Karma - who/what is the judge?

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by IowaGuy, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    I'm trying to better understand the Buddhist concept of karma. I realize depending on the particular tradition Buddhists may differ in the particulars but from what I have read it seems like in general karma and rebirth (until attaining enlightenment) are core concepts for most (but not all) traditional Buddhist traditions.

    And it appears that most Buddhists don't believe in a supernatural omniscient, omnipotent diety like the stereotypical Western "God".

    But what isn't clear to me is, if there is no "God", then who/what is the ultimate judge of karma/vipaka and decides the details on the next rebirth or if/when the individual has finally reached enlightenment? I'm puzzled on how one can have different options at rebirth (depending on karma) without there being a deity which judges and controls it?

    I personally believe from a pantheist perspective that all life is interconnected; that our actions ultimately affect all other life on this planet, along with the future lives of those that live on once we are gone. However, my view of pantheism has no judgement of our effects on the interconnectedness of life. That is where I'm struggling to find common ground with the idea of karma which seems somehow to have a cosmic judge that determines whether our actions are good/bad and makes a final tally when determining our next rebirth?

    Do any Buddhist traditions believe in karma without believing in rebirth?

    Thanks,
    Iowa Guy
     
  2. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Gravity - who/what is the judge?

    There is not one.

    Karma and rebirth are common (core) to the Buddha's teaching.

    It is the interpretation that varies across schools (and individuals).
     
  3. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    @IG,

    I'm guessing we've both grown up in places where 'deity' is a part of the cultural landscape; an idea that's invariably to be found in the background somewhere. I think it may be this that leads us to have an expectation of some form of judge involved when we hear about something new that is concerned with our intentional actions and outcomes. Remove this expectation, and the judge disappears. Search on the Access To Insight website...:)
     
  4. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Well, if anyone was there judging karma, they would likely be plagued by madness and vexation. :p

    Acinitita Sutta
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Not a Buddhist and don't play one on TV.

    In my belief I apply that to sin.

    We are not punished for our sins, but by them.

    It seems a natural law...a little quid pro quo.

    But grace...is there grace anywhere in Buddhism?

    I have a karmic attitude, Thomas thinks I should be a Buddhist, he'd just like to insure somewhere along the line I get kicked out of the Jesus camp.

    But...I've got this karmic thought like a big wrecking ball pendelum and this wrecking ball pendelum is pushed into motion by my words, thoughts and actions...when they are little, we are just shoving each other around. I'm causing problems and everytime I reach for a goal my retribution is the pendelum shoving me away from it...and if I really am upsetting the universe I give it this great big shove where it swings away and his headed back to blast me one.

    But grace...occurs when I correct my previous Karmic debt with some Karma Credits....rectifying errors, satisfying issues and not only doing the right thing but going above and beyond, to the point that when the wrecking ball is swinging back, I bend over to sniff a flower and contemplate the glory of the world and wonder what the breeze was as it wooshes by....but it is still on its path, it will reach the end of its swing and come back....so if I'm not on my correct path we'll intersect again...

    I create my future through my present...
     
  6. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Agreed, but the law of gravity is neutral along with the other scientific laws of the universe. There is no good gravity or bad gravity.

    However, my basic understanding of karma is that it is NOT neutral, but instead deemed to be positive or negative, depending on one's actions, i.e. good karma or bad karma. Good/bad, positive/negative implies some sort of judgement...
     
  7. ciel_perdy

    ciel_perdy New Member

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    I believe that God is the judge.

    Jesus spoke about people be judged on the basis of what they have done, and throughout the NT, it's the same message, we will reap what we sow.

    While karma (reaping what we have sown/being judged on what we have done), could just be some cosmic thing that just so happens to work out like that, I tend to see something more intelligent behind it...a God, a Creator, an Intelligence, Love.
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I'm beginning to wonder if you have a fairly unique form of OCD :D
     
  9. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    If you look on the ATI website you will see that the  Buddha distinguishes four categories of kamma:

     (i) dark with a dark result,
    (ii) bright with a bright result,
    (iii) dark and bright with a dark and bright result,
    (iv) neither dark nor bright with a neither dark nor bright result.

    ...but no judge I think? Have a look for yourself...
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Yes these are judgmental words. We talk about good and bad weather. Do we look for a judge?
     
  11. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Snoopy - thanks for the reference to ATI, it's going to take me a while to work through all that info!

    I can see off the top that there is quite a bit to learn about Buddhist vs. Hindu ideas of karma, let alone the differences within those traditions... But as far as judgement of karma it appears that Hindus can attribute that to their Supreme Being concept, no?

    Yes, I agree. Some Eastern concepts are tough to fit in to my Western mind... But I'm trying to expand my mind to accomodate!
     
  12. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    We humans ARE the judge of the weather. Weather itself is neutral, Mother Nature could care less what we think about the weather...
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Indeed. You said words such as good implied judgment and I agreed. I cited the weather exactly because we use such a word as good where the only judge is us. I was pointing out the use of such words does not require any external agency to determine 'goodness' of the weather, other than ourselves. So there does not need to be one in respect of kamma, by the same rationale. I am not asserting there is one! :)
     
  14. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Don't drown in the stuff! There's a lot of repetition in the Suttas (to aid memorisation). Just go to the search by subject index; select K then check out the Suttas and articles on kamma. I'm sure one or two that seem most pertinent to you will suffice.
     
  15. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I don't know. Shame we have no resident Hindu here.
     
  16. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    So, like the weather, since there is no cosmic judge therefore there is no such thing as good/bad karma, only "neutral" karma?

    I have read about good/bad karma affecting rebirths in Buddhism so a "neutral" karma concept would seem to contradict that? (From previous discussions I know you don't believe in rebirth but it is a core buddhist philosophy and seems to tie in with good/bad karma, therefore precluding "neutral" karma.)

    Thanks for being patient with this Westerner :)
     
  17. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I think she has a wonderful capablility of remembering exactly where to access information and then providing it. I am constantly amazed, and grateful.

    hmmmm.....maybe I should see if I can get one or two to participate.
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Post 9, dear boy, post 9!
     
  19. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    It is indeed a core concept. The rebirth that I have not accepted is so-called literal rebirth. The rebirth that I accept is the moment by moment rebirth of the universe. Perhaps you should ignore my opinion though as the ATI provides the 'Word of the Buddha'. This I think is to be preferred, at least to provide a basis for your understanding. Then you can be patient with me :)
     
  20. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Me too, but also a little worried. I think she keeps files on all of us :eek:
     

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