Karma ~ The Penetrative Explanation

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Vajradhara, May 5, 2011.

  1. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    generally speaking most people that i speak with have no idea what the term Karma actually means in a Buddhist context. it can be difficult to figure it out as there are several traditions which share a common linguistic base (Sanskrit) which use different lexicons for the same vocabulary and those that have followed the Theosophical understanding of the term equally miss the Buddhist understanding.

    in a very famous Sutta called Nibbedhika, the "penetrative explanations" the Buddha talks about several different factors which are important for someone engaged on the Buddhist path needs to do and one of which is understand Karma.

    in Western dialog the idea of understanding Karma and indeed a great many of the Buddha's fundamental teachings are thought to be unknowable in any discrete manner and a certain amused contempt often accompanies dialog with beings that feel the Buddhas teachings are knowable in a discrete manner.

    indeed the Buddha teaches that all of his teachings are clear with nothing held back. in light of that it would be completely out of character for the Buddha to be cryptic or somehow unclear in talking about a foundational teaching of the Buddhadharma. fortunately for the interested Buddhist the Buddha has made clear his teaching on Karma.

    without further ado:

    "'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play should be known. The diversity in kamma should be known. The result of kamma should be known. The cessation of kamma should be known. The path of practice for the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said?

    "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.


    "And what is the cause by which kamma comes into play? Contact is the cause by which kamma comes into play.


    "And what is the diversity in kamma? There is kamma to be experienced in hell, kamma to be experienced in the realm of common animals, kamma to be experienced in the realm of the hungry shades, kamma to be experienced in the human world, kamma to be experienced in the world of the devas. This is called the diversity in kamma.


    "And what is the result of kamma? The result of kamma is of three sorts, I tell you: that which arises right here & now, that which arises later [in this lifetime], and that which arises following that. This is called the result of kamma.


    "And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.


    "Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns kamma in this way, the cause by which kamma comes into play in this way, the diversity of kamma in this way, the result of kamma in this way, the cessation of kamma in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of kamma.


    "'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play... The diversity in kamma... The result of kamma... The cessation of kamma... The path of practice for the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said, and in reference to this was it said.

    Nibbedhika Sutta: Penetrative

    reading this Sutta we can see quite clearly the idea of Karma that the Buddha is using and how it is vastly different than the unknowable mysterious teaching that many of the Buddha's teachings are often cloaked in.

    metta.
     
  2. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    It would be fascinating to start a thread in the comparative religions section on the differences in how karma is taught among the various religious traditions which teach the idea of karma.
     
  3. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Thank you for this, Vaj. I hope this link seems appropriate to your OP, I think it is a helpful adjunct to the sutta. It is just as explicit as well :)

    5. The Kamma that Ends Kamma
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    hi Snoopy,

    thank you for the link and you are correct, it is a useful adjunct to this thread.

    what about it, if i may, did you find particularly useful when you read it?
     
  5. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Hare Krishna Yogi

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    śri-bhagavān uvāca — the Personality of Godhead said; kāmaḥ — lust; eṣaḥ — this; krodhaḥ — wrath; eṣaḥ — this; rajaḥ-guṇa — the mode of passion; samudbhavaḥ — born of; mahā-aśanaḥ — all-devouring; mahā-pāpmā — greatly sinful; viddhi — know; enam — this; ihain the material world; vairiṇam — greatest enemy.

    Bhagavad-Gita 3.37: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.


    kāmaḥ — lust
     
  6. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Is there not a danger of this zeal (Chanda) becoming jealousy if you become too attached to it? {Perhaps tempering it with a bit of wu wei might be in order? If only to avoid the madness and vexation that would accompany the conjecture regarding the precise outworkings of this kind of kamma?}
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    attachment of any sort, even to the Buddha's teachings, is an impediment. the Buddha likens his teachings to a raft which must be left behind once we've used it exactly so that we do not become attached.

    i'm unclear how attachment leads to jealously except insofar as both ideas are contingent upon a self, could you elaborate?
     
  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    One of the very definitions of jealousy is "ardent zeal." Think of the negative connotations of zealot. The zeal could easily become an attachment to the precise outworkings of this type of karma (Acintita Sutta)--which could easily become the madness and vexation of jealousy. (Think about the karma wisdom family and Amoghasiddh.)

    The antidote for this would be mudita, or sympathetic joy. I guess this is where the bodhisattva vows would come in handy in this respect--the sympathetic joy in helping others in this would serve as a protection for the zeal reverting back into jealousy.

    {Is that clear?}
     
  9. luecy7

    luecy7 New Member

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    In the relationship there are white events.
    In the relationship there are black events.
    In the relationship there are events that are both white and black.
    With the relationship terminated, there are no events black, nor white.
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    IMO, this chapter contains a succinct summary of the Buddha’s rationale for the way of being in the world that leads to the cessation of dukkha.


    “...this last kind of kamma is one of the pivotal teachings of Buddhism, and leads to its ultimate goal....

    ...Kamma can lead to the transcendence of suffering, but it must be the right kind of kamma, the kamma which prevents the arising of more kamma and thus leads to its cessation....

    ...Non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion are its root causes...

    ...By practicing according to the Noble Eightfold Path, desire has no channel through which to function, and is eliminated. Greed, hatred and delusion do not arise. With no desire, greed, hatred or delusion, there is no kamma. With no kamma there are no kamma-results to bind the mind. With no kamma to bind the mind, there emerges a state of clarity which transcends suffering. The mind which was once a slave of desire becomes one that is guided by wisdom, directing actions independently of desire's influence...”
     
  11. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

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    kama (lust), and karma (making and measuring), are different "things". There is no end to karma. The only end to karma is death. And, even then, that's not always the end. Karma is not a "good" or a "bad" thing, karma is not a "thing", a something that ends, karma the cause of existence, how what we do, the ka, the making, the work, action, and the ma, the measuring, the judgements.

    That's what karma is: the fruit of your actions and perceptions.

    Even an enlightened being generates karma. Unless you are dead, or unconscious, you act, you consider, you judge. Saint or sinner. You create the world, your world, and, depending on how ignorant or enlightened you are, you will be happy, or unhappy. Act well, be ethical, choose wisely, make the right decisions, become stainless, people will see you as a God. Make the wrong choices, you're a fool, or you're evil.

    You can change things, of course. If you're unhappy with your existence.

    You can strive towards a state of bodhi-citta: the state of knowing/awakening the good/vituous mind, as opposed to caitta, the impure, befuddled mind you have before you start on the path, but even Buddha himself generated karma.
     
  12. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    in the Buddhadharma the fruit of karma, the karmic effects as it were, are called "vipaka".

    quite true. karma neither bright nor dark is the typical phrasing that one finds in the English transliterations.
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Run this past me again, from the top...

    "Even Buddha himself generated kamma..."
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    you said it yourself:


    he generated the forth kind of karma, neither black-nor-white karma by following the eightfold path
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    all sentient beings produce karma, the Buddha was a sentient being, the Buddha produced karma. :) the Buddha explains this in many Suttas one of the most famous of which is called the Dog Duty Ascetic and he explains what he means:

    "Punna, there are four kinds of kamma proclaimed by me after realization myself with direct knowledge. What are the four? There is dark kamma with dark ripening, there is bright kamma with bright ripening, there is dark-and-bright kamma with dark-and-bright ripening, and there is kamma that is not dark and not bright with neither-dark-nor-bright ripening that conduces to the exhaustion of kamma. "

    sentient beings produce karma of differing sorts which the Buddha described dark with a dark result, bright with a bright result, dark and bright with a dark and bright result, neither dark nor bright with a neither dark nor bright result. the Buddhas karma is not dark and not bright with neither-dark-nor-bright ripening that conduces to the exhaustion of karma.

    as the previous Sutta indicated, intending is karma and the differences between the sorts of karma and its vipaka is based on views of the self thus Buddhas have karma which has a neutral or Middle Way vipaka. the Buddha cautions that excessive speculation over the full workings of karma lead to vexation yet he also explicates a great deal of what karma is and how it works and makes it quite plain that understanding karma in a practical way is significantly important to ones progress of Awakening and Liberation.

    here's an interesting link:
    Kamma: A Study Guide
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Maybe fodder for another thread, but I being the one that has heard often the Buddhism as I knew it does not speak on certain things, this does not answer.

    The things I have heard is, what is the nature of the after-life, and is there a G!d?

    Karma I've heard of and have my understanding of, we've spoke of rebirth vs. reincarnation...

    and not unknowable....but when I was at ordinations, the monks were told to question their teachers, question the Buddha...question everything.
     
  17. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I concur, but the cessation of kamma alluded to previously seems paradoxical to this. Now I have vexation!
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Oh! Ye of little faith! :p
     
  19. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    indeed, a new thread would be apropos.

    if you'd like to start it i'd be happy to participate.
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    it's mostly due to taking a bit of a teaching and applying it outside of it's own framework, if i may, rather than such things being vexing.

    of course i have no idea what your grounding in Buddhist teaching and philosophy happens to be nevertheless i would suggest that the Suttas go into great depth and specificity regarding Buddhas and Karma in contrast with other sentient beings and karma.

    i would suggest in your contemplation of this idea that Buddha's do not have any I-making whereas other sentient beings have I-making - therein lies the difference in many things within the Buddhadharma and why teachings are expedient means, given to specific groups of beings in response to their specific needs.

    it remains to be seen which of the Buddha's teaching apply to any individual being.
     

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