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Thread: Is there karma?

  1. #1

    Is there karma?

    Hello Jundo and everyone,

    One of my relatives recently asked me if there was karma? He was convinced there was karma. I felt if I answered no, it would be wrong, and if I answered yes, it would also be wrong. In the emptiness of things and in shikantaza, there is no karma. But at the same time, whatever you sow, you reap, so cause and effect are as clear as day and night. He did not accept this answer. I have been pondering about this question, and I could not get a satisfactory way of answering this question. This seems to be a popular question at the moment on social media. I wonder how your guys answer this question?

    Gassho

    Van
    Sat

  2. #2
    You might want to listen to this episode of The Zen of Everything podcast, which is about karma:

    https://www.zen-of-everything.com/35

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  3. #3
    Hi Van

    I like your answer!

    All I would say is that actions have consequences. Is that the same as karma? I don't know.

    You probably know of the Wild Fox koan that Dogen talks about in several chapters in the Shobogenzo:

    Every time Baizhang, Zen Master Dahui, gave a dharma talk, a certain old man would come to listen. He usually left after the talk, but one day he remained. Baizhang asked, “Who is there?”

    The man said, “I am not actually a human being. I lived and taught on this mountain at the time of Kashyapa Buddha. One day a student asked me, ‘Does a person who practices with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?’ I said to him, ‘No, such a person doesn’t.’ Because I said this I was reborn as a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes. Reverend master, please say a turning word for me and free me from this wild fox body.” Then he asked Baizhang, “Does a person who practices with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?”

    Baizhang said, “Don’t ignore cause and effect.”

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  4. #4

    Is there karma?

    In my belief there are ways to learn and make even a mistake right. One can be right with the universe and to do so is good. Even before one dies it is possible to make right a wrong. For myself I make my heart so. I am good with my universe. This has taken much and yet I feel forgiven. I am 69. If I die now I am settled. I have a way of keeping myself this way. I tell nobody that they must do that, and there are ways. I work 12 steps.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 04-28-2021 at 09:28 AM.
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  5. #5
    Hi Van,
    I too believe in that 'law of cause and effect' karma,
    that what is now is the result of cause and effect in the past and that todays action will have an effect too.

    Karmic reincarnation, the believe that depending on certain actions, you're reborn into a different life/world,
    IMHO is something that would need a somehow unchanging 'soul' which is reincarnated.
    In my opinion, buddhism teaches us that everything changes and what I think is my identity or 'soul' is just a result of this ever changing tumult of cause and effect, too.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  6. #6
    Karma is not something to believe in, but a simple reality. Karma is all action done out of will, and as such, action triggers reaction. Karma is not Batman, like people want to make it seem these days. It is not a vengeful supernatural force out to get us. My karma, your karma, someone elseís karma etc.. they intermingle and that is why even though I might have good karma, I can still suffer as a result of someone elseís.


    Sorry for the length

    SatToday
    Bion
    美音

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  7. #7
    As far as I know is the classic Karma is the intentional Action referred to the person. This Karma has effects on the behavior and experience of that person, like habits, ways to see the world, interprations and so on.

    A Buddha doesn't produce any karma because he went beyond the person, doesn't live as a seperate individual being and therefore there is no Basis for the Klesha like Aversion attachment and ignorance.

    So from the absolute view point there's no Karma. But on the relative one.

    I hope that's not a entire false take on it

    And sorry for more than 3 sentences

    Gassho

    Horin

    Stlah

    Enviado desde mi BLA-L29 mediante Tapatalk

  8. #8
    I have noticed that whenever the word 'karma' comes up in conversation, people tend to have this idea that it is some form of mystical cosmic vengeance where some mysterious, unnamed judge-like entity hands out justice based on some system of rewards and punishments. When I try to explain that it's not quite that, debate usually ensues, "Oh really? What is it then?" Don't know if anyone else experiences this, but rarely does anyone change their original idea of what they think it is and continue to insist that there is some kind of karma judge of the universe who hands out 'bad karma', dude.

    Gassho
    ST-lah
    Shoki

  9. #9
    If reality is beyond "good" and "bad," then we have to dispense with the idea that karma is "good things happen when you do good and bad things happen when you do bad." To me, a more accurate statement would be "when you do things, it makes other things to happen." I'm willing to acknowledge causation, but to assign a quality to results is, I think, a stretch.

    Shinshou (Daniel)
    Sat Today

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by vanbui View Post
    One of my relatives recently asked me if there was karma? He was convinced there was karma. I felt if I answered no, it would be wrong, and if I answered yes, it would also be wrong. In the emptiness of things and in shikantaza, there is no karma. But at the same time, whatever you sow, you reap, so cause and effect are as clear as day and night. He did not accept this answer. I have been pondering about this question, and I could not get a satisfactory way of answering this question. This seems to be a popular question at the moment on social media. I wonder how your guys answer this question?
    my 2 cents: everything you think, say or do has an effect. That is so from the beginning of your life and it is also true for what your parents did.. So in this moment the totality of your past is here.. That is what i call karma. But also the totality of your future is in this moment, because everything you say, think or do will have influence on that future..



    aprapti

    sat

    Let silence take you to the core of life (Rumi)


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  11. #11
    Yes, there is Karma:

    Karma means "actions" (the volitional ones in Buddhism), and those acts have effects. If one acts in greedy, angry, violent, jealous, dishonest ways it tends to have effects ... sooner or later ... on oneself in one's own attitudes to life and the kind of life one creates for oneself, on those near us who feel the effects and, in this interconnected world, in our community and maybe on the other side of this wired planet. Likewise if one acts in generous, peaceful, caring, honest ways, these will tend toward good effects near and far. For example, a raging, violent alcoholic will tend to work horrible effects on themself and those around them, creating misery, while those who are peaceful, accepting, loving and feeling "whole" in their hearts will simply not encounter life's ups and downs in such way, nor tend to work harm on others.

    Since other sentient beings may be said to be, in Buddhist perspective, just other faces of ourself as much as Vanbui's left hand and Vanbui's right hand are all just Vanbui (thus the left hand is the right hand on the left, and the right hand is the left hand on the right ) those actions will have effects on who we are in widest meaning, as much as Vanbui's left hand slapping his own right hand even if not immediately felt. However, our good and bad actions will also tend toward effects more visible, for most of the people I know who live in greedy, angry, violent, jealous, dishonest ways are suffering inside, are in their own kind of hell within, right now. Most who live in peaceful, loving, accepting and good ways, generally, feel peaceful, loving, accepting and good within.

    I do not know if our Karma carries into future rebirths and lives after this one. Maybe so, maybe not. It does not really matter to me because, whether or not there are hells that await after death, I see people in this life making hells for themself and those around them right now. Future lives after death or not, now is the moment that is the pivot point of our actions. Be good now, future lives or not, if only for this life. In such case, if there are lives to come, it will "pay off" there too. And if there are no lives to come, it will tend to "pay off" in this one. In any case, live gently now.

    As well, new lives begin ever anew now and now and now, each a new life. Effects from the past are felt coming to fruition in our lives now, but the future is very much an open book. If you were greedy, angry and hateful in the past, you can choose right now to turn over a new leaf, make a new start.

    But there is no Karma:

    In a moment of Zazen, it all drops away. There is nobody to do violence, no separate body to be a victim of violence, no violence possible. It is true.

    Yet, rising from the sitting cushion, we return-non-return to this world where violence is possible and sentient beings can suffer. Thus, do not do violence.

    Life is like a dance. Dance with grace, poise and skill. The effects of doing so roll on from there.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-29-2021 at 06:57 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12


    Gassho

    Rish
    -stlah

  13. #13
    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yes, there is Karma
    But there is no Karma
    STLah
    Thank you Jundo and everyone for your insightful responses. I think I will answer the way Jundo suggested: Yes, there is Karma. But there is no karma. The binary answer is dualistic and is another form of attachment.

    Gassho,

    Can
    Sat+lah

  14. #14
    Is there karma seems a very modern question in many ways. We identify a phenomenon (dark matter exists) or connection (red meat consumption is correlated with cancer) and then we look to see if the it is true. Since science presumes naturalism, it can't really weigh in on whether things exist beyond the natural world. (This presumption of naturalism in science has often been confused as a proof of naturalism.)

    So, if one approaches this as a modern scientific question, one has to define karma in natural terms. Karma (our intentional actions) have consequences for ourselves and others. In this sense it seems true. And pretty inescapable. If you set your house on fire and then do Shikantaaza in the house, it doesn't matter what you state, realization, whatever you achieve in Shikantaaza - you're still going to burn. This seems one of the really brilliant distinctions in the early Buddhist texts - an Arahant can free him-/her-self from creating Karma, but not from the consequences of their own past Karma.

    Is karma a purely natural phenomenon in Buddhism? Not if one believes karma remains across rebirths. But forgetting rebirth and naturalism, the existence of karma is not really the key question. Karma puts a moral narrative around our actions. It connects our past and present actions with others and with our own future. The question becomes not so much is this true but is this how we choose to live. It's part of the first step in the Noble 8-fold Path - Right Understanding. Right Understanding begins with the 4 Noble Truths and Karma.

    The problem, of course, is when someone asks these days, from a pop culture perspective, they often aren't looking for an ethical path for themselves, but re-assurance that the universe has some vengeful force that will make sure jerks get what's coming to them in the end.

    Gassho, Jim
    ST/LaH

    Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk
    No matter how much zazen we do, poor people do not become wealthy, and poverty does not become something easy to endure.
    Kōshō Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought

  15. #15
    If life is a dance why did I fall yesterday and bruise my hip? One more step and I could have injured myself really badly for I am getting less steady. Things I could do two years ago are hard today!!!!
    Gassho
    sat / lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  16. #16
    Jundo says life creates reactions thatís how I see Karma. Equal opposite reactions except they arenít equal. There seems to be differing reactions to actions that are not proportional. Take prison sentences for example.
    Gassho
    sat / lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  17. #17
    From the usage of the word to simply mean "action", and the cycle of action-reaction, and the connected web of actions that create things as we know them I definitely see karma as such. Whether or not there is a deeper level to karma beneath the surface, a spiritual sense, that carries over from past lifetimes and determines events (of a personal sense) in our current lives I can only say "I don't know" but I think I can't hurt to act like it does.

    Gassho
    Kendrick
    SAT

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kendrick View Post
    ... I think I can't hurt to act like it does.
    It can't hurt to act like it does, avoiding greed, anger, jealousy and all the rest.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    It can't hurt to act like it does, avoiding greed, anger, jealousy and all the rest.


    Gassho
    Kendrick
    SAT/LAH

  20. #20
    In my universe people aren't punished but there are consequences for actions. If I hurt someone, I can make it right or live with guilt and shame. Even those with the least social awareness live with the results always tormented in the now. If one is kind, or indifferent, or hurtful they create those actions in themselves. If a person realizes they are wrong it is possible to get off the elevator on any floor, or change direction of the cubical. Karma means if I realize I am wrong, admit it, even my worst behaviors can change. I can become different, can make right the past, make amends. Life isn't a vale of tears, but can be a joyful. I have found joy, accepted my suffering, but not always. As I see it, change my vision to a new pair of glasses; however, still a work in progress.
    Gassho
    deep bows
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 05-13-2021 at 05:36 PM. Reason: concision, spelling.
    "Nothing is so beautiful as spring--/ When weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush: Thrush eggs look little low heavens, and thrush/ Through the echoing timber does not rise and wring/ The ear it strikes like lightening to hear him sing;.." Hopkins

  21. #21
    That's right, Karma works in positive ways

    Gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

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