please forgive the wordy post. this is not spam. i am a warm-bodied-human with lots to say regarding karma and reincarnation as it can be compared to my jewish background.
if you are offended by "lots of words" please ignore this post and all my future posts.
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Do you believe in reincarnation and karma?
i have been thinking a lot about your question.
i definitely believe in reincarnation. i have been learning jewish mystism for approx. 13 years, and reincarnation is a concept which is reflected again and again and i **believe** it. Why do i believe? we would have to become friends before i explain, and i'm afraid it would take many many words.
regarding karma? i am going from memory, but i can probably find a source if there is interest. the parallel concept in Judaism is "middah-kenneged-middah" which is loosely translated as "measure for measure".
and now i want to speak about Buddhism vs. Judaism, why i think Buddhism is a good fit for me for flexibility and balance.
in general, from what i gather about Buddhism... it is functionally opposite from Judaism. and therefore practicing it as a "lay practitioner" would bring balance to my jewish mystical inclinations and background.
Why are Buddhism and Judaism functional opposites? Judaism is focused on attachment to G-d and attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world.
Buddhism is focused on detachment, there is no central G-d, the goal is to annihilate material attachments, where the end goal is nibbana? ( forgive my spelling, please )
Judaism is about attachment? Why? The mitzvot... mitzvah comes from aramaic... tzavatah ( again forgive the spelling ). tzavahtah is a connection or attachement in aramaic. Mi ( pronounced Mee ) in hebrew is "who".
Note: there is a fascinating discussion in the zohar Mi vs Mah. "who" vs "what"... but i digress...
so .. the word mitzvah could be thought of as the conbintation of the two words "mi+tzavatah" aka "who connects" ( note this is creative, not authoritative. perhaps i am not the only one who has considered this idea that a mitzvah is one "who connects". if so, please forgive me. i do not intend to copy without giving credit. i do believe this is my on creative inventive idea. )
and this reflects my own practical approach to each mitzvah, that each one has its own "personality", its likes and dislikes, and each one deserves its own respect; its own time; its own space. and every jew over the course of their lifetimes, i believe, should endeavor to meet and get to know each one of the mitzvot like a friend meeting a distant friend... further: a person should not focus on trying to complete all the mitzvot in each individual lifetime... this would be like trying to get to know all 613 of your neighbors in detail. a dizzying and unrealistic goal to be sure. I propose a person could be well suited to spend their whole life focusing on just 1 mitzvah, the 1st mitzvah, as ordered by the rambam. which is: "Love G-d". And i go even further... even if a person doesn't complete this lofty goal in their current mortal life.. i propose that if they can accustom their soul towards "Loving G-d", that even this preparation has tremendous value because the soul remembers these preparations and benefits lifetime after lifetime.
all of this is relevant because: i am talking about reincarnation. a healthy constructive jewish approach to reincarnation.
now... moving to middah-kenneged-middah. i have a bias towards this "jewish" version of karma. and i **believe** the "jewish" approach is healthy and constructive, while the Biddhist approach could become corrupted depending on the individual's inclinations.
middah-kenneged-middah is executed by G-d... not by me... not by warm-bodied-humans.
Karma... depending on how it is defined and applied could be a very dangerous notion... as well as the Buddhist concept of reincarnation.. as i will attempt to explain.
Note: i am new to Buddhism. I am not a liar. I only started learning about it by accident... and i fell in love with it. Also.. i am super-duper smart and i can absorb material very very rapidly. I credit this academic fortitude to practice... the daily Torah learning... but i digress
Since middah-kenneged-middah is executed by G-d, and not me... i do not make the choice who is right who is wrong and i am not tempted... repeat... i am not tempted to execute my own justice on others. I doubt very much that this is the intention of the Buddah regarding karma ( to execute judgement on others ). but again. without a G-d executive, a person could fall into a trap of thinking that they, the individual, **needs** to right the wrongs of the world, and this could be corrupted if a sad sick desperate person becomes the target of predatory criminals.
And so i said, "regarding Karma, i'm not sure". because, if i read your question simply , without any assumptions of my own... I don't know what you mean? you could be asking me... "Do you, DustyFeet, believe that other people deserve to be punished for their wrongs?" Or you could be asking me, "Do you DustyFeet, believe that you are accountable your your own wrong doings?"
Question one is asking if i am potentially dangerous and apply karma in a destructive manner.
Question two is asking if i am a moral person who would be careful not to hurt others.
And this is why i say that Buddhist Karma can be corrupted. Because: if i were a sick desperate person, a predatory criminal could latch onto my signs of distress, show me comfort and convince me to act out in a destructive manner against almost any perceived wrong-doer.
Where as, Jewish middah-kenneged-middah leaves the judgement and punishment to G-d, and thus, I would never. i repeat, i would never intentionally do anything harmful to anyone. I leave that stuff to G-d.
Buddhist reincarnation can also be corrupted, but i think Buddhism has adaqute safeties inplace to protect against them. And the Jewish approach i think is less open to corruption, but it has flaws as well.
In the minor, a Buddhist reincarnation and the goal for detachment may possibly encourage suicide. This is supported by learning about Robin William's struggles at the end of his life.
Jewish reincarnation has the same pitfall, but... Jewish law prohibits suicide. so there's a safety valve. In addition Judaism encourages joyful attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world. Again, joyfulness, practiced, i think helps reduce the risk of suicide that is part of the idea that, reincarnation means, if i die. i just come back again, and so .. why not kill myself or take risks with the health and safety of my the corporal "self" or others.
I think the Buddhist version of reincarnation has a lot going for it in the positive and constructive direction. And i think there are safety valves built into Buddhism to discourage suicide and hurting others. and that's why i said, point-blank "yes i believe in reincarnation" here in a Buddhist sub-forum asking for advice for a mystic newly exploring Buddhism.
Note.. i repeat, i didn't lie... i am new to this. but i a have been assimilating data like a machine
I accept all that i have said about Buddhism in this post may be 100% wrong. If so, please forgive me. and i appreciate any and all comments, criticisms and corrections. I do respectfully request blunt honesty. I feel it is most efficient. Posts that include only questions and no answers... ( you know who you are ) are likely to be ignored as "non-productive".
In light of all these words.. i am concerned that someone may miss-interpret this post as spam. It's not. Please forgive spelling, grammar, punctuation errors. Please forgive the use of non-english transliterated hebrew words. And please forgive the word count. In this post i am choosing to be complete. If this post is too verbose, please ignore me in the future. I don't want to offend nor give anyone a head-ache, G-d forbid.
Now on to the final topic for this post and then i will be "gone".
Why am i interested in Buddhism if i see the apparent flaws and i think the Jewish approach to reincarnation and karma is better.
1) Judaism is about attachment.. I've got that already... maybe the medicine i need is in detachment.
2) Judaism does not have a physical fitness component. I can run miles and miles and swim like a.... like a fish, but yoga... LORD help me. Balance and flexibility are lacking for me. I have tried to do yoga with my wife... and it is a disaster. But in the past i was doing it only for fitness and my personality flaws relating to patience and consistent practice were not part of it at the time. I hope that by applying myself to Buddhism not just yoga in a more spiritual and academic way, that i will stick with the yoga to get past the learning curve and my physical lack of flexibility and balance.
3) emotionally i am turbulent, Judiasm seems to encourage this turbulence. Not for everyone, but for me. I think Buddhism applied in a healthy constructive way would offset my own "volatility" and help me be who i **want** to be.
4) I am a recovering major league pothead. Lucky for me, that's all i got into, not drinking, not commercial party drugs. just pot. and i quit a long time ago...best thing i ever did for myself and my family. But all my friends use it recreationally... like 100% of my friends. They love me cause i'm their safe legal sober driver. But i was ( past tense ) tempted every day, like all addicts are tempted. Judaism never discouraged me from using Pot. In fact many of my friends how use are Jewish mystics like me, and they love to use before bringing in the shabbos. As i was learning about Buddhism a few weeks ago, for the first time, i read about the 5 precepts. And ya know what? I stopped having daily cravings. Like they 100% stopped. and i was like. this is really cool. Why did they stop? i don't know? maybe i was a monk in a past life, and my soul was remembering it's vow. To me "why" doesn't matter. What matters is... maybe by practicing Buddhism i will be further encouraged to stay away from the POT forever... and i can keep on making my friends happy and being the clean sober driver... cause like i said... i never drink either... it was never my thing.
So I hope this explains myself further to y'all who i hope will one day consider me friend-DF.
hopefully i didn't offend,
with much love and great respect,