Dogen, in the Hotsu-Bodaishin chapter of the Shobogenzo for example, stated such ideas as, ‘If all things did not arise and vanish instantaneously, bad done in the previous instant would not depart. If bad done in the previous instant had not yet departed, good of the next instant could not be realized in the present.’ Namely, in this very world in which we live, precisely because it is arising and passing away, coming and going moment by moment ….. the good of the present moment can occur despite the bad which occurred in the moment before. The reason that it is possible for the good of the present moment to occur despite the bad which occurred in the moment before is just because this world is arising and passing away, coming and vanishing moment by moment, instant by instant. In other words, the events and circumstances of the moment before fade, thereby clearing space for the events of the current moment to happen …. If circumstances did not change moment by moment, the world would be frozen and static. Thus, the freedom of action which we possess in the present moment can be sought in the fact that the time which is the present is an instantaneous existence.

    Let us imagine that we are standing atop a place as thin and narrow as the blade edge of the sharpest razor ….. Just as we would then have the freedom to fall to the left or to fall to the right, the time of the present which is the stage for all our actions, the one and only foundation for our lives, is also a momentary existence of the thinnest and narrowest width, whereby ….. although we are bound within the world of reality, the world of actions ….. yet, we are free, and although we are free ….. yet are we bound.

    Sekishin-san, have you ever heard, as one term representative of Buddhist thought, the phrase ‘shogyoumujou,’ meaning the impermanence, the transitory nature of all worldly phenomena? It means that all our various actions are instantaneous existences, not possessing any lasting nature. Such thinking is the same as the idea of the ‘instantaneousness of the universe,’ but viewed from its other side …… meaning that our actions in the present, precisely because they are impermanent and transitory ….. are free yet fully bound by the past, and while fully bound by the past ….. yet are we free.

  7. #7

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Thanks Jundo!

    Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.
    Pretty much what I wanted to say so I'll just quote it for emphasis.

    Something you mentioned that I would like to take a single step further:
    What is more, it seems highly likely that Guatama Buddha himself believed in a rather mechanical system of rebirth resulting from Karma (Kamma in Pali). There is some small debate about this, because the Buddha's words were passed on as an oral tradition, and not written down for centuries after his death ... and because the Buddha often adapted his teachings to the ears of his listeners, and adapted many Hindu concepts (in order to attract Hindus to his ideas).
    That is an interesting point. Even if we could prove that what survives as the written version of the Buddha's teachings is exactly what was spoken by him, there is no way to know what his intent was. Was it literal? Was it metaphorical? Was it sometimes one way and sometimes the other? How do you tell the difference?

    A little too much speculation for my taste.

    The really interesting thing is that the Way works in both the literal and metaphorical cases. What we believe really has no bearing. If we cultivate wisdom, live ethically, and develop concentration right here and right now it has effects in this life and accumulates merit for a "better" rebirth. To an extent it's a win/ win situation.

    but...

    As you also mentioned "rebirth" is not what we are looking for. We engage in practice to break free of the cycle of death and rebirth. It seems to be kinda like picking a lock. Who made the lock, where it was made, and the process by which it was made is irrelevant; what becomes important is figuring out how the tumblers operate so we can jiggle our hairpin properly to open it.

    Then we realize that there never was a lock and have a good laugh over our own stupidity.
    :lol:

    Some nonsense from a fool,
    R

  8. #8

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Jundo thank you so much for this.

    i can think of any thing to add or take away from what you said.

    Gassho, D.

  9. #9

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Nishijima Roshi, in the book I translated with him a few years back, had a pretty good section on this: How we can be bound by causes, yet have great freedom. I think it is as good a solution as one will ever get to the old "free will vs. determinism" dilemma, for any armchair philosophers out there.

    If you are interested in the subject, here is what he wrote, which (in my free will, due to endless causes and conditions ) I have decided to slightly abridge:
    [/quote]

    Thank you, Jundo. Enjoyed reading this. Even without an armchair.

    Happy holidays!

    Rob

  10. #10

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    Thanks Jundo and others. Really fascinating read. Had me glued to the monitor.

    The topic of free-will Vs determinism was one that greatly interested me a few years ago. It's an incredibley subtle topic. However, the main obstacle to understanding that I see now in Western philosophy is the assumption in the debate of a separate, objectively existing 'I'. This is, of course, an assumption that Buddhism birngs into question. But to be honest, it doesn't really interest me to explore Buddhist philosophy to try and find a solution. One might come up with a pretty good theory and feel pretty happy with it but it would still be full of assumptions and speculation.

    The word 'if' bothers me. I feel concerned with what we can really know. Perhaps the nature of freedom is something that can be at least a little iluminated through a direct perception of reality...

    That's all I feel able to say right now. Don't want to go cross-eyed! I'll let what I've read sink in and the most relevant points to me will surely manifest themselves of their own accord in due time. No need to force it.

    Thanks again.

    Gassho,
    David

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI

    A few thoughts:

    A book I have said that this moment is as perfect as can be. That little profundity has gotten me through lots of times, good and bad.

    Research shows that about 50% of our behavior, all behavior, can be attributed to our genes. A lot of the remaining 50% is determined by our environment (physical, social, historical, etc.). So we behave based on what our genes tell us and what the environment made us and is still making us. Let's just say this adds up to 99%, which leaves 1% free will. But what a BIG 1%, right!!! A lot can be done with a 1% solution.

    I like to think that my life right now, this moment, as a point. Everything in my life brought me to this perfect point, and whatever free will I choose to act on in this perfect point in time will lead to everything in my (and others) life in the future. Picture two V's on top of each other with the bottom one inverted. That intersecting point between the two V's is me (you) now at this point in time. The bottom inverted V is all life's stuff that brought you to this point, and that top V is all the stuff that is going to happen as a result of what happens in that point.

    Let me try again. Karma = genes + environment + free will. All that got me to this point is karma past, what I do now is karma present, and the effects of what I do now are karma future.

  12. #12

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Wow what a topic! thanks for that!!

  13. #13

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Hello friends,

    Don't know how I missed this topic (Thanks to unofficial samurai for replying to it!)

    I, in my overly simple view of things, have always thought that Karma is just intentional action, Vipaka is just the result. If one 'does' good Karma, then one is creating (in both self and others) the conditions for future good actions. If one 'does' bad Karma, one is creating the conditions for future bad actions.

    Like the recent talk about anger in the Jukai forum: if one gives in to anger, identifies with anger, s/he subtly create the conditions for anger to arise in him/her. If, though, s/he recognizes anger for what it is, understands it, and moves on, conditions are created that give rise to greater understanding.

    And I think it's important to remember that the Buddha spoke of the practice as "Karma leading to the end of Karma:" gradually, as we learn to react more and more skillfully, we gradually see through the illusion of a separate self, and eventually, finally, the whole system collapses (or so I understand it).

    Hopefully someone will be able to show where I've got it right, and where I've got it wrong.

    Metta and Gassho,


    Perry

  14. #14
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    After reading this I thread, I wonder why I am so comfortable with all of these ideas... shouldn't I be picking a side? No, lol, but I usually do. I keep visualizing those hells, especially the one where one is crushed for thousands of years.

  15. #15

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    There is a notion. That we (whatever "we" are) are like children. Spun off of something greater. Call it God, the Source, the Tao, whatever. We return lifetime after lifetime to grow more fully into what we are. That is, what we are capable of being. We do this by working through karma. If I kill a man in this life, perhaps I return in another to be killed so that I experience the consequence. Not as retribution, but as a tool to learn and to grow. Eventually we will have learned all that this place can teach us and we move on.

    In this way, a world of suffering isn't a prison to be escaped. It is a school in which to learn. Seen thusly, being aware of one's student status isn't so important, except in certain cases. Knowing in one's bones that this is so could make one live more fully (even rightly), but again it's not really necessary. Where the knowledge could come in handy is if one is stuck. Or if one is denying all the fruits of life and all the myriad possibilities for growth through interpersonal experiences and cloistering themselves away, locking themselves inside their own head as they search for the meaning of life. It could also be useful if one is constantly making the same mistakes lifetime after lifetime.

    In this way, no experience is a bad experience, as every experience holds the possibility for growth.

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    I've finally made my way through this two year old thread; Thank you Jundo for laying it out:

    Jundo wrote:
    "Remember that being "reborn" was never seen as a positive thing in Buddhism (despite how modern practitioners often want to "come back"), but was seen as something to be escaped!

    I see that death is an illusion anyway. So, the whole question is moot from that perspective."

    AND, RevR(the man from Baltimore) wrote:
    "What we believe really has no bearing. If we cultivate wisdom, live ethically, and develop concentration right here and right now it has effects in this life and accumulates merit for a "better" rebirth. To an extent it's a win/ win situation."

    With that in mind, I looked back and found a few years back that I myself came to the following conclusions:
    "Nothing has power; except what you give it. Change is constant; by the time our neural activity provides us with comprehensible knowledge, the moment has passed.
    Theoretically, we cannot live in the present. Consequently, we must strive to be in the RIGHT NOW as much as possible. The only way to achieve this is to relax and let it happen. Be aware of what you see; realizing that you give it meaning. Once you are willing to let go of that meaning, you will usually see its' real purpose."

    And now I'm recalling the Basic Scientific Theory; " Energy is neither created nor destroyed"
    The thing that keeps "going around" ( birth-death-rebirth cycle) is the energy; of which we are each a small packet. Conscious memory is not a part of this. Whereas, Karma is.

    Finally, Doogie wrote;
    "a world of suffering isn't a prison to be escaped. It is a school in which to learn. Seen thusly, being aware of one's student status isn't so important
    In this way, no experience is a bad experience, as every experience holds the possibility for growth."

    And Fugen might add, "It's all good."

    Moment by Moment:
    Remember; the answer to the question, "What's new ?" is always; "Everything !!".

    Ah, emptiness

  17. #17

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Thank you, Jundo. I have always taken an "agnostic" stance with regard to the notion of rebirth, and an attitude of "it's of no concern" with respect to questions of the afterlife. For me, rebirth has always been the metaphoric notion of moment-to-moment birth/death/rebirth, whether on the cellular or spiritual level. Karma is similarly pragmatic, nothing more than negative or positive actions with a similar resulting effect. To use a trite example, hang out with drug addicts, and you'll likely become one.

    Whenever I find myself navel gazing, pondering unanswerable questions, I think of the Buddha's often silent responses to such questions. Often I'm reminded also of Seung Sahn Sunim's famous directive, "Only go straight--don't know..."

    I'm so grateful to have found a teacher who emphasizes the practice of the just-as-it-is, rather than theological games (which are admittedly hard not to entertain).

    Endless thanks, Jundo. Back to the cushion...
    --
    Matt

  18. #18

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    I, in my overly simple view of things, have always thought that Karma is just intentional action, Vipaka is just the result. If one 'does' good Karma, then one is creating (in both self and others) the conditions for future good actions. If one 'does' bad Karma, one is creating the conditions for future bad actions.

    Like the recent talk about anger in the Jukai forum: if one gives in to anger, identifies with anger, s/he subtly create the conditions for anger to arise in him/her. If, though, s/he recognizes anger for what it is, understands it, and moves on, conditions are created that give rise to greater understanding.
    Yes, this has always been my view too. I've never tried to deny Karma, because it has always seemed obvious to me it exists. But I don't believe Karma has to be very mystical or magical. If one does good, maybe one plants a seed in someone else's mind, which doesn't give any immediate effect, but grows over time, is spread to others and bears fruit when you least expect it. And if you do bad, you may think you got away with it a few times, but it always seems to come back at you in the end. You reap what you saw - or Karma is a bitch. You still have a free choice, but you set yourself up for good or bad choices, actions, causes and effects.

    Sometimes I've felt that Karma is the result of how much in harmony I am with myself and my nature. There are times when you have to make a decision and feel in your heart that one choice is right and the other is wrong. But for various reasons you still knowingly make the wrong choice. You can do this several times, because you have a free will, but sooner or later I feel myself dragged or tugged back onto the "right track" again, by the increasingly bad effects and disharmonious feeling from my past bad decisions and the wonderful feeling of being on a lucky streak, on top of the world and in harmony with yourself again, after you have started listening to your heart and making the right decisions.

    Good is often hard to tell from evil and wrong is often mistaken for right, so sometimes this "Karmatic feedback" is the only way for me to learn to make better decisions in the future.

  19. #19

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    But Buddha says that karma cannot extend beyond one birth. It takes effect in the same birth itself. His "karma" is nothing but the principle of cause and effect. An example: A theft results in the arrest of the thief. The thief cannot escape his arrest and punishment. The arrest cannot wait until his next birth. In this way, effect follows the cause surely without fail in this birth itself, just as a cartwheel follows the steps of the horse.
    Hi Chugai,

    Oh, you know that I do not emphasize these teachings so much, or consider them of central import to my Practice (as the posting at the start of this thread lays out) ...

    ... But I am not so sure about this assertion of what the Buddha likely taught. It is usually said that some Karma comes home to roost in this life, some in the next, some in lives after that ...

    Anyway, I have to go pick up my son at school now ... or there WILL BE CONSEQUENCES IN MY HOME! :?

    Gassho, Jundo

  20. #20

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Having a love of mathematics, I wanted to comment on Mr. D’s comment. “The thing about Karma is this: I don't really see how the Buddhist belief in Karma is compatible with the possibility that the universe is random and unintended.”
    This confusions stems from a misunderstanding of randomness, all random systems are not created equal. Most people view randomness through the lens mathematicians call “engineered randomness.” This is the randomness you get when you throw dice, flip coins or use random number generating programs. Engineered randomness is great for modelling the casino games in my home town of Vegas but falls short when modelling complex systems formed by the independent choices of “Agents.”
    The most famous of these systems would be the Stock Market. Viewed from a distance, such as a stock chart, the market’s behaviour appears random but the system is not formed by chance, instead it is formed by the collective choices of all the investors that constitute the market. They don’t make choices by flipping coins, their decisions have clear intentions. The result is that when some traders have tried to make money by modelling market behaviour on engineered randomness they got whacked by what mathematicians call “the long tail of the dragon.”
    For me this means that Karma is far from being at odds with the complex nature of the universe. Instead, it is the literal engine of its change and growth.

  21. #21

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    action - reaction

    nice (bit long) post, thank You

    i go to work with a smile, i like what i do, every day,
    and people arround me become happy to just seeing an other being happy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdQnuqFlD7U&feature=related[/video]] ... re=related

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jiki
    action - reaction

    nice (bit long) post, thank You

    i go to work with a smile, i like what i do, every day,
    and people arround me become happy to just seeing an other being happy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdQnuqFlD7U&feature=related[/video]] ... re=related
    :-D

    Ron

  23. #23

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    I've just about read all the posts in this interesting thread, and one of the reasons I'm looking at Zen is because of the extremely mechanical view of karma Tibetan Buddhism seems to have. If, for example, someone steals my wallet, that was explained to me that it was because I had stolen someone else's wallet in this or a previous life. It made no sense to me when I look at other examples of the tough stuff that happens to people; karma isn't some magical form of justice, in my opinion.

    But karma does make sense to me in that I'm creating a constant stream of karma (positive, negative, or neutral) through my thoughts and actions (thoughts being 'mental actions') and I have the ability to create joy or suffering by them. And there is phenomena other than karma which can cause suffering (like tsunamis):

    I've read this is an important, though not well known Sutta (for your interest):

    Moliyasivaka Sutta
    http://www.vipassana.com/canon/samyutta/sn36-21.php

    "Now when these ascetics and brahmins have such a doctrine and view that 'whatever a person experiences, be it pleasure, pain or neither-pain-nor-pleasure, all that is caused by previous action,' then they go beyond what they know by themselves and what is accepted as true by the world. Therefore, I say that this is wrong on the part of these ascetics and brahmins."

  24. #24

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tosh
    And there is phenomena other than karma which can cause suffering (like tsunamis):

    I've read this is an important, though not well known Sutta (for your interest):

    Moliyasivaka Sutta
    http://www.vipassana.com/canon/samyutta/sn36-21.php

    "Now when these ascetics and brahmins have such a doctrine and view that 'whatever a person experiences, be it pleasure, pain or neither-pain-nor-pleasure, all that is caused by previous action,' then they go beyond what they know by themselves and what is accepted as true by the world. Therefore, I say that this is wrong on the part of these ascetics and brahmins."
    Hi Tosh,

    Yes, even in those flavors of Buddhism which hold to a very mechanical view of Karma, there are other factors at work and not all events can be attributed in a 1-to-1 correspondence with past volitional actions. I read the Moliyasivaka Sutta to be perhaps discussing that. For examples, environmental, natural biological and like causes are not Karma(Kamma in Pali). As a Sri Lankan Teacher explains ...

    Buddhists believe that man will reap what he has sown; we are the result of what we were, and we will be the result of what we are. In other words, man is not one who will absolutely remain to be what he was, and he will not continue to remain as what he is. This simply means that kamma is not complete determinism. The Buddha pointed out that if everything is determined, then there would be no free will and no moral or spiritual life. We would merely be the slaves of our past. On the other hand, if everything is undetermined, then there can be no cultivation of moral and spiritual growth. Therefore, the Buddha accepted neither strict determinism nor strict undeterminism.

    ...

    Other Factors Which Support Kamma

    Although Buddhism says that man can eventually control his karmic force, it does not state that everything is due to kamma. Buddhism does not ignore the role played by other forces of nature. According to Buddhism there are five orders or processes of natural laws(niyama) which operate in the physical and mental worlds:

    seasonal laws(utu niyama) physical inorganic order e. g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains, etc. the biological laws (bija niyama) relating to seasonal changes etc., the kammic law (kamma niyama) relating to moral causation or the order of act and result, natural phenomena (Dhamma niyama) relating to electrical forces, movement of tides etc., and psychological laws (citta niyama) which govern the processes of consciousness. Thus kamma is considered only as one of the five natural laws that account for the diversity in this world.
    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspa ... ists05.htm
    I personally do not totally reject the possibility of Karma, by the way, and believe it one very possible explanation of why we each popped up alive on this planet, but some rich and some poor, some healthy and some sick etc. It could be, and certainly something is very strange about how each of us seemed to just pop up into the lives we have despite all the seemingly greater chance, in this wild universe, of our never having been born at all. Therefore, since it seems that so much good fortune went into my having been born alive at all ... then why as a human and not a dog? And if going so far, I might ask why in my reasonably comfortable situation, and not some harder life?

    However, the question is just not so important to me. As I wrote in the opening post:


    Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.

    But what about those future lives, heavens and hells? Will I be reborn as an Asura or a cocker spaniel?

    My attitude, and that of many other Buddhist teachers, is that ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.


    Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

    And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

    In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
    Gassho, J

  25. #25

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Rev. Jundo,

    I hope I'm not being too forward when I ask this but if there is no rebirth no re-becoming, then why not just wait for death or even hasten its arrival? For me the renunciation and restraint of practice doesn't always seem to justify the pain if this were all there was.

  26. #26

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Rev. Jundo,

    I hope I'm not being too forward when I ask this but if there is no rebirth no re-becoming, then why not just wait for death or even hasten its arrival? For me the renunciation and restraint of practice doesn't always seem to justify the pain if this were all there was.
    What pain? Or, better said, what suffering (Dukkha)? (because suffering and pain are not the same in a Buddhist sense. Read more on the difference here).

    viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2942

    In Prajna, there is no suffering in this wondrous life, right here ... even though there may be physical or mental pain sometimes, sunny days and rainy days. One can be free in this life without need to run to or wait for any other (a Mahayana and Zenny perspective, perhaps a bit of another flavor from the Theravada you are most familiar with). When the gap vanishes between the little self and all the world ... no way to run from this world, nor any other place more Peaceful to go.

    Gassho, Jundo

  27. #27

    Re: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)

    Thanks you Rev. Jundo.

    Deep bows.

    Gassho,

    Mike

  28. #28
    Member Thane's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo

    Many thanks for posting this as part of our study of case 8 in the Book of Equanimity. This is a very useful teaching and i found Stephanie's description of the fox koan very helpful.

    I have thought about the issue of karma and like you i tend to see the six realms as existing very much in our own minds. By this i mean our own actions send us to hell, animal or asura realms by our wrong or right thinking depending on the realm. I remain open to the fact that rebirth actually happens, that some of our karma moves on to others lives in the future but i don't have a fixed view on how that happens. I do find it interesting to note that many of the great Buddhist teachers seemed to have believed in karma and rebirth and to my eye they were right on everything else so why not this subject? This makes me keep an open mind.

    Thanks again for your teachings.

    Gassho

    Thane

  29. #29
    Wonderful teaching Jundo ... I have a thangka of the Six Realms of Samsara hanging by my door, it is a great reminder.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  30. #30
    An interesting essay from Western born Theravada priest Shravasti Dhammika points out that, even in the old Suttas, the historical Buddha said very little on the mechanics of rebirth ... and much was added later.

    I personally feel that Buddha was a man of his times, and believed much that the surrounding society believed.

    --------------------


    The Buddha On Rebirth



    The first Buddhists regarded life (jiva) as a process of consciousness moving through a succession of bodies, death being only a momentary event to this process. This phenomena is sometimes called `moving from womb to womb' (Sn.278) or more precisely, rebirth (punabbhava, D.II,15). Later Buddhist thinkers explained rebirth in complex and minute detail - death-proximate kamma (marana samma kamma), last thought moment (cuti citta), relinking (patisandhi), the underlying stream of existence (bhavanga sota), etc. Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in the Sutta Pitaka, much of it is not even to be found in the Abhidhamma Pitaka. It is the product of speculation dating from the early centuries CE onward. This is not to say that such concepts are valueless, but it is important to distinguish between early, late and very late Dhamma concepts.

    The Buddha mentions rebirth often enough but what does he say about the actual process of rebirth? The answer is `Not very much'. The Buddha considered death to have taken place when bodily, verbal and mental activities stop, when vitality (ayu) and heat (usma) cease, and when consciousness disengages from the body so that it becomes suspended (acetana, M.I,296). The consciousness `moves upwards' (uddhagami) and then `descends' (avakkanti) into the womb, i.e. the mothers newly fertilized egg (D.III,103; S.V,370), finding `a resting place' (patiññthà) there (D.II,63). I assume that these `up' `down' description are only metaphorical.

    Some Buddhist schools teach that after death, consciousness hovers in an in-between state (antarabhava) for a certain period before being reborn. Others, such as the Theravadins, assert that rebirth takes place within moments of consciousness disengaging from the body. The Buddha suggests that there is an interval between death and rebirth. He spoke of the situation `when one has laid down the body (i.e. died) but has not yet been reborn' (S.IV,400). On several other occasions he said that for one who has attained Nirvana there is `no here, no there, no in-between'(S.IV,73), presumably referring to this life, the next life, and the in-between state. He even said that in certain circumstances someone might attain Nirvana while in this in-between state. He called the individual who achieved this `a Nirvanaized in-between type' (antaraparinibbayi, S.V,69).

    When the consciousness is in transition between one life and the next it is referred to as gandhabba, and the Buddha said that this gandhabba has to be present for conception to take place (M.I,265). For most people the whole process between death and actually being born again is unconscious (asampajana), although a few spiritually evolved individuals can remain fully aware during the transition (D.III,103). The question of exactly which point the consciousness finds `a resting place' in the fertilized egg or fetus so that it can be considered a new being, is nowhere addressed in the Tipitaka. Whether or not it is mentioned in any later Buddhist literature I do not know. Can anyone help? This question is important because it has a bearing on the abortion debate. Certainly, the earliest Buddhists considered abortion to be wrong (D.I,11; Ja.V,269).

    http://sdhammika.blogspot.jp/2013/03...n-rebirth.html
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Junior Member i_am's Avatar
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    Some thoughts off topic, but related to the above.

    Thoughts on Time:
    Living in the moment, from moment to moment... Time is just a progression of moments.
    In maths, using integral calculus, a curve can be split into infinitesimally small slithers in order to see how something changes over time... from slither to slither.
    An hour is split into minutes. minutes are split into seconds, seconds are further subdivided until we reach the Planck time unit and beyond that is... an instant. Which according to the Wikipedia article on time is 'no time at all'.
    Therefore, what I read above in "21. contradictions in human freedom" quoted by Jundo makes sense. I have had an experience of being in a moment, moving from moment to moment. It may well have been maya but it seemed pretty real when it happened!

    On Energy and Matter:
    On a very simplistic level, I believe that matter is energy, energy can not be created nor destroyed (As Shokai says above), and when matter ceases to be what it is, it is transformed into another matter and/or energy. For example, if I burn a rag it turns into soot and heat. For me, on this simplistic level, matter is energy, energy is matter and matter and energy can exist at the same time. Perhaps matter is just a very large concentration of energy. That is why it is dense and heavy?

    So, coming onto birth and rebirth:
    If a human is a concentration of matter and energy, when it ceases to be 'alive' it rots or it is burned. It transforms into a different type of matter and/or a different kind of energy (for energy and matter are not separate). The 'energy' which makes up all things in the cosmos 'dies' with the passing of the human and is 'reborn' as the heat from the crematorium chimney... and where does that heat go? Who knows, perhaps it makes a molecule of air jiggle a bit and that turns into a wind to blow across the face of the Earth until it passes that 'energy' onto something else.

    Nihilistic thoughts:
    And if we are all made from matter and energy and matter and energy are one; and the flowers and the trees and the houses and the planets and the sun are all too; and if I can burn a rag and it turns to soot and heat; perhaps we are all dust waiting to happen?
    I formed this nihilistic view a few years ago when I was trying to figure out who 'I' was and why 'I' was here. Then I postulated that I was a thing yet a no-thing, I was only a human because I had called myself one and we (as a human race) had decided that's what we were, I was in fact no different from the pretty flower or the dried up dog turd in the flowerbed, we were all made of the same stuff, and we would all end up as dust at some point. Every 'thing' in the cosmos is the cosmos and not separate from it and when 'I' die my 'stuff' (which is made of energy) will be reborn as something else...

    Applying this to life:
    So, taking what Khalil Bodhi said (above), "I hope I'm not being too forward when I ask this but if there is no rebirth no re-becoming, then why not just wait for death or even hasten its arrival". For me, once we realise that we are just dust waiting to happen, living in an instant from moment to moment and 'THATS IT', we can stop postulating, and get on with living our lives and being happy.

    As for Karma, I think its all been said above.

    Gassho
    Richard

  32. #32
    Member Nandi's Avatar
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    I Think I'll just keep on row row rowing my boat the best I can.


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