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January 06, 2009

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I like the concept of karma but don't necessarily think any religion has got it despite the belief some Buddhists have that they 'get' it all because of their method of study-- ie much in isolation (I just saw the documentary, Yogis of Tibet; so this is fresh in my mind). Anyway what I believe about reincarnation is live as though it's true and that it's not. Same with karma. Live as though what we do is life lessons to help us grow but also as though we have to do the best we can with where we are with no payback. I see how karma often happens in one lifetime with things coming around to show us what we did was not beneficial-- if we are aware. Your example of Tibet and China though is where you see how people's concept of karma often comes up against things they can't explain without twisting in the wind. Personally I am content with life is mystery and leaving it at that (but I do try to make sure I do things that will make a future life better because they are almost all things that make this one better also)

Hi Brian, interesting article. I'm sure when you write blogs like this, it causes some consternation somewhere (probably somebody clutching at your 'Life is Fair' book :)

I'd like to share my understanding of 'karma', which I can only assume is precisely what Buddha meant?:

The nature of this phsyical reality is one of cause & effect, ie 'karma'.

And so it is with the existence of sentient beings. We are a bundle of numerous interdependant causes & effects. I would think almost everyone agrees to that point?

The real problem here is the concept of individualised eternal i-dentity called 'Soul', which undergoes the sentient perception of these causes & effects?

To use an analogy, in my understanding, livings beings are likes waves emerging and subsiding out of a vast ocean of matter/spirit/God/the unknown etc etc What causes these waves? The cessation or 'death' of a previous wave gives impetus to generate a new wave; cause & effect. The crashing or subsiding of one wave, creates the physical force which, in turn, creates a new wave.

In this analogy, the thing which gives 'sentience' to all this (cause & effect), is water, or 'soul'. So the question becomes, when one individual wave subsides, where does the 'soul' or water go? There is nothing but water!! There is no discrete entity of water that always remains a wave, even when subsided, even though it gives rise to another wave due to cause & effect, it is *not* the same water or 'soul'.

In other words, there is nothing but one, indivisible body of water (matter/spirit/God/whatever) from which all waves arise.

And there is no-one to be liberated. Only the illusion of individuality to be erased. Which believing in 'souls' and 'reincarnation' merely perpetuates, imo.

Brian, Manjit, Tucson,

How does Taoism embrace karma? I'm guessing, the word Karma, doesn't exist. As well as, reincarnation.

However, is there any mention of a practical/logical simple, in the moment; cause and effect,..... within Taoism?

Maybe, cause and effect, is just another surmise (used as a noun).

Hi Roger,

Even in Buddhism it is clearly explicated that, in truth, there is *no karma*. The Lankavatara Sutra explains this quite well, and in depth.

The concept of 'karma' is related specifically to the relative, or dualistic, within which the vast majority of humans are deeply entrenched conceptually.

And, I would like to question if anybody, when it comes to the relative/dualistic, DOESN'T believe in cause & effect?

It is a physical reality, isn't it?

For somebody who can remain presence in the here & now, there is absolutely no need for elaborate conceptions of karma or cause & effect, I entirely agree :)

Manjit, good points. Yes, Buddhism doesn't say there's a "soul," just a stream of consciousness that somehow manages to preserve karmic characteristics from life to life.

In the book I cited, the Buddhist monk likens the situation to a section of a river that is muddy, while the rest of the water is clear -- or different in other respects.

The monk says that the goal of Buddhism is to clean up our muddy portion of the water. Well, OK. But the whole karmic thing still doesn't make a lot of sense.

Like I said, there seems to be a big conflict between (1) the interrelatedness of everything that "emptiness" entails, and (2) the notion that individual streams of consciousness are the sole creators of what is being experienced karmically now.

Hello Brian.

Personally, I entirely disagree with notion 2.

'Souls' as 'creators'? Nah!

Sentience is merely sentience.

Buddhism/advaita deeply understood implies no free-will (merely the illusory appearance of such, though actually directed by numerous interdependant insentient factors).

The most recent of scientific research also strongly seems to indicate this.

Hi Manjit,
I like your analogy.I have a question.
Most mystics describe the merging part of the wave
back into the ocean.How many have described that part of the wave emerging out of the ocean?
All the best
Obed

Manjit:
"(..)The most recent of scientific research also strongly seems to indicate this."

Where is this stated, url's?

Hi JJQ,

I am not here to convince anybody of anything.

So, if you would really like to know, try asking with just a *smidgen* more civility, and I may, in turn, civily spend my time looking for the URLs you are looking for!


Hi Obed - thanks :) That's an interesting question. I believe it is implied in numerous paradigms?? Such as that of Kashmiri Shaivism, perhaps? There is also hints towards it in advaitic texts, I believe?

However, I'm sure you know it's much a case of the concept-less being wrapped up in concepts. It'll never quite be true ;-)

Perhaps, in a sense, the only way to find the origins of 'waves' (being) is by retracing your steps? IE, Who Am I......

Hi Manjit,
Thanks for the reply."Who am I?" is a great way
for deconstructing personal concepts.The point I
reached was when I started asking "Who is it ,who
is asking the question?"I banged up against what
appeared to me to be an infinite regress.So the only thing
I could do was to do nothing at all,stop seeking and
just be.
I am still at that point.The only change that has
happened is that I have realized"nothing real is happening" and I live with that in mind as much as
life lets me.
All the best to you
Obed

Hi there,

Re the question: 'Is karma a bunch of crap?' I'd like to raise a historical point: Christianity had the doctrine of re-incarnation as one of its tenets until it was ratified at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553AD.

Secondly, re-incarnation is fundamental to the Talmudic Jewish tradition. It's also written about at length in the Vedas. A belief in reincarnation appears in the indigenous faiths of Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, to name a few. Of course, one can dismiss all of the above as "superstition".

However, what do you make of the primary research of credible professionals Michael Newton and Brian Weiss, neither of whom who were ' believers' but who have both found causal connections between past life experiences and present life traumas, phobias and life patterns - what they ascribe as 'karma in action' - in the case-histories of their patients?

Your thoughts?

All the best, C


From my understanding of this conceptual subject Manjit has correctly explained the situation regards karma as best it can be explained.
The explanation given is both concise and complete.

Hello Peter -

Thanks, much appreciated. I must say, even I thought it was rather 'neat', and an analogy I have, I think, never heard anywhere else. I impressed myself. :-D I'm a bit of a sadist, i get some strange inscrutable kind of pleasure from coming up with these conceptual representations, posting them in obscure places, and not really getting noticed :-/ There's a kind of delicous self-satisfying pleasure in that.....Thanks for noticing though.....

Dear Catherine - I would like to go into your question in depth, but I'm at work, so perhaps later :)

In the meantime, could you expand on how Newton & Weiss managed to get these people to become aware of their 'past life experiences'? Hypnotism/past-life regression I suspect? These are notorious for generating false memories.....(read satanic/sexual abuse as a child, or alien abduction etc)

Dear Manjit,
Dont think your obscure postings go unnoticed.
I for one am watching you.
But to make it easier for me as I am not in
Universal Consciousness where do you post?
If you prefer obscurity,you dont need to reveal
these mysterious places.I quite understand.
Kind regards
Obed

Does anyone think that the notion of reincarnation came from the lack of understanding of genetics? On the other hand, how can we explain the migration of butterflies in the Americas? It is fascinating.

sabrina, that's an interesting idea. Makes sense. Reincarnation is a way to explain how characteristics are "inherited" by a living being, such as why a person is what she or he is, and does what she or he does.

Genetics, of course, is part of a better scientific answer.

Yes, butterfly migration is amazing. I guess we still don't know exactly how they, and other animals, manage to find their way thousands of miles across territory they've never seen before.

Yes, I believe so.

There is no scientific law stating that "everything is interconnected".

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for reincarnation or a soul.

As for eastern mystic traditions, how could any cosmic consciousness supposedly based on love create a universal law that inflicts pain on ppl who are completely unaware of what they have done?

I mean you could make a case that Karma is fair if people knew what they were doing was wrong, and were then punished, but how can you punish someone who is unaware of what is right or wrong? And who decides what is right and wrong? The bush baptist or the guru?

If on the other hand karma is truly an unfliching law of nature devoid of morals or sentiment, why do these mystic traditions then in the same breath bring in moral concepts like love and non-suffering? Which one is it, a loveless amoral universe or a loving moral universe? I dont think they know. Its just unclear inconsistent obfiscation to suit their own personal belief system.

If everything was interconnected why can I not control your body, nor you mine? If everything was interconnected, why does life evolve differently depending on the (local) environment?

As for cause and effect, this seems generally true, but does everything need to have a cause? Does the universe or gravity have a cause? Does a god or cosmic consciousness have a cause? Who decides what has a cause or not?

From the opposite side of Zapruder film
of Kennedy assassination. Only 12 seconds long. But as Kennedy's car passes the concrete steps sloping down the grassy knoll,
you will see three men.

One man in a red shirt appears to set the gun
and aim it at Kennedy at the exact moment
of the headshot.

Marie Muchmore Film - Part 2


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcpo6BMDLYI&feature=related

Now watch the same three men run
up the steps of the grassy knoll,
while scores of people chase them up
the hill, even running from across the street over there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVL3OtawNg0&feature=related

George, well written!!

No one decides what is wrong or right..the is also no wrong or right...

You choose what you want..thru your action or your ignorance....

Up close vIDEO of Gurinder without turba describing karma!!!!!!!!

Karmacoma, Jamaican aroma!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi76bxT7K6U

I'm not sure you quite understand what Karma is. Karma is the action. Karma actually translates into action. The more you tend to perform good, helpful actions, the easier it becomes to perform them in the future. The same hold true for hurtful and destructive actions as well. That Karma. Karma is NOT a cosmic justice system. Your understanding (or rather misunderstanding) of Karma is not all that uncommon in Western society.
I will give you credit for at least trying to be open minded when it comes to reincarnation though.

TreeBeard, did you read this post? Yes, I understand karma. Karma is cause and effect. That's what I wrote, if you had bothered to read this post carefully:
------------------
However, when karma is viewed as synonymous with "cause and effect," it's reality is evident.

This is how the world works: causes resulting in effects that produce causes resulting in effects ... and so on ... and so on ... and so on ... ad infinitum.

Eastern religions such as Buddhism see karma in an expanded sense, though.

Through reincarnation chains of cause and effect are considered to persevere between lifetimes. Causes in one incarnation can bear fruitful effects in another life.
------------------

My book about karma was published in India and was reviewed by numerous experts in Indian philosophy before being printed. So you should reconsider your ill-considered assumption that I don't understand the meaning of "karma."

I don't understand lots of things, but when I've written something that people knowledgeable about Indian philosophy sign off on on, I'm pretty confident that it is correctly represents the meaning of karma.

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