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Old 10-18-2012, 03:36 AM
 
Location: Y-Town Area
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Advice from the Spiritual Friend by Lama Zopa Rinpoche
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:10 PM
 
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Thanks Kerby W-R
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:22 PM
 
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Just what I needed to read. Thank you.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:39 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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That was a very relevant and readable short article. Thanks. I am always struggling to overcome anger.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Y-Town Area
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Good works gathered in a thousand ages,
Such as deeds of generosity,
Or offerings to the blissful ones-
A single flash of anger shatters them.

... No evil is there similar to anger,
No austerity to be compared with patience.

— Shantideva




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Old 12-08-2012, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,833 posts, read 10,560,233 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerby W-R View Post
I can no more believe in karma than in god(s) so the parts of this that talk about me deserving mistreatment because I'm responsible for what I supposedly did in a prior life don't resonate. Nor would it be helpful to me even if it did.

I don't think the doctrine of karma is necessary or helpful here anyway. What it all boils down to is compassion. The person who wrongs me does so out of ignorance, fear, and/or weakness. Anger can only harm not only the perpetrator, but me as well. Compassion for the person who has wronged me is also appropriate because it would be what I would want if I were in the wrong, too.

The idea that someone being angry with me is more important to my development than someone loving me is getting onto shaky ground, frankly, not unlike suggesting that suffering is ennobling. The whole point of Buddhism is to escape suffering, not to glorify it.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
335 posts, read 310,498 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I can no more believe in karma than in god(s) so the parts of this that talk about me deserving mistreatment because I'm responsible for what I supposedly did in a prior life don't resonate. Nor would it be helpful to me even if it did.
There is a widespread notion that Karma is a moral judgment, that the merit we accumulate is some sort of reward and so on. Karma is just the operating of the rules of cause and effect. It does not make moral judgments; it is not a thinking thing; it is only the working out of the "as you sew so shall you reap" principle. Therefore the obvious fact that you are not responsible for what you did in a prior life is not relevant. Just treat it as bad or good luck, and pay attention to what you do in the present life.

Quote:
I don't think the doctrine of karma is necessary or helpful here anyway.
Karma is unavoidable; it is all around us. The criminal goes to jail, the generous man has many friends, the reckless man ends up in the hospital. Of course sometimes it takes the fullness of time for things to fully work themselves out, and it is a complicated world so the threads are not always as we might expect, but, regardless, we can see Karma's operation every day. By the way, whether or not a teaching is "helpful" has nothing to do with whether or not it is true.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:26 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
There is a widespread notion that Karma is a moral judgment, that the merit we accumulate is some sort of reward and so on. Karma is just the operating of the rules of cause and effect.[/color]
I understand that karma is regarded as impersonal, but it has always seemed to me a pernicious idea that misfortune comes from prior lives. If so, then there is no motivation to ease suffering since it's simply the natural outworking of impersonal forces ... many people already have the idea that they can turn from suffering because the sufferer "had it coming". If there is no evidence that this is so, no problem -- just appeal to some past life.

Besides, there's no evidence for such a notion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Karma is unavoidable; it is all around us. The criminal goes to jail, the generous man has many friends, the reckless man ends up in the hospital. Of course sometimes it takes the fullness of time for things to fully work themselves out, and it is a complicated world so the threads are not always as we might expect, but, regardless, we can see Karma's operation every day. By the way, whether or not a teaching is "helpful" has nothing to do with whether or not it is true.
I can accept cause and effect in this life with no problem, even though in practice the connection between effort and result can be surprisingly flaky and undependable.

As for things being true whether or not I like those truths, of course. But anything that is outside the scope of being empirically verifiable is made up, and if one is going to subscribe to made-up beliefs, they might as well be helpful ones. I have always regarded karma and reincarnation as unworthy distractions from the central tenets of eastern thought.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:34 AM
 
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
335 posts, read 310,498 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I understand that karma is regarded as impersonal, but it has always seemed to me a pernicious idea that misfortune comes from prior lives. If so, then there is no motivation to ease suffering since it's simply the natural outworking of impersonal forces ... many people already have the idea that they can turn from suffering because the sufferer "had it coming".
This does happen -- people do sometimes say things like that -- but it reflects misunderstanding and lack of compassion. We sometimes like the idea that bad-doers will be "punished," but this is a Western idea.


Quote:
If there is no evidence that this is so, no problem -- just appeal to some past life.
Such evidence persuades me, but it won't if you don't open yourself to your own deep memories, and maybe in your case that isn't possible -- the memories have all vanished.

The evidence of karma is the same as evidence for cause and effect, because they are the same thing. Think for awhile about what you mean when you say A caused B. What exactly is the relationship between A and B. Hume pointed out that this is not a logical necessity -- that B could be causing A in some sort of time reversal, that A and B could have a common cause, that the sequential events could be pure coincidence. It is the human mind that infers a connection, and, if wise, it does so only after many occurrences and various experiments to try to rule out the other possibilities.

We think of causation as a necessary part of existence -- Aquinas in particular made this mistake in assuming that there necessarily has to be a First Cause. This just is not so. Causation is, when you really look at it, really weird. There is no good reason for why it should be -- one can readily understand people seeing such relationships and deciding magic has to exist -- although of course we can realize that this is often from the conclusion that causal relationships exist when they really don't. Still, causation is a real part of our existence. It is the entire foundation of science.

The difference between Western scientific causation and Buddhist/Hindu karma is hard to make. Basically it is that in the West causation is interpreted in the West's tradition of rigid materialism (out of the Enlightenment rejection of things like the supernatural), and the Enlightenment tended to limit morality to the societal realm, whereas the view has always been in Asia that true morality has its own reality, as evidenced by the fact that in the long run the good prosper over the bad. (Of course exceptions happen -- there is also time and chance, as well as complications the observer may not know about).
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,833 posts, read 10,560,233 times
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The difference between Western scientific causation and Buddhist/Hindu karma is hard to make. Basically it is that in the West causation is interpreted in the West's tradition of rigid materialism (out of the Enlightenment rejection of things like the supernatural), and the Enlightenment tended to limit morality to the societal realm, whereas the view has always been in Asia that true morality has its own reality, as evidenced by the fact that in the long run the good prosper over the bad. (Of course exceptions happen -- there is also time and chance, as well as complications the observer may not know about).
I am still clinging by my fingernails to the idea that in the (very) long run the good (usually) propers over the bad. Whether this is evidence of "morality having its own reality" or just that good works are better for society ... I'll go with what's behind door B. I'm not sure what "morality having its own reality" even means. Perhaps you are saying that karma is a force that bends our reality to itself? I can see how that could be seen as comforting compared to my own experience which is that the universe is totally indifferent and neither cares a whit nor acts to encourage or discourage anything.

As to qualifiers about complications ... this ends up sounding a lot like the qualifiers Christians have about prayer when it becomes evident that it's generally not answered. God may say yes, no, or not now ... this is the same as random happenstance. If karma is a powerful principle yet is easy to miss on the scale of one human lifetime or situation then we're back to the universal problem where everything in religion retreats to the corner of your eye, just around the corner, just before or after this life, etc. Just as nothing says B must follow A in sequence, nothing says that everything that's crucial to know about life and its meaning must be hiding coyly behind esoterica. Why must we always reorganize our mind in some totally nonintuitive fashion with the help of holy men, lest we miss some flash in the pan insight?

Eh ... believe it or not I have a lot of respect for much of what Buddhism has to say, it's just that the supernatural bits seem completely unnecessary and I'm wary of them based on long life experience. Besides if we're going to encourage people to good works, then they should be able to readily see, without some special requirement like The Eye of Faith(tm), that some principle like karma actually works. And not some disheartening nonsense about one screw up being worth a thousand more turns of the wheel of existence to work the mistake off, or, well, if you're good and not prospering it's from some past life or there's some factor you just can't see.
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